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Religion, Race, Identity: The Role of the Churches in Post-Apartheid South Africa

March 13, 2015
Willy Mafuta

The Rev. Willy Mafuta

The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship will host a lecture on the way churches have shaped South Africa’s national identity formation. The Rev. Willy Mafuta will deliver “Religion, Race, Identity: The Role of the Churches in Post-Apartheid South Africa” from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 25, in Meredith Hall 101 on Drake’s campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Post-Apartheid leaders in South Africa predicted that race and ethnicity would recede from national consciousness in favor of, as Desmond Tutu put it, a “Rainbow Nation” that embraces multicultural unity.

Mafuta, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo and pastor for Asbury United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, says race and ethnicity remain a standard component of the South African national identity, but that these components are no longer “pathological” or associated with strong negative connotations. He says churches, in particular, have played a major role in the country’s national identity formation.

Mafuta received undergraduate degrees in theology from the L’Universite Protestante du Congo and the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He earned master’s degrees in theology and Biblical studies at Wheaton College in Chicago, Ill., and a master’s degree in international development from the University of Iowa. He also holds a doctorate degree in theology and ethics (ThD) from the University of South Africa, Pretoria, and a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada.

Mafuta is currently an associate research Fellow at the Institute of Religion and Governance, University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa and affiliate professor in International Studies at Coe College, Cedar Rapids.   He has taught classes in theology, global systems, and religion and politics. He also holds a certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education from the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

This event is sponsored by Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship as part of its Spring 2015 Speaker Series. The Center educates students to function effectively in different cultural contexts, and to see their own culture from the perspective of others. The Center also works to ensure that global perspectives and issues are an integral part of the intellectual and cultural experience of all members of the Drake community.

Also upcoming in the PFGCGC Spring 2015 Film and Speaker Series. (Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted).

March 30, 7 p.m., screening of The Good Lie in Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center.
Co-sponsor:  U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

April 2, 7 p.m.,
screening of Like Father, Like Son (Japan; subtitled) in Aliber 101.

April 9, 7 p.m.: screening of Departures (Japan; subtitled) in Aliber 101. Both international films are sponsored by the Evans Foundation, Drake University World Languages and Cultures, and the Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship.

April 3, 12:30 p.m., discussion of Enrique's Journey and America's Children Immigration Dilemma by Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and author. Meredith Hall 101. A Spanish language discussion of her book will also be in Meredith 101 at 2 p.m. Sponsors: PFGCGC, Drake Center for the Humanities, World Language and Cultures, Study of Culture and Society and Simpson College.

April 6-12: Global and National Public Health Week

The Global and National Public Health Week will feature a keynote lectures, a panel discussion and student poster presentations. It is sponsored by PFGCGC, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and Heartland Global Health Consortium.

  • April 8, 1 p.m.: Samir Koirala, “Ebola Outbreak and a Visit to Sierra Leone.” Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center.
  • The keynote lecture will be followed by a panel discussion on master’s degrees in Global Public Health and student poster presentations.

April 10-11: Nelson Institute Undergraduate Conference on Global Affairs, featuring a public keynote address “Political Islam: What the West Can Learn from its Own History” by University of Virginia professor John Owen. Other conference events, including a luncheon address by Iowa Rep. Zachary Nunn, former director of Cybersecurity Policy on the White House’s National Security Council, are open only to the campus community. Faculty/student registration at: http://drake.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_etiwDRIdgJTZIOh.

April 15, 7 p.m.: “Turkey’s Foreign Policy: A Case for Democratic Peace Theory?” Kivanc Ulusoy, associate professor of political science at Istanbul University. Meredith Hall 101.

April 28, 7 p.m.: “China’s Rice and its Implications in Human Security.” Guoguang Wu, professor of political science and chair in China and Asia-Pacific Relations at University of Victoria, Canada. Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center.

For more information, contact David Skidmore, david.skidmore@drake.edu, 515-306-7164.