This book surveys a broad panorama of Christian and African traditions to discover and assess the components that will illuminate and motivate a Christian and African ethic of women’s political participation. The author’s primary lens for diagnosing the problems faced by women in Africa is Engelbert Mveng’s concept of “anthropological poverty” that results from slavery and colonialism. It affects women in unique ways and is exacerbated by the religious and cultural histories of women’s oppression. The author advocates an interplay between the sacredness of every individual’s life, a salient principle of Christian ethics, and the collective consciousness of solidarity distinctive to African cultures. This interplay can, in turn, foster a more enlightened approach to African masculinity. Using a “sophialogical” hermeneutic, this in-depth study undertakes a moral imagination through narrative criticism. It argues that the existential reality of African women must be addressed as an essential element in the development of Christian socio-political ethic. The righteous, solidaristic, and resistant anger of women can transform patriarchy and inform Catholic social teaching. The author draws on The Circle of concerned African women theologians, postcolonial theorists, inculturation theology, African males, and Jon Sobrino's liberation theology to present an innovative Christian ethic that will radically affect the lives of African women and inform feminist theology.
Léocadie W. Lushombo is a consecrated woman, member of the Teresian Association (Institución Teresiana), assistant professor of theological ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology/Santa Clara University, and a visiting professor at the Catholic University of the Congo.
List of Abbreviations
Part One: The Scope of Anthropological Poverty in Africa
Chapter 1: Anthropological Pauperization: History, Causes, and Effects
Chapter 2: African Women’s Anthropological Poverty
Part Two: African Women’s Empowering Sociopolitical and Cultural Legacy
Chapter 3: African Proverbs and African Traditional Religions
Chapter 4: African Myths and Female Power
Chapter 5: African Women Historical Figures and Political Agents
Part Three: Christian Ethics and The Challenges of Women’s Political Participation
Chapter 6: Catholic Social Teaching and Women’s Political Participation
Chapter 7: Christian Discipleship and Women’s Political Participation
Chapter 8: Women, Solidaristic Anger, and the Preferential Option for the Poor
Part Four: African Women’s Voices: Implications to Christian and African Ethic
Chapter 9: African Women Living as Risen Beings
Chapter 10: African Women’s Solidarity, Hope, and Resilience
Chapter 11: African Women as Loci Theologici: Ethical Implications
About the Author
With exhaustive research, profound insight, and great compassion, Léocadie W. Lushombo exposes the root causes of the anthropological poverty of women in Africa and advocates a Christian/African ethic for the empowerment of women and their full participation in political life as well as a radical spiritual renewal based on the reimagining of biblical and African texts in the light of resurrection faith. This is a monumental work to be studied, pondered, and lived.
Léocadie Lushombo provides a stimulating proposal for women who have customarily been denied a role in African political life. In developing her ethical argument she draws upon both traditional African social thought and the tradition of Catholic social teaching. However, she is no uncritical reader of these moral traditions. Lushombo offers a piercing assessment of how these traditions have been compromised by their male-dominated worldviews and complicit in the oppression of women. Yet, her critical retrieval of these traditions shows they can be utilized for a more promising ethical vision for African women than heretofore experienced.
By engaging the wonderfully rich platform of anthropological poverty, Lushombo captures the complexities that compromise women's agency in the struggle for equity in Africa. Rather than speak for them, she raises up living beings whose own voices we can hear and that summon us to listen to them with her and to recognize their right to be heard. A solid, engaging, liberating work by a theologian of great depth and humanity.
Honest, courageous, compelling and profound—Léocadie Lushombo’s manifesto gives voice and hope to cruelly burdened African women, while inspiring solidarity and action among their allies everywhere. Uniquely woven from women’s stories, African traditional cultures and religion, Scripture, African postcolonial theology, African women’s theology, liberation theology, and Catholic social teaching, this marvelous work is a scholarly tour de force. Its distinctively African call for resistance to the reality of women’s suffering in the name of resurrection life speaks across continents with eloquence and passion.