Student reports from the annual consultation in South Africa
Initial Graduate School student Sarah Korang Sansa joined the annual consultation between the PThU and its South-African partner Stellenbosch University and the University of Western Cape.
As a young theologian, my deepest desire is to nurture in me new and existing ideas to improve on my research enquiry. One of the ways I figured to do this is to be curious enough to prob into issues and to ask the right questions, whilst intentionally surrounding myself with the right people, and situating myself in the right academic environment. Hence, as an African theologian, attending the ‘Annual Consultation’ at the Stellenbosch University and the University of Western Cape was enriching.
In my personal conversation with attended scholars, I could envisage the differences in our theologies, and yet intriguing similarities, that feeds into our individual field of interests. To top this up, I felt highly privileged to present an academic paper for the very first time, and the feedback received was not just motivating, but as well, enlightening. I could see how important it was to present a paper within the right academic context, when inputs shared from the participants directly exposed my blind spots, while illuminating insightful perspectives for me to consider.
Ghana's ecological crises
My topic was “Ghana’s Ecological Crises, The Akan Chief, and the Christian Viceroy Rule: A Ghanaian Ecotheological Exploration”. The paper highlights the layers in human-earth relationships. It illuminates Ghanaian primal eco-belief systems, through the lenses of eco-biblical texts which is proposed to serve as a contextual basis and approach to instilling motivation to care for the environment amongst Ghanaian Christians. Relating to the topic of “ownership and space in times of the Anthropocene”, my paper introduces the nature of the Akan religious cosmos as a Ghanaian response to ownership and space. This is because, the Ghanaian primal religious cosmos, view both animate and inanimate things as not separate entities, but rather, one cosmic whole, whereby there is no hierarchical superiority over space. To put it differently, no one owns space, rather, both humans and non-humans are occupants of one shared space, and hence, live in a joint community. Using the word ‘viceroy’, the paper, suggests that the Christian biblical mandate to ‘rule the earth’ (Genesis 2:15), could be demystified through the Ghanaian Akan beliefs system (through the Akan chief’s rule) as a rule that possess the character of humility, and not that of supremacy. Therefore, it was enlightening to share this knowledge with the conference participants, while exchanging ideas and academic inputs for my future research.
I must say, I am grateful to the PThU, for making it possible for me to attend this conference, against all odds. It is my hope to build and incorporate the knowledge gained at the conference in my PhD inquiry. To conclude, the priceless time spent with my professors, strolling together in the beautiful Cape town and Stellenbosch, missing the ‘Robin Island’ boat together, and laughing our way through has become a beautiful memory. Indeed, this is a trip to remember!