Thursday, 26 July 2012

Africa Arise!

The idea of sacrificing in the interest of others is not limited to marriage relationship. It is relevant to other spheres of life. In very ordinary practices, African people reinforce the value of sacrificial giving. In most cultures people who drop in at mealtime are invited to share the meal. It is considered selfish for visitors to wait and be welcomed in only after meals are over. When the life of a person in the community is in danger, others are supposed to drop whatever they are doing and join in the rescue of the endangered life. African societies are such that these opportunities are common. People go out of their way to give their best to their visitors. I have on various occasions been embarrassed by such sacrificial hospitality on various mission programs when we as visitors are served with a feast by our Christian friends amidst lack and uncertainties for survival. It would not take rocket science to know that this requires tremendous sacrifice on their part. But such is the beauty of African hospitality! It is exercised with great sacrifice. The popular concept of leadership associates it with privileges. These include special respect and rewards. The privileges of leadership can at times be seen as rights. It takes very unique leaders to put these privileges aside in the interest of those being led. This is illustrated in the traditional African home. The man is viewed as the leader and he is served with the best portion of the meal. In some cultures certain parts of meat are served for adult men only. These practices have been fading off with time but studying them reveals very interesting traditional mindsets. This linking of leadership position with certain privileges is not unique to African culture. In most organizations whether government or Christian organizations, the senior guys are entitled to cars, houses, mortgages, children health and education covers and other privileges that are not available to other workers. These privileges are associated with leadership positions.
The question then comes, how many would be willing to say no and categorically say that I can in fact buy and use my car for official purposes in the same way as other staffs are expected to do. Is it possible to avoid using company/organization resources for purchasing a home or a car for ourselves as leaders. The association of leadership authority with privileges and rights has defined approaches to leadership. A common negative approach is viewing leadership as lordship. This kind of leadership is a challenge to sacrificial leadership. Servant leadership is a popular concept in leadership and management circles today; leadership authority is an instrument for serving others, not oneself Sacrificial leadership involves preferring the needs of other above one’s own ambition for success and comfort. A sacrificial leader has a high sense of inner security and enjoys empowering others. I think this should be the way to GO AS AFRICAN LEADERS WHATEVER THE LINE OF SERVICE .

Friday, 20 July 2012

Concept of God among some African communities

Martin Luther and other reformation leaders argues  that by design the Christian church had never adopted the view that the authority of the scriptures was to be found in its incomprehensibility. The most that the Christian Church had ever claimed was that Christianity was restricted to the three languages of Greek, Latin and Hebrew because ostensibly those were the languages  used in the inscription on the cross at the crucifixion of Jesus. Since it was pirate who gave these instructions for the orders ,the tri-lingual case was ironic at best. Accordingly with Pirate as its ally the church had cause to worry about championing tri-lingual case. In the end it was the missionary enterprise that blew the case away. This happened long before the reformation when  Constantine in Verona  responded…….Does God not reign on all equally and do we not breath in the same way and are you not ashamed to mentioned only 3 languages and to command all other nations  and tribes to be deaf and blind?...
These have been some of the reflections running through my mind in my recent research on the Concept of God among  some communities in Kenya. When missionaries arrived anywhere and embarked on Bible translation one of the most fundamental questions they asked without preparing for the implications of the question ‘What name do you people call God’.  I would imagine that as a startling question to ask in the setting of missions. If missions was a ready-made package then it could arrive in the field set down and deployed. Missions would be a way of people coming to Christianity rather than Christianity to the people. By asking this fundamental question, what name do you call God?’ , without realizing missions changes the dynamic of the relationship. The Indigenous concept of God was central and indispensable to Bible translations. Without it, the enterprise was doomed if at all conceivable. The early missionaries clearly understood  that the concept of God existed independently of them though few understood what implications that would bring. It was and will never be possible to talk about Christianity without talking about the concept of God. Arrival of Christianity anywhere is a delayed homecoming. Vincent Donovan a catholic missionary among the Maasai vindicate the idea of the Gospel being anticipated. After serving among the Maasai for a period of seven years Vincent thought that the church opposition to local culture as pagan and heathen was wrong-headed. It was not that the Maasai were proposing to depart from Christian teaching but they were proposing to enter more deeply into it and clearly  it is impossible for them or anyone else to accept a gospel which is given to them half-heartedly by missionaries in a whole-hearted manner. Donovan point at a Maasai creed where they speak in their creed as a believing community and not as isolated persons. And instead of casting their creed on cognitive abstract terms of seen and unseen, of Christ as eternally begotten from the Father and so on , the Maasai speak of a journey of Faith in a God who out of love created the world and everyone in it. How they one new this God in darkness and now knew this God in the light…The creed continues…with God promises in the scripture in history and momentously in Christ. A man in the fresh, Jew by tribe, born poor in a village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God until finally He was rejected by His people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross and died. The irony of historic Jesus is clinched  with astounding statement with words…He laid buried in the grave but hyena did not touch Him and on the third day He rose from the grave. The creed ends with an eschatological message of joy and hope….We are waiting for Jesus, He is alive, He lives this we believe. The Jesus of the African creed is a solid historical figure, he is rooted in his Jewish culture, swept up in the controversies of the day, put to death without been ashamed, witnessed too by scriptures and all histories . This Jesus is not smothered in cultural conceits. The Maasai don’t think of their faith as a strategies against their enemies but their creed resounds with gratitude and God honour. The whole point of their creed is not that it should be a study document of the scholars but a testament of faith and devotion for believers!