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The role of the church in the fight against corruption in Africa

11.06.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines corruption as “dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people such as government officials or police” or “inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means such as bribery”. Religious institutions have it that corruption is “a state of spiritual decay and moral dishonesty, arising from the effects of sin, which expresses itself in disobedience towards God”. Corruption is a social ill that has existed for as long as cannot be dated to a particular period and is practiced in the Government and Private Sectors.

Who is involved in the fight against corruption?

During the  Nouakchott 31st African Union (AU) Summit from 25th June to 2nd July 2018, in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the Governments and Heads of State of the 55 Member States under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

The “Church” (All Religions) has always been instrumental in her vital role of providing social welfare services, protecting human rights, fighting corruption and propagating moral aptitude apart from her major role of Spiritual molding. The fight against corruption has become a sing-song for every religion or religious institution in Africa; from Christianity, Islam to Buddhism and more.

On February 1st, 2018, Pope Francis as Supreme Pontiff (Head of The Roman Catholic Church) described corruption during a sermon on television saying, “Corruption is a process of death that feeds the culture of death”

Islamic Religious Leaders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been fighting corruption and the alarming levels of human rights violations experienced in this area. They keep insisting on the fact Islamic Religious Ethics, The Qur’an and The Hadith must be the guide in this exercise.

Due to the heightening quest for spiritual uplifting and the practice of religion in Africa, many other religious denominations have surfaced under Christianity such as Protestants and Pentecostals that are actively involved this fight against corruption; The Presbyterian Church and The Baptist Convention more active.

How the church fights corruption

  • Moral Instruction and Religious Studies as a subject/course

Most Religions have included moral lessons and Religious Studies as a subject/course in the Educational Institutions where the fight against corruption has been made a regular lesson.

  • Spiritual Camping/Retreats and Family Education

Most Churches have built Prayer Centres such as shrines where their faithful visit for spiritual nourishment, spiritual talks including on the need to fight corruption from the Ministers of the Church in charge.

  • Media (Internet, TV & Radio)

To properly fight corruption, every “Church” is now using the Internet (Social Media), Radio Stations and Television Channels for broadcast. For example; TV Islam in Malawi, Halal TV in Nigeria, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) International Africa, Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), Radio Evangelium in Cameroon and Radio Joyful in South Africa.

  • Encyclicals, Pastoral Letters, Magazines, Spiritual books and Newspapers/Letters

Religious Leaders regularly release documents to update their followers of innovations in the Religion, to counteract any on-going social crises or to remind their followers of their duties; the fight against corruption not excluded. In February 2019, Pope Francis said while announcing one of such write outs on corruption,

“Corruption is not countered with silence; we must speak about it; denounce its evil and try to understand it so as to show our resolve to make mercy reign over meanness, beauty over nothingness”. In Cameroon, the Catholic Church has “The Cameroon Panorama” magazine and “L’Effort Camerounais” Newspaper and in Uganda, there exist “The Muslim News” a newspaper.

  • Church Services, Prayer Sessions and Preaching

During prayers, The Bible and The Qur’an are used by Christians and Muslims respectively, which spell out the facts against corruption and urge the followers to denounce it in all its forms.

  • Flyers, Stickers and Posters

Some Churches and Religious Institutions have created flyers, stickers and posters which are distributed to be pasted on text book covers, cars, and doors and used as page markers. These carry special captions, phrases and messages that counter corruption which so far has been very effective.

  • Anti-Corruption Associations

Many Associations and Organizations have been formed round Africa by Religious Leaders and Profound Individuals to foster the fight against corruption. A retired Anglican Bishop by name Eliud Wabukala in 2017, took over Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as Chairman and later launched a campaign against corruption; “Anti-Corruption Bible Study.”

In Malawi, Bishop Francis Kaulanda during their 2019 elections preach transparency and fiscal integrity saying, “Corruption is a disease, we want a leader that should not entertain and tolerate nonsense.”

South Sudanese Bishop, Peter Jon Mayom of the Diocese of Malek, The Bishops of Ghana in their “A Clean Environment in a Corruption-Free Society and Shaping Hearts, Attitudes and Minds to End Corruption in Ghana” campaign and The Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo are some Roman Catholic Church authorities in Africa who led movements to help the governments of their different countries to fight corruption.

Is the Church free from corruption?

In so far as the “Church” is controlled by humans who by nature are erroneous, there shall always be instances of socials ills within this sacred milieu. Controversially, those who occupy front seats, take up posts and donate money to Church are government officials and other prominent individuals whose sources of wealth are often earned from bribery and other indecent means. Even though aware of this, Churches still collect these donations both in kind and cash with open hands.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) since its creation by Transparency International to fight against corruption, has proven that Africa is the most affected of all continents, especially Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sudan, South Sudan, Mauritania and Somalia. This means that existing efforts already put in place by all the stakeholders to kill this social cankerworm need to be doubled.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Credit image : google image/illustration

 

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