This week I have been in Sao Leopoldo in Brazil at Faculdades EST for the bi-annual conference (this year focussing on religion and the media). It forms part of the South South partnership that exists between Faculdades EST and some Universities in South Africa (these include the University where I teach, Stellenbosch University, as well as UNISA, UKZN and even a colleauge from the University of Cape Town).
South Africa and Brazil share a number of similar aspects in our social, political and economic history and current reality. Both have suffered under oppressive regimes. In both instances the Church and religious organisations played a significant role in helping to end the oppression. Liberation theologies, public theologies and post colonial theologies are common discourses in both settings. Of course they are not the same - there are many obvious, and some less obvious, differences in the two contexts. However, there are great opportunities for mutual enrichment and support.
Thus far the partnership has involved the exchange of academic staff, exchange of Masters and PhD students, and projects which have resulted in publications (such as the book that will be launched tomorrow evening, and the set of publications in English that will go into the Journal of Theology for South Africa JTSA). Language is something of a barrier, since we only have one colleague from South Africa who speaks Portuguese, and only a few colleagues from Brazil that speak English. I have committed to try and learn Portuguese in the years ahead so that we can serve the partnership better from our side.
It has been wonderful to hear the debates and inputs on public theology, liberation theologies, and a variety of contextual and post-collonial theologies.
On Thursday evening for fly back to Sao Paulo to have a meeting with the Vice Rector of International Affairs at USP. USP and Stellenbosch have an institutional agreement that is now being developed into a South South partnership between the two Universities. USP is one of the largest, and most prestigious, Universities in South America.
This post contains a few photographs taken on the trip. One is of me and one of my former students, Ndikho Mtshiselwa. It was great to see him here. Among the other colleauges were Prof Nico Koopman, Prof Rothney Tshaka, Prof Rudolf von Sinner, Prof Reggie Nel, Dr Pieter Grove, and Dr Elaine Nogueira-Godsey.