By Ogova Ondego
Published January 20, 2017
Professionals in Africa should not leave Africa’s problems to politicians, economists and administrators but must play their part in helping to solve them.
That is the message contained in a book written by Professor George Kinoti of the Department of Zoology of the University of Nairobi some 23 years ago.
The 100-page book titled Hope for Africa and What the Christian can Do calls upon every African to work for peace, justice and prosperity to rescue Africa from its current state of economic and socio-political wretchedness.
Regardless of your perspective, the ‘little big’ book reads both like an indictment on the West, Christianity, and African cultures. Although he primarily targets ‘Christians’ as more than 85% of Kenya’s estimated 45 million people profess ‘Christianity’, Kinoti says he does not nurse any dream of ‘Christian’ states as theocracies have failed in many parts of the world. Pointing out the causes of Africa’s misery and suggesting possible solutions, the commentator on African socio-economic issues appeals to every African to work towards peace, justice and prosperity of the continent.
Kinoti says he wrote the book as a clarion call to African professionals not to leave Africa’s problems to politicians but understand these problems and then play their part in helping to solve them.
“We all need to understand the problems and where the solutions lie. We can and must do so. And we then must play our part, and encourage or require others to play theirs, in finding solutions,” he writes in Hope for Africa and What the Christian can Do.
Noting that Christianity is spreading in Africa faster than in any other continent, the author laments that this growth does not seem to be making any significant impact on the Africans. He attributes this to what he refers to as selective application of scriptures as taught by missionaries that misled African Christians into believing that economic, political and social affairs are not their province and have, therefore, entirely neglected them.
Kinoti contends that it is wrong for ‘Christians’ to sit back and let others do all the fighting and the hard work and then jump in to enjoy the fruits of others’ sweat and blood.
He challenges ‘committed’ or ‘born again’ African Christians to take their economic, social and political responsibilities as seriously as they take their spiritual responsibilities. They must pray, yes; but they must also participate fully in their nations’ development.
“It is a terrible mistake for Christians to detach themselves . . . from the society they live in as famine, disease, corruption and oppression affect everybody regardless of their faith,” he writes.
Without mincing, Kinoti challenges ‘Christians’ to stop being parasites; sitting back and letting others do all the fighting for them. Christians, he says, must stop being naïve by believing that all leaders, whether good or bad, are God’s appointees and therefore not accountable to those they ‘rule’ as that legitimises dictatorship in Africa.
Kinoti identifies poverty as the most pressing of all African’s depressing problems: it imprisons people in ignorance, superstition, disease, pain and death and thus destroys human dignity.
In countries where Christianity enjoys a privileged position, the author urges believers to use the opportunity in influencing public policy. They should never encourage evil through silence as happens in many sub-Saharan African countries. ‘Government’ being both a divine and a human institution, ignorance should not be used to legitimise oppressive regimes.
Instead of using their faith as a narcotic to evade the misery in which they live, Kinoti challenges Christians and Muslims to speak out against social injustice lest they be accused of complicity.
Africa has a dearth of visionary, humble, trustworthy and teachable leaders who can mobilise and influence those they lead for good through respect rather than fear.
Aspect of African cultures, such as not recognising time as a resource and fatalism which makes people to attribute misfortunes, including their own inefficiencies, to the supernatural can also be held responsible for the underdevelopment of Africa.
Although Africa can break out of the international economic prison in which it is, Kinoti notes that there is no easy option but to go the whole hog. Every African, he says, must be indignant over the status quo on the continent and earnestly strive for peace, prosperity and justice.
Kinoti also challenges the ‘church’ in African to sensitise Africans on biblical morality and thus discourage people from the practice of glorifying rich crooks over less affluent but honest and hard-working professionals.
African should invest in science and technology, formulate relevant curricula and forbid ill-trained politicians from meddling in the education sector, the backbone of any country.
Whatever your philosophy, you find yourself agreeing with Kinoti when he says that the West is only supporting ‘Democracy’ in Africa because many Westerners make a comfortable living from it as political experts, human rights advocates, writers and advisors.
“Exploitation of African resources, including the people themselves, is the primary motive behind much Western interests in African,” he writes.
Employing an easy and engaging writing style through carefully selected words, Kinoti appeals to every African to overcome apathy, laziness and discard the attitude of making Africa to be synonymous with a place of tears and suffering.