Thursday, December 11, 2008

Explosion of the Sacred

No one doubts that there is an evangelical boom in Tanzania at the moment. Everyday, we see a new evangelical movement/church up – and a new celebrity “bishop” or “prophet” dominating our small screens. The concept of a “mega-church” – think Kakobe, Rwakatare, Mwingira, etc – is emerging in Tanzania. Gospel music is becoming extremely popular and gospel musicians such as Bahati Bukuku and Rose Muhando are big stars. Basically, God is celebrated everywhere these days: from the EATV (Channel 5) to the Biafra grounds in Kinondoni.

All this is great stuff. But then what explains the parallel resurgence of armed robbery, rape incidents, witchcraft, older men taking their kids as girlfriends, corruption, proliferation of brothels, and so on?

Also, why particularly at this time, that we are seeing this explosion? There is an argument that when people are under extreme economic difficulties, with higher levels of uncertainty about the future, they increasingly resort to the belief in the “supernatural” to make sense of and justify their situation. Others are saying that this sudden evangelical boom - with its emphasis on the primacy of prayer - also socializes people into a belief that individual energy is insufficient to achieve one’s goal, it has to be supplemented by a moral stimulant – a religious fervor. Of course these are matters of faith...and one has to be careful.

Well, in the end, all this is harmless. If the rituals propagated by these latter-day churches are eventually packed with meanings designed to ease tensions of everyday life, to reduce anxiety about an uncertain future, to exorcise fears, and to chase away pain, I suppose society is better off irrespective of what one may think of these new players.

Thus far, the role played by these new religious and spiritual organizations in Africa’s socio-political transformation, has been marginal in many countries because the traditional churches have co-existed very well with the state and the political elite. With these new players (who are fast poaching members from the old churches), things are set to change. We saw how the evangelicals dominated politics (and influenced public policy) in the United States from mid 1990s.

14 comments:

Mchangiaji said...

AMEN,

I just want to highlight one of the issue, A WAR ON HIV/AIDS in Uganda, it was so succesfully, it was once regarded as a model by whole africa to follow, and yes Tanzania followed suit, and declare a war against this epidemic, and to be honest so far we are doing a pretty good job, the message is out there, well informed and we understand the issue.

Good Governance in the Fight Against HIV AIDS in Tanzania

Uganda was in good shape in fight against AIDS/HIV in Africa, until recently, when HIV/AIDS CZAR came along from the US.(PEPFAR) – the US President's Emergency Fund for Aid Relief.

$50Billion approved by the congress in US in fight against this epidemic around the world, but STRINGS attached to it.

Large chunks of the funds, thats means over 50% should be spent entirely on ABSITENCE and FIDELITIY programmes, and thats the CONTROVERSY.

and all this is because of the conservative/ideological view, within the administration, the view thats is shared by uganda leaders and influx of evangelical pastors in Uganda. Therefore the emphasize has to change, from prevention to more drugs.

Here is the questions asked by many Ugandas why sudden rise?, the question which we will be asking ourselves if we are not trading on this issue very carefully.

But, I am optimistic about the future, when OBAMA and new majority congress and senate takes office in January, things will change for the better! I hope?

By Mchangiaji

salama said...

January,

Not only economic difficulties but also, when it comes to any kind of difficulties, economically, socially, healthwise, people tend to turn to the 'higher power'.
It's human nature I guess.

It'll be very interesting to see how religion will (If it will) have a significant role in African's social political transformation. And if there's gonna be any changes, hopefully they'll happen Peacefully.

But I wonder if, anytime soon, we'll be in that era where religion totally decides the future of the country. As you mentioned evangalicals in U.S who really played a huge role in recent congregational and presidential elections.

Rash said...

It is not seceret that during tough time people tend to try different means to earn bread.

I think the power of evangelical in Tanzania won't be like US. If you look at the history of evangelical in US, you will see they had power from the beginning.

If you will spend sometime to track most of the leaders of evangelical churches have one thing in common which is high convicing power.

Tumeona jinsi Uganda walivyochomwa na Kibwetere, we saw here in US the Fundamental church of later day saint, or the controversial issues of John Hagee. Most of these church leaders are using this movement for their own befit.

Tanzania need a watch dog, or they will face surprise in the future, History has proved that.

salama said...

Change we need.

This is just Unucceptable.
Over 700 people have died of cholera in Zimbabwe.
More than 15,000 are said to be infected and the World Heasth Org. is saying that number's close to 60,000. People don't have access to neccesities and are dying left, right and center.

All this's because a Moron is extra greedy too.

Diplomacy seem to have failed in Zimbabwe. We might be witnessing the Somali femine, the Rwanda and Darfur genocides in a different form. God forbid!
We really need a TRANSFORMATION.

It can't be too late anymore. And how late is too late?

Anonymous said...

Talking about ideology in politics, President Obama is working in reversing that, particulary on war on global warming, , as it has been ignored by previous administration in US<, Science to take prescedence over the issue, by appointing the scientist and nobel prize winner as Secretary of ENERGY - Steve Chu, who will be working on renewable energy and others ...more

Salama,

Talking about Zimbabwe, A foreign minister accusing the west of spreading cholera and deadly anthrax virus in Zimbabwe, so that they can justify an army invasion to topple Mugabe Government????, I dont know man?, once I have a link to the story, i will post it here

Asha M said...

Well,well!A mighty touchy subject this!Evangelism i find to be a thoroughly foreign, but not new concept in as far as Africans are concerned.We have always had explanations for the "unknown", the universe ,the cosmos,and especially nature.As africans we never needed to evangelise.There was god,sorrounded by nature,determining fate and destiny was declared.

In the face of human suffering (such as witnessed by Mama Theresa in abject poverty,and the Tsunami)one will always have questions but no answers.

It is in seeking these answers based on the holy scriptures i think that we are seeing an increase in and evangelism.

As the world changes and poverty suffering and inequality gain ground, we look to the nearest and quickest antidote.

It has helped others for others it has been a panacea.

For the performers its a calling for some,for others it could be a way of earning their daily bread!
There is also no denying the clout that religion can have in the political destination of a country.

Through it all,you be muslim,christian,Buddhist,mormon,Hindu, i have learned as author Ahmadou Kourouma rightly coins it-GOD IS NOT OBLIGED!

Anonymous said...

Well said January,
shame you have failed to acnowledge the effect of these economic uncertainity to other religions as well.
I think that would have given a more balanced picture.
Cheers
Kaima

Anonymous said...

I think it is simply a matter of economic hardship as outlined by the various contributors!
You will always find in these churches mostly people who are facing economic hardships . They are putting their hopes in the supernatural being i.e. GOD to help them overcome whatever hardships they are faced with.
In honest truth this is not fair! A country or government should not sit aside and rejoice when its population had found faith or God! It should try and address the key issue of why the poor, the downtrodden who are flocking to these Churches or whatever! There is nothing wrong for one to decide to practise his/her faith ... but in regards to the evangelical churches and preachers ... one has to be cautious!

Msolopa said...

njaa ni kitu kibaya sana cause sometime it clouds peoples judgement and vision. these evangelicals are no diffrence than damn drug dealers or pimps. they sell poison to our people.

Anonymous said...

As talking about War against HIV/AIDS Uganda was not a role model, the facts is all infected people in Uganda died!! period, therefore the number of infected people were seem to be reduced as they die!! statistically it was like the number is infected people is reduced due to good measure in place,
Jembe

Anonymous said...

Mchangiaji,
I think the truth about the reduction of AIDS in Uganda and other places around the world is no magic that those who were suffering died and new infections went down as people become more concerned and careful on the way they conduct their sexual lives. The best governance I would say, is where you have many infected people but being provided with Retro-viro drugs and care from their relatives and the government. Reduction of the infected population because of deaths is by no mean a good governance matter, it is a natural attrition. Thanks...Diallo

Anonymous said...

Virginity Becomes a Commodity In Uganda's War Against AIDS - Washington post

Quote
Critics say that the US is exporting an AIDS prevention policy that has
failed to work at home. Human Rights Watch says that 'numerous U.S.-funded
studies have shown these programs to be ineffective at changing young
people's sexual behaviors and to cause potential harm by discouraging the
use of contraception.'[7] They fear that if Uganda abandons the tested and
sound approach that worked for it in the past, the results could be
catastrophic.

Unquote. read more of the article

Uganda's war against condoms - Economists

Quote In a decade that saw the disease ravage Africa, Uganda has reduced its infection rate from 30 percent to 5 percent. Condom use and early sex education are heavily promoted. The Bush administration, on the other hand, has directed much of AIDS prevention money for Africa to groups stressing 'abstinence-only before marriage' messages. So when President Bush visits today, he will likely be pressed to reconsider his views.
Unquote
read more..

Diallo,

I will be happy reading the reports and analysis, based on what you are saying, but most of the reviews and reports, I have gone through over the years, they are actually talking about the reduction of infection and not the death persay, infected people must have sex at some stages in their life before they die, or would they be rendered impotence once infected., Aren't they ? But here is the point Yoweri Museveni, talked openly about the disease early on, while most of the African leaders were still feeling the STIGMA of talking about the disease all together, and thats why they become successfully on their own right.

and again, I am not arguing about the abstinence issue, I think it is good, but shouldn't be the only absolute priority on this case, is far too stretched, i.e. VIRGINS given scholarships, come on what about MEN virgin, how would they know that, and here comes my point, What I am saying is that, based on the subject discussed, the ideological views of the current administration in the US, is totally rounded around evangelical beliefs, in somehow their views in doctrine the policy making machine, so do the view of the leaders of Uganda, after being evangelically born again.... Therefore change and reverse of direction all together on war against AIDS, and thats worry everyone!

President George Bush Jr. and the Evangelical Right - Part 1 of 13

By Mchangiaji

Mpambika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mpambika said...

Time and time again since the beginning of time, religion has always demonstrated how easy it is to corrupt the human mind. It is amazing. I am not religious myself hence my comments are slightly biased (or unbiased). Notwithstanding, I look around the world and I see no place where religion can take credit for neither peace nor prosperity. It will be no different in Tanzania.

On the other hand, faith is sensitive. I am not sure if it is the responsibility of the Government to 'regulate' religion. It seems to me that if we had more counseling centers perhaps most would not run to churches etc seeking miraculous solutions. Medical community ought to recognize this opportunity.

My 2 cents.