In this small article I will endeavor to limit my focus on Africa as much as I can and hope that I will give it the best justice to my ability and knowledge. Please note also that I am not an authority to issues facing my continent and neither do I want to appoint myself as a ‘champion’ for any group or sects whatsoever. Am just writing to see how we can creatively engage ourselves in issues affecting us today. Again it will be good to mention that my wider theological knowledge on African culture is limited but hope we can engage with each other. Nevertheless I believe there are issues that cut across the sub Saharan Africa.
The question I wish to think about is, ‘What is
Christianity? What is the Past, Present and the future of Christianity
in Africa? Again I am not offering to give answers to them but hope we
can critically look at these issues through the mirror of scriptures and
what I would call ‘simple’ people.
Coming from a little village
deep in the central part of Murang’a in Kenya I got the chance to
interact with great women and men of faith who taught us even with
little scholarship on Theology what it meant to be a Christian. I am
highly indebted to one man Retired Bishop Mahiani who taught us great
deal what it really meant in simple words and more so, through his life.
He taught us the key to memorizing scriptures in our local language and
now wonders whether he knew what one Sundar Singh from India said.’ If
you can’t read the Bible in your mother tongue then you probably don’t
know it well or you probably don’t believe in it.’ I can go on to
mention others who have made long lasting impact and caused ‘simple ‘
looking fellows to being credible men making impact in their worlds
today .It would not be fair not to mention in this respect the likes of
Late Cannon,Felix Nyoro and Late Teacher Titus Macharia. Reflecting on
these people and their faith, challenges, successes and failures during
my Christian formative stage has really helped me to think locally but
also act globally.
My village stand highly indebted to one
faithful missionary by the name of Dr. Krapf (May the Lord rest his soul
in eternal peace) who brought the Good News to our little known village
by then. As Dr. Krapf was busy working in our village different works
were going on in Meru, Nyeri(Tumu Tumu), Kikuyu(Scotland(Thogoto)
Mission center, Maseno in Kisumu, Rabai in Mombasa amongst other
different areas around the country. Again it would be honorable to
mention one missionary David Livingstone (An true African at heart and
soul) who pioneered Christianity in Africa.
Looking back I then
ask myself what was taught then, where we are now and what is our
possible destination in the years to come. I personally feel that we
cannot be able to look at these issues without looking at globalization
in relation to the church in African context. In simple terms
globalization would be where there is too much ‘world’ in the church. We
started off with a very small church yet very powerful that routed and
chased away paganism and darkness. What originally started as
Christianity shows us that those people who believed the Gospel were
defiant in their way of life. They had values which were Christian and
Bible based which made them to stand against the odds of culture and
traditions of their society and they had a clear reference that is The
Bible. As Africans we are very ‘religious’ people, we are ‘wholistic’
people where we don’t have a dichotomy of secular and sacred and
therefore anyone presenting the Gospel has to be in a form of down to
earth teaching. God has sent us not to gather people but to make
disciples. How then do we present the Gospel in a context where
globalization has destroyed the whole fabric of our society like family.
first and the most basic is our missions effort to present the Gospel
which is inseparably bound to our own way of life. Too many of us first
sees ourselves as having come from such and such a place and therefore
in our presentation of the Gospel that comes first. Every one of us I
suppose should have two homelands: heaven and the place he works in.
That leaves out our race/social/economic/academic status out of the equation.
That attitude I believe must somehow be the starting point of every
Christian. If we then present the Gospel first in these ‘Jackets’ and
people reject them, and then inevitably they will reject our God as
Secondly I would like to highlight what I call Christian
‘Racism’. That is a tough criticism to accept, but honestly requires us
to take a hard look at ourselves and our attitude towards each other. We
have preached that in Christ all men are one, but frequently have
practiced a different thing entirely. How am I supposed to see my
brother from Kisumu or Samburu or Digo without using my tribal lenses?
How am I supposed to consider others better than myself? How do I live
without bigotry of thinking am better spiritually than them? I must say
that am privileged beyond doubt to have had a chance to study in the
west but I dearly misses the ‘long’ drumming, dancing moves as well as
prayer sessions back home. At the beginning I wished I could find a
place that feed that desire and fortunately got one but the problem
which I found was that it becomes very parochial and inward looking and
therefore fails to grab the concept of being (catholic) global. This I
believe is the same reflection of what happens at home. If we are able
to address this then I believe we might be able to think deeply and
critically some of our most disturbing issues like what is God saying me
in my context in my relation to my Muslim brother, what is God saying
to me in relation to our leaders of our country who decide to make
policies that affect others because they don’t come from the same tribe,
what is God saying to me in relation to tribalism and ethnicity
vis-a-vis the oneness we share in Christ.
Thirdly I also wish to
look at the issue of leadership gap. Perhaps the greatest shortcoming in
Africa has been our failure to develop leadership among ourselves.
Please don’t think of me of one trying to bring any revolution
whatsoever but I think it would be good for our church and mission
leaders to clearly understand that the mission of God is from one
generation to another. This means therefore there would be need to keep
passing the baton to the next generation of leaders. I am a firm
believer of the African philosophy is old is gold and the need to
respect ‘white hair’ but I also believe that God mission outlives anyone
As we celebrate the spiritual vibrancy in Africa our theology has to be global, Biblical and Christo-Centric.