Mutale Mulenga Kaundal
Dr Mutale Mulenga Kaunda (PhD Gender and Religion, University of KwaZulu-Natal) is an adjunct scholar and research fellow at the United Church of Zambia University. She currently resides in South Korea and is highly engaged in various ecumenical spaces as a speaker. Dr Mulenga-Kaunda has published journal articles and book chapters focusing on the intersection of gender, sexuality, religion, ecumenism, culture and women’s work in Africa. She is a member of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians and Pan African Women of faith/PAWEEN.
“The bible as Public Good in Zambia: An African Pentecostal Feminist Critique of Sumaili’s use of the Bible in the Public Square”
The minister of national guidance and religious affairs (MNGRA) in Zambia, Rev Godfridah Sumaili, has constantly used the bible in the public to emphasize Zambia as a Christian nation. Using the bible in the public is not in itself a problem, how the bible is used and to what end calls for critical engagement. Rev Sumaili’s usage of the bible in the public seem to conflict what African women theologians- as public theologians have been arguing in terms of challenging biblical texts as being male dominated. In this paper, I argue that African women theologians implore African women to read the bible with a sense of conscious suspicion. Rev Sumaili has negated Zambian women in the way she engages the bible in the public space. African Pentecostal Feminism argues for the hermeneutic of suspicion when women read the bible. They argue for a critical engagement with the bible and not take it literally as the word of God. Rev Sumaili uses the bible in a literal way even when she applies it to politics, a trend that is apt to Pentecostal engagement with the bible. The bible cannot be used in this simplistic sense in the public because that promotes dehumanizing discourses and oftentimes patriarchy and apartheid in South Africa shows this. There is a need for a critical engagement with the bible in African Christianity and among Pentecostals from a feminist perspective. Bible can be engaged using feminist tools that will use theories of hermeneutics of suspicion in the way the bible is interacted with in public because the bible can be a double egged sword, it can give life but it also can be life-denying. The case of Rev Sumaili is a life-denying discourse, it has reinforced male dominance over women. One of her focus during her tenure (2017-now) has been the use of the bible in relation to sexuality, not limited to LGBTIQ+ but women as well.