Teresia Hinga, associate professor of religious studies, Santa Clara University, will deliver the Kathleen O’Brien Wicker Endowment Lecture at Scripps College on Monday, February 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hampton Room of the Malott Commmons. Professor Hinga will lecture on “In the Footsteps of Kimpa Vita: African Feminism and the Search for Decolonized and Liberating Religion in Africa.” The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Dean of the Faculty office at (909) 607-7534.
Beatriz Kimpa Vita (1684-1706) led a Christian movement to build a Congolese Catholicism and unite Congo under one king. Kimpa Vita, baptized a Catholic, answered a calling during her youth as a traditional healer and medium to the spirit world. She eventual emerged as an nganga marinda, a healer and medium specializing in social concerns—especially the civil wars in the region that fractured the kingdom. Her movement recognized the papal primate but was hostile to the European missionaries. Kimpa Vita challenged her fellow nationals to reject the colonizing religiosity of the European missionaries and sought to create an African Church with affirmed African peoples as worthy of political and spiritual freedom. Before being burned as a heretic in 1706, Kimpa Vita had attracted thousands of followers in the short time span of two years.
Many African women have followed in Kimpa Vita’s footsteps. Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize recipient and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, serves as an example of the women in Africa who continue to organize movements in the quest for human rights and justice. The speaker, Professor Teresia Hinga, says of Kimpa Vita and the others who have followed her lead, “These women constantly and creatively reject the victim status ascribed to them by many historiographers of African religions, cultures, and histories, and their stories should be reclaimed, celebrated, and emulated. Such is the task, however partial and preliminary, that I will undertake in this lecture.”
The Kathleen O’Brien Wicker Endowment was established at Scripps College by trustees, alumnae, and friends of Kathleen Wicker, professor emerita of religious studies. The endowment honors her as a teacher, role model, scholar, and humanist. It was conceived to continue in perpetuity her interdisciplinary and multicultural approach to feminist Biblical studies. Each year, the endowment invites a distinguished scholar in religious studies to speak on campus.