December 17 2019

Workshop "Theology and Africa"

The workshop „Theology and Africa“ took place in the Dominican monastery in Vienna on December 17 2019. It was organised by the Institute of Fundamental Theology and the research centre “Religion and Transformation” and took place for the second time. Students coming from different theological fields presented projects on theological topics in African contexts. Most of the participating students are friars and priests from different African states. Regrettably, no female student presented a project, as there are very few women from non-european countries studying at the Faculty of Catholic Theology.
Nevertheless and despite the patriarchal character of – not only – the African culture, the question of the dignity of women and of human beings in general was in the focus of the workshop. The concept of dignity is traditionally defined by men and answering their needs and wishes. Female genital mutilation and Trial Marriages are classical examples for practices discriminating against women caused by sociocultural circumstances with grave consequences. These problems are not marginal feminist topics, but problems that threaten the cohesion of society as a whole.
Additionally, a theological analysis of Laudato Si in the Ghanaian context allowed for focussing onto a central social dimension in ecological discourses, which is the ignorance of the encyclical concerning the highly problematic situation of women in the context of the ecological crisis. Man’s acquiring of infinite force over nature cannot be isolated from the exertion of force over women. These phenomena are linked symbolically and socially. The key to a new perspective concerning the problem of suppression of women and nature lies in education that can allow for a new cultural paradigm. People should develop a sensibility for injustice and universal relatedness.
Further topics were the “Prosperity Gospel”, that relates religious salvation with wealth. This idea is spread by evangelical churches and has become very influential in many African cultures.
The highly interesting discussion was complemented by a lecture by Dr. Daniela Waldburger, lecturer for African Studies at the University of Vienna. Her very informative contribution summarised her own career in philological and cultural studies as well as diverse activities offered by the Institute of African Studies. With this, also Vienna as location of the University was addressed.

Samuel Siaw

© Silke Lapina