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ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN No. 50/02 (b)
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Mon, 30 Dec 2002 20:18:27 -0800
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN No. 50/02 (b)
December 23, 2002
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 -
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AANA Bulletin : Acting Editor - Mitch Odero
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The Significance Of The Church In Africa's Renaissance
NAIROBI (AANA) December 23 - The Church in Africa has over the years played
a significant role in addressing issues afflicting the continent.
Theologians say the Church is well placed to tackle such issues and create
positive change in African society, replacing despair with hope.
Indeed, churches are coming up with different fora to deliberate on various
forms of injustices that have eaten up the continent, leaving it "worse"
than it was during colonial times.
The All Africa Conference of Churches AACC, which is set to hold its Eighth
General Assembly in Yaounde, Cameroon, in November next year, is setting
its focus on globalisation and its impact on the continent as well as the
Armed conflicts, wars and terrorism will also be high on the agenda of the
assembly, as set out in a pre-Assembly document released recently by AACC.
Meeting, under the theme , Come, Let us rebuild, the assembly of 168
member Churches from across Africa will undertake collective responsibility
towards reflecting on the subjects and formulating effective solutions.
Over the years, HIV/AIDS has been a major health concern, with Africa being
hardest hit. 17 million people have died, leaving behind 12 million
orphans. Statistics also reveal that a total of 23 million people in the
continent are living with the scourge.
AACC, however, says that there is a window of hope, as a number of African
countries are recording a drop in the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS after
waging intensive war on the disease.
This is a positive indicator that the battle against the killer monster can
be won, and with the Church's responsibility of providing moral guidance,
the desired behavioural change will be realised and ultimately achieve an
Closely linked to AIDS is the dramatic re-occurrence of tuberculosis (TB).
According to a WHO report for the year 2000, some 1.6 million people were
The emergence of drug-resistant strains of the disease, which are more
difficult to control and expensive to treat, has aggravated the situation.
It is regrettable that African nations can no longer deliver health
services efficiently and effectively due to the giant debts owed to Western
donors, corruption and poor governance. Of the 40 nations worldwide
designated as highly indebted poor countries (HIPC), 31 of them are in
Conflicts and prolonged wars have worsened the situation. AACC is concerned
that more than 12 African countries are currently engulfed in armed
conflicts and wars centred around mineral wealth, which has attracted
external parties fuelling the wars.
This has in turn produced six million refugees and two million internally
displaced persons, giving Africa the title of the world leader in mass
movement of uprooted people.
The continent has also recorded 10 million small arms and light-weight
weapons in the hands of civilians. This is alarming. AACC's President, Most
Rev Prof Kwesi Dickson is reported to have once commented that if small
arms were food, there would be no hunger in Africa.
Africa has become a target for international terrorism. The attacks on
Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 by the Islamic Al-Qaeda movement led by Osama
bin Laden, were just a tip of the iceberg. Late last month, the terrorists
struck Kenya again killing 16 people and injuring scores of others.
More thought provoking is a report by the World Bank, which says that
Africa will suffer seriously as a result of the September 11 terrorist
attacks on the United States in 2001.
That the economic growth in developing countries will remain below 0.5 to
0.7 percent in 2002 than was projected before the attacks is a statement
that is worrying the churches.
Even worse is the finding that the number of Africans living in poverty
will increase by two million more than would otherwise have been the case,
while another two to three million will be driven deeper into poverty.
The challenges globalisation poses for Africa cannot be ignored. Of great
concern is the failure of developed countries to open their markets to
products from the South.
The majority of African countries face restrictions in sectors such as
labour, agriculture and textiles, which they have a comparative advantage.
Over-subsidised goods from Western markets that are dumped in Africa are
destroying African trade and industry, and increasing unemployment in the
Globalisation has given birth to "global looting". A UN report says 20,000
skilled Africans and professionals leave Africa yearly for jobs in the
North while Africa spends US $ 4 billion every year on recruiting Western
Talk of information technology and some African countries will not even be
sure what this means. Several African countries have gone on-line but
internet use in the continent is rated the lowest in the world. The trouble
one gets calling an African nation from Africa cannot be forgotten. It is
easier for one in Africa to call the West than it is for the person to do
the same in Africa.
Concerned about this, the AACC assembly will discuss policies for
transforming telecommunications industry, and seek ways to review the
taxation on computer exports in a number of countries.
It will also reinforce the role of the Church in peace and reconciliation.
It will deliberate on ways to ensure that doors to reconciliation are
continuously kept open and the culture of dialogue promoted.
For armed conflicts and wars, AACC desires the conversion of resources from
military to human development purposes. Demobilisation is necessary as it
paves way for sustainable peace opportunities and financing of skills
training for ex-combatants.
Reported by Joyce Mulama
Farmers' Use Of GM Seed 'Could Disturb Ecosystem'
BLANTYRE (AANA) December 23 - Malawi's farmers risk disturbing the
ecosystem as they ignore experts' warning not to use the Genetically
Modified (GM) maize seed that the government is distributing for free to
alleviate critical hunger ravaging the country which is among the famine
hardest hit states in southern Africa.
Following two seasons of poor harvest due to erratic weather conditions, up
to 70 percent of Malawi's 12 million people are facing acute food shortage
while a survey conducted by local non governmental organisations reported
that some 500 people starved to death this year.
The government is to import 250,000 metric tonnes of genetically modified
maize while the United States government and the World Food Programme WFP
are making substantial donations of maize to contain the crisis.
For the past months the government has embarked on civic education to
sensitise farmers not to use relief maize for planting. They have been
alerted about the dangers it can cause to the environment while the
controversy on the health risks to human consumption rages on.
Some NGOs and civil society are spreading the message for the targeted
population not to accept the GM maize. Similar resistance was reported in
neighbouring Zambia and Zimbabwe where consumption is being discouraged.
The first incident was reported in Blantyre district where a family planted
25 kilogrammes of the seed, prompting reaction from the community. Irate
threatened the family, uprooting the planted maize.
A villager, Mary Jonto, told local newspapers she decided to use the maize
for seed because of delays arising in the distribution of free seeds by the
"I saw that the rains had started but the seed was still not forthcoming,"
Jonto told the paper. She soaked the maize in water to find out if it could
germinate since agricultural advisors had warned that GM seed do not
re-germinate once planted.
"After a few days the maize germinated, and I saw no reason why not to
plant," she added. Following the development, the government suspended the
distribution exercise until the relief maize was milled to prevent leakages
that could see more people planting the seed.
The Minister for Agriculture, Aleke Banda, said: "After several weeks
sensitising the people, I could not expect some farmers to ignore the
instructions. I appeal to all Malawians to report any farmers to
agricultural extension workers when spotted". He said free maize and
fertilizer would be made available soon..
The milling of the GM maize is also to start soon, according to Banda, but
will be restricted to millers with the capacity as a control measure to
check against abuse.
Reported by Hobbs Gama
Message Of Hope From AACC Interim General Secretary
"Well then, the Lord himself will give you a sign: A young woman who is
pregnant will have a son and will name him 'Immanuel' which means God with
us." Isaiah 7:14
By the grace of our loving God, we are once again due to celebrate the
birth of our Christ. Christmas time is the season of hope when the
salvation of humankind is proclaimed. It is a season which leads us with
renewed hope for a New Year.
For many in Africa however, hope has become an elusive commodity. The
brutal wars, crippling debts and poverty as well as diseases continued to
mark the African dilemma in the year we are about to end.
Bad political leadership, rampant corruption and ethnicity all added up to
make life in Africa look like a failed human experiment. These were only
part of litany of woes that turned our lives into a nightmare. HIV/AIDS and
famine provided another unsavoury dimension to the long list of miseries to
complete the picture.
While debts have eroded Africa's economic foundation, wars, both civil and
inter-state, have caused massive human losses. It is apparent that the
echoes of war, including inter-religious conflicts, will continue to be
heard from all corners of the continent into the new year.
Africa is deeper into the HIV/AIDS abyss than any other continent. HIV/AIDS
has already claimed close to 10 million African lives which is more than
the combined total populations of Botswana (1.5 million), Eritrea (3
million), Gambia (1 million), Sierra Leone (4 million).
As a result of all these, including environmental degradation, growth has
been stunned, poverty entrenched and populations plunged into despair.
It is urgent that Africa must be freed from the yoke of poverty to follow
the path to peace and progress. It is also urgent that democracy must be
embraced with appreciation that the only moral basis for government is the
consent of the governed.
In regard to HIV/AIDS, I believe that if as Christians, with our huge
numerical advantage in Africa, were to effectively uphold our Christian
values, there would be a dramatic turnabout towards winning the war against
As for the environment, it has to be understood that the natural
environment is not ours to abuse and that it represents both our past as it
foreshadows our future.
As we celebrate Christmas in Africa, we indeed have HOPE for the better. We
have HOPE because God in his divine plan and miraculous ways has given
Africa a new generation of leaders. The leaders have not only brought to
Africa the New Partnership for Development (NEPAD) but are also recreating
the vision of Africa's forefathers - the Azikiwes, Nkurumahs, Nyereres,
Haile Selasies, Nassers and Senghors, who aspired to create a united
Africa. Today, the new generation of leaders have put in place the African
The African dream is simply sustainable development - one which will
provide bread instead of guns.
We have witnessed in this year, encouraging peace settlements. There is
hope for peace in Sudan by next year following the efforts of the
Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and Kenya, which is
also brokering a peace process in Somali.
It used to be said that when the giant Democratic Republic of Congo coughs,
everybody catches flue. Indeed the war in Congo sucked in several
countries. This week however, the Congolese received their best Christmas
present ever when both the rebels and the government signed a peace pact on
December 15, 2002 to set up a government of national unity. Accordingly,
the incumbent president Kabila will retain the presidency while four of the
vice presidents will be appointed from the opposition front.
We have HOPE as we note that the African civil society has grown stronger
than ever before, serving as the ever-present eyes and ears of our
societies while the Church in Africa is looked upon as the effective
conscience of our communities.
On our part at AACC we launched this year, a process towards developing a
new Mission and Vision for our continental organisation. The value of
mutuality will be the keystone of the aspired Mission and Vision. We aim to
be creatively woven with the churches, Sub-Regional Fellowships, National
Christian Councils and the one ecumenical movement.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Rewarding New Year with every God's blessings.
AACC Interim General Secretary, Nairobi
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