[notice]Yesterday (May 25) was Africa Day, a day that commemorates the founding of the Organisation Of African Unity on May 25, 1963. Today Africa Day is viewed by many as a day to celebrate African Unity. Port Elizabeth pastor Afrika Mhlope reflects on this day and other current happenings.[/notice]
Phew! What an eventful few days we just had. First it was the local government elections. I suspect you are relieved that they have finally passed but I wonder how many people are going to hold their elected public representative accountable.
Many people dissociate themselves from the political process as soon as they have cast their ballot. The only reminders we have now of the recent elections are the posters still littering our lamp posts and the unending discussions about the results. The trend that these results indicate seems to have sparked some debates.
The second thing that has become the major talking point is the end of the world that never was. Frankly I am bewildered and embarrassed by the activities of some of my fellow Christians. All these apocalyptic predictions that are constantly beamed on Christian media are nauseating. They are misguided and unnecessary. We should not be spending all our time here on earth pontificating about the return of our Lord instead of being preoccupied with the preaching of His gospel. The non-Christian world has had a field day over this gigantic blunder. Enough said on this issue.
The third issue, and this is the one I would like to devote more time to, is the Africa Day that was celebrated on the 25th of May. This day was established to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, which is the forerunner to the current African Union (AU).
On different media platforms many commentators have been wondering what exactly we should celebrate about Africa. I mean with all the ills that continue to plague this beloved continent, is there anything positive we should pause to reflect on? Should we celebrate or should we throw ashes in the air and mourn?
Giving a brilliant Thabo Mbeki lecture yesterday, the former president of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa brought home the point that there is indeed much to celebrate while he juxtaposed that with the challenges of the work which still lies ahead.
What is the view of the Christian community? Are we partakers or spectators of the happenings around us? Here in our country the politicians have bemoaned the lack of participation of some sections of our society in national celebrated events like; Human Rights Day, Youth Day, etc.
In fact white people bear the brunt of much of this criticism. They are accused of using these holidays as a time to catch up on shopping, golfing, or some other trivial thing. To be honest they are not the only ones who deserve this kind of criticism. There are many black people, myself included, who do not attend the mass gatherings that mark these days. If these gatherings had less praise singers, rhetoric, and were not so politicized then I would do my patriotic duty and attend them.
Indeed when our nation is grappling with the issue of nationhood and the forging of a common identity what posture should the Church take in this regard? Is it right for us to be disengaged and indifferent? If we do then what kind of an identity and values would others craft if we don’t bring in a Christian Worldview in that process?
I am proud to be an African and I believe God wants me to be. His word teaches me that it is He who has created nations and established their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. We all have a civil duty to make this continent work. And in Jesus’ name things will work and things will change. No longer will it be referred to by this byword of being a “dark continent” but the Lord will raise up the former desolations. I am African and so are you.