by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
In view of the fact that Africa is the focus for this issue of EMQ, we decided to explore what we could find relating to Africa and missions in this installment of “Missions on the Web.”
Having recently developed our Asian site (www.mislinks org /Continents/asia.htm), and in view of the fact that Africa is the focus for this issue of EMQ, we decided to explore what we could find relating to Africa and missions in this installment of "Missions on the Web." As usual, there are far more sites than space will allow us to describe. We’ll take you on a guided tour of those we find to be the most important, and offer you the rest via our "Mission and Ministry in Africa Links" page (www.mislinks.org/Continents/africa.htm).
Perhaps nowhere else in the world is the so-called "digital divide" as large as it is in Africa. With 10 percent of the world’s population, Africa has less than one percent of the internet users–and over 1 million of them are in South Africa. At the same time, resources on the Web describing Africa abound. A search for "Africa" on Google (www.google.com–Scott’s favorite search engine), yields over 2,000,000 hits and the Google regional
At the top of the MisLinks Africa page we provide links to two of the more original and interesting resources available on the Web. Africa Proverbs and Stories (www.afriprov org/) is a wonderful site offering numerous proverbs that can be accessed by country (www.afriprov.org/maps/ africa.htm), month (www.afriprov.org/resources/proverbs.htm), or day (www.afriprov.org/resources/dailyproverbs.htm). The country listings include each proverb in its original language with an English translation and a hyperlinked explanation. The site also gives access to African stories (www.afriprov.org/resources/stories.htm), an annotated bibliography (www.afriprov.org/resources/bibliogr.htm), and book reviews (www.afriprov.org/resources/bkreview.htm) of related resources. The site has been designed and maintained by interested Catholic missionaries in cooperation with the help of Urban Ministries Support Group (UMSG) based in Nairobi, Kenya. It is updated on a regular basis and worth going back to often.
The second site on the top of the MisLinks Africa page is that of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography DACB (www.dacb.org/), organized and coordinated by Jonathan Bonk, director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center. On the Introduction page, the DACB site is described as "Broadly interconfessional, historically descriptive, and exploiting the full range of oral and written records, the DACB will cover the whole field of African Christianity from earliest times to the present, over the entire continent. It is being produced electronically in English, with plans for translation into French, Portuguese, and Swahili."
It is anticipated that the project will take 12 years to complete (1999 through 2111), and will involve literally hundreds of scholars, researchers, and lay leaders writing thousands of biographical articles of African church founders and leaders. New biographies are constantly being posted. They are listed by country and, within each country, by ecclesial block (Catholic, Protestant, independent, and Orthodox). For example, as of this writing there are 20 articles in Kenya, 12 of Protestants and 8 of independent church leaders. Ethiopia, by contrast, has 167 articles including 1 Catholic, 3 Protestant, and 163 Orthodox leaders. In keeping with a commitment to make the resources available to all, every article in the DACB is non-proprietary and can be used freely by anyone in the world. In addition to the biographies, the DACB maintains a large list of links to church-related ministry sites around the continent arranged by country (www.dacb.or/links.html).
CHRISTIANITY AND MINISTRY SITES
Africa Missions Resource center (www.africamissions.org/), maintained by Richard Chowning of Abilene Christian University, provides several helpful pages, including: culture, background, and demographics (www.africamissions.org/africa/culture.htm); information technology and African missions (www.africamissions.org/africa/infotech.htm); and African news services (www.africamissions.org/africa/culture.htm).
African Initiated Churches is maintained as part of the Southern Africa Missiological Society site (www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/8409/aic.htm). It includes names and e-mail addresses for over two dozen AIC researchers, a discussion forum, and several articles. African Traditional Religions (www.missiology.org/animism/Links/atr.htm) was developed as part of the Missiology.org site by Gailyn Van Rheenen, author of Communicating Christ in Animistic Contexts. It provides several sources, including collections of papers and pages with links to other resources.
The Billy Graham Center Archives has an enormous amount of Africa-related missions material. To find it, go to www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/africa.html and follow the directions to search for materials. A search on the most general topic, "Missions-Africa" yields over 100 collections within the archives that can be browsed. For example, the collection on John Gration (www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/guides/230.htm) former chair of the Missions Department at Wheaton College, gives a brief biography of Gration along with indices of two taped interviews of him available at the Archives.
Catholic Life and Communities in Africa (parish-without-borders.net/global/africa.htm) was developed by Father Joe Healey (developer of the African Proverbs site) to help promote global solidarity among Catholics. The site provides access to Catholic sites, news services, and additional Internet resources.
Christian Network Links for Africa (www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/cecilian/777/) is maintained by Steve Hayes, a teacher and missiologist from Pretoria, South Africa. It includes a list of over 100 Web sites related to ministry in Africa, including mission agencies, churches, church and mission leaders, and educational institutions (www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/cecilian/777/alpha.htm).
Mission to East Africa (www.geocities.com/Heartland/8397/) centers its focus on missions in Uganda, East Africa, where the maintainers are based. Of particular interest is the directory, which includes over 1500 Africa-related links arranged in more than 75 categories (www.geocities.com/pwleber/resources.htm).
The last of the Christianity and Ministry sites is Stanford’s "Africa South of the Sahara Religious Links" (www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/religion.html). It provides a large, eclectic mix of links that include mission agencies, African religions and philosophy, businesses, libraries with African collections (some of which have material available online), and journals. The latter category includes resources such as the SEDOS collection (www.sedos.org/), with numerous extensive articles on Africa and mission from a Catholic perspective in English, French, and Spanish.
COUNTRY INFORMATION SITES
What if you aren’t looking as much for direct mission information as you are general information about the country? Several sites are helpful.
African Governments on the WWW (www.gksoft.com/govt/en/ africa.html) is part of the "Governments on the WWW" site (www.gksoft.com/govt/), which is a "Comprehensive database of governmental institutions on the World Wide Web: parliaments, ministries, offices, law courts, embassies, city councils, public broadcasting corporations, central banks, multi-governmental institutions etc." Available in German and English, the country listings give access to such things as national institutional sites (government and commerce), general information, encyclopedia articles, linguistic data, tourist information, and human rights reports.
The African Studies Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences provides a large Web site of African-related materials (www.sas.upenn.edu/African__Studies/AS.html). Two sections on this site are worth a look. First is the set of country specific pages (www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/Home_Page/Country.html) which give access to maps, the CIA Factbook entry, and numerous country-specific links for every African country. Second is the Africa Web Links page, an annotated list of Web resources sorted by subject including such things as anthropology, languages, relief work, and religious studies (www.sas.upenn.edu/African_ Studies/Home_Page/WWW_Links.html).
Perhaps the best known resource for obtaining information on other countries, the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, maintains a Web site with information it has compiled on every country of the world (www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/indexgeo.html). Known as the Factbook, statistical information is provided on the geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, and military of each country. This is a good place to start for getting a general overview of the country, but without any analysis of the facts presented.
Stanford’s Africa South of the Sahara Site (www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/guide.html) is the last we will mention in this category. The country list (www-sul.Stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/guide3.html) provides numerous links for every African country. For example, it has 38 links for Chad ranging from mission organizations to multinational companies to government sites. The reader should note, however, that several of the links were broken a problem when pages are not updated regularly.
Perhaps you don’t need general information on countries, but help researching particular issues faced in Africa, such as the impact of AIDS on local economies. More traditional Web-based searching might start with a search engine such as Google (www.google.com). When given a search for "Aids" and "Africa," Google yielded 581,000 links, with the first several linking to news stories with contemporary statistics and issues. In this section, however, we list sites focused on Africa that enable you to find helpful information no matter what your interests.
"An A to Z of African Studies on the Internet" (docker.library.uwa.edu.au/%7Eplimb/az.html), compiled by Peter Limb and supported by the University of Western Australia and H-Net Africa (see below), is a massive Internet dictionary. Rather than simply defining terms, however, "An A to Z" provides links to sites that explore the term (or person) in depth. Dealing with topics from Abidjan University to Zulu literature, the site offers a wealth of links to information on Africa from scholarly sources. Unfortunately, at least at the time we browsed the site, AIDS does not appear to be one of the terms discussed!
The Africa Resource Network (AfResNet;www.mbendi.co.za/index.htm) was "established with the vision of pooling the resources of a number of African experts to provide a comprehensive African information, intelligence and consulting service over the Internet to clients worldwide." The Information for Africa site provides up-to-date information useful for commercial ventures. A search on AIDS on the site yielded 67 links, most of them news releases of conferences dealing with AIDS.
Africana.com (www.africana.com) was founded with three purposes in mind: 1) to present accurate, interesting, entertaining, and socially constructive information and commentary reflecting the diverse concerns of people of African descent; 2) to create . . . interactive vehicles and forums for communication and commerce with a pan-African, global focus; and 3) to contribute to … promoting technological literacy and work-readiness for people of African descent. . .
A foundation for the site was the work behind Microsoft’s Encarta Africana, a massive CD-ROM encyclopedia focused on Africa. A search for AIDS on this site yields 355 links, and near the top is an extensive eight-part series of articles covering AIDS in Africa, providing the richest and easiest to find resources on AIDS of all of the research sites.
All-Africa.com (www.africa.com/related/) is self-described as "the best starting point for research, entertainment or business pursuits on the African continent. A great place for cyber tourists, professionals, students, and those wanting to travel to Africa." There are fourteen sections on the site ranging from African arts to music to religion to sport, each offering numerous links. The health section (www.africa.com/related/?section-health) provides two dozen links to sites which focus on AIDS in Africa.
H-Net Africa (www.h-net.msu.edu/gateways/africa/), run out of Michigan State University, offers a number of subscription-based discussion communities in which you can dialog with others interested in Africa under a variety of topics (e.g., history and culture, politics, literature and cinema and so on). The H-Net Africa site provides for five types of searches: among the discussion groups, book reviews, Web pages, job guide, and academic announcements. Searching among the Web pages for AIDS yielded 316 links, though terms such as "library searching aids" turned up frequently among the links! Of special importance to the academic researcher is the listing of over 160 African-related periodicals (www.h-net.msu.edu/%7Eafrica/toc/index.html) with links to available tables of contents of each periodical.
The Newsletter on African Old Testament Scholarship (www.misjonshs.no/publikasjoner/ot_afr/) "aims at being a meeting place where African Old Testament scholars and non-Africans interested in African Old Testament scholarship can exchange ideas and information." While not as relevant on AIDS in Africa, it is still a site worth noting for those interested in Old Testament studies and the African setting.
Stanford’s Africa South of the Sahara Site Topics discussed above (www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/guide2.html) has links arranged under more than 40 topics from Art to Women. AIDS is not listed as a separate topic, but several articles under "Health" have AIDS-related information. Searching the entire site for "AIDS" yields 200 links (out of more than 4100 pages searched).
A search of the entire UPenn Africa Studies Center site (www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/AS.html) for "AIDS" yielded 331 links. The results are listed without any reference to the context for each hit, requiring you to look at each hit individually to determine its worth.
The last type of links we provide are to news about or from Africa. Space limits our discussion to the following two fairly comprehensive news services, but remember to check out the MisLinks Africa page for more!
Africa.com news (www.africa.com/ news/) offers news on a country-by-country or continental basis. A search across the entire site on AIDS yielded 2242 links; limiting the search to news postings reduced the links to 1350.
All Africa.com (allafrica.com/) is the most comprehensive news source for Africa available. They post over 300 new stories daily from their reporters and more than 60 African news outlets. It should be noted that they have an entire section of the site devoted to AIDS news stories (allafrica.com/aids/).
The Web continues to grow and change daily. The future promises to deliver far greater information resources for mission work in Africa. Keep checking back with the MisLinks Africa page-and send us your suggestions for new links we can add (using the e-mail link on the MisLinks Web site).
A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and chair of Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.). His email address is A.S.Moreau@wheaton.edu and the Wheaton Missions Department web address is www.wheaton.edu/intr
Mike O’Rear is the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), which is dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Majority World. He also serves as Lausanne senior associate for information technology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the GMI web address is www.gmi.org
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