Posted by: Andries Louw | 8 June 2009

Amahoro Africa conference: The African Reformation

The Amahoro Africa conference starts tonight at the YFC campsite, CYARA in the Magaliesberg. Looking at the schedule it seems that the two dominant themes for this annual gathering of leaders from Africa and beyond will be the Postcolonial Church and the African Reformation.

I will be attending and am planning to blog and tweet more about it in the coming week(s). (Follow me on Twitter here). Roger Saner has started blogging about Amahoro a few days ago. He posted a very useful introduction to Amahoro here and published some interesting thoughts that already elicited a fair amount of discussion here and here. Steve Hayes posted much of his contribution to Roger’s posts here and here. Nic Paton posted on Amahoro here. Graeme Codrington had posted a few podcasts and summaries of addresses from the Amahoro 1 conference in Uganda, 2007 here.

I would be interested to know if anybody else has also posted on Amahoro or is planning to do so in the coming week or weeks. Most of the mentioned discussions have centered around the concepts of postcolonialism, apartheid, racism and the African/Western conversation.

I am very much looking forward to attending Amahoro, not so much because of the keynote speakers (although I have reason to believe that their inputs will be very good), but especially because of what I expect will happen between the participants and because of the networking opportunities. I hope that we will somehow be changed in God’s presence and be moulded together in our journey of discovering our true identity as the church in South Africa and Africa. I hope to discover more of my own African identity even though I am a white Afrikaner. I hope that I will be able to listen well and seek to understand before seeking to be understood.

I also hope that we will be able to re-discover what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ and what it means to be the church, irrespective of our backgrounds. It is our shared identity of being in Christ (died and raised with him) that should move us to confront the injustices of colonialism, apartheid, racism, sexism, exploitation of the poor etc.  And it is our shared identity of being in Christ that should move us to create new communities of hope, life and reformation. As leaders we should deal with these issues in our own lives, repent and forgive on behalf of others who might be unwilling to do so and create examples of the African Reformation in action.

According to the Amahoro website, this is what Amahoro is about:

Amahoro Africa is working to see the Gospel of Jesus bringing transformation to communities across Africa.  We facilitate holistic transformation by encouraging, resourcing and connecting emerging African leaders who are committed to the tangible manifestation of justice, mercy and goodness in their local context.

In his letter to attendees, Claude Nikondeha, director of Amahoro Africa writes:

Those who will be assembled for The Gathering are on a trajectory of transformation in their communities and countries.  They are working for something more than the salvation of the soul, but investing in the restoration of all things.  They are working for change on the ground, be it in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa or the Dominican Republic.  They understand that the work they do is their response to the Gospel imperative, to bring good news to the poor and broken of the earth. But our good works and good efforts need roots and nourishment to sustain us in our Gospel-inspired work.  To do the work of transformation without the accompanying spirituality is to run on empty.

Read his full letter here.

Please pray for this conference and for everybody attending.

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Responses

  1. Andries,

    Thanks for pulling things together like that.

    The thing that interests me most about it (apart from meeting people, as you mentioned) iss trying to get a handle on the “postcolonial” thing.

    I’m a bit chary of the “African Reformation” bit. Perhaps that’s because I see the three principasl strands of modernity being the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Englightenment, and in the Mbeki years we heard about the African Renaissance, and if we are now to think in terms of African Reformation, can the African Enlightenment be far behind? It makes it sound like a modernisation project.

    Also, what are we reforming into what?

    The Reformation in Europe was a relatively simple matter — a paradim shift from Premodern to Modern, which took a few basic forms — Luther, Calvin, Zwingli & Co, and the so-called Counter-Reformation in the RCC, and a few anabaptists thrown in.

    But how do you talk of a “reformation” in the complex mosaic which is African Christianity — from A to Z – Anglican to Zionist, and everything in between?

  2. I’m looking forward to these conversations in person, Andries – this will be a creative space to do some very deep work (I hope). Also, there’s going to be wifi there, so we can share our thoughts with the world (not at the expense of relationship in person, though! ::note to self::)

    As regards the “African Reformation”, I’m always wary of naming a big change before that change has happened. As Steve said, what are we re-forming into? Conversations like Amahoro set up some waypoints.

  3. I posted a comment on Roger’s blog about the complex mosaic.

    Regarding the terms “African Reformation”, Renaissance, Enlightenment – it’s the old thing again of loaded terms and semantics. The problem with words is that different people hear different things and see different mental pictures when they use the same words.

    The reason I deliberately used the term African Reformation in the title of my post is because the Amahoro programme starts tonight with Edward Simiyu talking about “The Amahoro vision and the African Reformation”.

    I couldn’t care less if we call it the “Call of the Fish eagle” or the “Rythm of the Elephant” but something special is happening in Africa. And maybe we should be careful of calling it something, as long as we don’t refrain from boldly walking together in our African identity as followers of Jesus Christ.

  4. Andries, you have put it beautifully and it makes one think poignantly. I look forward to regular updates of the conference and I pray for all attending. May many bridges be built. Wish I was there!!

  5. I am glad the see that my choice of the deliberately provocative ‘African Reformation’ title is eliciting robust engagement with whatever it is that is happening in Africa!

  6. […] Andries Louw (Christian) of nextchurch on Amahoro Africa conference The African Reformation […]

  7. […] that one may consider would be people such as Claude Nikondeha of Amahoro Africa – who has created a new space in East Africa to build partnerships between emerging African leaders and Christ…(more here and here)…or the Late Dr. Richard Twiss of Wiconi International __________________ To […]


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