A Future for Africa: Critical Essays in Christian Social Imagination

By Voll, John O. | African Studies Review, April 2007 | Go to article overview

A Future for Africa: Critical Essays in Christian Social Imagination


Voll, John O., African Studies Review


Emmanuel M. Katongole. A Future for Africa: Critical Essays in Christian Social Imagination. Scranton, Pa.: The University of Scranton Press, 2005. xix + 264 pp. Bibliography. Index. $25.00. Paper.

Fundamental conceptual frameworks are changing in many fields. These transformations involve more than giving new answers to basic questions in those fields. Instead, new questions are being asked, defining the issues and fields in new ways. Emmanuel Katongole works to transform the conceptual frameworks involved in articulating Christian ethics in Africa. The core of this effort is the articulation of new narratives and the transformation of the Christian social imagination in Africa.

The first section of the book contains three essays that examine the "significance of memory for moral-theological reflection" (xiv). Chapter 1 deals with the role of Idi Amin in the historical memory of Ugandans. The violence of that era appears to be internalized, shaping the common patterns of life. The necessary response of Christian ethics is not to decide how to cope with the social habits created by that past violent era, but rather how to create a new narrative of community "in which the memory of violence begins to give way to practices of peace and reconciliation" (25).

The first chapter sets the pattern for other essays, as Katongole contrasts current approaches in Christian ethics with possible new, transformative approaches. In each chapter he describes a troubling situation and then notes that the current approach through "Christian ethics" formulates a response framed within the premise of the situation itself, thus creating a palliative response rather than a transformative solution. However, in each case, Katongole argues that new Christian narratives and imagination can create a transformed future for Africans. The second chapter deals with AIDs and the "condomization" of morality. On this issue, the "church needs to change from being a moral and spiritual umpire, to engendering a practice of moral empowerment" (44). Chapter 3 starts with the global shock brought about by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and argues that this temporary sense of global identity needs to be enhanced dirough "the cultivation of a global imagination" (67). …

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