Category : Africa

(NPR [from 2017]) What The Yom Kippur Fast Means To A Man Who’s Known Hunger

For Rosh Hashana, more than 350 members of Uganda’s Namutumba Synagogue dressed in white, chanted their prayers and feasted on a slaughtered cow to mark the beginning of a new Jewish year last week.

“We are so happy that we entered the new year with such joy and happiness,” said Namutumba’s spiritual leader Shadrach Mugoya Levi by telephone from Uganda.

It hasn’t always been easy for Levi or his community; in fact many years there was almost nothing eat because of drought. But this year the rains have been plentiful. There was ample food for the new year celebration and for dinner on Tuesday, before the 25-hour-long Yom Kippur fast that begins at sundown.

That’s not always been the case. There have been many times that Levi began the fast on an empty stomach. And a day without food didn’t seem that different from any other day….

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Judaism, Uganda

(NPR) Bobi Wine Is Willing ‘To Die Trying’ To Win Freedom For Uganda

“I’m supposed to be a dead man,” says Bobi Wine, a Ugandan musician turned politician.

His driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead on Aug. 13. Wine tweeted a graphic picture he said was of the man’s dead body. Wine says police were the ones who shot Kawuma, but Wine says he was their real target.

Bobi Wine’s real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. He rose to fame as a musician — first with love songs and dance songs, but more recently turned to political themes in his music. His 2017 song “Freedom” has become a rallying cry for the country’s opposition.

In the same year, Wine was elected to the country’s Parliament as an independent.

He’s become a leader in opposing the country’s longtime President Yoweri Museveni — in power since 1986. Museveni is known for violently crushing dissent. Human Rights Watch says the government “continues to violate free association, expression, and assembly rights.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Politics in General, Psychology, Uganda

(Patheos) It is Well With My Soul: The Witness of the Church of Nigeria

At present, the future for all Christians in Nigeria looks grim:

  • Nine of the country’s thirty-six states impose full-blown Sharia. This forces Christians in those states to navigate a minefield. In this minefield, Islamic rage could be detonated by anything as seemingly innocuous as a gesture, a word, or even an act of God. In one such incident, Muslims blamed Christians for a lunar eclipse and went on a killing spree.
  • Then there is the murderous violence of Boko Haram. For years the U.S. State Department seemed determined to see Boko Haram as “disenfranchised, impoverished youth.” (Forget the fact that they were driving around the northern and middle belt states in fully-loaded SUVs, accompanied by their own chef.) Elites complained that they were just “in need of job counseling and midnight basketball.” But determined activists, of which I was one, finally broke through the false narrative. State designated Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization in November 2013.
  • In more recent years, nomadic Fulani “herdsmen” have evolved into Fulani Jihadists. They target Christians, wiping out entire villages and grabbing the land. If Christians attempt to defend themselves, they are accused of “retaliating.” As one Nigerian Christian told a member of Congress, “We are told to ‘turn the other cheek,’ but we have no more cheeks left to turn.” The Fulani are now ranked above Boko Haram as deadliest terrorists. They murdered more people than Boko Haram in 2015, 2016, and 2017. And they are already on their way to beating their own record in 2018.

Faith and Peace

Still, at GAFCON it was obvious to me that the Nigerian archbishops, bishops, clergy, and lay delegates were full of the joy of the Lord. A talented and powerful worship team from Nigeria had led our music all week long. I was happy to see Nigerian church leaders that I already knew. Among those were the Archbishop and Primate, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh. And there was Bishop Nathan Inyom, whose Diocese of Makurdi is a refuge for those fleeing from Fulani.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Gerald Mcdermott–An Interview with Archbishop Ben Kwashi

Your grace, you were attacked the other night for the third time.  Some think the Fulani are targeting you.  Are you afraid?

I am not afraid to die, I continue to live my normal life as you have seen but I do nurse the fear that I might get killed. My sure faith, however, is that until my time is over and assignment completed nothing shall yet happen to me. So I live between these tensions.  

Archbishop, you have just released a new book, Evangelism and Mission: Biblical and Strategic Insights for the Church Today (Africa Christian Textbooks).  Why did you write this book?

I wanted to give pastors a book they could use.  No one has any business being a priest if he does not do the work of an evangelist and missionary.  That is what we are called to first and foremost, to be missionaries.  This book tells them how to do this.

In 1992 when I started as a bishop, most Anglican pastors in this part of Nigeria were doing “church” in a way that was alien to what I had learned from my own experience of planting churches.  They had no understanding of the church as a vehicle of salvation for people who did not have the gospel.  I had been teaching and doing this for years.

Once they started seeing how we do this in rural areas, there was a domino effect.  We sent teams out without cars or bicycles, with just enough money to buy transport.  They had to minister by faith, and see God provide for them.  It was crucial to their learning how God meets their needs day by day.  They learned what Anglicans should mean by “apostolic succession”—planting churches from scratch like the apostles did.

I also wanted to explain in the book why we must not make the mistake of the early African church, that lost North Africa to Islam.  That church did not do enough mission.  We must not make that mistake.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(CT) Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh Calls For End to Killings

Speaking further, he appealed to those involved in rustling cattle and killing their fellow men to stop the evil act.

“This appeal goes to those who steal cows, if you are one of them or you know such people, tell them to stop stealing cows.

“For you to take a cow and pay with your life is not worth it. It’s not a good exchange.

“The Second appeal goes to those who kill human beings, to stop killing Nigerians for whatever reason because if this killing does not stop, it is a bad thing that will bear no good fruit,” the Bishop said.

Also speaking on the killings, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna, Timothy Yahaya had on Friday, demanded that the killer herdsmen be labelled as a terrorist group just as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was declared as one.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(PAW) Exploring the Ecological Cost of War

In the Nature study, they found that between 1946 and 2010, conflict had occurred in 71 percent of protected areas in Africa. During that time, animal populations in conflict-free areas were roughly stable. As conflict levels increased, however, wildlife populations fell dramatically. To quantify this, the researchers calculated the frequency of conflict in each location and compared it with corresponding wildlife populations. Even one outbreak of violence every 20 to 50 years could push animal populations into decline. Every 10 percent increment in conflict frequency added another 2 percent to the annual rate of wildlife population decline — meaning the longer conflicts went on, the greater the effect.

“Even a small amount of conflict can be severely destabilizing to locals’ livelihoods, in ways that end up having detectable negative effects on wildlife,” [Robert] Pringle says. The researchers examined other factors, such as climate change, drought, corruption, and socioeconomic welfare, and no other factor came close to having the same effect.

On the other hand, even in areas with the most conflict, wildlife populations rarely went extinct, they found. That’s consistent with the idea that populations declined due to poaching, rather than wholesale habitat destruction. That fact offers some hope for even the continent’s most severely affected areas, implying that when the conflicts subside, the remaining animals can seed new populations. “Governments and conservation areas shouldn’t give up on these post-conflict landscapes as totally lost,” says [Joshua] Daskin.

In fact, adds Pringle, restoring them can help rebuild the country in more ways than one….

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Posted in Africa, Animals, Defense, National Security, Military, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Violence

(ACNS) Anglican Church of Burundi helps improve rice growing techniques

The Anglican Church of Burundi has been training farmers to improve rice yields as part of efforts to combat food insecurity in the country. The two-year project has been run in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, the overseas development agency of the US-based Episcopal Church. Growing rice has been the main activity for people living along side Lake Tanganyika for many years; but the lack of improved techniques and seeds has caused low production and farmers could not expect to gain much from it.

Through the project, farmers have been trained and equipped with agricultural techniques and materials to improve rice production. “Already the farmers are seeing changes in agricultural production and consequently in their daily lives,” the province said in its newsletter.

“Our situation has improved since we no longer cultivate the rice just for consumption,” farmer Esperance Ndayishimiye, said. “I’m now able to meet easily my family’s needs. I pay school fees for my children. I have bought lands and built houses.” she said.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Burundi, Burundi, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Energy, Natural Resources, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Stewardship

(BBC) How Nigeria’s cattle war is fuelling religious tension

A long-running conflict between cattle herders and farmers in central Nigeria is increasingly assuming a religious dimension, writes the BBC’s Mayeni Jones after visiting Benue state.

Sebastian Nyamgba is a tall, wiry farmer with sharp cheekbones and piercing eyes.

He guides me to a small bungalow adjacent to the local church, St Ignatus. It was the home of local priest Father Joseph Gor.

“This is his blood,” he says, as he points to faint pink splatters on the wall of the porch of the house.

“This is where he was killed. They shot him as he was getting on this motorbike to escape and his blood sprayed on the wall.”

Father Gor was killed in the compound of his Catholic church, in the small village of Mbalom, about an hour’s drive south from the capital of Benue state, Makurdi.

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Posted in Animals, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(AI) Bo bishop on trial for theft of Ebola fund

Four senior officials of the Anglican Diocese of Bo in Sierra Leone have been sentenced to three years imprisonment after having been convicted of stealing over 2 Billion Leones (approximately $275,000) in donations gathered by Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and the United Society (USPG) to support of victims of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The trial continues for the Bishop of Bo, the Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Tucker, who remains free on bail after posting a 500 million Leones bond.

An estimated 11,000 people died over 21 months beginning in 2014 from the virus in West Africa, leading to travel bans from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone from a number of Western nations, and a collapse in the local economy.

In February 2016 Bishop Tucker was lauded by the USPG’s Mike Brookes, who told a fringe meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod the bishop had helped combat the virus through health and sanitation education, and dispelling fears the virus was a curse.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sierra Leone, West Africa

(CNN) Nigeria church attack leaves 19 dead, including two priests

At least 19 people were killed Tuesday after gunmen opened fire at a church in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, police said.

Two priests and 17 worshippers were killed when armed men, believed to be cattle herders, stormed a Catholic church during early morning Mass on Tuesday in a remote village in Benue state.
State police spokesman Terver Akase told CNN the attackers, thought to be Fulani herdsmen, set many homes on fire.
“The herdsmen burnt nearly 50 houses during the attack and sacked the entire community, ” Akase told CNN. “We expect arrests to be made because they (attackers) are becoming more brazen,” he added.

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Posted in Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Nigeria, Terrorism

(Globe+Mail) New Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed, youngest in Africa, sparks hope of reform

For more than two years, as his health deteriorated, Ethiopian opposition leader Bekele Gerba was locked up in a notorious high-security prison on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, accused of “terrorism” for leading anti-government protests.

This week, the authorities needed him for a different reason. He and many other opposition activists were invited to a palace to dine with Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister. The country needs “strong competing parties, more than ever before,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told them.

It was the latest sign of a new era in Africa’s second-most populous country. While it remains dominated by an authoritarian government that has jailed hundreds in a state of emergency, there are hints of democratic reforms that could loosen the controls and allow greater political freedoms.

The new 41-year-old Prime Minister, Mr. Abiy, is the youngest head of government in Africa. In the two weeks since his inauguration, he has launched a charm offensive in an effort to defuse tensions: touring the country, freeing some prisoners, visiting the main regions where protests have erupted, restoring internet access in the restive Oromiya region and shutting down one of the most infamous prisons where dissidents were jailed and tortured.

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Posted in Ethiopia

(The Star) Deputy president Ruto says State must combat hatred, division to unite Kenyans

DP Ruto on Saturday said the move will ensure a peaceful and united country where Kenyans will concentrate on development.

Speaking at the Anglican Church of Kenya diocese of Eldoret in Kipkaren, Ruto said the church has a role to play in ensuring the lives of Kenyans is transformed.

He said: “We will partner with the religious institution in dealing with hatred, tribalism and division so that we can unite in building the nation.”

The Deputy President said political leaders had taken the first step towards uniting Kenyans by ensuring citizens are no longer divided along political party lines.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Kenya, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Politics in General

(ACNS) Anglican Bishop of Boga, Mugenyi William Bahemuka, predicts a Congolese genocide

In the past month, three new military bases have been established by the United Nations’ peace-keeping force in the democratic Republic of Congo – MONUSCO – in the Djugu territory of Ituri province, but it has so-far failed to stem the increasing tide of violence. Last week, 33 people were killed in an attack on the village of Maze. The Bishop of Bogo, Mugenyi William Bahemuka, has said that it is “difficult to confirm” that the recent violence is an extension of ethnic and tribal conflicts. “Is it a planned insurgency that will turn out to be either a civil war or a genocide?” he asked. “Both are situations no one would like to experience. Once again we need prayer and advocacy for peace.”

Bishop William said: “It is becoming difficult to understand the main reason of the killings in Djugu. The situation appears to be beyond control as time goes on. The Provincial and National governments keep assuring people that that situation will come to an end soon. Community leaders and politicians from the two communities claim to dissociate an ethnic conflict on what is happening in Djugu.

“On the night of Thursday to Friday, the village of Maze and few surrounding villages were attacked – and this is happening after the deployment of police, the army and United Nations’ peace-keeping forces in the area. . . Who is behind all this? No answer is found yet.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Africa, Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Religion & Culture, Republic of Congo, Theology, Violence

(Vanguard) Nowhere to live and worship because of Boko Haram —Anglican Bishop Emmanuel Morris

Borno State is obviously challenged by insecurity. How do you assess the situation?

I came into the state last year at a time when there was a relative peace, and the peace has continued to improve.

Which areas do you think the state government needs to improve in order to impact positively on the lives of the people, especially the vulnerable groups?

Let everybody work for peace; let us understand that something has gone wrong; we need to stop shifting blames. Let us identify where the problem lies and solve it. And to the insurgents, we must appeal to them to lay down their arms because killing and destruction of properties is not the ideal thing; they must join us in the path of peace. They are our brothers and sisters. I also appeal to people who might have been hurt in the course of this insurgency to forgive, let us put behind what has happened and let us forge ahead. Without forgiveness, we can never progress. When we talk about peace, we are not talking about religion. In Islam they say ‘Asallamalaikum’. In Christianity we say ‘Peace be unto you’. What does that suggest to us? And in Judaism they say ‘Shalom’ which is peace; so peace is a concept of life and not something which is limited to religion. Even as a Muslim, if you say ‘Assalamalaikum’, it is not only to your fellow Muslims; it is to anybody you see around you that such person should have peace, meaning you are praying for that person to have peace and you want him to exist. So in these religions, peace is very important, and, honesty, I must tell you that I was really impressed when I came to Borno and I saw Muslims and Christians going to the same polling stations, recreation centres, markets; we use the same highways, weeat food in the same restaurants, we use the same hotels, banks, we do almost everything together. And so, how can you wake up and tell me that Borno is not peaceful?

This state was a peaceful state until 2009 or thereabouts when the issue of Boko Haram came up; so let us identify that something has gone wrong and let us address the problem irrespective of religion, ethnic or political inclination. When you go into history, the first three places of worship that were burnt were churches. And the last three places that were burnt were mosques. This insurgency crisis affected both Muslims and Christians. It is something that has come to disorganize us, and we should understand that and try to resolve it collectively.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of Nigeria, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

My favorite story of the week–Wilmot Collins Is Montana’s First African-American Mayor from NBC

Watch it all– America at its best, great stuff.

Posted in City Government, Liberia