The catholic supreme pontiff, Benedict XVI, arrived in YaoundÃ©, Cameroon today on what could be described as his first visit to Africa ever since assuming office.
For the African Christianity, especially those in the catholic faith, this visit is very historic and significant. Africa is eventually becoming the future of catholic faith and Christianity as a whole. In Europe and America, the continuous growth and expansion of secularism, materialism and scientism with their anti-faith-anti-God values had been very instrumental in the pitiable tailspin and decline of Christian faith and practices. It is of historical fact that the western world was built on the dais of Judeo-Christian values. But today, the same values upon which these nations were built no longer appeal to the people.
Thus Africa presents the future of Christianity with tremendous hope. Although the continent undergoes certain challenges, the papal visit no doubt reassures the people of Africa of a great a future. The pontiff in his address reinstated the historical fact that Africa had produced historical figures like St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Athanasius, St. Cyprian and St. Cyril of Alexandria. Consequently, Africa was the stronghold of Christianity for so many centuries before the invasion of Islam especially in the north.
The pope also spoke on fighting corruption, economic and political oppression which had crippled every progressive initiative in Africa. He was resolute in his outcry to seek a just international support of the continent in this present global financial crisis. As a country, he extolled Cameroon as a â€œland of hope and peaceâ€ and also as a land of harmony where diverse ethnic nations with heterogeneous cultures and languages cohabit peacefully.
He condemned human trafficking of the Africans people, women and children inclusive, across the globe as inhuman and unjust and called it a â€œnew global challengeâ€. This is true, based on the fact that in this 21st century Africans are still being trafficked overseas where their labors are exploited and where they work under dehumanizing conditions. Thus the abuse of Africans is something the entire world ought to look into.
While human trafficking is condemnable, the pope should also speak firmly against exploitation of African continent by richer nations. Countries and foreign companies doing business in Africa should follow the international laws and regulations. In any form, the exploitation of the African resources such as gold, diamond, oil, tin, cassiterites and so on and so forth ought to be exposed. He should as well condemn the irrational and unchecked lending of money to African countries by IMF and World Bank, which basically ends up in the pocket of the corrupt and the warped-minded. And which these poor countries would later bear the consequence of paying back. Thus crippling the economy of these so called poor countries and widening the gape between Africa and the rest of the world.
The pope will also tour Angola. Most importantly his heartfelt comments on issues of African relevant has also reassured the African people that the pontiff, as the head of the universal church is not blinded by Eurocentric understanding of the world problematic issues but also with certain Afrocentric conceptual analysis of global issues. Impressive enough, during his speech, he extolled Nigeria for playing a vital role in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Singling out Nigerian as a nation is crucial especially in a global community where lots of foreign nations see nothing good about the country.
While Africa has played, is still playing and will continue to play a significant role in the future of the Christianity, it is imperative for African leaders (religious and secular) to understand that the popeâ€™s visit would not make any difference if they do not commit to a genuine effort to work toward the transformation of the continent. A true commitment to democratization and the elimination of colonial mentality with its prevalent oppressive hold on the continent is the only true way to giving Africa a new face.
Let this papal visit reminds every African that the onus of fixing Africa is a great task ahead. We all should create an atmosphere where tribal differences are not perceived as a divisive catalyst to the harmony of the people, but rather as an integral aspect of our rich heritage. This is the 21st century, wars, hunger, AIDS and diseases, corruption, instability ought to be fought. In this way, we shall re-brand the battered African image in the international scene as the misery of the earth.