Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 14 July 2014

Lack of equity: A cause of many conflicts in Africa


By Francis Ayul Yuar Nyok

July 13, 2014 - It should be kept in mind that Africa crisis is not unique, more or less all the countries of the Sub-Sarah Africa are plague with acute poverty and in which the gap between rich and the poor has widened. (B.J. van der Walt 2006:19)African are materially poor not because they don’t have the materials but because they don’t possess technology. They are marginalized in the contemporary world in which a person is value and status is determined in the economic terms. They said that if you cannot count your money, you simply don’t count as human. The reality of Africa and the African lack of sharing is that they are captives of capitalism economic system imposed by the Western’s unfair trade system. Africa is rich with natural resources but cannot enjoy her resources, the unspoiled scenic beauty, the continent is richly blessed with bulk of the world’s diamonds, Chromium’s and uranium,50% of the world’s gold and 90% of its cobalts,40% of its platinum and 50% of the world’s phosphate,12% of the natural gas and 8% of its known petroleum reserves and 7.5% of its coal apart from the 40% of the world’s potential hydroelectric power supply.

There is no other continent in the world with such abundant blessings; therefore Africa by definition does not lack resources to become among the top rich. It has been argued that richness in this regards cannot be measured only in monetary term. This is the reason why Apostle Paul could say that the early Christians were poor yet making many rich, having nothing but yet possessing everything. Today in Africa and more so in the world at large handful of super-rich people are gaining more and more control of the productive resources of the world than ever before in both Africa and the west, whereas majority of the world population is caught in a poverty trap, not just in Africa but in the western countries as well. The level of unemployment in western countries is kept artificially low in official statistics just to hide the reality from public’s eye. A person is counted as employed if they have as little as one hour’s worked a week in the west. For those who have only part-time work that is not enough to meet their most basic needs according to Staurt Fowler’s observations. The unemployment rate is double the official figure in most of the so called first world nations. On the other hand, reliable estimates indicate that one percent of the people own 50% of the productive wealth of the U.S. a statistic that raise more concerns than hope. By the law of jubilee given to guide ancient Israel God made His will very clear on this issue not wanting any one poor.

Back to Biblical days, farming was the main productive resource in Israelite, and every family was allocated an equal portion of land. If a family fell into poverty for any reason and sold their allotted portion to someone else to feed or pay off the debtors, the other person could only use the land until the year of jubilee, which occurred every 50 years. At that time, the ownership of the land returned to the original owners. It is obvious that this law as such does not apply in today’s industrialized world, but the principle embodied in it remains as a revelation of God’s will in ensuring the equitable economic life and therefore His heart for the poor remained state fast since creation. Should this happen in South Sudan, political crisis can be reduced. It has been observed that conflicts today come because few powerful individuals in the government enjoy national cake exclusive of the majority in the name of being elected. Believed they are called by God to get rich, especially with today’s prosperity Gospel Churches in Africa. They are super rich, healthy and their kids attends most expensive schools which grant them better future and dominant present in leadership positions in the society. Church of Christ should have been different from the world but experiences show the opposite and such conflict and experiences will continue to surface in the church unless Church transformed and take its call seriously. The observed phenomenon is that gap between rich and poor has widened with lot of unemployment and poverty rising each day, according to some observers, in a slums areas such as that of Kenya Kibera and Mathare, the biggest slums in Africa, most people still live in an inhuman condition. The human suffering index created by the population Crisis Committee (PCC) compared living condition in 141 countries. The measures of human well being are rated from 0-to 10,with zero as the best rating they are(1) life expectancy(2) daily calorie supply(3)clean drinking water(4) infant immunization(5) secondary school enrolment(6)GNP per capita(7) rate of inflation(8)communication technology(9) political freedom and (10)civil rights.

According to the study carryout these countries suffering with extreme human condition, 20 are found in Africa. (B.J.Van der Walt 2006:23) It has been observed that when Kenya got Independence from British colonials, President Jommo Kenyatta allocated senior jobs to his ethnic members, making them the most advantaged economic in Kenya. A trend that allowed other non Kikuyus felt economically marginalized and subjugated by the privileged ethnic. These heart seated feeling was triggered during the post election violence in 2007 where Luos and Kalenjin community fought against kikuyus in East Africa, accusing them of eating the national cake exclusive of others. A path followed by the former President Daniel Arab Moi and subsequence by his predecessor President Mwai Kibaki. This is done in order to rely behind one’s ethnic community in order to protect one from any political problems since national constitutions are never regarded. In most of African public institutions, including the Church there is an institutionalized exclusivity policy by those in power. In some African countries, there have been some examples of State constitutional violation or abrogation to safeguard those in power.

Professor Adeyemo (2009:67) has done and an intensive, clear investigation whether Africa is indeed cursed has alluded by few individual in the West. To our surprises he discovered an in-depth Biblical foundation proving that Africa has multiples blessings, naming, the natural resources, mineral resources, energy resources, human resources and spiritual resource. These are resource that every country on earth would wish to have. Than if this is kind of resources Africa continent have than what should be the problem in the Continent that its human condition seem deteriorating each time? Adeyemo however has exclusively suggested that African condition lies in the hands of its leaders, poor management of national resources. Professor George Kinoti of the University of Nairobi identified some key factors that are contributing into African economics predicament; subsequently it seems most of us agreed with him even though he has negatively analyzed the condition of African continent from moral perspectives. The following nine causes of economic and social wretchedness according to him are-incompetent governments in Africa, unjust international economic systems enforced on Africa continent through trade agreements, retrogressive aspect of African culture such as disregard for time, poor management in Government and in the church institutions, Ethnicity and culture of exclusivity in public institutions such as one of South Sudan.

wide spread illiteracy such as in South Sudan and low educational standard, immoral practices including tribalism, corruption, dishonesty, laziness and embezzlements and scientific and technological backwardness, high population growth and manmade environmental crisis among many others ( Kinoti 1994:35-65). These are said to be the causes of Africa economical predicaments. Africa continent instead has multiple blessings and resources than most countries in the world do not have. Therefore Africa should have been the super rich continent in the world considering her national resources had it not been the above nine predicaments mentioned. Than what is wrong with Africa? To him, African problem lies in poor management of these multiples resources God has given her. Its institutional dysfunction as observed by these experts produced a bitter life of poverty in the continent. Country like South Sudan would have fed and accommodated her population with less difficulty since her resources are enough. But an Islamist minority regime based in Khartoum could not allow an equal sharing of resource to happen, instead they kept the country in multiples civil wars, protecting these powerful clique families in power to enjoyed the national cake whereas rest of Sudanese live under an extreme poverty and injustices within institutions.

If this situation is not corrected early, there shall be no stability in the region as these very mistakes were what caused South Sudan’s longest rebellions against Khartoum and subsequence force it to break away from Sudan when they felt they are not been given service they deserved as Citizens of the same country. Nobody will accept few families controlling everything while majority live in anguish poverty; this must be made clear to the new nation of South Sudan before it is too late. Several societies are now strongly advocating for human rights and justices and are giving more pressures to the Government to be more inclusive of all different tribes, gender and regional balance. As nation move forward, development, stable infrastructure must be given priority by the Government of South Sudan to allow Citizens feel served and safe in their country. This situation of lack of equitable sharing of national resources seems true in other African countries such as in Zimbabwe and Kenya just to pick few examples. Where President Robert Mugabe refused to hand over power even when he cannot biologically performed his presidential duties.

Kenya, the champion of East Africa economic power region seems to have follow sorts where Kikuyu, the largest ethnic community in the country cannot accept seeing other person in power that is not of their own kinship descent group immediately after taking power from British in 1963. (Turaki 2002:77) The negative repercussions of this behavior are great and young nation like South Sudan must not fall into such trap at early stage in its inception. Rule of law must be encouraged where everybody is protected by the law including the weak ones. Economic equitability minimizes possible tribal tensions that come as result of lack of fair sharing of public’s resource. While those at the top are paid huge salaries involving millions of South Sudanese Pounds/ dollars a year in South Sudan, the pay of the workers who produce the products is kept as low as possible in all ten States of the Republic, forcing massive migration of disgruntles work force to other green pastures. Research revealed that this phenomenon is also true in the West that many companies are now moving their factories to China because large numbers of people there are so poor that they will work for a wage that is barely enough to keep one person alive in his retire life. On the other hand Scripture clearly requires that those who do the work should share freely in the benefits of that work. The common practice of the world in biblical times was to put a muzzle on oxen used to thresh the grain, so that they could not eat any as they worked. They were fed just enough to enable them to do their work. But God directed his people not to do this but to allow the oxen to freely share in the harvest. For it is written in the Law of Moses, ‘you shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.’ Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plows should plow in hope and whoever threshes should thresh in hope of a share in the crop (1Cor 9:9, 10). Thus, in African traditional philosophy as in view of these reality, answers to questions of meaning in life (the Why?-questions) are always dominated by the spiritual emphasis. When trouble comes in the form of disease, natural disasters, or untimely death, traditional Africans look beyond the obvious physical causes and consult religious specialists to find the ultimate spiritual cause, even Issues of political malpractice that required constitutional changes will be ignored.

In the old Africa, anything that Africans would want to do in an economic crisis such as this lack of equality will be, first of all to consult the oracles as means of obtaining divine answers to the problem of Governance and power dominant by one ethnic. The Jews of the Old Testament did the same thing as well. Today, Christians seek the will of God through prayers and fasting. This philosophy both draws on and supports the pantheistic polytheistic theology as mentioned above. The law of the spirit is a universal principle which governs and controls universal events and unseen powers and mysteries; affects the destiny, the well-being, and the general life of individual human beings as well as the lives of people-groups or families, clans, communities, and tribes; manifests itself in and through the spirits, human beings, and inanimate objects; defines the reality of African worldview and is pervasive, hidden, unexplainable, unpredictable, powerful, dreadful, and awesome is observed to be interfering with our modern day socio-political and economical affairs.

This law is reflected in moral laws and religious practices that govern the interrelationship and integration of spirit beings and humans in traditional spirit world in South Sudan. African spirituality is rooted in this understanding of life so is the Dinka tradition in particular. It is not an understanding of how the Holy Spirit works in human life, but that of cosmic spirits and their spirit-power in which everything else are revolving. This traditional worldview has rich spiritual foundations, whether for good or bad. Christianity has to examine critically the theology of this traditional spiritual worldview that is very similar to that of the Bible in order to be able to affects changes among the Dinka of Upper Nile State. Christian theology of spirit-power as rooted in the cross and the resurrection of Christ must be formulated to address the African traditional kinship morality and ethics- spirit-power spirituality and some other African predicaments.

The writer can be reached at francisnyok@yahoo.com

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  • 15 July 2014 11:55, by Adodi Jotuwa

    Francis Ayul Yuar Nyok,

    It’s a well-researched analysis. Besides natural disasters, manmade ills top the list of all predicaments. Devine answers are imperative when humans will one day begin to turn to God who created us in his image to see the value of equality or equal share of national cake. The question remains is, will Africa do it alone without the West hanging on its neck?

    repondre message

    • 15 July 2014 12:03, by Adodi Jotuwa

      Like other citizens in the Western countries, US citizens are living under the mercy of the 1% super-rich or super billionaires or corporations who watches, controls and guides the world and behaviors of global citizens on every second, not minute or hour. Africa needs to learn something and act along that line besides praying together as God’s children on this planet.

      repondre message

      • 15 July 2014 12:24, by Adodi Jotuwa

        Should any educated or talented African leader, academician, or scholar attempt to build his country or Africa the way it benefits every citizen, he/she will find himself/herself forced to take off and eventually land peacefully in the Western capitals (unless you want to land in the Eastern capitals). Remote control is designed to track, monitor any malfunction that threatens vested interests.

        repondre message

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