#Article (Archive)


Jan 5, 2009, 8:34 AM

Dear Reader,


We are again on the threshold of another year. We are again hoping and praying for a year that is the best yet!


As we move into a New Year we naturally look back to what we are leaving behind - what the old year has left us with. I think, wherever we were during the latter part of last year, we cannot fail to have been aware of the global economic crisis that touched the lives of most people in one way or another. So many people have been caused to suffer due to lack of basic needs of life. The events of the past months brought home to us the deep flaws in our economic systems, which were already holding an unacceptable number of people in dire poverty. In Africa, we are no strangers to poverty.


We have long recognised an unjust global economic system. The "economy" that we talk of refers to the management and condition of the resources of a community. This can relate to "community" at global, national, local or even family level. How do we manage our resources? How do our actions impact on other people? What can we learn from the global economic crisis?


It does not even take an in-depth study of our world to realise that it is fundamentally rich in resources. Africa is a prime example of this richness. However, despite this global wealth, more than half the population of the world lives in poverty. Why? In Africa - why are the majority of Africa's people bound in a life of poverty, even though our continent has abundant natural resources?


There is a great injustice in a system where some are so wealthy, and many very poor.

Whenever we want to look at, and try to understand a little more about, our lives and situation, a good and right place to start is with God. God is our creator, and creator of the entire natural world. God is the beacon of light and truth to which we continually need to turn.


As human beings, we are all made in the image of God. God's gift to us is LIFE. As a people of God, we share life as a gift from God. 'Community' is 'life' in relationship. As Africans, our culture understands this. The South African concept of 'ubuntu' says, "I am because we are, and we are because I am". This tells us how the identity of an individual is inseparable from that of the wider community; or even inseparable from the environment in which we live. As we have needs and rights in our community, we also have a responsibility of care for the wellbeing of our neighbour and the environment. We are all stewards of God's creation.


Globally, the market has become a place of competition where a few get rich, but many cannot compete and are impoverished. Whereas, the traditional African concept of the market is that of human contact, mutual exchange and support. At the market place folk connect and re-connect with others in the community and beyond the village. In this context, the market is a place of LIFE - a place of personal relationships and formation in the community. Sadly, we are losing this tradition in many ways. It may still be seen in rural areas, but more and more we are seeing an exploitative nature to the market, where the elite profit and the majority are excluded from the profit.


Our daily personal and local way of life is challenged by what we see happening globally. In Africa we traditionally have a way of living 'community' that could be an example to the world. Sadly, some of our good traditions are being challenged and are diminishing within Africa. Why can we not hold on to them for ourselves, and also as an example to other cultures?


It may sound like a stretch of the imagination to believe that, as individuals, we can make a better world. However, each one of us can make a difference. It all starts at local level, and in our own lives. As a good guide - we can start with God's gift of life to us. 


Can we live our lives in a way that gives life? That is a way of life that is life-giving - not death dealing. Reciprocity gives life. Justice and peace give life. Mercy gives life. Generosity gives life. In these instances, life is received by both giver and receiver. However, greed, injustice, selfishness and conflict all take life away from all concerned.


It can start at family level: how we treat family members; how we want the best for them. At local community level, can we seek wellbeing at all levels from childhood to old age. This is how our world can be changed.


When we talk of 'economy', we refer to the use and management of resources. All well and good. In addition, I believe we should focus on 'ecology'. This is our relationship to, and our place in, our environment. We are interdependent - with each other and with our environment. If we care for our environment - the environment will support us.


We may feel we strive against the odds. Let us not give in or give up - let us continue to try. God's great gift of life is sacred. Let us treat it as such, and pray others will do so also. God will notice and honour our efforts - as long as we seek God's will, in all we do and in all we are. God will support us on our journeys.

I pray that God in Christ will bless and guide our lives in the way of LIFE, now and throughout the coming year.


On behalf of the people called Anglicans on the Cape VerdeIslands, in Senegal and The Gambia I wish you all a blessed New Year.


Your friend and bishop,