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Shorter, Aylward 1932- (Muganwa Nsiku Jensi)

Shorter, Aylward 1932- (Muganwa Nsiku Jensi)

PERSONAL:

Born May 2, 1932, in London, England; son of Alan Wynn (an Egyptologist) and Joan Shorter. Education: Queen's College, Oxford, B.A. (second-class honors), 1955, diploma (distinction), 1964, D.Phil., 1971; attended Pontifical Gregorian University, 1962-63.

ADDRESSES:

Home and office—Totteridge Common, London, UK.

CAREER:

Entered Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers); ordained Roman Catholic priest, 1962; Gaba Pastoral Institute, Uganda, Africa, lecturer in social anthropology, 1968-77; Kipalapala Senior Seminary, Tabora, Tanzania, lecturer in African theology and African religions, 1977—; Catholic University of Eastern Africa, lecturer in African studies, 1982-88; Missionary Institute London, president, 1988-95; Tangaza University College, Nairobi, Kenya, principal, 1995-2002. Member of the Missionaries of Africa History Research Team, 2002—.

Part-time lecturer at Makerere University, Uganda, 1969-73, moderator in theology, 1972-75; Downside Visiting Lecturer in African Religions at University of Bristol, 1977—. Consultant for Secretariat for Non-Christians (Vatican), 1973—. Military service: British Army, King's African Rifles, 1951-52; became lieutenant.

MEMBER:

Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (fellow).

AWARDS, HONORS:

Nuffield sociological scholarship, 1964; recipient of honorary degree from Saint Mary's University, 2002.

WRITINGS:

Nyungu-ya-Mawe: Leadership in Nineteenth-Century Tanzania, East African Publishing House (Nairobi, Kenya), 1969.

(With Njelu Mulugala) Nyungu-ya-Mawe: mtawala shujaa wa Kinyamwezi, East African Literature Bureau (Nairobi, Kenya), 1971.

(Editor, with Eugene Kataza) Missionaries to Yourselves: African Catechists Today, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1972.

The Theology of Mission, Fides Publishers (Notre Dame, IN), 1972.

Chiefship in Western Tanzania: A Political History of the Kimbu, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1972.

"The African Contribution to World Church" and Other Essays in Pastoral Anthropology, Pastoral Institute of Eastern Africa (Kampala, Uganda), 1972.

(Translator, with Marie-Agnes Baldwin) Michael Kayoya, My Father's Footprints: A Search for Value, East African Publishing House (Nairobi, Kenya), 1973.

African Culture and the Christian Church: An Introduction to Social and Pastoral Anthropology, Geoffrey Chapman (London, England), 1973, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1974.

East African Societies, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1974.

Prayer in the Religious Traditions of Africa, Oxford University Press (Nairobi, Kenya), 1975.

African Christian Theology: Adaptation or Incarnation?, Geoffrey Chapman (London, England), 1975, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1977.

(Editor) Church and Marriage in Eastern Africa, Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) Research Department (Eldoret, Kenya), 1975.

(With Benezeri Kisembo and Laurenti Magesa) African Christian Marriage, Geoffrey Chapman (London, England), 1977, 2nd edition, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1998.

Christian Family Power in Africa, Gaba Publications (Eldoret, Kenya), 1977.

(Editor and author of introduction) African Christian Spirituality, Geoffrey Chapman (London, England), 1978, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1980.

Priest in the Village: Experiences of African Community, Geoffrey Chapman (London, England), 1979.

Jesus and the Witchdoctor: An Approach to Healing and Wholeness, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1985.

(With others) Towards African Christian Maturity, St. Paul Publications-Africa (Kampala, Uganda), 1987.

Songs and Symbols of Initiation: A Study from Africa in the Social Control of Perception, Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1987.

Toward a Theology of Inculturation, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1989.

The African Synod: A Personal Response to the Outline Document, St. Paul Publications-Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1991.

The Church in the African City, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1991.

The Shorter Family: A Preliminary History, [London, England], 1992.

Christianity and the African Imagination: After the African Synod: Resources for Inculturation, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1996.

Spirituality and Reconciliation, edited by Tom Curran, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1997.

African Culture, an Overview: Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1998.

Celibacy and African Culture, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1998.

Religious Poverty in Africa, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1999.

Religious Obedience in Africa, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 2000.

(With Joseph N. Njiru) New Religious Movements in Africa, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 2001.

(With Maggie Price Taylor) The Shorter Family: England, America, and Africa in the History of a Family, Heritage Books (Bowie, MD), 2003.

Cross and Flag in Africa: The "White Fathers" during the Colonial Scramble (1892-1914), Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 2006.

An Achievement without Parallel: A History of the Missionary Institute London (1967-2007), Missionary Institute London (London, England), 2007.

African Recruits and Missionary Conscripts: The White Fathers and the Great War (1914-1922), Missionaries of Africa History Project (London, England), 2007.

WITH EDWIN ONYANCHA

Secularism in Africa: A Case Study: Nairobi City, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1997.

The Church and AIDS in Africa: A Case Study: Nairobi City, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1998.

Street Children in Africa: A Nairobi Case Study, Paulines Publications Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), 1999.

Contributor to African studies and theology journals, once under pseudonym Muganwa Nsiku Jensi.

SIDELIGHTS:

Social anthropologist and missionary Aylward Shorter has written extensively on the role and impact of the Catholic Church on modern East Africa. In his works, such as The Church in the African City, Cross and Flag in Africa: The "White Fathers" during the Colonial Scramble (1892-1914), and African Culture, an Overview: Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Shorter examines the ways in which the Catholic Church has influenced modern East African history and suggests other ways for the institution to most successfully expand its presence on the continent. "Though a European by origin," John S. Pobee stated in his review of African Culture, an Overview for the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, "the author has breathed and drunk deep of Africa and shows a sensitivity to Africans' insights and offerings to the world."

Cross and Flag in Africa is a partial history of the Society of Missionaries of Africa—a Catholic group also known as the "White Fathers" in reference to their white robes. "The Society of Missionaries of Africa was in crisis, [Shorter] suggests, after the death of their founder Charles Lavigerie in 1892," wrote Emma Wild-Wood in a Church History review, "but in 1914 the movement was strong enough to survive the devastation of the First World War and develop a form of Christianity indigenous to the continent. Shorter argues that an important reason for this was that while the White Fathers operated at the time of the European political ‘scramble’ for Africa, neither their objectives nor their engagement can be easily equated with colonial strategies." Drawing on the Society's publications, as well as the diaries kept by the head of the Society, Shorter creates a portrait of the very ambiguous position the White Fathers held in Africa at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.

The time period covered in Cross and Flag in Africa is particularly significant because of the many European attempts to found and exploit colonies on the continent. The White Fathers played a role in this struggle, sometimes in support of colonialism, but occasionally in opposition to it. The White Fathers often found themselves in conflict with the French government, which was profoundly anticlerical at the time, and the Protestant British and German governments, which distrusted Catholic agencies. In addition, nationalists from all countries with colonies in Africa expressed reservations about multinational, nongovernmental organizations working in territory they claimed. The White Fathers even caused conflicts with the Africans they served, especially over the issues of control of women's labor, the role of the family, and the strict discipline they exercised over their students and converts. By 1914, however, "missionaries and Africans [had come] to terms with each other, engaging in a continuous process of selective adaptation," explained Andrew Porter, writing in the Journal of African History. "Almost all of the [White] Fathers began sooner or later to appreciate African art, music and myths, and scholarly publications from the [Society of African Missions's] members added greatly to the European ethnography and colonial knowledge of their regions." Cross and Flag in Africa, Porter concluded, is a valuable work because of the "balanced assessment it provides of Catholic missionary enterprise and colonial expansion before the First World War."

Shorter told CA: "The motivation for my interest in African religion and anthropology was provided by my army experience in East Africa, 1951-52, and fieldwork for my doctorate in anthropology in Tanzania, 1964-70."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Church History, June 1, 2007, Emma Wild-Wood, review of Cross and Flag in Africa: The "White Fathers" during the Colonial Scramble (1892-1914), p. 470.

International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 1, 1993, W. Harold Fuller, review of The Church in the African City, p. 37; January 1, 2001, John S. Pobee, review of African Culture, an Overview: Socio-Cultural Anthropology, p. 43; October 1, 2006, Paul V. Kollman, review of Cross and Flag in Africa, p. 217.

Journal of African History, July 1, 2007, "A Balanced Assessment of Catholic Missionary Enterprise," review of Cross and Flag in Africa, p. 320.

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