REFLECTIONS FROM THE EDITOR KRISTYN KOMARNICKI
The Healing of a Continent Ask Americans what comes to mind when they hear the word “Africa,” and many will rattle off a list of liabilities: the AIDS pandemic, desperate poverty, tribal conflict, political corruption. Ask them to list instead the continent’s assets, and some will mention its natural resources —the Nile, the Serengeti, wildlife, gold/ diamonds—while others might refer to its cultural riches—its music, art, and colorful history. But how many would mention Africa’s greatest (and growing) resource, Africans? Certainly Africa has more than its fair share of challenges, but it also has a fair share of solutions. After decades of the West pouring financial and material aid into change-thirsty Africa, the continent is finally getting what it really needs: the educational infrastructure and resources to raise up a new generation of indigenous leaders. Just since the turn of the 21st century, a significant number of new efforts have sprung up with the common mission of cultivating African leadership to turn the ship around. To name just a few: the African Leadership Academy, which has just recruited its first class of 100 young leaders from across the continent (classes start in September!); the Africa Leadership Initiative, which encourages public-private cooperation, corporate social responsibility, and an understanding of the challenges of globalization; and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, which equips the brightest African students with the tools to lift their continent out of poverty (they’re convinced that the “next Einstein” will be African). It’s worth noting that each of these smart and hope-filled initiatives is secular.
Africans have for some time recognized the need to create a postcolonial identity for themselves, but movements in that direction have been rooted mostly in the realms of literary theory and political science. That awareness is only just now emerging in the church. But that doesn’t mean African Christians have been unsuccessful at growing African leaders. On the contrary, in spite of the church’s lack of leadership in creating a postcolonial expression of Christianity,
In loving memory of FidelisWainaina, who died suddenly in March 2008. Wainaina was founder and director of Maseno Inter-Christian Child Self-Help Group in Kenya, which helped reduce the level of malnutrition among children in the area from 86 percent to less than 1 percent and became a model for international academic and United Nations teams wanting to study and promote best practice in sustainable agriculture and livelihoods for poor and remote communities. She was the winner of the Africa Green Revolution Yara Prize 2006, an internationally sought speaker, and a beloved board member of Micah Challenge International. If ever there was a poster child for “Africans for Africa,” Wainaina was it. She is sorely missed.
many individual African Christians are at the forefront of powerful transformational ministries among the most hurting populations: widows and orphans, HIV/AIDS victims, prisoners, the poorest of the poor. It is precisely these people that this issue of PRISM celebrates. In “Africans for Africa” we provide a tiny sampling of the kind of work being done by Christ followers—in public health, education, skills training, microfinance, evangelism, legislation, interfaith partnerships, and church empowerment. This is just a taste—one could easily publish a multivolume book on similar folks across the African continent, folks undaunted by naysayers and statistics, obedient to the Holy Spirit, resourceful, innovative, and intrepid. I look forward to observing, in the coming decade, how the emerging, postcolonial church will rise to the challenge of equipping more of these servant saints. Nelson Mandela has said, “Africa is beyond bemoaning the past for its problems. The task of undoing that past is on the shoulders of African leaders themselves, with the support of those willing to join in a continental renewal. We have a new generation of leaders who know that Africa must take responsibility for its own destiny, that Africa will uplift itself only by its own efforts in partnership with those who wish her well.” Let us delight in what God is already doing in Africa by supporting this continental renewal in any way we can. n Editor’s note:Treat yourself to learning more about what’s happening in Africa. Go to AfricanLeadershipAcademy.org to learn about the 16-to-19-year-old leaders from all 54 African nations who are about to embark in the Academy’s first year of classes. Visit NextEinstein.org to learn about talented young Africans who study at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS. ac.za). Listen to some of the students at Youtube.com/nextEinsteinAIMS.