Here in Sewanee, Tengatenga brings his extensive knowledge and history to the classroom.
THE RT. REV. DR. JAMES TENGATENGA
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Global Anglicanism
School of Theology
In the 1980s, James Tengatenga heard of Sewanee when he was a seminary student in Texas. In addition to the “beauty of the Domain,” he heard of the “academic and religious tradition of the University [and] the synergy between the School of Theology and the College of Arts and Science and the local community.” He would finally arrive here in 2014 from Malawi, having done much in the ensuing years.
Born in Zimbabwe, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Tengatenga went to college in Malawi then attended the Seminary of the Southwest in Texas, where he earned a Master of Divinity and was ordained in 1985. He attended the University of Birmingham (UK) and earned a Ph.D. in theology and religious studies from the University of Malawi.
Over the course of his career, he’s been involved in both the church and human rights. He worked as a deacon, a priest, and the chair of the Youth Advisory Committee, among others. From 1998 to 2013, he served as the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi. For seven years, he was the president of the Anglican Family Network. He was a member of the Malawi National AIDS Commission and the National Forum for Peaceful Settlement of Conflict. He has authored or co-authored three books and numerous articles and book chapters. His impact is broad and deep, both in his home country and on matters of the church.
Here in Sewanee, Tengatenga, as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Global Anglicanism, brings his extensive knowledge and history to the classroom. Of teaching, he said, “I have always wanted to help others learn and to share my long experience in the field as priest, bishop and theological educator. In addition, I wanted to share and represent the global in the institution and so help it in its global citizenship endeavors in educating professional leaders in society and the church.” He continues to do research on “Nineteenth Century Christian Missions and slavery in East Africa and the Indian Ocean.”
Living away from Malawi, there have been some surprises. Between his time in Texas and his time in Sewanee, his biggest jolts of culture shock have come from “Southern accents, eating rare beef steak, sugared bread, and sugared everything!”
Though home is an ocean away, Tengatenga “is in constant touch [with friends and family at home] through correspondence and online news” and “travel[s] to Malawi annually.” Known as “the Warm Heart of Africa because of its people,” Malawi embodies “[d]iverse cultures and multiple languages and dialects in one small country the size of Pennsylvania.” It is “[p]eaceful [and has a] great climate.” Although it is landlocked, the country is home to Lake Malawi, an “amazing...lake (the third largest and [southernmost] of Africa’s Great Lakes),” which takes up nearly a third of the country.
There is much to appreciate here in Sewanee, too, such as “the Community, the Domain and the hikes,” echoing his appreciation of the beauty of nature in Malawi. As to what drew him to Sewanee after all these years, he said, “I am told that one of the meanings of the name Sewanee is ‘something which was lost but found.’ In Malawi we have [a] Chichewa expression for something that is exceptionally beautiful or of extreme worth which is akin to this meaning of Sewanee: Kosowa (translated: something lost, something rare, something not common, something precious and hard to find, unique). I could not resist coming to Kosowa!” Here at Sewanee, we, too, have found something rare in The Rt. Rev. Dr. James Tengatenga.