Dec 31, 2008

The African Transformation

After reading this article by Matthew Paris, I was impressed by his honesty and frank observation of the African transformation. Mr. Paris, an atheist, is impressed by the apparent transformation that the Christian faith makes in the lives of the Africans that he encounters as he travels across the continent. Not only are these believers changed spiritually, they demonstrate a rare competence in their pursuit of societal change that is fueled by a new biblical world-view. He observes: "In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall." To the contrary, their non-Christian comrades luck this unique trait. Bound by group-think and traditional religious values, they cannot unshakel themselves from societal parterns that hinder transformation. He observes thus: "Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders." Mr. Paris, surprised by the irony of his own atheism in the face of such staggering transformation then rightly admits that the bright future for Africa is inseperably tied to its embrace of a Christian worldview rather than the mere promulgation of development strategies apart from faith or an increase of international aid. "When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old," he muses. Whereas I appreciate Mr. Paris' frankness, his findings are not new. It is common knowledge among African strategists who care about the future of the continent that Christianity is integral to the process. His observations remind me of what Rwanda's minister of Local Government and Good Governance Hon. Protais Musoni said to journalists during conference that our organization (SWIM) held for Christian Leaders in the Africa Great Lakes Region: "There is nothing of greater value in our society here in Rwanda today than forging the unity between the Church and the state if we are to correct past mistakes and grow competent societies that can be able to achieve sustainable development." Evangelism is inseperable from true transformation. This is true not only in Africa but all around the world.

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