Council for World Mission (CWM) General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum honoured the late Prof. Vuyani Vellem during his greetings to the Black Theology of Liberation International Conference at The School of Humanities in the College of Human Sciences at The University of South Africa (UNISA) on 15 November 2022.
During the consultation themed “Unthinking the West: The Continued Importance of Doing Black Theology of Liberation for Decolonial Times”, the CWM General Secretary paid tribute to Prof. Vellem as an “outstanding gift to the Church, academia, and the ecumenical movement”, as well as “a champion for Black Liberation Theology (BLT)” and “a comrade in its struggle for socio-economic justice for the poor and oppressed.”
A joint collaboration of CWM, UNISA and VukaniBantuTsohangBatho, the Conference sought to explore contemporary BLT issues and commemorate the life of Prof Vuyani Vellem, who contributed passionately to the life-giving, liberative and transformative mission agenda of the community of faith.
The CWM General Secretary spoke about Prof Vellem’s firm conviction that it was critical for the direction of black liberation theology to de-link from the West, moving beyond critiquing Eurocentric content to pursuing a pluriverse where many worlds co-exist in dignity and peace. An inspiring theologian who contributed greatly to black consciousness and pedagogy, he often weaved indigenous concepts into his writing, rooted in a true understanding African experiences and ideas, he added.
In his speech, Dr Keum extolled him as a committed church leader who left a legacy of pursuing socio-economic justice for the poor and marginalized, and urged conference participants to carry on Prof Vuyani’s vision and work of developing transformative ecumenism and seeking Asian-African solidarity through theological dialogue and movement.
Lastly, Dr Keum highlighted Prof Vellem’s tremendous contributions to CWM’s theological statement, as a CWM Director, and a member of the Programme Reference Group (PRG), and acknowledged James Cone, Kattie Cannon, Robina Winbush, who were trail blazers in the quest for justice and liberation of the oppressed.
Rev. Dr Sindiso Jele, CWM Mission Secretary – Social justice & Africa region, also presented a paper titled “Not all foreigners – Mission from the Margins, in South Africa are gentiles: Missiological reflection on Afro-phobia” at the event.
Dated 16 November 2022