I hope someone will be recording the sessions so we can get a taste of what's happening. I've heard that many Capetonians are attending, so hopefully we can have a get-together in a few weeks or so to continue the conversation.
2010 is a big year for us South Africans - World Cup and all. It's also the 4th Amahoro Gathering, in Mombasa from May 3 - 10. I've been to two Amahoro Gatherings and have found them immensely significant, since Amahoro is on the other side of the coin to the emerging conversation (taking place in Western contexts) as it looks at the impact of the colonial narrative on the Gospel, and where that leaves us now.
Brian McLaren spoke about "Post-modern and post-colonial": two sides of the same coin, in Johannesburg just before the first Amahoro Gathering, in 2007. It's one of the 3 best talks I heard that year.
There are many things I like about Amahoro: the family reunion feel, the people, the diversity, the topics we address, and that we're taking theology developed in Africa by Africans seriously. Kenzo Mabiala is the resident theologian of Amahoro; he completed his doctorate under D.A. Carson before returning to the Congo to head up a theological college.
Carson asked him why he was interested in the emerging church conversation (primarily happening in the West), and Kenzo answered that the emerging church is asking the right questions.
For more information: The Amahoro website.
And now to encouraging comments on this post: why is it important to understand how the Gospel was shaped by the rise of the colonialism, and what are the implications for those who live in post-colonial contexts?
Cobus van Wyngaard writes:
I’m back, and I’m a different Afrikaner than I was a week ago. I’m back, and I’ll be going in a slightly different direction theologically than I did a week ago. The change was in identity, in the direction that I take in my personal story. It’s the kind of change where I know that most probably nothing will change today, or tomorrow, or in the next week even. But in weeks to come, I will have to process the experiences, the challenging conversations, the meaning of the new relationships, the emotions, the thoughts on my people, my history, my culture, and in a years time, maybe something of what happened this week would become part of who I am on the deepest level.
He continued with I am an Afrikaner, I owe my being to this continent.
The Beeld newspaper picked up the scene of reconciliation between Adriaan Vlok (former Apartheid Minister of Law and Order) and Sean Callaghan (former member of Koevet, an anti-terrorist unit). The journalist was amazed that Sean has returned the act of foot washing in an act of asking forgiveness for using Vlok's name as a swearword.
Following a brief history of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there was a panel discussion which included a man named Adriaan Vlok. Mr. Vlok spent 10 years as minister of police for the apartheid government. Yesterday afternoon, he shared how God had moved his heart toward reconciliation. He told some amazing stories about the ways God has led him to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with people who suffered deeply as a result of his actions as minister of police. On several occasions, Mr. Vlok has washed the feet of those who've been wronged by apartheid, as a symbol of humility and service.
Cori Wielenga writes:
But perhaps more than any of the stirring talks, I appreciated all the spontaneous conversations I had with Kenyans, Burundians, Ugandans, Rwandans, Zimbabweans, Australians, Americans and South Africans I would normally not speak to. These conversations, normally over meals, were more transformational than any planned event at Amahoro.
Up front, I have to tell you… I have NO idea how to explain what God has done in the last week here. My jaw is still on the ground in awe of what He is stirring in my heart, what He is doing across the continent, and how He is bringing MASSIVE healing to deep wounds everywhere. For me personally, it’s changing a lot of deep deep things that I have no words for. All I can do is share you this story. There’s much more to process in the coming days, weeks, months, and years ahead. (yeah, it was that big of a deal).
Tom Smith askes, "What does it mean to be white and African?"
Amahoro ended yesterday and I headed back to Joburg, giving a lift to a few people. First, we dropped Philbert Kalisa off at Khotso House, which was significant in itself. Khotso House is where the South African Council of Churches is housed. Their website describes their mission:
"As a National Council of Churches and Institutions, the SACC, acting on behalf of its member churches, is called by the Triune God to work for moral reconstruction in South Africa, focussing on issues of justice, reconciliation, integrity of creation and the eradication of poverty and contributing towards the empowerment of all who are spiritually, socially and economically marginalised."
The SACC was hardly mentioned in my formative Christian years, and if it was, it was always in the context of "those Christians who had lost the plot of what Biblical Christianity was all about" - and that they were working for things which Jesus wouldn't have cared a whole lot about, because what was really important was preaching the word, evangelism, discipleship and a personal quiet time, not all that other stuff.
Khotso House was bombed in 1988, with the aim to make the building unusable. Adriaan Vlok was ordered by former state president PW Botha to do so, and was granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He spoke this week at Amahoro, and was part of a powerful scene of healing with a member of Koevoet, a notorious Apartheid-era death squad.
The Amahoro gathering is going really well - we've had some fantastic conversations and some demonstrations of deep reconciliation. I'll post more about that later. I've been recording the talks - here they are so far (in order) with:
Edward Simiyu - The ministry of presence (2.67 MB)
Kelly Nikondeha - The Amahoro story (2.44 MB)
Postcolonialism and why it matters - Dr Kenzo Mabiala (21 MB). Kenzo's notes are here: What Is Postcolonialism.pdf.
Intro to "New Wineskins" - Monte Wilson (1.12 MB)
A 10 minute broad sketch of Apartheid - Muzi Cindi (4.08 MB). This is a commentary which runs alongside this presentation.
The Church and Apartheid - Moss Nthla (8.63 MB)
[Added: 10 June 2009]
The African Reformation - Brian McLaren
[Updated: June 11]
[Updated: 12 June]
Mohinda's story of the Congo (6.34 MB)
If you bring your own breakfast/lunch/supper, you're welcome to pop into the Amahoro conference for no cost. I confirmed that yesterday with the local organiser - since the main logistical difficult for day visitors is food, if that's taken out of the loop, ja well no fine.
I don't know how it will work for those of you who have already booked as a day visitor and are prepared to pay R200 - hopefully this won't complicate that. If so, we'll figure it out - I think we'd much rather than more people were able to interact at Amahoro than not.
If you're thinking of just coming out for a day, I suggest Tuesday (since on Wednesday we're leaving the campsite for the afternoon, and Thursday is the final day). Tuesday is the first full day, Dr Kenzo Mabiala is speaking on postcolonialism and Christianity, Brian McLaren is giving a global perspective on the reformation, and Moss Ntla and Adriaan Vlok are co-hosting a workshop on reconciliation.
The venue is the YFC Cyara campsite (the map is here).
Leave a comment if you're coming!
The Amahoro conference is happening next week - and I can't wait! To get some fantastic minds into the same space to dialogue around post-colonial church is a wonderful, creative opportunity. It's not just the upfront speakers either, but the chance to work out the theory and theology with on-the-ground pastors for whom this must make a difference, or it's all talk. Plus there are some people who have a big influence on the wider scene in South Africa.
This conference is going to be interesting, especially from the South African side, since I think many/most of the participants are white. Perhaps the concept of "post-colonial church" is a little too "out there" for most South Africans, where "post-Apartheid" is closer to home, but it's still a case where from the white side the idea is, "Apartheid is over and racism is no more - just get over it already." And from the black side it's, "White people haven't a clue what it was like, and what it continues to be like." And then there's everyone else (Coloured, Indian, Asian, etc) who aren't in the white-black polemic, and can easily be excluded from this debate (and this is an over-simplification, of course).
Amahoro is a conference about postcolonial church in Africa, exploring the consequences for the church now that colonialism (in its classic sense) has ended. We're interested in how Christianity enmeshed with the colonial project of Europe, so that the civilised White Man could bring the light of the Gospel to the Dark Continent of Africa, so that the savages could be introduced to Jesus, Civilisation, and Title Deeds.