African women, hospitality and HIV/AIDS : the case of the Mothers' Union of St. Margaret's United Church of Zambia.
Siwila, Lilian Cheelo.
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The problem of African women's hospitality has not been well handled in most churches in Africa. Although many churches seem to attach great value to African women's hospitality, there are still a lot of situations related to African women's hospitality that have been dehumanising and oppressive to African women both in the church and in the society. Issues such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, economic hardship and sexuality have all affected African women's practice of hospitality. The fact that problems related with African women's hospitality surface within the church goes to show that this kind of hospitality needs to be re-examined by the Church if it has to be free and liberative to African women. Despite all these effects, African women themselves have valued and accepted hospitality as part of their calling in their service to God. The aim of this thesis is to discuss African women's hospitality from an African woman theologian's perspective. Writing as an African woman theologian, the researcher was able to bring out some of the effects of African hospitality to African women. Apart from hospitality being an African way of life and a virtue that needs to be embraced by both African culture and Christianity, hospitality is also viewed as a' command from God to all the Jews and Christians. On the other hand it is also important to mention that hospitality is a gift from God in that there are people who are gifted in extending their acts of hospitality to others. Hospitality as a concept, which has been practiced mainly by women in most African societies has impacted many dimensions of life especially in the Christian faith where African women's hospitality has been viewed as God's command to God's people. Although there is some literature produced on hospitality, the researcher noted with special interest that not much literature has been covered from the theological side on the issue of African women's hospitality and HIV/AIDS. The study was undertaken in the United Church of Zambia with the Mothers' Union group of St. Margaret Church of Kitwe. Among many others, the study reviewed the need for enculturation and contextualization of the African culture and the gospel. Chapter one is the introduction to the study. This includes the background to and motivation for the study, statement of the problem, the methodology used to collect data and the literature review. Chapter two brings out the historical background of hospitality both from the Biblical and African concept. The chapter shows African women's practice of hospitality in all these aspects and how their practises impacted the communities and people who lived at that time. Chapter three looks at different ways African women express their acts of hospitality. The effects of this expression of hospitality are also discussed. The other issues that have been covered are the response of African women theologians' to African women's practise of hospitality. Chapter four examines how HIV/AIDS has affected the practise of African women's hospitality and how these women who continue to offer hospitality under HIV/AIDS conditions cope with the risks involved in the practice. Chapter five analyses the research findings using cultural hermeneutics of Kanyoro 2000 as the frame of reference. Chapter six concludes African women's understanding of hospitality. This chapter states that African women's hospitality is a gift from God and women who are involved in this practice should be encouraged to do so. However, there is need for the church and community to re-examine the practice and look out for oppressive structures that are destructive to the African women's practice of hospitality. The chapter has also called on the church to be supportive to African women in their practise of hospitality.
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