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Encounters between Catholics and Protestants in Africa

Nairobi, July 11-14, 2017


The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Viewed largely as European phenomena, the sixteenth century events and the historical and theological novelty that they set in motion might easily pass uncelebrated in Africa. Yet, that omission would amount to a missed opportunity, for the third wave of missionary evangelization in Africa, though starting in late 18th century, cannot be understood without a proper appreciation of the impact of the Reformation on global Christianity and on human encounters in general.

The history of Christianity in Africa is as old as Christianity itself. The first wave of evangelization touched mainly on the northern parts of the continent that were under the Roman Empire and lasted until the 8th century. After this date, Christianity endured in Africa only in pockets, mainly in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. The second wave occurred when Africa became part of Portugal’s eastern empire towards the end of the 15th century and later on when the Dutch settled in South Africa in the 16th century. Together with the privileges they enjoyed in protected trade, the Portuguese were expected to facilitate missionary work in those places that they controlled. With a further streamlining of missionary work through the establishment of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in 1622, significant missions were opened or continued in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and the Congo, largely manned by the Jesuits, the Dominicans and the Franciscans. Some of these Catholic initiatives lasted for over two centuries, but, by the end of the 18th century, they too had disappeared. It is only Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa that have roots in the second wave of evangelization.

Read more: Encounters between Catholics and Protestants in Africa

Art and Writings of Engelbert Mveng SJ (1930-1995)

Fr Engelbert Mveng SJ (1930-1995)Fr. Engelbert Mveng SJ (May 9, 1930—April 22, 1995) was a Cameroonian Jesuit priest, artist and scholar, who researched and published in theology, history and anthropology. His scholarly ideas found aesthetic expression in his numerous paintings. Arising from the heart of Africa's traditional aesthetics, Mveng's art pieces found their way to different parts of the world and became a real patrimony to humanity. For example, his Stations of the Cross and Resurrection adorn the chapel of Hekima College in Nairobi (Kenya), his Our Lady of Africa is found in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth (Israel), and his mural depicting angelic activity through history is in the Holy Angels Church in Chicago (USA). Thus, in a manner that was hitherto unprecedented, Mveng used art to express Africa's deepest spiritual insights into universal Christian phenomena.

This great artist-scholar was brutally murdered by an unknown assailant in the night of 22 April 1995 in Younde, Cameroon. Read more








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