Reverend, black, feminist and HIV, Phumzile Mabizela defies all prejudice in South Africa – 11/24/2018


"I am an African theologian who believes that women are created in the image of God," says Phumzile Mabizela, a popular Black Rebel and popular feminist in South Africa who has been living with HIV for 20 years. fight the Church to break the gender stigmas and those who carry the AIDS virus.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, Mabizela is the executive director of the international and interfaith organization Inerela +, a network of religious leaders of all types who are or have been personally affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS.

"We use our own stories to bring transformation to our churches and give hope to people living with HIV so that when they see someone like me, Realize that you can truly live a full life."he explains.

A fighter (EFE)

A fighter (EFE)

When in 1999 she was diagnosed with the virus, the woman had been ordained and dedicated to Christian theology for more than a decade.

Although the news initially left her "devastated", it took her a while to decide that she would turn this blow into a positive tool, not only to improve the quality of life of others affected and for prevention, but also to change the prism with which churches look at this problem.

"I think when we first became aware of HIV, it was portrayed as a moral issue and also as something that undoubtedly led to death," he says.

"It is not true that those living with HIV are because we are promiscuous or because we have had many couples … It is not true," emphasizes the Reverend, born in a ghetto in KwaZulu-Natal province during the segregationist regime of apartheid.

Now, as director of Inerela + and with programs in twenty countries in Africa and Latin America, channels the ability of religious leaders to influence the breakdown of these stigmata. and show that HIV is a "manageable condition".



"There are issues that make people more vulnerable, such as poverty, we have to study and identify the factors that make the population more susceptible to HIV and AIDS, and I think that would make the churches understand that blaming people does not help, but it is important that they learn to love people who live with HIV, that they receive and support in every possible way, "he adds.

But this is not the only fighting front of this Reverend, transformed in South Africa into a reference of the currents that question the ecclesiastical discourse that puts the women in position of inferiority in relation to the men.

To begin with, Mabizela agrees with the theories that define Jesus Christ as "feminist" obscured by centuries of patriarchal reading of the Bible.

"It is a challenge: when we raise our voice about who we are in the eyes of God, we tend to be pushed to the periphery or the Church rejects you because you talk too much. But we have learned that some of us are called upon to do this, to disrupt the narrative that men are superior and more like God, "he argues.

Phumzile Mabizela - up, to the right - with other religious references. (

Phumzile Mabizela – up, to the right – with other religious references. (

"Thanks to the authority they have, religious leaders choose which messages are popularized, but when you use the" lens of the genre, "or even" the lenses of HIV, "or & # 39; release & # 39; [racial], you get an entirely different message. And all these messages are in the same Bible, "he adds.

In contrast to the "traditional" Bible readings, when she preaches, she speaks "about the emancipation of women"and remember that" they have no reason to be underestimated "because they too" were created in the image of God. "

Her feminist view deals with the problems of gender and class, but also adds to the particularity of the race present in such chains as "Afro-American feminism." With the note, too, that it belongs to the African context.

She says, "We chose to share our own stories and say that, using the lens of feminism, we have our own theology"

Source: Nerea González / EFE.


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