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Recherches historiques et pratiques professionnelles de Salvador Eyezo’o

Dynamiques de la didactique du fait religieux dans l’enseignement supérieur. Mélanges en hommage au Professeur Salvador Eyezo’o

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Published on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 by João Fernandes

Summary

Saisissant le prétexte du récent départ à la retraite du professeur Salvador Eyezo’o qui, après 40 ans de service, prend congé de l’effervescence des amphithéâtres de l’École normale supérieure de Yaoundé I où s’est déroulée l’ensemble de sa carrière universitaire, ses collègues, soucieux du champ de l’histoire des civilisations et des religions que Salvador Eyezo’o a longtemps arpenté, ont souhaité lui offrir ce volume de Mélanges.

Announcement

Argument

Instituted since the 19th century by the academic world, Collections are the recognition, by peers and disciples, of the scientific merits of a master to whom a volume of articles is dedicated, as a tribute to his contribution to the advancement of knowledge in his field of expertise. Taking advantage of the recent retirement of Professor Salvador Eyezo'o who, after 40 years of service, is taking leave of the effervescence of the amphitheatres of the Higher Teachers Training College of Yaoundé where his entire academic career took place, his colleagues, concerned with the field of the history of civilisations and religions that Salvador Eyezo'o has long surveyed, would like to offer him this blend of tributes.

The chosen theme is: Historical research and professional practices of Salvador EYEZO'O: Dynamics of the didactics of religious fact in higher education. It is part of the fields of both religious history and didactics. In his application for the rank of Associate Professor, Salvador Eyezo'o himself underlines the impression of "apparent disparity" that his scientific career might give at first sight, while establishing a link between the two axes of his career: professional historical research and professional teaching.

Salvador EYEZO'O holds a Baccalaureate “D” (1976) and began his training in 1978 after his entrance exam to HTTC (Higher Teachers Training College) in Yaoundé. At the same time, he attended the first cycle of the degree course in History at the Department of History and Geography of the Faculty of Letters and Humanities of the University of Yaoundé. In 2008, this student programme culminated in a PhD thesis in History, entitled “Fronts, frontières et espaces missionnaires chrétiens au Cameroun de 1843 à 1960”[5] (under the supervision of Prof. Claude Prudhomme of the University of Lyon 2 Lumière). It should be recalled that in 1981, he obtained a doctorate in post-graduate studies by defending his thesis (under the supervision of Prof. Fabien Kange Ewane) on the theme: “Les institutions missionnaires face aux réalités coloniales et postcoloniales: le cas de la Mission Adventiste du 7e jour au Cameroun (1926-1985) ”[6].

 Recruited as an Assistant in the History and Geography Department of the University of Yaoundé I (Bambili Annex), in 1993, he completed his didactic training at the University of Montreal in Canada where he obtained a postgraduate diploma in education, specialising in techno-pedagogy.

 This academic path began his long and rich career of research and teaching in Cameroon and abroad. In 2011, the man, whom Jean François Zorn described as “modest”[7], attained the rank of Full University Professor. He trained generations of teachers of high schools and colleges, most of whom, following his example and benefiting from his guidance, became teacher-researchers in various university institutions in Cameroon and elsewhere.

 He is a member of several learned societies in Cameroon and abroad. Notably, the l’Association Camerounaise d’Histoire et des Sciences Religieuses (A.C.H.R.S.), the Groupe Recherche en Histoire–Géographie et Éducation Civique (G.R.E.H.G.E. C) of ENS of the University of Yaoundé I, the Centre de Recherche et d'Echanges sur la Diffusion et l'Inculturation du Christianisme (CREDIC) ; the Association des Chercheurs de la revue Histoire et Missions chrétiennes ; the Équipe Religions, Sociétés et Acculturation (RESEA) of the Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône Alpe (LAHRA) of Lyon in France ; the Association Francophone Œcuménique de Missiologie. He also assists at the Cosandai Adventist University of Nanga Eboko and the Senate of Adventist Universities of French-speaking Africa in consolidating their teaching programmes.

At the administrative level at ENS of the University of Yaoundé I, he was successively in charge of the execution of the professionalization sub-component of the Cameroonian Higher Education and University Research Adjustment Project (PAESRUC); Head of the Department of Distance Learning Courses and Pedagogical Research; Head of the Division of Continuing Education Courses and Pedagogical Research. Since 2005, he is the very first Head of the History Department of the Higher Teachers Training College of the University of Yaoundé I.

Echoing his work reflecting his connections with researchers in Cameroon and elsewhere, this compilation aims not only to continue discussions with an incisive researcher, but also to initiate new avenues of thought around the religious reality and its impact on political, economic, socio-cultural and heuristic life. To account for such a complex trajectory, nine (09) trends of thought were proposed:

1 - Salvador Eyezo'o: Scientific Orientations and Epistemological Postures around Missionary Activity in Africa

The work of Salvador Eyezo'o, following other researchers (Prudhomme, Comby, Gadille, Deslille, Spindler, Truchet, Zorn, etc.), has enriched religious historiography, particularly that of Christian missionaries in Africa. However, the professor is particularly interested in understanding the balkanisation of Christianity in Africa between the 19th and 20th centuries, the resulting phenomenon of borders, the instrumentalisation and re-appropriation of spaces by missionaries as well as the adoption of the evangelised. On the one hand, it is a question of questioning the different orientations of religious historiography and particularly of the study of Christian missionary reality in Africa and, on the other hand, to embark on the epistemological break that constitutes the approach of Salvador Eyezo'o through the reading and the analysis of a religious fact that has allowed itself to be inscribed in the long duration from the sectorisation to the negotiation of a possible cohabitation of the different religious confessions resulting from the Western religious missions in Africa.

2 - Post-missionary Christianity in Africa: Composition / Reconstitution of Identity and the Question of Spaces.

 The beginning of the post-missionary era strangely corresponds with the turmoil of the decolonisation of Africa. Whether it was around the ecumenical conference of all the Churches of Africa in 1958 or the spirit of the Vatican II Council in 1962, the same objective was to be achieved: to decolonise theology and missionary action. We are therefore inexorably moving into the post-missionary era. Obviously, as in the case of decolonisation, the new ecclesiological discourse is often far removed from the realities on the ground: the mission, the place where the missionary's persistent residence is located, has become a conflict-ridden arena where various strategic groups clash and offend each other. The current context is characterised by a strong resurgence of identity-based withdrawal. Places of worship are also veritable hotbeds and laboratories for this. If this divided landscape can be explained in part by the rejection of an acculturating globalisation, the reason is undoubtedly based on the very history of the importation of Christianity into Africa: the evangelisation of Africa bears the marks of the conflicts in the history of Western Christianity. In other words, “balkanised” Christianity imported its quarrels into African lands, which manifested themselves in borders that the missionary evangelisers and the indigenous evangelised people instrumentalised and internalised.[8]

 The issue around this axis is one that questions the congruence of the discourse conveyed by the notions of inculturation on the one hand and contextualisation on the other. In other words: what is the capacity of missionary Christianity to be both universal and transcultural? Questioning the territorialization of Christianity, the consequences that followed and the impact on ethnic groups in a post-missionary context will be some of the avenues of analysis.

3 - Dissymmetry of Missionary Presence in the Churches of African Missionary Societies: Conflict and Peaceful Cohabitation

After several decades of apostolate in Africa, missionary societies gave birth to local churches. The first decades of their existence were those of transition and the gradual passing of the baton between nationals and the Westerners. However, ambiguities in the relationship between the two entities during this period are noticeable because of the divergence of views on the future of the autonomous churches. While the Westerners justified their presence by providing experience and financial support to the local African churches, the latter felt that the missionaries were withdrawing from the independent missionary field, even if they provided financial support. This asymmetrical presence of missionaries in the autonomous churches is both a source of conflict and an object of consolidation of the work started in Africa. Researchers could analyse the issue of the transition between missionaries and the commissioned through specific cases and examples, and the outcomes in situations of autochthony and autonomy.

4 - Africa and the charismatic movement

 The charismatic movement has developed in Africa in recent decades, both in Catholic and traditional Protestant communities. There are even waves of conversions to new religious denominations inspired by the revival experience in all countries of sub-Saharan Africa. This phenomenon finds favourable ground in middle-income countries with precarious living conditions. There is a deep moral distress that leads to a rigid and apocalyptic bigotry. Researchers could look at the different cases of this phenomenon in different religious settings, the debate for the integration of these religious denominations in national and international ecumenical bodies and their impact on daily life in Africa.

5 - Local African churches and the Question of Heritage in a Post-Missionary Situation

 The various missionary societies developed important economic and social structures to accompany the evangelical action in their zones of influence, with the aim of not only conquering the hearts of Africans, but also to bring the benefits of Western civilisation to Blacks. This heritage is bequeathed to nationals who become its administrators and managers within the local churches. However, while this heritage thrives in some denominations, the managerial follow-up of the missionary heritage remains ambiguous in some local churches. The disastrous situation in which this material heritage finds itself can lead to the assumption that these structures will disappear in the long run. The question is therefore, how did these missionaries prepare for their succession? In what context did the handover take place? Were the Africans prepared to take over the management of this heritage?

The missionaries acquired community land which was at their disposal. The question of property (real estate in this case) arises when there are doubts or disagreements about the ownership or use of certain goods. In the case of land, there is an endless battle between the heirs of the church and the communities that bequeathed it. This issue raises the question of the relationship between religious institutions and civil authorities. The question of the management of real estate in a post-missionary context and the need to take stock of the situation is therefore raised.

6 - Local African Churches and Islam: Happy/unhappy Cohabitation in a World in Political-Religious Crisis?

From the beginning, African evangelisation found the presence of a well implanted missionary Islam on the continent, with which it was necessary to live and cohabit. This experience was accommodated by colonial or post-colonial administrative policies; by the missionary dynamism of the various communities involved; by the interest that the evangelised (or Islamised) had in integrating with one or the other current. Increasingly, in the context of the post-independent state, cohabitation is pitted up against an aggressive and militarised Islamic fundamentalism. This raises the question of understanding cohabitation, the perception by the various groups of each other; the geography and sociology of their relations; the interference (often militarised, too) of administrations and politicians. But it also raises the question of understanding the evolution of such sociology, historically, theologically and institutionally.

7 - The Didactics of Historical Knowledge in the ICT Era

The historian is a “builder of the city”. Eyezo'o says, in this perspective, about the builder, that “he must enable the managers of the city to have a perfect knowledge of the religious organisations whose hold on contemporary African society is real, and help decision-makers of ecclesial institutions and the Christian people to master the history of their own religion.”

However, the lack of knowledge of the common past does not only lie in the inadequacy of the productions or the historiographic orientations of the early days, which were intended to be subjugating, but also and more so, in the dissemination of works produced. Indeed, in the age of ICTs, it is increasingly urgent to link new pedagogical standards to technology. Techno-pedagogy is basically the fact of teaching the current generation and making sure that technology is at the service of learning. It is also a question of assessing the role, progress and effective use of this tool in facilitating the knowledge of the past.

8 - Experience of Distance Learning and the Challenge of Using Digital Technology in a Crisis Context:

From correspondence courses to MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), via the School Pact in 1958, distance learning has come a long way. Although it was mainly a matter for private institutes, it was introduced into public education (School Pact in Belgium) for people in precarious situations. In other words, it is the poor relation of the education system, especially in the countries of the sub-region which are in the grip of various budgetary crises.

If techno-pedagogy can improve the quality of learning from a certain standpoint, distance learning has a completely different aim in a crisis situation: to bring about a pedagogical change with a view to extending education to as many people as possible in real time, and more so in a crisis situation. However, the adequacy between the pedagogical tool and the strategy it constitutes could represent a blockage. Indeed, how many teachers are trained to use ICTs, but above all, could the learner in a given situation have sufficient access to this tool? The suddenness of the crises and their reptilian nature have hardly favoured this state of affairs.

However, since the year 2000, it has become a real alternative in education in Cameroon, especially at the tertiary level. If it aims a priori, to create a new generation of certificate holders able to use ICTs in all sectors of activity, it should now be included in the number of efficient strategies, in part, in order to resolve the issue of teaching large numbers of people by a body of teachers insignificant in relation to the number of learners (35/1), and also to address the pedagogical change that is required in light of crises of all kinds that threaten national and international security. In addition, this axis, which is addressed to both didacticians and historians, is an opportunity to examine the challenges and experience of distance learning in Cameroon in the face of social crises generated since the first Boko Haram attacks in North Cameroon, and health crises as surprising as COVID 19. Could the combination of distance learning and the use of ICTs be a panacea for health and social crises in the field of education?

9 - Christianity and Women's Identity: From Marginalisation to Emancipation?

According to biblical tradition, women are represented as inferior and minor beings. The place assigned to the woman, consequent to this representation, submits her to male authority. In spite of uplifting discourse - especially through the Marian and apologetic cults - of the liberating action of missionary women in relation to the status of the African woman in traditional society, the status of the woman has been degraded by missionary action. The status of women in the Victorian society was in fact transposed to Africa during the colonial period, which incidentally corresponds to the period of evangelisation. Since women had access to the church only in the backyard, this posture further weakened their possibility of having a voice. However, another wave has recently arisen, resulting in women's ordinations in the so-called Protestant denominations. The question at the heart of this trend is therefore whether it is possible to finally envisage a possible emancipation of women within the new local churches? Can one really deconstruct the approach to the condition of women as victims of a transposition of the representations of the Victorian society?

References

[5]S. Eyezo’o, « Fronts, frontières et espaces missionnaires chrétiens au Cameroun de 1843 à 1960 » T.1 et T.2 thèse de Doctorat d’Etat en Histoire, Université de Yaoundé I, 2008.

[6]S. Eyezo’o, « Les institutions missionnaires face aux réalités coloniales et postcoloniales : le cas de la Mission Adventiste du 7e jour au Cameroun (1926-1985) », thèse de doctorat de 3e cycle, Université de Yaoundé, 1991.

[7]S. Eyezo’o et J.F. Zorn, L’autonomie et l’autochtonie des Eglises nées de la mission, XIXe et XXIe siècle, Paris, Karthala, 2015, pp. 19-31.

[8]This is well specified and analysed in the first volume of Professor Eyezo'o's PhD thesis in History cited above.


Date(s)

  • Monday, September 20, 2021

Keywords

  • Recherches historiques, pratiques professionnelles, Salvador Eyezo’o, didactique du fait religieux, enseignement supérieur

Contact(s)

  • Léa Kemegne Simo
    courriel : lea [dot] simo [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Edmond François Ngagoum
    courriel : edmondngagoum15 [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Recherches historiques et pratiques professionnelles de Salvador Eyezo’o », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, https://calenda.org/904485

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