On my way to Nigeria
Believe it or not but on Sunday night, 21 March 2010, I am bound for Nigeria. To travel from Cape Town to Lagos will take nearly as long as to London and will cost as much.
It is with some apprehension that such a journey is undertaken and that for three reasons. First of all there is an ongoing conflict between Christians and Muslims in the north or rather at the fault line in mid-north at Jos. In the last couple of weeks more than 500 Christians have been killed. Earlier in this ongoing vendetta, Muslims were killed.
Secondly, less than two weeks ago a South African TV journalist was kidnapped and only released after having paid a considerable ransom.
Thirdly, the church, especially the Anglican province in Nigeria, is known for its very hostile stance against homosexuals, but this is not unique for Nigeria. Many other African states and churches have the same sentiments (Uganda for example).
And yet, I am genuinely looking forward to making this trip. Deep down in my heart I am convinced that things of great stature and grace are waiting for me there. It is a big nation that one day will be a great nation. Skills are overflowing. People are expressing themselves. You have the Nobel Peace Laureate in Literature Wole Soyinka and the late human right activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who literally gave his life in the struggle against unjust oil interests.
In the churches there are signs of vibrant theology. The Roman Catholic Church, which has invited me, seems progressive in different ways. They will have a conference on the appropriate theme: Theological Education for Human Development and Nation Building in Africa. It will be hosted by CIWA, Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt 22 – 26 March. I am invited to present a paper on Afrikaner Nationalism and Black Consciousness in South Africa.
I also hope to be able to discuss how to engage more theologians for research on the theme “Ecclesiology in Africa”. Africa is perhaps the sleeping giant that one day will come into her own and a big part of the secret behind this continent may be concealed just in Nigeria.