Women Women serve on the front lines of mission and are often catalysts of growth in African Christian communities. They serve as founders and pioneers, pastors, teachers, healers, evangelists, prophets, deaconesses, and in women’s organizations and Mother’s Unions throughout the continent.

Related Indexes: Women Index

Afua Kuma

Madam Afua Kuma of Ghana (baptized Christiana Gyane), one of the first modern African female oral theologians, “represent[s] the women who weave lyrics about Jesus and pour their hearts out in prayer and praise at all times and in all places, the women whose theology gets ‘reduced’ into writing by those who can write.”

Living during a complex period of Ghana’s history, from the end of the colonial period and into post-independence, Madam Afua Kuma earned widespread recognition in Ghana for her gift for offering these oral praises, which she shared in a variety of Christian settings. More recently, she has gained a small but growing following among academics from both the Global South and North, who find her an important source for African Christian thought.

Her praises are significant for a number of reasons. First, they display Afua Kuma’s incredible theological and linguistic ingenuity in adapting a traditional chiefly praise format, familiar in her Akan culture, for vibrant, Christologically-focused praise. Although she drew on aspects of the phrasing and verbal structures of this traditional format, she was the first to transform this rich template for Christian worship. The resulting praises capture the spiritual imagination of listeners with their exceptional displays of linguistic, cultural, and theological inventiveness. The following example illustrates this beautifully, with the themes of praise, eschatology, and redemption explored through biblical allusions superimposed upon her Ghanaian context:

Jesus says if we raise Him high,
He will draw all things to Himself. So, let us go and praise His name,
and let us raise Him up on high. Drummers, bring your assorted drums
and start playing the Atumpan. [3] Let your strokes beat out proud rhythms
to honor the name of Jesus, and join the earth to the heavens.

Jesus, if You do not help us,
there is nowhere else we can turn. You who are always close at hand,
if You do not come to our aid, then we are lost; no one can help.

Jesus, the redeemer of all,
come to receive our prayerful thanks. Musicians come and play your lutes
—let them praise and honor Jesus. All you singers sing your praise songs [4]
—let them rise to Him like incense.

You drums beat your song in tribute!
Nnawuta and aduwuro [5], —you instruments of King David—
and you, the mfirikyiwa [6]; all of you come and play your song
while Jesus is leading the way.

Northern peoples play their nnonno [7],
their multi-stringed instruments. Let them lead Him in procession.
Let strong porters put on head-pads to carry Him high on their heads.
We shall hear the words of His mouth —we shall listen to His stories.

See the multitudes of people
from all the nations of the earth. I feel shamed to be among them,
truly sorrowful to be there. The devil has hurled us all,
including myself, into mud —an enormous black pool of filth—
and has shackled our feet with chains.

Jesus has made his blood a rope
to drag us all out of the pit! Thousands of tongues roar out His name
—give Him praise for what He has done! [8]

A second reason for the significance of Afua Kuma’s praises is the fact that Read more