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Current issue: Vol.1, No. 1 January 2001


The beginning of the third millennium has been an occasion for all committed Christians to reflect on the life and history of the church. The dramatic image of Pope John Paul II asking for forgiveness for the mistakes committed by Christians in the first two millennia will, for many years to come, influence how society at large perceives the church as well as how members understand their church.

The African Scribe wants to foster a meaningful dialogue between Africa and the Christian faith, avoiding the mistakes of the past. We think, as Laurenti Magesa highlights in the first article, that the role of Africa in this dialogue has not been at the same level with Christianity. For a truly African Christianity to be born, it is not sufficient for Christianity to influence and reshape African culture, but African culture must also appropriate Christianity, reshaping theology, liturgy, even church law.

This process can only be fruitful if it is able to develop in a climate of respect and freedom. That is why the African Scribe has an "open door" policy to all contributions, so as to foster dialogue and Christian maturity based on mutual exchange. We believe that at this stage of the growth of Christianity in Africa, we need to speak, write, and circulate ideas and experiences. It will be the duty of the leaders and of the community (the sensus fidelium invoked by Magesa) to select what is worthy. Internet, although still a luxury in Africa, offers us a new opportunity to circulate information. We ask our readers to freely react to the articles of the African Scribe. They can send their comments and articles to We will publish a “letters to the editor” section within two weeks of receiving them, editing them only with the criteria of brevity, clarity, and respectful dialogue.

African Scribe would like to put contemporary events, and social, political, and economic trends into a theological context, asking questions about what these events and trends mean, and what God is calling us to do in these situations. We are very much aware that our God is a God who acts in human history, in collaboration with all people, not only “church people.” African Scribe wants to provide to the many African Christians who long for a deeper understanding and a more African expression of their faith - beyond catechetical instructions and homilies - a medium through which they can exercise their intellectual and spiritual freedoms. Writers will have the chance to deliver informed analysis on such issues as inculturation, human rights, democracy, economic justice, social justice, and other issues affecting the church, Christian communities and the wider society across Africa. African Scribe wants to explore these issues in a language that is as much as possible the language of everyday life, avoiding the use of theological jargon, so that the issues under examination can become alive and relevant.

Welcome, then, to the first issue of African Scribe. In this maiden issue, we are delighted to present an exciting package of articles. After the article by Laurenti Magesa, Michael J. Kelly puts forward a personal opinion on the role of the church as servant, teacher and prophet in the HIV/AIDS crisis, especially on the use of condoms and protection of an existing life. Renato Kizito Sesana reflects on how just a few catechists in the Nuba Mountains succeed in keeping faith alive despite all the odds of isolation from the church. Is it not because they make disciples the 'Jesus style?'

In the following article, Cathy Majtenyi writes of how constitutional reform in Kenya has brought Christians and Muslims in a co-operation that defies all efforts of separating the two. Japheth Kyalo opines that an increasing attraction to the New Religious Movements, especially by the Catholic faithful, is a reflection of the church's failure to use the resources availed by the Small Christian Communities.

Jose Carlos Rodriguez's article explains the dilemmas of a middle-aged missionary priest. Gabriel Neville writes on the need for economic justice especially in the present trend of economic globalisation. He reflects on the South African experience and how social development can be effected under such changing circumstances. Lastly, David Kuria writes of how theologians in Africa are looking for new models of doing theology. The reconstruction model seems to be gaining wide acceptance, but it is not without its shortfalls.

Why the title African Scribe? An Egyptian statuette made many centuries before Christ was given this name when found, since it depicts a person writing on a tablet. We now know that the ancient Egyptian civilisation was a black civilisation. By taking this name as the name of our publication, we want to recognise and affirm all roots of African Culture. Our future will grow out of them.

Koinonia Media Centre, the publisher of African Scribe, is the initiative of a community of lay Christians who believe that the media can be used to promote greater understanding, justice and peace. We also publish Africanews, a monthly service of original stories from all over the continent.

The African Scribe will be published every three months. So wait for the next issue on April 1, 2001.

David Kuria, managing editor

African Scribe is guest on PeaceLink web site