“Are we as Africans only victims?
Is the word of the Lord against disrespect for the dignity and image of God in every human being, towards others, and we are only victims?” Rev. Dr. Fidon Mwombeki.
Day three of the AACC 11th General Assembly deepened the discussion on the assembly theme: ‘Respecting the Dignity and God’s Image in Every Human Being’. While delivering his sermon during the morning devotion, the General Secretary Elect-Rev. Dr. Fidon Mwombeki stated that the subject on human dignity has been a focal point of the AACC, who have been speaking about it, and even launched the campaign for African dignity for some years now. He reflected on the pain of the people from the African descent who have at one time or another been segregated, despised, humiliated, killed, sold, called names, and regarded as simply not with the same dignity as others. These experiences have for decades made the Africans look at themselves as victims.
With a sigh of hope nonetheless, he remarked that the discussion from the assembly has revealed a remarkably changing perspective which is encouraging. “I have not heard us only blaming the West, globalization, unjust economic systems, etc. We are also looking at areas where we have been complicit or outright perpetrators of this sin of disrespect for human dignity.” He stated. He said that contrary to blaming these external factors, the assembly has focused more on calling upon governments and societies to stop causing problems and circumstances which contribute to the violation of human dignity.
Continuing with his sermon, Rev. Dr. Fidon however noted that despite the steps made by the Church in advocating for human dignity, the Church itself has been culprit to lack of respect for human dignity. The Church has found itself guilty of the sin of violation of human dignity by treating the poor and the rich with partiality. Another menace which the Church has fallen culprit is ethnic segregation and tribalism. We find that even in the Church, Christians are divided on the basis of tribal lines. He also listed population explosion as a cause of disrespect for human dignity especially where resources do not match the population resulting to undignified living.
“So, my brothers and sisters, the Lord exhorts us: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgression.” concluded Rev. Dr. Fidon. He called upon Christians to ask the Lord to free them from tribalism, nepotism and nationalism and endeavor to work to improve the quality of life.
Peace and reconciliation
The theme of peace and reconciliation also took center stage where H.E. Erastus Mwencha - Former AU Deputy Chairperson, made a presentation on the topic ‘Overview of Peace in Africa and the Role of the Church’. He started by highlighting the Africa’s peace map that revealed that every region in Africa has some form of conflict though the intensity and form of conflict differs.
Some regions such as the Eastern and Southern Africa were seen to be more stable. He stated that some factors contributing to conflict in Africa include: demographics, climate change, religious intolerance, urbanization, technology and small arms, ethnicity and politics, poor governance, unemployment, debt and weak economies; non-inclusive development, and drug trade and consumption.
He added that conflict results to social economic impacts such as, Loss of life, refugees, poverty, and damage of property and infrastructure. Nonetheless, he listed evidences that there is a glimpse of hope for peace in Africa. The evidences included the declining Intensity and frequency of conflicts, the spreading of democracy, increased coordination among various Institutional mechanisms, more informed citizenry, and increased access to alternative methods on conflict prevention and management.
Taking the case study of Rwanda, the final speaker of the day Ndayisaba Fidèle ES NURC illustrated the state of Rwanda prior, during and after the genocide. He highlighted lessons and functional legal and institutional frameworks that the rest of Africa could learn from. He stated that there cannot be reconciliation without elements of trust, tolerance, mutual respect, equality, complementarity, the truth, and healing of each other’s wounds. Rwanda has been able to maintain peace using legal and institutional frameworks, working strategies, and home grown traditional approaches to reconciliations.
He also stated, “Reconciliation is a painful process that requires the knitting of the torn social fabric, healing wounds, rebuilding a sense of togetherness, and creation of institutions that promote national unity and accountability.”