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Christianity and Peoples of Other Faith Communities
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Thu, 15 Aug 2002 09:30:53 -0700
AANA Bulletin is an ecumenical initiative to highlight all endeavours and
experiences of Christians and the people of Africa. AANA Bulletin is
published weekly and, together with the French Edition - Bulletin APTA - is
also available through e-mail. For editorial and subscription details,
AANA Bulletin Bulletin APTA
Editor - Mitch Odero Acting Editor - Silvie Alemba
Book Projects Concerns Religious Fundamentalism
Publisher: Theology and Interfaith Desk of the AACC
Editors: Rev. Arnold Temple (AACC) and Rev. Dr. John Mbillah (PROCMURA)
Printer: African Church Information Service (ACIS), Nairobi-Kenya
Year of Publication: 2001
Volume: 102 pages
NAIROBI (AANA) August 12 - With emerging and spread of fundamentalism on
the African continent, their impact are no longer taken for granted.
Churches are among other institutions expressing concern. A book under
review projects the phenomenon of religious extremism.
Based on the proceedings of a continental consultation , organised
jointly by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the Project for
Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) in Lome, Togo in December
2000, the book cites cases on the African continent, where fundamentalism
has broadly manifested itself.
The war in Sudan, which can be attributed to many factors, also bears all
the marks of a religious fundamentalism, says the book in its introductory
It stresses that religious extremism, also described as fundamentalism, is
a growing phenomenon in the world today and Africa is no exception.
The book notes that Nigeria, a secular federation, now sees some of its
states declaring and enforcing Sharia law, to the detriment of the other
minority religious communities in those states.
With thoroughly researched papers on the topic - Christianity and Peoples
of Other Faiths Communities, various theologians and scholars contributed
articles in the book, making it a rewarding reading.
All in all, it raises questions, gives background information on various
aspects of Christian-Muslim relations in particular, while it suggests
various ways of forging harmony-building between Christians and Muslims, as
well as people of other faith.
The immediate former General Secretary of the AACC, Rev. Canon Clement
Janda observes that the long running civil war in the Sudan is because
of the insistence by some people that Muslim majority should be used as
the basis to determine who rules the Sudan.
The Southern Sudanese have refused to be defined as a minority on the
basis of religion, especially that those who wish to perpetuate power are
descendants of a mixture of Arab migrants from the Middle East and
African natives, says Rev. Canon Janda, himself a southern Sudanese.
He laments that all efforts by church leaders to promote dialogue between
Christians and Muslims have not worked, stressing that "for the Arab
Muslims of the Northern Sudan, religion and state are one and the same thing".
The situation in Nigeria, like that of the Sudan, is a case of politicised
regional politics, says Rev. Canon Janda. For forty years, says the
Sudanese clergyman, Nigerians have not accepted where the largest
population is located.
AACC President, The Most Rev. Prof. Kwesi Dickson in an article, entitled:
Interfaith Perspectives and Dynamics of Engagement with Reference to Ghana,
stresses that over the years various religions have come to live in
closer proximity with each other than ever before, stressing that "our
towns and cities team with churches and mosques, and to a much lesser
degree traditional shrines".
But unfortunately, often in the wider society, religious fundamentalism
has increasingly reared its head and caused much dissension in society,
and in some cases disenchantment with religion itself, the Ghanaian
Methodist clergyman has lamented.
General Adviser for PROCMURA, Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah in an article
entitled: Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa: Historical Perspectives and
Current Realities, claims that churches in Africa have neglected the issue.
There is evidence to suggest that this is an area that can no longer be
sidelined. Churches in Africa are called upon to reflect on what God is
saying to them in the 21st century on Christian-Muslim relations, he says.
The theology scholar stresses that Christians and Muslims are bound to
live together for better or for worse, depending on whether the leadership
of Church and Mosque in the different countries are prepared to talk in
fact to live with their differences in peace.
He has called for the incorporation of the Christian-Muslim relations in
the pastoral programmes of the Church in Africa.
On Collaborating for Justice and Peace in the Post-Apartheid South
Africa, Rev. Sipho Tshelane, the moderator of the United National Church
in South Africa points out that "the challenge for us all people of
Africa is to ensure that the cause for justice and peace on our beloved
continent is inclusive of all that we are."
But this is attainable only if we do not allow our beloved home become a
play ground of Medieval type religious war, the South African theologian
has further stressed.
Rev. Arnold Temple of the Theology and Interfaith Desk of the AACC in an
article Towards an African Model of Interfaith Dialogue and Co-operation,
proposes a model of dialogue as "engagement for the promotion of the
Kingdom in our midst".
Congolese clergyman. Rev. Dr. Kasonga wa Kasonga, who heads the Christian
and Family Life Education Desk of the AACC in his article: Christian
Religious Education and Interfaith Engagement stresses that "Christian
religious education is not a crisis-oriented activity. It works towards
preventing the worse of human living to happen in light of the scriptures
For that reason the basic conditions of learning must be carefully prepared
based on the fact that both Christianity and Islam, at least in their
present forms, are imported religions that have come to introduce
new forms of divisions and conflicts, the Congolese clergyman further
Other contributors in the book include Maurice Assad of the Coptic Church
in Egypt; Kenyan Okok-Obuoga Bernard; Ms. Ruth Muthei (Kenyan); and
Nigerian Bishop Josiah IdowuFearon, the chairman, PROCMURA area committee
in northern Nigeria.
Reviewed By Osman Njuguna
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