Politics, Probity, Poverty and Prayer: African Spiritualities, Economic and Socio-political Transformation

An International, Interdisciplinary Conference


University of Ghana, Legon. October 21-23, 2013

This International Conference brings together scholars/researchers, practitioners of diverse religious traditions and spiritualities, FBOs/NGOs and policy makers to interrogate how and to what extent various religions and spiritualities in Africa and the African diaspora engage in processes of economic, social and political transformation.
Public commentators often criticize political entrepreneurs and African states of their failure to develop an ethic of public probity and accountability, partly exemplified by corruption. The enigmas of public transparency and probity can hardly be limited to public governance. We can also explore how religious institutions in Africa interrogate, critique, practice or fail to eschew transparency, accountability and probity in the quest for economic and social-political transformation.
Religious entrepreneurs grapple with similar issues of leadership, good governance, probity, integrity as a reflection of their wider societies. Ecclesiastical, Islamic, or Indigenous religious polities are situated within wider pluralistic (secular) polities in Africa and are thus mutually reinforcing each other. The significance of leadership and corporate governance (religious/secular) lies in its contribution to prosperity, peaceful coexistence, moral regeneration and accountability.
Accountability requires appropriate rules and regulations, doctrines, codes of conduct, values and behaviour to make for viable transformation. For instance, a historical perspective on leadership dynamics can be helpful in the present crisis in leadership in church and secular contexts. The churches and missionary societies played a crucial role in the shaping of South African cultures, as much in the colonial period as during the years of the formation of the Union and the apartheid era.

The conference provides a platform in which scholars/researchers, practitioners and policy makers will explore, through historical and contemporary perspectives, how authority structures, institutionalized myths, beliefs, and rituals of authority differently mobilize and influence members? behaviour and attitudes towards financial probity and organizational policies. How do various hierarchical/decentralized religious polities (i.e. structures of church government) in Africa deal with issues of probity (moral regeneration), equity and sustainable development? What values do African religions and spiritualities evince that represent a boon or bane for improving corporate governance and ensuring improved ethics and probity in African systems of governance?
How should religious polity structures respond, critique and identify with national/international policies that are aimed at a disciplined management and equitable distribution of public resources, and the establishment of a viable culture of financial probity? What various models condition religious polities and leadership in Africa, and how have these been influenced by modern political movements, such as Western democracy, as well as by modern economics and technology?
Are liberal or conservative forms of religiosity compatible with Western democracy?
How and to what extent should religious insights be present in the public sphere of the secular polity and vice versa? ?How do engage prayer ritual action impact on their religious and national polities to maximize probity at personal and institutional levels?

The conference will highlight and explore how and to what extent African and diaspora religious traditions and spiritualities may cohere on the critical issues, such as that of probity, equity and accountability, which confront the African continent, their ?faiths? in relation to the wider, global community. Interrelated issues on religion, spirituality, leadership, social capital, public role, poverty, corruption, transparency will be discussed. The conference is intended to build synergies and forge dialogue on how religious/spiritual communities in Africa and the African Diaspora can combat poverty and foster probity and sustainable development.

The conference programme shall focus on the following and related sub-themes:
–    African politico-economies, religious polity and accountability
–    religious polity structures, corruption and transparency
–    religious polity, social and religious capital
–    religious values, behaviour, probity and financial accountability
–    ethics, socio-cultural values, and social action
–    democracy and ecclesiastical polity
–    traditional (indigenous) systems of governance and probity
–    religion/spiritualities, prayer and poverty
–    religion, politics and socioeconomic empowerment
–    church polity, apartheid and post-apartheid transformation
–    religion, spiritualities and sustainable development in Africa and the African Diaspora
–    Probity and African and African-derived religions/spiritualities in a new global order

Paper/presentation proposals based or related to one or more of the above themes are invited from the interested public: scholars, religious/spiritual communities and organizations, policy makers, and FBOs/NGOs. Interested panelists are invited to submit a paper/abstract proposal (max. 200 words), stating institutional affiliation, on or before 30 March 2013. The conference will be jointly hosted by the Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana-Legon; Center of African Christianity, Trinity Theological Seminary, Accra; The University of Edinburgh, and PANAFSTRAG.

Abstract proposals and all correspondences regarding the conference should be sent electronically (email) to the conference organizers:
Afe Adogame: a.adogame@ed.ac.uk
Rose Mary Amenga-Etego: rosem.etego@googlemail.com
Cephas Omenyo: comenyo@hotmail.com
Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu: kwabena.asamoahgyadu@gmail.com