The Role of the Church In Africa: To Promote Unity and Reconciliation 

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Today Africa is well known in the world for its specific problems such as political tension, high rates of HIV/AIDS, her numerous debts to the world economy, and human rights abuses. It seems that all that is bad, and nothing which is good, belongs to Africa. Even though the continent possesses numerous mineral resources, they were exploited in the colonial period and even today Africa is still fighting for its economic independence, facing many internal and external problems. The whole continent stands in need of reconciliation. Rebels everywhere increase political tension, and the imperatives for democracy as well as increasing globalization all pose challenges to Africa.This chapter offers a panoramic view of certain African countries which have been struggling for a long time for peace and reconciliation, discussing Africa as a continent exhibiting the lack of these features. This need is clearly seen in human rights violations and the struggle to set up a new mood of democracy, as well as in the new ideology of globalization which constitutes the present world market. We are not writing the history of all of Africa. Rather, insights are given into a smaller section of the continent for those who wish to investigate the field of reconciliation, so that readers can find specific information about some countries. The information in this chapter stems from many materials, including books, electronic documents and articles. The chapter provides a broad framework before we accord special attention to South Africa and Angola, which we wish to study comparatively in terms of their events of reconciliation, and their actual needs for reconciliation. Africa’s struggles for independence have resulted in many difficulties such as political, economic, social and religious tensions.Africa is still struggling to discover its identity, and achieve greater development or economic independence. Conflicts and rebellions are everywhere observable in Africa, along with civil war, all of which give birth to crises. Reconciliation is an urgent need for Africa as we shall discover in this chapter.

 Africa at the Beginning of the 21st Century: Despair and Hope

The 21st century in Africa has been characterized by many challenges in Africa, especially those stemming from political tensions. It seems that in the previous century coups were the most common model of access to the various presidencies, instead of free and democratic elections. Hence there is despair almost everywhere in Africa. But might we also say that there is hope in Africa during this 21st century? We believe this, but our hope needs the combined action of Christians and other faith communities to combat the evil in Africa. Democracy, as well as globalization, in Africa is a challenge which calls for real endeavour and good leadership. Among all the problems that Africa is facing we number: leadership, political, economic, socio-cultural, ideological and religious tensions as stated above. We will investigate these below. We have selected some of the many materials available concerning Africa, among them: Human Rights Law in Africa volume two: Domestic Human Rights Law in Africa edited by Christof Heyns; Amnesty International Reports 2004, 2005 and 2006; Human Rights in Africa edited by James T. Lawrence; State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa edited by Richard Joseph; Government and Politics in Africa edited by William Tordoff; Freedom’s Distant Shores: American Protestants and Post-colonial Alliances with Africa edited by R. Drew Smith; and many other books in addition to electronic documents and articles. Despair and hope in Africa live side by side, as we now discover.

Africa: Field of Tensions

Despair in Africa is easily visible in a series of tensions throughout the continent as well as despair within the political, socio-cultural, ideological, and religious spheres. All these tensions find their pattern in the legacy of leadership in Africa, where we have to work especially hard in order to offer Africa hope.This section focuses on details concerning Africa as a field of tensions, providing cases to illustrate our view. Although many more examples could be quoted, the following will provide sufficient evidence of the need for reconciliation on the continent.

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Leadership: Legacy of Despair

Despite some exceptional cases, the general opinion of leadership in Africa is, according to Sello Patrick Rankhumise, Tony Modise & Meshack Mbowane, one where: “African presidents [have] appointed themselves as life-time presidents” (2003:3). Roger Southall and Henning Melber confirm that it was a dominant perception until the early 1990s that African rulers did not vacate their office alive (2006:xvi). To the majority of Africa’s leaders, democracy is incompatible with their vision of being a “life-time president”. This section deals with the despair related to African legacies in terms of the issues referred to above. When one views Africa there is no way to ignore these negative legacies of leadership. Piet Meiring quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s words in this regard: “Africa, oh Africa, where are your leaders?” (2002:719); furthermore, Meiring names some African leaders he considers able to lead their countries, but also the legacies of some who failed their people by not offering good leadership. He wrote: But the disappointments, too, were many when leaders were not able to produce what their people had been promised. In many African countries – Uganda under Milton Obote and Idi Amin, Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam, Somalia under Mohamed Siad Barre, Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, as well as Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Liberia under a succession of military rulers – the high ideal of the democracy of an independent judiciary and economic growth gave way to autocratic rule either in one party states or military dictatorships, where repression, injustice, human rights abuses, mal-administration, misappropriation of public funds and other resources, as well as corruption became the order of the day (op. cit.: 720).
How painful must such leadership and its leaders be to the people who are called to elect them or are used to support them as leaders. Repeatedly, Lawrence writes that many African countries are dominated by a strong presidency (2004:21).

Title Page 
Key Terms 
1. Background 
2. Objectives 
3. Approach in the Thesis 
4. Hypothesis 
5. Methodology 
6. Definitions of Terms
6.3. Leadership
6.5.A Biblical Perspective on Reconciliation
6.5.1. Reconciliation in the Old Testament
6.5.2. Reconciliation in the New Testament
6.6.Biblical Perspectives during the History of the Church
7. Research Gap 
8. Overview of the thesis 
8.1.Chapter 1. Introduction
8.2.Chapter 2. Africa a Continent in need of Reconciliation
8.3.Chapter 3. The South African Experience
8.4.Chapter 4. The Angolan Experience
8.5.Chapter 5. Developing a Ministry of Reconciliation for the Angolan Churches: Theological and Practical Perspectives
8.6.Chapter 6. Conclusion and Recommendations
2.1. Africa at the Beginning of the 21st Century: Despair and Hope 
2.2. Africa Field of Tensions 
2.2.1. Leadership: Legacy of Despair
2.2.2. Political Tensions
2.2.3. Economical Tensions
2.2.4. Socio-Cultural Tensions
2.2.5. Poverty and HIV/AIDS Threaten
2.2.6. Ideological Tensions
2.2.7. Religious Tensions
2.3. The Role of the Church In Africa: To Promote Unity and Reconciliation 
2.3.1. Disunity among the Churches
2.3.2. The Role of the Church in Africa
2.4. Conclusion 
3.1. South Africa A.D. 1994: The Need for Reconciliation in the a Divided Country 
3.2. Truth and Reconciliation Commission Process 
3.3. South Africa Today 
3.4. The Role of the Churches and other Faith Communities in Promoting Reconciliation
4.1. Colonization and Slave Trade 
4.2. The Struggle for Independence
4.2.1. The National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA)
4.2.2. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA)
4.2.3. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)
4.2.4. Independence and Civil War
4.3. The Role of the Churches During the Civil War
5.1. Theological Perspectives 
5.2. Practical Perspectives
6.1. Final recommendations 
6.2. Specific Recommendations To Mennonites Churches
6.3. Further Research 
7. Bibliography 

The Ministry of Reconciliation. A Comparative study of the role of the churches in promoting reconciliation in South Africa and Angola.

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