Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leading a Theological College Library in Africa

Challenges and opportunities

Theological institutions do not spring up overnight, and the creation of their libraries is equally dependent on their historical base. In order to understand why theological libraries are what they are today we may need to consider the development of theological institutions themselves. Many theological colleges have started as a result of missionary activities. The missionaries would give their books to start the library and many times the wife of a missionary would offer to be the librarian without any qualification. We thank God that it served the purpose although it brought with it some negatives. It gave the wrong impression that anyone can be a librarian or it is not necessary to have a trained person.

It is sad to note that since theological colleges are a product of missionaries they continue to be run by missionaries and missionary money. While it is possible to get missionaries who have diplomas and masters to come and teach, it has not been easy to get professional librarians. The trend in missionary lead institutions has always been that overseas donors give to ‘their own’ white missionaries. If there are missionaries you are assured of support but if they are not there then you will not get any sponsorship. This is a fact of life. This makes life in theological institutions in Africa to be very difficult and unpredictable. Africa is very rich but we are always begging. We are always given handouts but still our people are starving. Our political leaders have abused the aids they have received from Europe and many so called donor countries. Probably, that is why donors would not give to Africa if the institution does not have one of ‘their own’. Serving in a theological college in Africa is a sacrifice. One has to be prepared to live on handouts. If you buy a car, if you buy a microwave, if you buy a suit or a fridge it is a second hand bought from a leaving missionary.

Even though the colleges are in African very few churches in Africa have a sense of owning the colleges despite attempts by missionaries to forge marriages of convenience. He who has money is ‘bigger’ and hence Africans feel relationship with white missionaries is not genuine since the economic gape is huge they will always be dominated. This is not said directly. Other issues of doctrine are raised. Nationals have very little to do with theological colleges in their own countries. They do not offer any support, financially or spiritually. Those who decide to work in theological institutions they do so at their own risk. This is why Africans with better qualifications in theology would rather do donkey work in Europe than coming back home because they know they will starve as there is no enough support for them. Missionaries have support from home while a national is not supported in his/her own country. Organizations are prepared to fund towards projects and not the welfare of workers.

Students come to colleges on their own initiatives especially in interdenominational colleges and hence are not financially supported. Churches are too denominational in their approach to theological education. Other students come with the blessings of their churches but still with no significant funding. Those who come on their own find it difficult to get hired in their churches. Generally the numbers of students are very low and hence making it difficult for the institution to make any significant development from fees money.

There are no scholarships at masters and post-graduate study programs. One has to struggle alone. When one struggles through school, the assumption is that in one way or the other I will return that money. When serving a theological college just forget about this wishful thinking. Studying is not easy and getting the money especially when you are not on scholarship is a big task. During this time of study relationship with wife and children is sometimes affected and expectation for a better life is built in the family members which unfortunately never materialize. This explains why most of our African brothers would not come back home even if they are promised to be principals.

What is the role of the librarian in a theological institution? While we may all agree that the library is the centre nerve of any academic institution in practice this is not the case in theological libraries. Librarians are unfortunately not recognized. This is confirmed by the remuneration and place of the librarian in the structure of the institution. Many theological colleges have operated for years without one. In most tertiary institutions you can not talk of curriculum development without the input of the librarian. In actual fact in most universities the librarian serves in the highest decision making body of the institution. This helps him/her to know the direction in which the institution is going and map a way forward in terms of information provision. Information source are acquired ahead of time before a course is introduced.

The issue of curriculum development is another hot issue which local churches often react to by starting their own colleges because they feel they should be consulted. The question of why churches are not supporting theological education when they are kin to start their own colleges should be investigated.

Recommendations to churches and theological institutions
Our churches in Africa with the empowerment of the colleges need to strengthen their sense of responsibility and ownership of theological institutions.
There is also need on a regular bases to support financially and spiritually, while respecting a certain degree of autonomy which theological education and research institution needs for its own proper functioning. Churches need to learn to support interdenominational colleges instead of each denomination creating its own separate college. Let’s learn to put our recourses together and do away with the begging syndrome that has affected our countries. We do not have such resources (whereby each one builds his/her own kingdom) and it unnecessarily promotes divisions. Theological colleges need to initiate programmes of contextualization of theological education while also being aware of the universality of the church. Some colleges are interdenominational but are teaching their church doctrines. Others are just but teaching their cultures. The college should expose the student to the various views and let the choice to the student.

Those who are leading theological colleges in Africa need to strengthen interdenominational theological colleges with ecumenical commitment and to find ways to allow participation of minority churches in programmes of theological education. One size fits all is not a good approach to theological education. The attitude that says I know what you want will never build Africa but destroy it. There is great need for theological colleges to engage in intercontextual exchange and networking with institutions of theological education from other parts of the world. We need to get in touch with other theological institutions in Africa and outside of Africa but not only importing. Not to run American, British, Australian curriculums in Africa.

Work is there! Opportunities are plenty but the challenge is money! If your desire is to make money never ever work in a theological college especially in Africa. After all is said. I have personally worked in a theological college myself for more than 20 years and have never gone begging for food. People invite me to there house and I also invite them to my house to share whatever I have with them.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Those who are interested doing some studies please make use of this opportunity

Wish you the best


Sunday, July 25, 2010

A special call to ministry

‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed’ (Romans 10:13f). Information is important and without it people can not make decisions. If they do, they make uninformed decisions. Romans chapter ten is the bases of my call into the ministry of information provision.

Being employed in a theological institution offers me great opportunities for ministry which could be impossible in a non-Christian setting. As a librarian serving a tertiary and evangelical college I am responsible for carrying out bibliographic instruction so as to portray, as Robert (1990, p. 105) puts it, ‘writing as a vehicle for Christian ministry’.

I do not consider myself to be a theologian but I consider myself as a partner in the ministry of theological training. Andrew (1996), portrays theological librarianship as a ministry on five grounds:
 its connection to theological education
 its relational character
 its occupation with religious materials
 its vocational nature
 and its relation to church ministry

Theological educators are ministers and hence as a theological librarian involved in theological education I am a theological educator. Generally speaking education does not only take place in the classroom setting. The library is an equal partner with classroom in that it shares mutually in the task of forwarding the institutional goal. In other words the work of education that starts in the classroom is completed in the library. The goal of every theological institution is to equip men and women for ministry which is always complimented by the library.

Pastoral work is ministry because it is relational. Its focus is on changing human lives. Similarly theological librarianship is ministry because it is relational. Pastoral work is about dealing with people and their characters which I strongly believe theological librarianship is all about. As a librarian I deal not just with books but with people in a very vital way. My task is, using information sources shape student understanding, view point and philosophies. At the end of the day you have a student with totally different ethical and moral perception than he entered college with. Direct or indirect I am involved in shaping character and destiny of men and women in theological institutions.

As someone who acquires and manages information sources which contribute to the spiritual growth of students and staff my work has a spiritual dimension in the institution. In other words what I am saying is theological librarianship is a calling. When I entered theological librarianship, it was in my view, at that time; a way into ministry. Through it I thought I would be able to support myself in ministry but thank God now I realize I am already in ministry. Thanks to Mrs and Dr Liddle who introduced me into the ministry through this window. They did not only introduce me but encouraged and supported me through and through. May the Lord bless them richly? For those studying theology I encourage you to consider theological librarianship as a way of serving the Lord.

In 1988 I went for theological training intending to come back and pastor my local church Epworth Evangelical Church. When I graduated in 1991 I came back and started serving as a member. The church did not have money to hire a fulltime pastor but I was happy to serve them because I was working already as an assistant librarian at Harare Theological College Library. When I got married we made a decision to move to a church were we could not only teach but could be taught so we moved to Cranborne Community Church. We did not stay for a long time at Cranborne because through Mugava, the Harare Church requested if I could come and teach their Sunday School. We accepted the challenge and went. After a year at Harare Church we received another call to go and pastor Tafara Evangelical Church. In January 1996 we started work in Tafara. Bishop Nyamhondoro took us and introduced us to the church.

Our task was as we understood and took the challenge; to teach the church and grow it to a point were they could call for a fulltime pastor. We accepted and pastured this church without any salary from the church. We enjoyed it. Of course I should admit that when we took the challenge we were still very young and always felt it was a too big challenge to tackle. By God’s grace we pastored this church until 2002 when the church had enough money at the bank and was willing to hire a fulltime pastor. The church first asked us if we could resign from our jobs and take the church fulltime. For us our joy was to move and give the same help to another church.

In 2002 the same year we left Tafara church we got involved in starting Green Valley Evangelical Church in Hatfield. What I know about that church is it was growing like wildfire until it died a very painful death in 2005 through Operation Murambatsvina (government embacked on destroying what they called informal settlements) which I also think activated the death of Chidzanga Edward. The church was started after a death of a child within this community. The child drowned in a dam and as members of the community we went for the funeral in the evening. Most of us we were not known in this community apart from my late friend Edward Chidzanga who took us there in his car (Mark 2). We went to the funeral with Nyamakawo Tigere (pastor of Cranborne), Chidzanga Edward, myself and other two brothers I can not remember their names. Being the oldest in the team I was asked to preach and the father of the child (Kasere) and two more men came to the Lord. I can not describe the feeling but it was great! A church had started which is something God had planted in me even before the funeral took place.

The following day pastor Nyamakawo and others went to burry the child and from this day several miracles happened in the Kasere family and the community at large. By God’s grace I might in the future write about these miracles. For now the reason for writing is to share with my brothers and sisters my philosophy of ministry.

Those who have seen me during those years have always thought I would be one day in fulltime ministry as a pastor. Some now even ask me questions. ‘Why have you left ministry’. My simple answer is, I have not left ministry at all. I am in the ministry. To be specific I am in theological education ministry. I know very well that I will never be regarded as a minister in the same way as pastors, reverends and missionaries but I am a minister in my own right. When I perceive myself as being in ministry, there is a theological and spiritual focus to my work that adds to my satisfaction and contentment. I am taking part in the equipping of men and women for ministry in Namibia and the world beyond.

My desire is to identify and train a Namibian who can continue the work of acquiring, organising and disserminating information sources to staff and students of NETS when i have gone back home to Zimbabwe.

Andrew, J. K. ‘Information or divine access: Theological Librarianship within the context of a ministry,’ In: The American Theological Library Association: Essays in Celebration of the First Fifty Years, ed. M. Patrick Graham, Valerie R. Hotchkiss, and Kenneth E. Rowe (Evanston, 11.: ATLA, 1996), 172-82
Robert, A. K. (1990) . Bibliographic Instruction and the Ministry of writing: exploring some possibilities and resources, In: Christian Librarian 33 (August, 1990, p. 105).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Conference for ACTEA librarians

Dear Friends of ACTEA,

Although this is not an 'official' edition of ACTEA eNews, we at ACTEA felt that the conference announcement below is of sufficient interest to all our constituents to warrant this special notification. We hope the following information is of use to you in your ministries of theological education. For more information please contact Ephraim Mudave, CALA-K Chair, ephraim.mudave@negst.edu.


Stephanie Black
ACTEA Accreditation Officer


The Christian Association of Librarians in Africa-K (CALA-K) is pleased to announce this year's annual conference. The impact of the last conferences on libraries and libraries who have attended is a testimony to what the conferences mean to theological librarians.

This year's Conference will be held at CORAT Africa premises in Karen, Nairobi-Kenya: http://www.coratafrica.com/.
The dates are: July 26-30

It is clear that in the information explosion age we are in, a lot of information is available ‘out there’ and the librarian will not be relevant if he/she waits for the information. People need not only to know what is available, but also how to get it and use it effectively to meet their information needs. The role of the librarian has thus changed and will keep changing with the changes in information and communication technologies. How can the librarian remain relevant in this information age? How prepared is the Librarian to handle such challenges and opportunities? This year's conference will give us an opportunity both in the formal and informal sessions to grapple with the above as we endeavor to meet the goal of our existence wherever we are serving.

The CALA executive would like to encourage you to consider presenting a paper on any of the sub-themes listed below on or before May 21, 2010. Send your abstract to ephraim.mudave@negst.edu and copy to cherobunei@yahoo.com

1. Using ICTs in Improving access
2. Digitization and digital libraries: Where and how do you begin?
3. Open Access and Open Source -
4. Leading a theological library in Africa: challenges and opportunities
5. Information Ethical issues to Access

I am also calling for volunteers who will prepare to chair the sessions below. Choose which session you would like to lead.
Open discussion sessions will deal with the following issues:
1. Library/lecturer collaboration
2. Social networks and library services
3. Adaptability vs routine tasks
4. Any other topic you feel we should include for this session

Ephraim Mudave
Head Librarian, NEGST/ Africa International University
Chair, Christian Association of Librarians in Africa -K (CALA-K)
P.O.Box, 24686 - 00502 Karen, Nairobi
Tel: 254 (020)-2603664.(02) 882104/5; Cell: 0722677633/ 0770225599
Email: ephraim.mudave@negst.edu; emudave2@yahoo.com
Website: www.negst.edu

Monday, April 5, 2010

Without Christ you are usless

What a message!

I hope you had a nice easter holiday! A friend sent me the following and i found it too powerful not to share.

Two donkeys were in the field nearby Jerusalem . The one donkey said;

"I don't understand it, just yesterday everyone was throwing their
clothes and palms of tree on the road when
I was carrying Jesus on my back but now I am back to being a nothing.
Those people don't even see it's
me who was carrying Jesus."

The other donkey said: "It works like that my brother; without Jesus you
are nothing in this world"

Friday, March 19, 2010


Dear Librarian

Having been a librarian in a theological college for more than 18 years, now i know how difficult it is for you my brother/sister. Many times you are lonely.

I am inviting you to this Blog so that you can share your experiences and fight away the 'loneliness syndrome' which is associated with Theological College Librarianship.

Come lets share? Tell us who you are, where you are and what you are doing? How can the community of Christian Librarians assist you in your endeavour to serve Him as an information provider?