A theological analysis of selected writings of E. Chitando, G. West and A. van Klinken on African masculinities in relation to gender justice.
The broad field of men and masculinities is increasingly being enriched by the emergent religious discourse on the subject in Africa. At the heart of this religious discourse is an agenda for change and transformation of men which owes largely to the influence of African Women Theologians and their struggle for gender justice. This study was an attempt to do a theological analysis of the writings of three scholars who belong to this trend, within the framework of the theology of gender justice. These are, A. van Klinken, G. West and E. Chitando. The study is interpretive in nature, and sought to re-read and re-present the writings of these scholars in a way that enhances their utilization and appreciation. Thus, using the thematic networks analysis, the study explored firstly, the themes that emerge from the writings of these scholars; secondly, the extent to which these themes contribute to the general discourse on African masculinities and gender justice; and thirdly, the ways in which these writings can further contribute to such discourses. The resultant analysis showed that specific themes (termed the global themes) form the major claim and heart of the writings of each scholar. For Chitando, “men can, should and must change!” West was able to show that given the space and tools such as Contextual Bible Study, men can change and embrace alternative forms of masculinities that are life-promoting. Van Klinken on his part argues for an alternative framework for analyzing masculinities and a different approach to gender justice. Drawing from a critical evaluation of these different positions, it was recommended that their approaches can be enhanced with more attention to the inequality inherent in the gender relations among men themselves. Moreover, religious approaches to the transformation of men also need to emphasize to men the costs of harmful masculinities and what they stand to benefit from proposed alternative masculinities as men.