Framed within the thematic focus area of religion and gender, and as a launch to the “Religion in Public Life” series, the Centre hosted a public lecture delivered by Dr Adriaan van Klinken, an Associate Professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds.
Dr Van Klinken aimed to challenge the dominant narrative that Christian beliefs and actors in African contexts fuel ‘African Homophobia’. By drawing on his work in Kenya, Dr Van Klinken discussed how Christian-inspired groups are transforming Christian practice, and how artistic and activist texts appropriate Christian beliefs and symbols for a progressive politics of sexuality that affirms human flourishing in diversity. The lecture foregrounded Christian traditions as a major resource for a liberating imagination and politics with regard to sexuality and social justice in contemporary Africa. In this rousing lecture, Dr Van Klinken invited the audience to sing a song that narrated the issues faced by queer communities in Kenya and its creation of an aesthetics of resistance. Mx Ashwin Afrikanus Thyssen, a Master’s student in theology at Stellenbosch University, provided an equally rousing response to the lecture. Mx Thyssen drew the audience’s attention to the relevance of Dr Van Klinken’s thoughtful acknowledgement of his positionality and his overall discussion in understanding the importance of intersectionality in feminist and decolonial activism and advocacy in South Africa. This public lecture, was a great start to the partnership between the Centre for Religion and Public Life at the University of Leeds, as well as the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.