African Clergywomen’s Conference for Leadership Development roars into life
10 July 2018
300 women serving in the United Methodist Church in various capacities from Zimbabwe, DRC, Liberia, Nigeria, Angola, Uganda, Mozambique and Kenya just to name a few, converged on the Africa University campus in a show of sisterhood and a shared passion for serving the church and reinforcing the role of women in spiritual development and the uplifting of communities . The Conference whose theme was , “ Be strong, fear not for I am with you”, is a powerful verse taken from Isaiah 41:10 that teaches the five pillars of fearlessness : fear not, God is with you, fear not, God is your God; fear not, God will strengthen you; fear not, God will help you; fear not, God will uphold you.
Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa welcomed the delegates of whom 17 were proud alumni of Africa University, giving details on the rich history of AU’s 26 years and the numerous awards won by the university for service excellence in higher education and leadership making it clear why the institution is constantly the venue of choice in Manicaland for leadership development seminars and conferences. He went on to highlight that at 56% female enrolment, Africa University has the highest female enrolment in the country reflecting AU’s impact and contribution towards ensuring women are emancipated and given the tools they need to advance in their careers.
The African Clergywomen President Reverend Dr. Kabamba Kiboko delivered a rousing and befitting speech opening the conference emphasizing the gift of creation through the power of words and deeds encouraging the women in attendance to boldly speak their truths and acknowledge the inherent power existing within themselves.
Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa who also spoke at the official opening service expressed dismay at the disenfranchisement and marginalization of women globally with connotations of weakness and vulnerability often cited as feminine qualities while men are encouraged to aggressively pursue roles of leadership. He said,
“I applaud you. You women who do such important work in our church. I have seen your strength in the lengths that you will go to spread the Word to the farthest reaches of our continent. You hold a unique gift and quality in leadership, that of relational leadership, being able to build bridges between people and unify.”
While he praised this quality, he went on to say,
“In being leaders, we tend to want to please those around us and build relationships, but you must have the courage to be disliked!”,
quoting the title of the best-selling book penned by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi which is based on a Japanese philosophy that empowers the individual to be true to one’s self. He added,
“Leadership has nothing to do with gender and of the spiritual leaders that I mentor I place the same expectations on women as I do on men. There should be no excuses. Leadership is not about being liked or being popular, more often than not leaders need to make decisions that make them unpopular and they must be strong in their conviction.”
These powerful words engendered aplomb within the delegates as they gear up to offer themselves as leaders within the United Methodist Church and Africa.
The conference is set to run from the 10th to the 14th of July 2018. The UMC African Clergywomen host conferences every year that are an opportunity for women from all walks of life who are serving to gather under one roof to strategize, reinvigorate and share experiences and reflections on their life in ministry and service.