Amahoro Gathering 8 June 2009
I left home at 6:00 am to fetch Hierodeacon Nektarius to travel to Hekpoort for the Amahoro Gathering, and got back about 11:15 pm, a long and quite tiring day, but definitely worth it.
There were about 250 people there, mostly from Africa, but from several other parts of the world as well, mostly young, and a few of them were talent scouts for Christian NGOs. I think they had come to the right place, because there was a lot of talent there. We met old friends (like Annemie Bosch) and newer friends like emerging church people from Gauteng that we had met over the last couple of years, and saw face to face for the first time several people I had only met online before.
The first speaker was Kenzo Mabiala from DRC. His topic was “What is postcolonialism and why does it matter?” Eventually his paper will be on the web, and when it is up I will post a link to it.
His presentation was pretty academic, which some complained about, but I was OK with it because postcolonialism seems to be pretty academic anyway, and so if one wants to know about it, one needs to know about some of the more arcane nooks and crannies of literary criticism.
Postcolonialism, he said, is more than just a temporal marker, and it is used to describe what might otherwise be called third-world literature — the literature of those who have learned to survive. The colonial situation was one in which one group has power over another, and ethnographic translation of literature referred to the way in which the rulers perceived the ruled (lots of use of words like hegemony and hegemonic here). Pastcolonialism has its roots in Michel Foucault’s philosophy. Knowledge is always contextual, and no knowledge is ex nihilo. No knowleddge is knowledge for knowledge’s sake; it is always a discourse of power, when i have a dominant view of what I know.
He mentioned Edward Said’s book Orientalism as an example of postcolonial deconstruction, in which Said maintains that “The Orient” as perceived by the West never existed. The discipline of Orientalism created its own object, and the West projected onto the Orient its own dreams and fears. In a similar way the West invented Africa. These discourses serrved the interests of the West, a hegemonic desire. Western education was a system of ordering bodies, minds and souls.
Postcolonialiasm is therefore a theory and an approach, and far more than just a temporal marker. We can go beyond what dominates and subjugates.It had its predecessors, like Negritude, started by African students in Paris in the 1930s.
Kenzo said that postcolonialism challenges evangelical theology at several levels. Africans are involved in a dance to desconstruct the forces that deprive them of their identity. Africa has become a postcolonial space, and there is a need to bargain and imporvise in order to find and identity. Theology too can serve the interest of dominant groups and so needs to be deconstructed. He found that deconstructing the Western doctrine of the Trinity, which concentrated on the oneness of God, enabled him to see the Eastern Orthodox perception, of the Trinity, which was more communal, and anabled him to see that identity is not at the cost of cvommunity.
There was an interesting discussion in small groups that followed, though there was not much time for it. We were asked to think of a stiuations in which we had power over other people, and in which other people have power over us.
After tea Hierodeacon Nektarius and I spoke to Adriaan Vlok, the former Minister of Law and Order in the apartheid government, who had come to give a testimony of his own repentance from the evils of apartheid.
But now it’s time to leave for Hekpoort again for today’s session, so I’ll have to finish this later, and try to find why uploading pictures causes Firefox to crash.
- Just checked Twitter, Roger Saner says “Recorded talks from #Amahoro are available here: http://tinyurl.com/lblc3u“
- Cobus has also blogged about it here (in Afrikaans) but he has managed to get a picture into his post – perhaps he isn’t using Firefox.
- I’ve posted my sequel to this post at Truth, reconciliation and smelly feet.
- The problem with uploading pictures has been tracked down to Google Gears: Notes from underground: Firefox crashing on clicking Image Uploader in WordPress