Dr. Obert Hodzi, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool and a native of Zimbabwe, serves as one of our Library’s curators. Dr. Hodzi focuses on international politics, conflict and security issues, and the role of non-Western emerging powers in global governance. His empirical research experience has been in China and Africa.
We asked Dr. Hodzi what it means to be a missional Christian academic and why he believes the Society is vital to his academic vocation.
Society Administrator: Dr. Hodzi, tell us a bit about your academic journey.
Dr. Hodzi: It wasn’t a straightforward journey. In Zimbabwe, when a child loses both parents, the chances of that child going to school are usually slim. Though I lost my parents, my uncle and aunt took me in as their own child and supported my primary and high-school education. From there, government loans and scholarships paid from my undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. I see this as God’s hand and indeed a miracle.
Initially, I trained and worked as a lawyer in Zimbabwe. When the Zimbabwean economy collapsed in the late 2000s, I wanted to change careers and join a non-governmental organization. So I enrolled in postgraduate studies and worked for a regional and international NGO on governance and civil society in Zimbabwe. As we approached 2013, China’s influence was increasing across Africa; this trend puzzled me and I wondered what effect it would have on governance and development on the continent. Those questions inspired me to do a PhD.
Getting to Liverpool is a miracle because I applied prayerfully for more than 50 53 jobs over a two-year period. I attended more than 5 interviews, some of which seemed to have gone so well but I still didn’t get the job. Then Liverpool interviewed me on Skype. Within a few hours, I was offered the job. My wife and I were overjoyed!
Society Administrator: How do you seek to bring the gospel to bear in academia today?
Dr. Hodzi: I believe that ‘a man’s heart plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps’ (Proverbs 16:9). James Pounder, whom I met at Lingnan University, played a great role in helping me understand that academia can be a service to God and to see it as a mission field. That’s how I now see academia–as a mission field that allows me to meet a diverse range of people of different age groups, most of whom are grappling with life questions.
Society Administrator: How do you see the Society impacting Zimbabwe, the University of Liverpool, and/or your academic discipline?
Dr. Hodzi: In addition to spiritual guidance and prayer, I think mentorship initiatives for people in Zimbabwe and other academic institutions would be great to enhance their effectiveness and impact. At the University of Liverpool, there are other Society members and a group of us meet periodically to pray. Partnerships with Christian groups at universities would also help in developing missional Christian academics to meet local needs for academics in Zimbabwe.
Society Administrator: Many thanks for your efforts Dr. Hodzi to be the salt and light of Christ in the university and for your service to the Society as a Curator in the Resource Library.