Blog Details

14 May, 2016

Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa: Cape Town Workshop Brief

Nellie Kooistra

One of the distinctive features of the Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa Project is a research seminar for all grantees. The first seminar was held at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, from 7-18 March 2016.Thirty grantees, representing 22 of the 23 grant teams, met with 8 facilitators and 8 advisers/mentors for two weeks to address research methods and theories, consult with a team of advisers, conduct library research at the university, and enjoy plenty of informal networking.

In preparation for the meeting, the two research directors, Francis Nyamnjoh and Tite Tiénou, worked with their research assistants to compile some reference tools for the grantees: general bibliographies aimed at project topics and themes in both the social sciences and in theology, and more than 200 .pdf files of documents in these fields. Each grantee received a thumb drive loaded with these resources. Each director also selected about a dozen books for foundational reading. These works were secured and shipped to the workshop site by the Theological Book Network (TBN).

The first week of the seminar ran much like an academic conference, with several plenary speakers and question-and-answer sessions. These sessions were lively and spirited, with the moderators having to cut off discussion in order to keep the agenda moving. Conversations spilled over, naturally, into coffee and meal breaks.

We took some time out in the middle of the first week for an afternoon visit to historic sites in Cape Town and dinner at the Victoria Waterfront. Then on Saturday we toured the Cape Point and several shore towns. On Sunday we had worship and lunch at the J.L. Zwane Memorial Presbyterian Church in Gugulethu Township, followed by a walking visit to one of the church’s partner ministries, an orphanage situated in the informal settlements at the township fringe. Given the many days we spent in an upscale suburban setting, it was important for us to see the challenges of South Africa’s vast urban townships.

The second week included some morning sections on writing and publishing strategies and opportunities each day to visit the library or confer with advisers. It was time also to meet with the agent (Mwenda Ntarangwi) from the Theological Book Network, so that each grantee team could order additional titles germane to their particular research topic.

It was wonderful to get acquainted with the grantees, and they with each other. We all left Cape Town encouraged and energized by what we had learned and acquired. Grantees are now back to their various sites, pursuing their research. Adviser/mentors will stay in touch and present reports by the first of June on the various projects’ progress. Research directors are preparing proposals for group publications and dreaming up new collaborative projects. We look forward to meeting each other again for the summative conference of this project, to be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in March 2017.


Nathanael Soede, Missionary Formation, Abidjan Philomena Mwaura,

Kenyatta University, Nairobi Harold Netland, Trinity Divinity School USA                                                                        

Robert D Woodberry, Baylor University, USA  



Ilana vanWyk, University of Cape Town Bame Nsamenang, Yaounde University,

Cameroon Afe Adogame, Princeton Theological Seminary, USA Guy Massart,

Instituto Universitário de Arte, Tecnologia e Cultura, Cape Verde




Jesse N. K. Mugambi, University of Nairobi Nathanael Soede, Missionary Formation, Abidjan Katho Robert Bungishabaku, Shalom U of Bunia, Congo Philomena Mwaura, Kenyatta University, Nairobi Rosalie Aduayi Diop, U of Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar Mwenda Ntarangwi, TBN, USA Deevia Bhana, University of KwaZulu Natal Yaw Ofusu-Kusi, U of Education, Winneba, Ghana



Latest News

27 July, 2017

Call for Papers - Currents, Perspectives, And Methodologies In World Christianity

Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, USA

January 18 – January 20, 2018

The last few decades mark a significant watershed in the study of World Christianity as an emerging field, its development into an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary endeavor in particular. Most scholarship now characterizes World Christianity as a ‘polycentric’ faith

"The Healing City: Faith of Unity Prayer Camp in Kapyemi, Uganda" - Nsibidi Institute, 12 June 2017 (online)
28 June, 2017

By: Asonzeh Ukah

Religion, health and healing are intricately interwoven and inseparable in traditional African