According to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, most of the violent conflicts and crises facing parts of the African continent are rooted in inadequate governance. LCI Catalyst Moustapha Ouedraogo’s dream is to propose a model that will shape what good governance looks like in his home country, Burkina Faso. Read on to find out more about Moustapha’s experience so far in Tier One of the LCI – our training and development year. Moustapha is studying for a PhD in sociology of organisations and governance and also works for UGBB, the IFES national movement in Burkina Faso.
1. What made you decide to apply to the LCI?
It was hearing the testimonies of Catalysts that encouraged me to apply, particularly the testimony of Dr Sambo Ouedraogo (learn about Sambo’s LCI project here). Listening to him, I realised that this program could help me answer two fundamental questions in my life as an African Christian intellectual: How can we reconcile science with faith and culture? And how can I, as a Christian intellectual, influence higher education with biblical values?
2. What do you hope to gain from the program?
I believe this training will enable me to approach scientific research topics in a different way, and to respond better to big issues in my country, particularly the development of good governance in Burkina Faso. I hope that the LCI will provide me with the tools I need to conduct high-quality research on this.
Developing good governance is absolutely vital in order to promote peace. social cohesion and sustainable development. The African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PCS) has confirmed that most of the violent conflicts and crises facing parts of the African continent are rooted in inadequate governance (PSC 766th meeting; 2018).
My dream is to propose a model of governance that will help shape what governance looks like in both the state and the church in Burkina Faso.
3. How have the first few months at the LCI been?
The first few months of the program were fantastic. There were moments of deconstruction, construction, discovery and paradigm shifts. Online workshops have provided us with the opportunity to hear from Christian intellectuals who are very knowledgeable in their fields. We also had some very exciting reading assignments on books that deal with cultural, theological and scientific realities in French-speaking Africa. In addition, we have conducted research, taken part in Bible studies and engaged in dialogue between catalysts through online discussion forums.
During these various sessions, I learnt countless things. Firstly, this work helped me to sharpen my ear as a Christian intellectual so that I can better listen to my environment in order to identify the real problems and their causes with a view to finding appropriate solutions. Secondly, I got to know myself better as a Christian intellectual. Thirdly, the LCI has enabled me to discover more about the importance of dialogue between science and faith and how to build bridges to encourage this dialogue.
4. Has anything stood out to you?
One thing that really caught my attention was Christian identity and science. Reading the book Science and Faith: A Course Manual for French-speaking Africa (Science et foi: Manuel de cours pour l’Afrique francophone; Zegha Maffogag; 2017) made me realise that my identity has been shaped by several factors, including my Christian faith, my culture and my academic studies. I became aware of how often I experience tensions caused by conflicts of values. This book, together with my research assignments and an LCI seminar about traditional African religions and the science-religion dialogue, helped me develop the skills needed to build bridges between science (and my academic discipline), faith and culture. I am now working to identify areas of tension between these three dimensions of my life with a view to building bridges so that these relationships are a source of richness rather than tension.
5. What is the situation like among Christians in your country regarding science and Christianity?
In church contexts, the relationship between science and faith is largely viewed as conflictual. For many pastors, the university and the church are two different terrains. What we learn at university is seen as worldly and intended for business. As a result, those of us who are pursuing academic careers are rarely invited to contribute our academic expertise to strengthen believers and the church in Burkina Faso.
However, in my IFES national movement, science and faith are seen as complementary. We draw elements from science to build students’ faith, just as we draw resources from our Christian faith to influence certain perceptions of science. For example, for my master’s thesis in development project management I focused on UGBB as a case study. I have also written a scientific article on the crisis of governance in Burkina Faso in which I proposed Nehemiah’s model of governance as an alternative for rebuilding the country in the context of the security and humanitarian crisis.
6. Can you tell us a bit about the pilot project that you will conduct in preparation for developing a theology and the sciences project at the LCI?
Since August 2015, Burkina Faso has experienced both a security and a governance crisis. These different crises affect all dimensions of life. They have resulted in more than two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and loss of life. The church has also been severely affected by church closures, persecution and the murder of Christians and pastors. Politically, there have been four coups in the space of eight years. Faced with this reality, it is vital that we find a solution that makes it possible to transform these security and governance crises in a sustainable way. My pilot project will involve surveys to understand more about student perspectives on this topic. It is titled: “The contribution of science, faith and culture dialogue in the transformation of the governance crisis in Burkina Faso; Perceptions of students at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University.”
Read more about Moustapha’s academic journey in this IFES Prayerline blogpost from 2020.