This year, the world commemorates thirthy years of HIV and AIDS. As we all know, Africa is the most affected continent. The epidemic raises fundamental theological issues, that are addressed critically and constructively by a number of African theologians. In an article that has recently been published with the academic journal Exchange, I review a number of their recent publications. The article acknowledges and appreciates the contribution that is made, but also offers a critical examination of the work of these theologians in response to the HIV epidemic. I observe the emergence of a new strand of Africa theology, a (liberation) theology of HIV and AIDS, which builds on the classic strands of African liberation, inculturation, reconstruction and women’s theology. A critical comment is that this theology tends to speak about, rather than that it represents the voices of people living with HIV and AIDS (while liberation theology intends to give an epistemological privilege to those it claims to speak for). Also a further exploration and reflection is needed on the fundamental theological questions raised by the epidemic.
Reading and reviewing the work of these theologians, who mainly have a Protestant-Ecumenical background, I realized that Pentecostal and Charismatic voices are almost missing in the theological debate on HIV and AIDS in Africa. This is remarkable, as Pentecostal/Charismatic strands in African Christianity have increased popularity in the same period the HIV epidemic has been ravaging the African continent, and it raises challenging questions to think about. However, these questions are outside the scope of this review article that discusses the engagement with the HIV epidemic of some progressive African theologians whose work I have come to know and appreciate. Their radical commitment to solidarity and justice in times of HIV and AIDS puts a major challenge to us in the West.
See here the full-text version of the article.