Of Dogma and poverty of leadership
Chambers Dictionary defines dogma as 'opinion settled or fixed by an authority'. However dogma is better understood in the dictionary's meaning of the adjective dogmatic which is described in the Cambridge Online dictionary as 'If someone is dogmatic, they are certain that they are right and that everyone else is wrong'. In today's church of Christ in Africa far from taking the lead in the multitude of challenges facing the continent today the church leadership have abdicated their moral responsibility in taking the lead on these issues. Their focus seems to be on other issues like the primary focus on the bogus claim of prosperity at the expense of real change to society and holding the public officials to account. Their dogma on stand alone issues divorced from the complex challenges the continent faces not only erodes the church's standing in the community but seeks only to serve the selfish ends of those not fit to lead the church. We live in an age of decadence in politics and public office, where there has been a lowering of standards and ethics in public office on the continent. The proclamation of the good news in the message of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ 'loving God and loving our neighbour' requires that we challenge, confront and articulate consistently the church's vision to society and this is of particular importance now to the future of the church in sub Saharan Africa being the part of Africa where the church is dominant. It is my view that as believers in the Faith of Christ we should be on our guard not to acquiesce with the leadership of the church in abdicating its responsibility otherwise we are equally as culpable as them. It is indeed our duty and mandate as believers in the Gospel of Christ to call the leadership to account and order. A review of church news and opinions on the continent reveals a significant vacuum in leadership, intellectually light and a failure to relay a consistent, constant message in the face of societal challenges where the church is in mission.
The history of early church through the golden age of the reformation era from 15th to the 18th Century to the spread of the Christianity during imperialism and the struggle against colonialism and the evils of apartheid reveals a church whose leadership was confident in confronting the then settled dogma that justified colonialism, slavery, segregation and apartheid. Whilst we are quick to condemn so called external influences, we also seem with empty pride and arrogance never willing to subject ourselves to re-examining ourselves and always ready to find excuses or promptly blame others for the cause of our problems. There is an apparent self-denial by our leadership either by choice or design or a tendency not to rock the boat. As we learn from the history of the church our good leaders from whom we draw inspiration from were never in the art of leadership for cheap popularity contests. In fact they were renowned mainly for their vision, intellect, courage, bravery and the ability to recognise and articulate issues from a high ethical and moral compass supported actively and sustained by the Gospel.
Whilst it is acknowledged in certain respects that there are a number of outstanding talented church leaders with sterling qualities of model leadership, this discourse is no criticism of them. However the ascendancy of dogma in the church at the expense of leadership in confronting societal challenges has no doubt been the bane of the church. We are at a cross roads of the leadership in Africa. Ordinary members of the mission see the leadership as wanting, a let down. To be steadfast in the message of Christ requires confronting the challenges and ills of society.
In Africa we have this habit of keeping issues to ourselves being stoic and saying everything is alright, which when you explore deep down reveals to you underlying issues not apparent on the surface. This is what I detect in the leadership of the church to societal issues and challenges. This approach to such issues should herald a sea change.
Obama Accra's Speech
The societal challenges and ills I refer to was succinctly articulated in United States of America (US) President Barack Obama Accra, Ghana speech of 11 July 2009 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-to-the-Ghanaian-Parliament/ which at the time he delivered it, was criticised unduly in some quarters but which when analysed resonates to the issues in our continent which unless we deceive ourselves are true. This he identified as the following, “critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy; opportunity; health; and the peaceful resolution of conflict”. When Barack Obama states further in his speech the following, “you have the power to hold your leaders accountable and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent. In many places, the hope of my father's generation gave way to cynicism, even despair” – this is the message I urge and pray that our church leaders have the courage and boldness to say.
The issues identified by Obama as causing the destruction of Africa such as, “destruction of the Zimbabwean economy, wars in which children are enlisted as combatants, tribalism and patronage, lack of development upon which depends good governance, the change that can unlock Africa's potential” is in his words the “responsibility that can only be met by Africans”. The leadership of the church where it is active should be at the forefront of meeting this responsibility. When Obama states, “that many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty, or leaders that exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers, places where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end”. This is an injunction that should be repeated by leaders of the church to elected politicians until they are blue in the face!
The history of conflict in Africa in the words of Obama “is for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes. These conflicts are a millstone around Africa's neck. We all have many identities — of tribe and ethnicity; of religion and nationality. But defining oneself in opposition to someone who belongs to a different tribe, or who worships a different prophet, has no place in the 21st century. Africa's diversity should be a source of strength, not a cause for division. We are all God's children. We all share common aspirations — to live in peace and security; to access education and opportunity; to love our families, our communities, and our faith. That is our common humanity”. With a strong vibrant leadership the church should condemn clearly the needless armed conflicts particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo DRC) and Darfur. The marked silence bar a few during the years and decades of tyranny, dictatorship, armed conflicts and civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone, ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Central African and great lakes regions remains a blot on the leadership of the church. This should not be allowed to occur ever again. Indeed where such seeds of discord are occurring now particularly with minority rights there should be a stronger, consistent and constant condemnation by the church leadership.
A significant factor attributable is the glaring lack of ignorance of the antecedents of the church, the failure of the leadership to impart this thus providing a foundation for a shallow grounding for understanding the Gospel due to the discredited leadership of the church. Hence it is the reason I am compelled to highlight the achievements of the history of the church in shaping the debate on the direction of leadership of the Mission.
The quality of leadership in church should be measured in terms of initiative, drive and intellect marked in the remarkable life of servant of Christ, Bishop Ajayi Crowther (1807 to 1891), a man credited for being the first native African speaker to translate the bible into an African language. For Dr Crowther's brilliant achievement in translating the bible into Yoruba from English was a first in the development of written African languages setting him out as a distinguished linguist and theologian. According to Andrew F. Walls who wrote an excellent summary on Crowther, Samuel Ajayi 1807 to 1891 Anglican Nigeria Foremost African Christian of the Nineteenth Century http://www.dacb.org/stories/aa-printstories/nigeria/legacy_crowther.html and the leading African historian Professor J.F Ade Ajayi's book on Crowther titled A Patriot to the Core: Bishop Ajayi Crowther (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 2001) it is quite remarkable that the significance of Crowther's version of the Yoruba has not always been recognised. Andrew Walls states that whilst Crowther's translation was not the first translation into an African language; but, insofar as Crowther was the leading influence in its production, it was the first by a native speaker. Our knowledge of the Gospel spanning the present day Nigeria in our native languages Yoruba, Igbo and Nupe is down to his scholarly works in translating the Scriptures. This was instrumental in shaping the subsequent translation of the bible into other African languages. Dr Crowther vision is revealed when he said that, “After many years' experience, I have found that the Bible, the sword of the Spirit, must fight its own battle, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit." Dr Crowther a man freed from the ravages of slavery in his teen years adds further that he, “was convinced of another worse state of slavery, namely, that of sin and Satan. It pleased the Lord to open my heart ... I was admitted into the visible Church of Christ here on earth as a soldier to fight manfully under his banner against our spiritual enemies”. Dr Crowther vision is required in shaping today's church leaders. An outstanding church leader, Dr Crowther was articulate and polished in expressing his views in his works, writings, sermons and speeches. Walls in his summary observed that an official of the Church Mission Society (one of the pioneer Christian bodies responsible for spreading the Gospel from the 18th Century onwards) commented on Dr Crowther holding an audience spellbound in a conference address on the "Mission and Women".
The legacy of Dr Crowther was manifested in the efforts and leadership of distinguished educationists and clergy who led in the ministry and in the advancement of education in colonial Nigeria. Through men of distinction who were also leaders and pioneers in the field of education in the calibre of Reverend Israel Ransome Kuti and Reverend (later Bishop) Seth Irunsewe Kale and their other notable non-clergy colleagues leading educationists Alvan A. Ikoku and E. E. Esua in founding the teachers union in Nigeria, the Nigerian Union of Teachers succeeded in winning recognition from the then British colonial authorities as well as benefits for their members, which by October 1948 were said to number 20,000. With the improved conditions the union grew rapidly and by the 1960s had become the largest professional organization in Africa, with a membership that exceeded a quarter of all the teachers in the continent. Today education is still said to be the largest single employer in Nigeria, directly touching more Nigerians than any other service. A remarkable feat down to the leadership of Reverends Kuti and Kale.
Of Reverend Kale it was said one of the students at the college where he taught described in the school magazine “Through Kale's reform, the feudal system of government in the college has been broken'. There are no more "lords" of St. Matthew's Block; "barons" of St. Peters; the "Villeins," "Cottars," and the "Raw Material" of St. Phillips. Students now live in 'houses --Crowther, Johnson, Oluwole, and Phillips. This change from class grouping to a house system is a credit to our first African principal of the college” see abridged version of Dr. Kemdirim Protus of Folarin Coker, Nigeria Profiles: The Rt. Reverend Seth Irunsewe Kale. (Lagos: CSS Press, 1973) http://www.dacb.org/stories/nigeria/kale_seth.html. The ethos and standards of Kuti, Kale, Ikoku and Esua was de rigueur in the mission schools of those years. The former Nigerian Chief Justice and former President of the International Court of Justice the late Dr Olawale Teslim Elias reminiscing his student years as a first set student of his alma mater Igbobi College remarked in his college's golden anniversary celebratory publication in February 1982 that the foundation of an individual's character was shaped by the learning provided and laid by the missionaries of the church who founded the college in 1932.
Of leadership and personal Sacrifice
Taking a walk or driving past the Westminster Abbey in London, United Kingdom (UK), which can be described as the UK Royal or national church one cannot fail to admire the gothic architecture of the Church coupled with its location in 'Westminster village' the uniqueness of which unlike any other national capital combines the buildings and history of the British Empire with that of its branches of government, a kind of historical three arms of government square. The same location has what is described as the mother of parliaments (Westminster Parliament – the UK parliament), and the new UK Supreme court where the former Law Lords now sit as Supreme Court Judges. Archbishop Desmond Tutu who more than most led the church with courage and tenacity during the years of apartheid for three decades from the 1960s to the 1990s jokingly said that the Whiteman came to Africa told us to close our eyes, taught us how to pray but by the time we opened our eyes they had taken away our lands! However it is in the Whiteman's church in Westminster Abbey that we see a living memorial dedicated to the modern leadership of the church, figures of the modern statues on the West entrance to the Abbey of which given the history of the African Church, I particularly admire the life and works of four outstanding men of Faith on whose mission and service provide telling lessons relevant to leadership in the African Church namely Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum and Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero El Salvador www.westminster-abbey.org.
Perhaps in a foretaste of what was to come in racism and apartheid in Africa and the notion that one race is superior to another race backed in some quarters with the Scriptures. The life of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of courage, bravery, the cost of human sacrifice and his challenge of Nazism which is while till today he is celebrated and inspired for his call to justice in confronting the evils of Nazism paying dearly for his life in the process when he executed by the defeated Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer according to the Westminster Abbey website believed that true discipleship now demanded political resistance against this criminal state. He wrote that the Christian must live maturely and responsibly in the world, and live by God's grace, not by ideology. Bonhoeffer who could have lived the war in the US or in the UK choose to return to Germany. His resistance to Nazi regime could be summed up when he said, “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction”. To the leadership in the African Church we say if the challenges facing the continent are heading in the wrong direction there is no point pussy footing in the opposite direction of the challenges pretending everything is rosy but to confront them head from the direction where these challenges emanate.
In the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King we have a visionary who fought against racial discrimination, segregation and labour rights in the 1950s and 1960s in encountering in his struggles the opposition of so called moderates and fellow clergy and leading a famous march on 28 August 1963 at Washington D.C for Jobs and Freedom where he delivered his famous 'I have a dream' speech. King remarked, “If physical death is the price I must pay to free my brothers and sisters from the permanent death of the spirit, then nothing could be more redemptive “ such was King's passion for his cause. King's letter to his fellow Clergymen (see his letter from a Birmingham Jail 16 April 1963 in Carson Clayborne's The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.) who said his present activities were unwise and untimely is telling. In eloquent language Reverend King sets out his position stating that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. King quotes St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all'' stating further that An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law and just as King condemned racism and segregation in the US in the 1950s and 1960s, the church in Africa today has the moral responsibility to criticise and condemn unjust acts by governments. Borrowing the words of Martin Luther King the stance of the church to government can best be described as lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. What Dr King refers to complacency and the degree of academic and economic security which he referred to as opposing forces of change in the black community is today replicated in the church today through what can be perceived as the acceptance of some leaders by the government establishment insensitivity to issues which they do not see as concerning the church.
The church in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire celebrates the remembrance of the exemplary leadership of its Archbishop Janani Luwum in standing up to brutality of the evil regime of Idi Amin in Uganda. Archbishop Luwun despite the apparent danger of his actions warned that the church should not conform to the “powers of darkness” in the regime and that he was “prepared to die in the army of Jesus”. Indeed on 5 February 1977 to protest the policies of arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances of the educated individuals from the Christian Faith, mainly Protestants, Luwum and fellow bishops of the Church of Uganda issued a pastoral letter addressed to President Amin which in part read: “Furthermore, we are made sad by the increasing forces that are setting Ugandans one against the other. While it is common in Uganda for members of one family to be members of different religious organizations, there is an increasing feeling that one particular religious organization is favored more than any other. So much so that in some parts of Uganda members of Islam, who are in leading positions, are using these positions to coerce Christians into becoming Muslims. Secondly, members of security forces are sons of civilians and they have civilians as brothers and sisters. When they begin to use the gun in their hands to destroy instead of protecting civilians, then the relationship of mutual trust and respect is destroyed. The gun, which was meant to protect Uganda as a nation, the Ugandans as citizens and their property, is increasingly being used against the Ugandan to take away life and property”. Archbishop Luwum personally delivered this letter to the dictator Idi Amin. Shortly afterwards, the archbishop and other leading churchmen were accused of treason. On 16 February 1977 Archbishop Luwum was arrested and the next day the evil regime's Radio Uganda announced that Luwum had died in motor accident. However the Archbishop's body released to the family was bullet ridden (see the short biography of Rev. Canon John Kateeba Tumwine http://www.dacb.org/stories/uganda/luwum_2janani.html). The tragic demise of Archbishop Luwum is the price of ultimate sacrifice for a church leader. It should be recalled that it was the leadership of one of the greatest statesmen of Africa, an exemplary Christian the then President of Tanzania the late Mwalimu (revered name for teacher in Swahili) Julius Nyerere that drove the nail in the coffin to end Amin's brutal regime by sending the Tanzanian armed forces to Uganda causing Amin to flee the country in an act of cowardice rather than face justice in 1978. Today's Africa though not as brutal and dangerous as Idi Amin's Uganda is still in many respects demanding the courage, bluntness and determination of leaders like Luwum.
El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero led the ministry in the 1970s and 1980s. El Salvador not unlike the Africa of that time where there was state sponsored and sanctioned extra judicial killing. In the violence prevalent then in El Salvador, Romero viewed the succession of priests murdered by state as testimony that the church cannot be divorced from the problems of its people. Romero had a vision of hope in his battles and struggles when he remarked that, “but hope is not resignation; it is a commitment to continue to struggle even when things seem to warrant surrender, when hope flares, it allows human beings to overcome monstrous difficulties. It allows people to defy common sense and confound strategists. Hope experienced in the extreme, like faith and love, is miraculous”. It is telling that a day after making this brave appeal on March 23, 1980, 'Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, 'Thou shalt not kill'. No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders. The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination. ...In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression" Archbishop Romero was assassinated in cold blood while celebrating mass.
Like others who grew up on the diet of Television news footage and documentaries in 1970s and 1980s witnessing the struggles of apartheid, in Archbishop Trevor Hoddleston and Archbishop Desmond Tutu we had two church leaders who set the pace for the anti apartheid movement. Archbishop Hoddleston gave up the comfort of middle class England to devote a lifetime of service to the ministry of Christ and the fight against racism and apartheid in South Africa. He was without saying the numero uno adopted African leader of the Anti-apartheid movement and struggles. Archbishop Hoddleston travelled widely across Africa from the West, Central, the Indian Ocean and Southern Africa. Hoddleston is described by Tutu as the man that, ''single-handedly made apartheid a world issue''. Commenting on the massive support he received when he visited Nigeria, Hoddleston a modest man remarked that he was not, ''too comforted because still apartheid goes on and we've got to end it''. Archbishop Tutu was thrust to the leadership of the Church as the most prominent black clergyman during the infamous Soweto uprising in 1976 challenging the racist apartheid regime.
In reliving the achievements of these church leaders, they were not cowards, they recognised the needs of the church and the wider society. I note their ability to fight tyranny and oppression and to speak for the down trodden man who lived on the banks of the Niger, to its Delta, the White and blue Nile, the great lakes, the mountain tops of the Kilimanjaro, the Zambezi, the Limpopo, the Orange, the forests of the Congo and its river and the rolling hills and mountains of the Southern Cape.
The leadership of church in Africa should be responsive cross boundaries in the regional parts of Africa, pan Africa and global in outlook. This is why whilst not explicitly called articles I subscribe fully to the 15 articles and statement of Faith supported by passages of the Scriptures espoused in the Lausanne Covenant of 1974 by the International Congress on World Evangelization signed by the two widely respected church leaders the Reverend Billy Graham of the US and UK's Anglican Australian Bishop Jack Dain and affirmed by 2700 delegates from over 150 countries in Lausanne, Switzerland also reaffirmed by the Manila Manifesto http://www.lausanne.org/about.html. The statements of the covenant of which excepts are stated inter alia, on Christian Social Responsibility…evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ, Cooperation in Evangelism furtherance of the Church's mission, for strategic planning, for mutual encouragement, and for the sharing of resources and experience, on education and leadership every church will have national leaders who manifest a Christian style of leadership in terms not of domination but of service, on Spiritual Conflict The Church must be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.
Similarly the Manila Manifesto states inter alia on freedom and persecution call upon leaders…. them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practise and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We affirm that every Christian congregation must turn itself outward to its local community in evangelistic witness and compassionate service. We affirm the urgent need for churches, mission agencies and other Christian organizations to cooperate in evangelism and social action, repudiating competition and avoiding duplication. We affirm our duty to study the society in which we live, in order to understand its structures, values and needs, and so develop an appropriate strategy of mission. We have been reminded that the law, the prophets and the wisdom books, all the teaching and ministry of Jesus, all stress God's concern for the materially poor and our consequent duty to defend and care for them.
Of note in the Lusanne Covenant are the articles on the Gospel and Social Responsibility, On Human Witnesses Christians, and on the Local Church On the Gospel and Social Responsibility, articles that are imperative to the role of leaders in the African Church. For emphasis and to understand the bluntness of these articles, they state inter-alia; the authentic Gospel must become visible in the transformed lives of men and women. As we proclaim the love of God we must be involved in loving service, as we preach the Kingdom of God we must be committed to its demands of justice and peace. The proclamation of God's kingdom necessarily demands the prophetic denunciation of all that is incompatible with it. Among the evils we deplore are destructive violence, including institutionalized violence, political corruption, all forms of exploitation of people and of the earth, the undermining of the family, abortion on demand, the drug traffic, and the abuse of human rights. In our concern for the poor, we are distressed by the burden of debt in the two-thirds world. We are also outraged by the inhuman conditions in which millions live, who bear God's image as we do. On Human Witnesses Christians can commend Christ by word of mouth, by their consistent industry, honesty and thoughtfulness, by their concern for justice in the workplace, and especially if others can see from the quality of their daily work that it is done to the glory of God.
We deplore the failures in Christian consistency which we see in both Christians and churches: material greed, professional pride and rivalry, competition in Christian service, jealousy of younger leaders, missionary paternalism, the lack of mutual accountability, the loss of Christian standards of sexuality, and racial, social and sexual discrimination. All this is worldliness, allowing the prevailing culture to subvert the church instead of the church challenging and changing the culture. We are deeply ashamed of the times when, both as individuals and in our Christian communities, we have affirmed Christ in word and denied Him in deed. Our inconsistency deprives our witness of credibility. On the Local Church a church which evangelises its neighbourhood must not ignore the rest of the world Cooperating in Evangelism In contrast to this biblical vision, we are ashamed of the suspicions and rivalries, the dogmatism over non-essentials, the power-struggles and empire-building which spoil our evangelistic witness. "Cooperation" means finding unity in diversity. It involves people of different temperaments, gifts, calling and cultures, national churches and mission agencies, all ages and both sexes working together. We are determined to put behind us once and for all, as a hangover from the colonial past, the simplistic distinction between First World sending and Two-Third World receiving countries.
It is my view that the principles espoused in the Lausanne Covenant and the Manila Manisfesto come not more at a better time to the continent given the fact that the Third Congress on World Evangelisation is to be hosted in Cape Town, South Africa, 16 - 25 October 2010. There is no time better than now for the congress to call on the leadership of the church in Africa to heed the principles set out at Lausanne and Manila, Phillipines.
A new challenge
Leading Nigerian Independence hero and statesman the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo encapsulates the interwoven link between religion and politics in a speech titled lecture on Politics and Religion delivered to students at the then Adventist College of West Africa (now Babcock University), Ilishan-Remo, Nigeria January 27 1961 http://www.nigerianmuse.com/20100306133942zg/projects/awoproject/from-the-achives-politics-and-religion-by-chief-obafemi-awolowo-january-1961/ the theme of which church leaders should reiterate in calling governments to account. Chief Awolowo stressed that, “Contemporary political circumstances demand that Religious leaders must recapture and relive the great and noble ideals and the militancy of those inspired and immortal Prophets, Apostles and Evangelists who had the divine courage to proclaim the truth as God gives it to them to know the truth, and to call cant, humbug, political murderers, and brutes and devils in human flesh, by their proper name.''
Chief Awolowo states further that, “a Religious Organisation must be independent of Government and its patronage and must never be subordinated to its dictates or whims. Otherwise, the sole compass by means of which the masses of believers must be guided in their Spiritual pursuits on the confused and stormy ocean of life becomes thwarted and unreliable. A Religious Organisation should never allow itself to be regarded as the mouthpiece arid instrument of the powers-that-be. If it did it would sink or swim with the Government concerned; and in any case it would no longer be well-placed to tell the truth as it knows it. It is incumbent upon Government and politicians to conduct their affairs in strict accordance with religious teachings and ethical standards. `Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong,' says Daniel O'Connell. Therefore, when politicians do the right they can rest assured that they will be covered in a favourable manner by the non-partisan detached and fearless pronouncement of religious leaders of undoubted uprightness and godliness”.
The leadership of the church is in its doing and not the focus on issues inconsequential to the wider society. The leadership should condemn all that is wrong in state sponsored drug trafficking, electoral dictatorship, poverty, elected politicians engaging embarrassing public argy bargy, fist fights and wrestling duels, profligate government spending, electoral rigging, nepotism, endemic corruption, abuse of power, failing and depleted infrastructure in schools, health, roads, transport, endemic electricity failures, the destruction and degradation of the environment, the absence of rule of law, prevalence of crime and bad governance – the list is endless. It is also necessary that in doing this the leadership's objectivity and sense of purpose is not compromised through the sweetness and juicy offers of government appointments, 'proverbial pieces of silver enticements', invitations to officiate at government functionaries birthdays, events or cosying up to the establishment as evidenced in certain quarters of the church's leadership.
President Obama could not have been more eloquently captured what is required of leadership of African church in his Accra speech when he said that, “in the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success — strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples' lives…a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. This with the clarion call of Dr King who stated with vibrancy that, ''If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century” are the challenges for the leaders of the church in today's Africa.
*Omoba Oladele Osinuga Esq. an International Criminal Lawyer works in the Mission of a leading International Governmental Organisation in Europe writes from Dagenham Essex UK.
Omoba Oladele Osinuga