Well, it might be an exaggeration to claim that all roads lead to Ekwendeni. But many of those motivated to contribute to the advancement of theological education in Malawi are Ekwendeni-bound this week. They are heading to an historic mission station founded in the late 19th century by Livingstonia Mission. Today it is the site of one of the campuses of the University of Livingstonia and has been chosen to host a conference that will bring together representatives of some twenty institutions that are engaged in teaching theology at tertiary level across Malawi.
Their chosen theme is “Decolonizing the Theological Curriculum in an Online Age” –a striking juxtaposition between a reference to the past – the colonial period – and something very contemporary – an Online Age.
The period of colonial rule in Africa ended a long time ago in most places; in Malawi’s case almost sixty years ago. You might conclude that decolonization was something that happened and was completed long ago. Why would we still be talking about it today? Should we not be moving on to address more contemporary issues? This is a fair question, but it is met by another question, which is whether decolonization was ever completed? At a political level, yes, the colonial rulers departed, and African nations became responsible for their own government. But it turned out that there are many different dimensions to colonialism.
Amongst them is what Ngugi wa Thiong’o described as the “decolonization of the mind.” This is the dimension with which the conference will be concerned. Until there is a convincing decolonization of the theological mind, there is unlikely to be much progress in decolonizing the curriculum. Will the possibilities of the online age enable such progress to be made? Or will the power of the internet usher in a new form of colonization? This week’s conference will demonstrate that theologians in Malawi are not running away from such questions.