Elias Bongmba, is the 2020 Ray L. Hart Service Award Winner

Source: AAR Website

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) has announced Elias Kifon Bongmba (AASR former President) as the recipient of the 2020 Ray L. Hart Service Award.

“Elias Bongmba is Harry and Hazel Chavanne Professor of Christian Theology and Chair of the Department of Religion at Rice University. A scholar of comparative philosophy, African religions, and Christian theology, he has published influential books and articles on African witchcraft, the African Church’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, comparative hermeneutics, and African theology, ethics, and literature. In 2007 he was awarded the Frantz Fanon Prize for Outstanding Work in Caribbean Thought.

Professor Bongmba has served on a variety of AAR steering committees, committees of the board, and juries. His record of service extends far beyond the walls of the academy. He has advised governmental, educational, and church bodies both in his native Cameroon and throughout Africa. Bongmba has also lectured throughout Africa on social justice issues, including poverty, gender, disability, and homosexuality. He has been editor-in-chief of the Journal of Religions in Africa, and has served for the past ten years [2010-2020] as president of the African Association for the Study of Religion.

Congratulations to Elias Bongmba on receiving this important award!”

AASR Statement on the Death of Mr. George P. Floyd

The members of the African Association for the Study of Religions around the world received
the news of the death of Mr. George P. Floyd with sadness and watched in horror the video of a
police officer kneeling with both legs and his hands in his pocket as the already handcuffed Mr.
Floyd laid on the ground and complained that he could not breathe. The 8 minutes and 46
seconds captured on the video show to many viewers killing in slow, painful motion in a process
that despised and took away the humanity of Mr. Floyd, but ultimately his life.

The killing of Mr. Floyed reminds the world of the killing of Emmett Till, 1955
The brutal beatings of Mr. Rodney King and the acquittal of the officers involved in 1992 and
the riots that was sparked by that injustice,
The murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper Texas in 1998,
The killing of Eric Garner in 2014,
The Killing of Michael Brown also in 2014, and the rise of the Black Life Matter Movement
The killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia
The killing of Breonna Taylor in how own house in Louisville

And the Shooting of Tony McDade in Tallahassee.
Add to the above the many other brutal killings of black men and women that were not captured
on camera or publicized. These killings and the national and international response to them
underscore the importance and significance of the Black Lives Matter movement. It has called
attention to the brutalities meted on Blacks nowadays which demonstrate the obscenity of life
along the color line. They underscore the urgency of addressing the brutalities Blacks have
experienced since they were forcefully brought to the United States from 1619. Today, the world
stands with Blacks in the United States and call on Congress to pass and enforce legislation that
will ensure that Blacks receive equal treatment before the law as guaranteed by the Constitution
of the United States of America.

The African Association for the Study of Religions will continue to carry research and analysis
that exposes all forms of discrimination and injustice around the world and call on all other
institutions to study and fight discrimination to ensure that all people live their lives with dignity
and freedom. We call on the leaders of the United States of America to open a national dialogue
on race that would create the conditions for national reconciliation.

Elias Kifon Bongmba

AASR President, Elias Bongmba, is new the Executive Editor of The Journal of Religion in Africa.

The Journal of Religion in Africa invites you to consider serving as a reviewer of manuscripts that have been submitted to the journal. The peer review process remains the core of our intellectual practice and we would greatly appreciate it you take the time to review submissions. If you are interested in occasionally reviewing submissions, send a message to Elias Bongmba, Executive Editor bongmba@rice.edu or to Diana Bell at bell.dianna@gmail.com.

Nomination of New AASR Executive

Dear AASR members,

At the business meeting during the AASR conference in Lusaka in 2018, we were appointed in the committee with the task of nominating candidates for the new Executive, to be elected in 2020. Following our appointment, we have taken the following steps:
• First, we have consulted with the current members of the Executive – Professor Elias Bongmba, Dr Damaris Parsitau, Dr Abel Ugba, and Dr Corey Williams – who each are eligible to serve for another term. We checked with them whether they are available to be part of the new Executive. The outcome of this process was that Dr Parsitau is available for a second term, in the same or in a different office; Dr Ugba is available for a third term, in a different office; Dr Williams and Prof Bongmba are not available for another term.
• Second, as recommended by the AASR Constitution, we have consulted the AASR membership, in an email dated 17 July 2019. We solicited nominations for each of the four offices in the Executive: President, Vice President, General Secretary, and Treasurer. The deadline for this passed on 31 August 2019.
• Third, we have internally considered the various nominations we received and have consulted those who were nominated, to check whether they are available to serve on the Executive.
Following this process, as a Committee we have unanimously decided to put forward the following nominations:
• Office of President: Dr Damaris Parsitau
• Office of Vice President: Dr Abel Ugba
• Office of General Secretary: Dr Nathanael Homewood
• Office of Treasurer: Dr Sara Fretheim
We believe that this Executive makes a strong team of highly qualified members who have demonstrated a great commitment to our Association. With two continuing members, and two newly incoming members, this Executive also has the right balance between continuity and renewal. It preserves the existing knowledge regarding the Association while bringing in fresh ideas and energy.

Following the advice from some members, as a nomination committee we recommend the newly elected Executive to create the additional office of Membership Officer and to appoint someone in that role.

Elections for the new Executive were initially scheduled to take place at the AASR conference in Senegal, 29 July–1 August 2020. However, with the conference being postponed till 2021, elections are now scheduled to take place at the IAHR quinquennial World Congress in New Zealand (23-29 August, 2020). Prior to the conference, an online vote will be opened and

* We remind you of the constitutional right of AASR members to nominate counter-candidates for particular offices until one month before the elections. The deadline for this is 22 July 2020. Counter-nominations must be send electronically to the AASR General Secretary, Dr Corey Williams. Each counter-nomination must be supported by electronic mail by at least three AASR members. They must also have ascertained that their nominee is willing to serve in the office for which they nominate her or him.

If we do receive counter-nominations by 22 July 2020, members who cannot attend the IAHR congress will be given an opportunity to cast their vote online or postal. Communication about this will be send out shortly after the closing date.

If we do not receive any counter-nominations, no online/postal vote opportunity will be given; the vote at the IAHR congress will serve to affirm the above nomination.

In case the above raises any questions or concerns, please do contact the co-chairs of the nomination committee.


Professor Njoki Wane
Professor Adriaan van Klinken

Dr Rose Mary Amenga-Etego
Dr Chammah Kaunda
Professor Danoye Oguntola-Laguda

Senegal Conference Update

As previously announced, the 9th AASR conference in Dakar, Senegal was originally scheduled for 29 July – 1 August 2020. However, with respect for the holy festival of Eid al-Adha, we made the decision to move the dates of the conference. We had hoped to reschedule sometime during Summer 2020, or even January 2021, but this has proved too challenging given a variety of scheduling conflicts. The AASR International Council, which is made up of the Executive Committee, as well as national and regional leaders of the AASR, has therefore made the decision to reschedule the conference to be held in the Summer of 2021.

In the first instance, we will attempt to work with CODESRIA on holding the conference in Dakar, Senegal, using the agreed upon theme: ‘Religions, Governance, and Social Transformations in Africa and the African Diaspora’. However, if this cooperation proves to be unworkable for Summer 2021, we would also request your support to explore other partners and locations. We could then take up the cooperation with CODESRIA at a future AASR conference.

It is important to keep two things in mind with this change of plans. First, is that constitutionally, we have a mandate to two hold conferences in Africa every 5 years. Given that we held our last conference in 2018, we are not behind schedule. Secondly, the elections of AASR officers will proceed as scheduled in 2020, and we will announce the results of the votes during the IAHR Congress that will take place in New Zealand. Handing over the Association’s responsibilities to the new executive will take place at that time. The recent revision to the Constitution allows for casting an online ballot, so if there are counter nominations all AASR members will be able to participate regardless of whether or not they are attending the Congress. See below for a detailed description of this procedure.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

Elias Kifon Bongmba
President AASR