This article explores the global implications of the statement from African theologians that the body of Christ has AIDS. It will outline how these theologians employ the metaphor of the body of Christ to challenge the western world to enter into solidarity with Africa struck by HIV and AIDS. From the realization that the HIV epidemic is embedded in globalization processes, and from the understanding of contextual theologies as significant to western theology, it is argued that western theologians have to take seriously the critical African questions. Hence the article investigates what it means for the western world to say that the body of Christ has AIDS, and how this metaphor helps to envision global solidarity in light of the HIV epidemic.
The born-again discourse is a central characteristic of Pentecostal Christianity in Africa. In the study of African Christianities, this discourse and the way it (re)shapes people’s moral, religious, and social identities has received much attention. However, hardly any attention has been paid to its effects on men as gendered beings. In the study of men and masculinities in Africa, on the other hand, neither religion in general nor born-again Christianity in particular are taken into account as relevant factors in the construction of masculinities. On the basis of a detailed analysis of interviews with men who are members of a Pentecostal church in Lusaka, Zambia, this article investigates how men’s gender identities are reshaped by becoming and being born-again and how born-again conversion produces new forms of masculinity. The observed Pentecostal transformation of masculinity is interpreted in relation to men’s social vulnerability, particularly in the context of the HIV epidemic in Zambia.
Africa has become a key site of masculinity politics, that is, of mobilisations and struggles where masculine gender is made a principal theme and subjected to change. Pentecostalism is widely considered to present a particular form of masculinity politics in contemporary African societies. Scholarship on African Pentecostal masculinities has mainly centred around the thesis of the domestication of men, focusing on changes in domestic spheres and in marital and intimate relations. Through an analysis of a sermon series preached by a prominent Zambian Pentecostal pastor, this article demonstrates that Pentecostal discourse on adult, middle- to upper-class masculinity is also highly concerned with men’s roles in sociopolitical spheres. It argues that in this case study the construction of a born-again masculinity is part of the broader Pentecostal political project of national redemption, which in Zambia has particular significance in light of the country constitutionally being a Christian nation. Hence the article examines how this construction of Pentecostal masculinity relates to broader notions of religious, political and gendered citizenship.
This article offers an extended review of some recent publications in the field of African theology and hiv and aids. Hence it critically examines the progress that is made in the engagement with and the reflection on issues related to the hiv epidemic by African theologians. The article notices the emergence of a new strand of Africa theology, a (liberation) theology of hiv and aids, which builds on and employs the classic strands of African liberation, inculturation, reconstruction and women’s theology. Moreover, some challenging issues for the further African theological engagement with hiv and aids are identified.