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Invitation to an International Conference

Re-Learning to Be Human for Global Times: 

The Clash between Modern and Traditional Life:  African Values in the Contemporary World


Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya

May 27 -28, 2017 

Conference Program



The challenges of Africa, under the impact of colonialism and imperialism, hardly need any introduction. Caroline Elkins, in her book  Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (Henry Holt and Company, 2005), describes the so-called 3-pronged prescriptions of British mission to civilise the African continent as follows: (1) to redeem the backward heathens by bringing the light of the gospel to the dark continent, (2) to use the superior economic know-how to exploit the continent’s natural resources and its people’s labour, and (3) to civilise Africa administratively by using their superior laws and administrative structures. Indeed, the hidden agenda has been exposed by such thinkers as Walter Rodney (How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Bogle L’Ouverture Publications, 1972) among others.


The interest of this conference, however, is the clash of values that ensued from the encounter. Especially it will focus on family values, because family is the foundation of society. According to the African tradition as well as many other traditions marriage is the lynchpin of which all societal life evolves. According to J.S. Mbiti (African Religions and Philosophy, Heinemann, 1969/1990) this concept of marriage is the centre of life in Africa for (1) it connotes immortality, a continuum of the past, present, and future, that is, life in the here and now, at a non-definitive future, and in the hereafter; (2) it also encompasses a plethora of relationships, namely, between fellow human beings, between families, between communities and the environment, between living persons and ancestors, and between human beings and their creator.


In reality, the African life, values and cultural traditions have been persistently reliving, reviving and evolving in its rich soil despite the imposed ideas, policies, paradigms, among other forms of foreign interference. Nevertheless, the imposition did distort many things and affect the life and values in many ways in the African continent. The clash between the modern and traditional values and ways of life hasraised many unprecedented challenges that this CUEA international conference has taken special interest in.


In preparation for the conference, the CUEA academia makes a special effort to delve into concrete issues pertaining to this clash and distortion of values and ways of life. If we have to ‘re-learn to be human for global times’, we need to discover what went wrong and how to correct the mistakes.


Thus, the CUEA Faculty of Law and other participating faculties and departments, such as, Literature and Language, Education, Social Justice and Ethics, Philosophy, and Theology, have developed themes and sub-themes related to their areas respectively. For instance, “African Family Values and ‘Literature as a Tool for Promoting Values: The African Experience.”



Please send an abstract of not more than 300 words and a brief CV to Professor Ernest Beyaraza [ebeyaraza@yahoo.com] and [cua-rvp@cua.edu] by March 1, 2017. Full papers sent by April 30, 2017 will be considered for publication by the RVP in its publication series "Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change." 



Ernest Beyaraza








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