The Windham World Affairs Council is pleased to announce an online Zoom panel discussion on:
“A New Pattern for Democracy”: Lessons from South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winner Albert Luthuli
Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, 4-5:30pm
The Rev Dr Scott Couper is the minister and teacher of Centre Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Brattleboro, Vermont. Scott received a BA (1990) in International Relations at the School for International Service at the American University in Washington, D.C. While an undergraduate he studied in Santiago (Chile), Lagos (Nigeria), and Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), the latter two through the School for International Training (Brattleboro, VT). Scott also worked in Ghana and the Kingdom of Lesotho monitoring human rights abuses resulting from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Scott later earned a MDiv (1999) at the University of Chicago and Chicago Theological Seminary. In 1999, Scott moved to the Republic of South Africa serving as an ordained minister of several rural Zulu congregations. Scott served the African church as an HIV and AIDS project coordinator during the height and at the epicenter of the global pandemic. After earning his PhD (2008) in Historical Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, Scott became an archivist and museum curator at the historic Inanda Seminary. For four years before coming to Vermont, Scott taught at the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (theology), the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Department (history) of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics (history), and the School for International Training (political science) as the Academic Coordinator of its Study Abroad program in Durban, South Africa.
While serving in Groutville, South Africa, Scott ministered at the Congregational home church of Chief Albert Luthuli – South Africa’s equivalent to Ebenezer Baptist Church (Martin Luther King’s home church). Inspired by Luthuli, long-time President-General of the African National Congress (ANC) and the first Black African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (1960), Scott researched his life and politics thus earning a PhD from the findings. His dissertation morphed into the first and only substantive biography of Luthuli (Albert Luthuli: Bound by Faith, UKZN Press, 2010), an ecclesiastical examination that in-part controversially re-evaluated Luthuli (and hence Nelson Mandela) in South Africa’s mythologized and idealized liberation narrative. Scott’s biography drew much public criticism from South Africa’s ANC political elite, especially from the then national President. Despite the biography’s vilification as ‘politically heresy’, Scott’s archival primary source evidence and arguments persuaded academics throughout South Africa. Today, much of South Africa’s educational curriculums now reflect the revisionist history about Luthuli.
Scott’s lecture will begin with Albert Luthuli’s biography, emphasizing the United States and American Congregationalism’s influence on his theology and politics. Luthuli’s biography will be used as a springboard to comment on fundamental ingredients of effective and moral governance: democracy, education, and human rights. The lecture will offer a warning against blind political allegiance to either a political party or to a cult of personality. Instead, a primary accountability to values and principles ought to supersede obeisance to partisan politics and individual fealty. Of course, all of the above will provide a helpful commentary on the current United States political landscape. The lessons of South Africa can assist North Americans on how to navigate the vestiges of historic and current White supremacy, a growing polarized electoral constituency, and efforts to foster justice through ‘truth and reconciliation’ processes.
This talk is free and everyone is welcome to attend.
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