College of Human Sciences

Exploring structural and spiritual inequalities through research

Prof Fundiswa Kobo, one of the four recipients of the Woman in Research: Emerging Researcher Award

Prof Fundiswa Kobo, Senior Lecturer in the College of Human Sciences, was among the 112 Unisans recognised for their stellar research work during the university's recent Research and Innovation (R&I) Awards ceremony. Kobo was one of the four recipients of the Women in Research: Emerging Researcher Award. She is a black woman theologian and an Associate Professor in the Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology.

The R&I policy stipulates that nominees for this award should have a PhD and exceed the expected minimum research output units according to post level. Accordingly, Kobo had to produce at least 50% of the expected minimum required research output units contributing to the body of knowledge in her academic focus area.

Taking into account women's everyday lived experiences, Kobo's research is impactful in today's society as it illustrates issues around womanism and the liberation of black theology, and provides a critique of modern church practices. Through her research, Kobo proves to be a critical thinker, determined to challenge the status quo in challenges around race, gender, faith and other inequalities. Her academic work aims to bridge the gap and solve challenges in these subject matters within the African context.

Sharing her sentiments about winning the award, Kobo says: "I am excited and feel affirmed by this recognition of my hard work, sacrifices and love of research." She adds: "I feel honoured to be recognised as a promising researcher."  

Kobo holds a PhD in Theology, Dogmatics and Christian Ethics; the title of her thesis is A womanist dialogue with black theology of liberation in the twenty-first century. Her fields of academic interests are Christian spirituality, womanist theology, black theology of liberation, African spirituality, spiritualities of the Global South and decentring discourses. She explains: "As a womanist, I argue that a black woman is the author of her liberation." Kobo's research work illustrates black women coming out of dungeons to decentre the West. Her publications expose the dilemma of black women's quest for liberation from racism and black and white patriarchy. "It is what many scholars who inspire me refer to as double, triple, or multiple oppressions of a black woman," she says. "My research work adopts a pro-black position, in my realisation that my liberation is the liberation of the fragmented black humanity as a whole," she adds.

Kobo's career highlights include co-editing a book in honour of the mother of African theology, Prof Mercy Amba Oduyoye. She is also a co-editor of a special journal collection in honour of the late Prof Vuyani Vellem, whom she describes as one of the greatest black theologians of our times. Moreover, she has published in high-impact and accredited journals and is a member of the editorial boards of a number of journals.

Whilst Kobo has an impressive list of achievements, she concludes that the recognition bestowed by her employer, Unisa, adds value to her work and inspires her to work even harder. "This award is an affirmation of the valuable contribution that my work attempts to make at Unisa, an institution that prides itself as the African university in the service of humanity and upholds a strong transformation agenda," she says.

Click here for coverage of the 2022 Unisa Research and Innovation Awards Ceremony.

* By Lesego Chiloane-Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2022-06-23 00:00:00.0