The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians converged on the University of Botswana on July 2, 2019 to celebrate its 30th Anniversary and also tackle challenges facing humanity and the environment under the theme Mother Earth and Mother Africa in Imagination.
The grouping, known in short as The Circle, was launched in Ghana in 1989 by a group of 70 founding members after one of the members, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, realised that notwithstanding that while women were the majority in Faith-Based Organisations, they were also visibly absent in religious leadership and academic study of religion.
Its goal is to infiltrate and transform the religious space through research, teaching and engagement with community. While the Circle is active through its national and regional chapters, it meets once every seven years at continental level. The Botswana conference was the fifth African gathering and its 30th Anniversary.
Speaking at the official opening of the conference, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Mr Ngaka Ngaka, described the gathering as a landmark conference showcasing the strides achieved in advancing issues affecting women.Founding member, Ms Oduyoye said the Circle was multi-religious education concerned with the promotion of a multi-religious way of tackling societal issues.
Director for the Centre for Continuing Education, Professor Richard Tabulawa who spoke on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, said the University of Botswana was honoured to have been chosen as the host of the conference and 30th Anniversary celebrations.
Professor Tabulawa said the theme of the conference was long overdue given the negative effects that mother earth had long been enduring. He called for African introspection to establish what went wrong because historically they knew how to care for Mother Earth.
“We should seriously ponder how we should be in tune with Mother Nature. Religion has much to offer in the current state of affairs,” he observed.
Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Professor Fidelis Nkomazana, said for the department to host the conference demonstrated that it was not only concerned with reading of the bible but other human issues as well.
Professor Nkomazana noted that the department was leading in research, adding that they have also organised a number of conferences that tackled issues such religion and humanity, religion and media and other issues.
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Anderson Chebanne, underscored the need to reduce academic discourse to community engagement so that communities were informed of developments intended for them.
Professor Chebanne also spoke about challenges facing Africa and the need to take stock and address climate change issues and civil strife because they affected how people interacted with their environment.
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