Continuing Indaba - What is Indaba

What is Indaba?

Indaba is a Zulu word for a process common among many African ethnic groups. For example the Shona of Zimbabwe refer to the process as Padare and in Kenya the Kiswahili word Baraza is used. Such gatherings are also well known in many cultures outside Africa, for example among the indigenous communities of the first nations of North America, and among the people of India.

The process is best described by those for who it is part of their heritage. The Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town describes Indaba as ‘a gathering for purposeful discussion.’ As Archbishop Rowan Williams pointed out to the Bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference that such processes have been part of the tradition of the Church, especially among the Benedictines and the Quakers.

There are two articles to enable you to understand what Indaba is. The first – Essence of Indaba – was initiated by Archbishop Thabo for the Lambeth Conference and is available to download here.

The second is by Ven. Dr. Ndung’u Ikenye and is a more detailed account of a Kikuyu process. Dr Ikenye seeks to apply a Kikuyu system for conversation and healing of community to the Anglican Communion.

His conclusion is that ‘the Agikuyu accepted the notion of natural unity and diversity in apprehensions and viewpoints. The core of dialogue was to build and maintain community. As Anglicans engaged in dialogue and conversation on human sexuality and its ends, the maintenance of Anglican Identity and mission that define our life must be kept as the focus. Submission to the love and grace of Christ will bring meaning, reconstruction and transformation in our shared and common life. The ethos of incorporation of a new vision and obligation must remain an aspect of the dialogue. The African religious ontology where the sacred and secular will fuse for a better life in community must continue to inform our listening processes.’

Further articles will be forthcoming from the Continuing Indaba Resource Hubs.