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Op-ed submission by Project 21
How did radical Islam become a legitimate threat in sub-Saharan Africa?
Should we care? Perhaps, because one possible reason stretches beyond the African continent. It may eminate from our own houses of worship.
After the recent shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya by the Muslim terrorist group Al Shabaab, counterterrorism experts fear increased collaboration among the growing ranks of religious radicals in Africa operating across borders in vast, poorly-policed regions.
While terrorism experts are concerned with expanding radicalized Islam, my own leadership role in the Christian community has me preoccupied with how historically Christian areas and formerly majority-Christian countries are now under constant threat from al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islam Maghreb.
It’s too soon to declare African Christianity dead, but it’s certainly ailing — and the West is to blame.
Christians went to great lengths to “civilize” Africa, and part and parcel of that process was bringing Christianity to sub-Saharan Africa. But since then, the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. ostensibly have abandoned proselytizing in Africa. Most mainstream Western Christian denominations, in fact, now look with disdain on those still adhering to the very same faith churches once taught.
The Episcopal Church, for example, no longer adheres to the doctrine of the Bible as the inspired word of God. The Western evangelical church in particular proclaims an overly-feminized form of Christianity in which men cannot act as men and women assert a theology that gives them dominion over men. This “enlightened” West no longer honors the God-given roles and distinctions between men and women. Actually, it demonizes them. This is why Christianity lost its appeal in, and it’s hold on, Africa.
The Western church no longer builds up men for the Body of Christ. When the church prefers to place women in masculine roles, while discouraging men, the blessings of God vanish and it creates a vacuum. When the Christian ministry becomes an occupation for those liking pretty buildings and beautiful vestments rather than a vocation to serve God, it’s no wonder serious Christians scoff and look elsewhere.
The Christian church in Africa and around the world has left a gap that Islam is filling.
Men clearly need the civilizing influence of women, but they also must remain men. The church is too involved in a feminizing process. Wanting to love and serve God should not be at the expense of God-given manhood. I am an unapologetic Christian, but I know that nothing in Islam requires or expects men to deny their manhood. Islam does quite the opposite — encouraging separate manhood and womanhood.
Almost 100 years ago, English writer and lay theologian G.K. Chesterton said that most men in his day were reduced to Victorian lapdogs when it came to Christianity. What might he say today? There are now Christians who change the word of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer to “Our Father and Mother who art in heaven” and the nature of Jesus in the Holy Trinity. Is there little wonder why there aren’t more men in church and why men seeking God might turn away from modern Western Christianity?
Why would a man want to be part of a faith in which they are to be seen and never heard? Couple this with the general depiction of Christ as sort of a pansy with well-manicured nails and a perfectly-trimmed beard. It is not is no surprise men are uncomfortable with this, and subsequently are unwilling to become churchmen.
In my lifetime, Ethiopia, one of the most storied Christian nations, took the path of India. Once majority-Christian, it is now divided into Eritrea, which is majority Muslim, and Ethiopia, which may be at least half-Muslim.
If people are genuinely concerned about the spread of Islam and subsequent radicalization, they should consider the Christianity they practice and teach. Pastors no longer proclaim the Gospel, but instead favor of gay marriage or the prevailing populous cause de jure.
Don’t worry about Islam. The imams are doing their job. It’s the pastors and priests who aren’t doing theirs.
Archbishop Council Nedd II, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network. He is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church in the United States and the Archbishop of Abu Dhabi.
There is a silent conflict blowing between the Africa Union (AU) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). This conflict started after the ICC indicted some untouchables namely heads of states. AU urged its all 34 members to exit ICC. All in attendance agreed with this move except Botswana, that did not see any logic in exiting ICC.
Since independence, African presidents took the role and place of the colonial governors who were above the law. They too decided to be above the law so that they could lord it over their earthlings. And, indeed, they have always done that for decades. Essentially, they became new black colonialists replacing old white ones. To successfully do their things, they made sure that their constitutions clearly stipulate that the president is above law.
This colonial carry over, if anything, is the one that is disturbing African potentates, even after unwillingly consenting to multiparty democracy for those that bother to have it. Due to their newfound infallibility, many African dictators became gods in their own light. Insane and sacrilegious as it may seem and sound, untouchability and sacredness became the symbols and prerogatives of African rulers. Ironically, when such infallible and untouchable rulers appended their signatures to ratify the ICC, they did not know that their licenses to do as pleased would be wound up. They did not know that they wouldn’t have any power whatsoever nor any way they could interfere in ICC business as they just used to do with their judiciaries.
Ethiopia stole the thunder in this onslaught against ICC. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted as spewing bile saying, “What the summit decided is that President Kenyatta should not appear until the requests we have made is actually answered.” Again, the AU proved to be fully throwing its weight behind indictees. What the AU did not get is the fact that what they advised Kenyatta to amounts to contempt of the court, something which guarantees an arrest, if not opening new charges against their sacred cow. What makes AU’s calculations difficult to decipher is the role it has played in crises resulting from human rights violation such as genocide that was committed on Dafuris in Sudan. On the one hand, it fully supports Sudanese strong man Omar Bashir saying he should not be prosecuted. On the other hand, the same AU sent its forces to Darfur to stop genocide.
Ghebreyesus added his salvo against ICC saying, “The unfair treatment that we have been subjected to by the ICC is completely unacceptable.” Ghebreyesus did not explain more on how ICC unfairly treated or maltreated Africa. Such lack of explicit and lamenting forced wise people such as Kofi Annan, former UN secretary General to refer to AU’s hanky panky “badge of shame.” Indeed it is a badge of shame which former Archbishop Desmond Tutu reprimanded saying, “Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence.” Annan and Tutu know our rulers too well. They have worked with them for long. They know how they behave like babies who poop in diapers and start crying while they actually are the ones who created the mess they are in. The reasonable and important thing to do for African rulers is stop thinking backwardly. Stop your gross violations of human rights. Stop behaving like babies by accusing the West of neo-colonialism and still kow tow before it asking for AID to enable you to rule your people. Stop serving two masters, your thirsty opposition of western-originated system of governing and cup-in-hand begging missions to the West. Nobody calls you. You present yourselves. I would applaud the AU‘s move of exiting ICC shall it go in conjunction with stopping begging and doing under-table deals.
I’d urge Kenyatta and William Ruto to pooh pooh AU’s advice for their safety. Shall they heed AU’s malice aforethought to break the law, it is for their peril. The voice of reason says that law is not politics. They need to understand and underscore that the ICC is the court of law, but not the court of politics. We in the legal trade normally agree with a Swahili sage that the law is like a saw. It cuts both sides.
“As for the men in power, they are so anxious to establish the myth of infallibility that they do their utmost to ignore truth,” Boris Pasternak (1890-1960). Will the Truth with a capital “T” ignore them? What a lie one lies to himself thinking all will buy it! Is truly the ICC targeting Africa or vice versa?