Original Research

‘Moving in Circles’ – a Sankofa–Kairos theology of inclusivity and accountability rooted in Trinitarian theology as a resource for restoring the liberating legacy of The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians

Nontando M. Hadebe
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 2 | a1573 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i2.1573 | © 2016 Nontando M. Hadebe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 January 2016 | Published: 08 July 2016

About the author(s)

Nontando M. Hadebe, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Mercy Amba Oduyoye’s untitled poem about a circle sets the context for the renewal of the legacy of The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (The Circle) at a time when The Circle seems to be moving in circles of uncertainty lacking a clear unified focus. Oduyoye describes a circle as eternal, expansive, evolving and sustained by self-critique, accountability, inclusiveness and connectedness to the reality around it. This continuous movement is expressed in the concept of Sankofa–Kairos which is rooted in the past and radically responsive to the present. This ‘backward–forward’ theological method is critical for The Circle to remain true to its mission as a liberating theological and cultural voice for women and other oppressed groups. In contemporary contexts where oppression is pervasive and includes all groups, an inclusive gender paradigm as well as accountability to oppressed groups is critical for the renewal of The Circle. Trinitarian theology provides a model for liberating relationships characterised by equality, difference, mutuality, communion and oneness. Thus, it will be argued that Trinitarian theology provides theological resources for Sankofa–Kairos theologies for The Circle that will be inclusive and accountable to all oppressed groups. This will contribute to the restoration of The Circle as a critical contributor to liberation theologies in Africa.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article proposes Sankofa–Kairos methodology based on the dual legacies of The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians and The Kairos Document as the starting point for developing accountable and inclusive liberation theologies rooted in Social Models of the Trinity that could respond to the multiple challenges emerging from the African context.

Keywords: Sankofa; Kairos; gender; African-women theologies; accountability;inclusivity; masculinities


Sankofa; Kairos; gender; African-women theologies; accountability; inclusivity; masculinities


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