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Friends and colleagues celebrate Mercy Amba Oduyoye’s honorary degree from Basel University. © Esther R. Suter/WCC

Mercy Amba Oduyoye is an adjunct professor at Trinity Theological Seminary and founding director of the institute of African Women in Religion and Culture in Accra, Ghana. She served as staff to the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches (WCC), including seven years serving as the WCC deputy general secretary. She also served as president of the World Student Christian Federation and the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.

She was a catalyst for the creation of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, founded in 1989. Oduyoye is also well-known for her many publications, especially on African women’s theology. One of her main fields of research is African womanist hermeneutics and theology. She is building the Talitha Qumi Center at Trinity Theological Seminary, an interfaith place for women of faith to meet.

Prof. Hans-Peter Mathys, dean of the faculty of theology at Basel University, presented  Oduyoye as a bridge-builder between Africa and the western world and described her the “matriarch of modern African theology.”

Andreas Heuser, professor for extra-European Christianity, said Oduyoye is the first African person to receive an honorary doctorate from Basel University, which celebrated its 555th anniversary at the Dies Academicus on 27 November.

In a speech entitled “A Profile of Contemporary Christianity in Africa,” Oduyoye pointed out that Christianity is not a foreign or alien religion for Africa. African traditions are vivid in Africa’s Christianity and Christianity takes them seriously; hence African traditions serve African Christianity and culture.

She asked: Why is Christianity booming in Africa? Africa is striving for “alafia,” she said, which not only means “well-being” but also authentic culture, human dignity, justice, peace, and well-being for the poor. But churches should confront the conflicts, she concluded, mainly those arising with muslim population.