Thursday, August 13, 2009

African Trade, Aid and the Church (Lawrence Temfwe)

An opinion about trade and aid from Lawrence Temfwe of Zambia who was recently in Chicago attending the Willow Creek Leadership Summit...

Giving aid to Africa to rebuild viable economy is not the answer to Africa’s poverty solution but fair trade said Andrew Rugasira a Ugandan coffee entrepreneur recently at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Micah Challenge a world wide Christian movement against poverty of which I am passionately involved would not agree any less. Since its inception several years ago Micah Challenge has been engaging the opinion in the G8 that stop the developing world to add value to their raw products before they export them. Micah Challenge has also been engaging the developing world to address the social, economic and political systems that they inherited from the colonial practices of the Europeans that are designed to keep Africans in poverty.

As I see it, wealth creation in Africa has three major obstacles. First is the need for the G8 and China to open up their market to African products that are value added. For example Africa must add value to its copper and coffee before it is exported. Also market access must be improved, especially to the G8 countries. The second is the most critical. African political leaders have continued to sustain the colonial economic and social models that make it easy for developed countries to import raw materials at a song. Most of these contracts are done corruptly and for the purpose of enriching government leaders and their families. Our political leaders have adopted the same unjust privileges and enjoy the same perks as those our colonial leaders enjoyed. We need servant leaders. Thirdly, Africa continues to lose the best of its educated people to Europe because our system rarely rewards ingenuity or innovation. As a result the African men and women whom God has endowed with abilities to help save their people from poverty, disease and premature deaths are working in Europe and North America, where their work is acknowledged, appreciated and rewarded and because their children have same opportunities as those of government leaders.

The church remains the greatest hope for Africa’s economic transformation. The upswing of concern by Christians all over the world to help people living in poverty is the reason for this hope. However, this concern must be rooted in fuller understanding of why Christ Jesus came. Jesus mission was to put in right relationships with all He created through preaching the good news in word and deeds (Luke 9.2). The message of the Kingdom of God was to be communicated in word and deed. In Acts we read that in the church, “There was no needy person amongst them.” True Christianity defends the cause of the poor, the fatherless and the widow especially when there are acts of injustices against them. A complete understanding of Jesus mission puts the church at the helm of fighting poverty. A lesser understanding makes it to be self-righteous and arrogant and a god instead of being a servant. Hope for the poor lies in people whom God has put His Spirit, “… He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.” (Isaiah 42:1-4). God is inviting you to his work among people living in poverty. Have you responded?

Lawrence Temfwe