The circle of concerned African women theologians (1989-2007): history and theology
Fiedler, Rachel Nyagondwe
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This thesis is about the history and theology of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (CIRCLE) from 1989 to 2007. The Thesis begins the history from 1989 because this is the time when the Circle was officially launched. The year 2007 is the cutoff point because this research was finalized during the third convocation which ended in that year. The thesis uses a gendered analysis with a feminist bias. Thus experiences of women were a major source for the thesis. This thesis argues that the Circle is an African bom in ecumenical surroundings. The Mother of the Circle is Mercy Amba Oduyoye. However, ecumenical bodies such as the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT) also played a role. The numerical, leadership and administrative growth of the Circle was the product of collaborative work by many members of the Circle. The continental leaders of the Circle gave shape and direction to the Circle while pioneering Circle women and their direct disciples became key agents in promoting the Circle in their various geographical areas. Since its establishment, the Circle has made significant contributions, especially in the field of academia. This is evidenced by a pool of publications by the Circle and its members. The other major contribution to academia is the production of Circle theology. This theology is the voice of African feminists in Africa and beyond. It is characterized by its creativity and distinctiveness as it emphasizes the role of culture and religion in the formulation of African Feminist theology. This theology is diverse and includes evangelical as well as liberal feminist reflections. Using Malawi as a reference point, the spread of the Circle into various geographical areas is conditioned by several factors. In addition, Circle theology can not be applied uncritically to a given context of women. Circle theology as an elite theology must come to terms with the many contradictions in the lives of grassroots women that may be a challenge to appropriating Circle theology summarily. Since Circle theology is valuable in partially solving the problems women face today, there must be an effort to process the theology and make it a liberative tool for grassroots women today, based on their context.