Κυριακή, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Oppression in Africa: A classic intermesh

Women in Bukoba (Tanzania) with the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros (from here)

Pambazuka News
It is very true that decades of organising in Africa have assumed, quite wrongly, that social problems are discrete challenges only facing specific groups – and that they should be tackled as such.
With the proliferation of NGOs in post-independence Africa and subsequent NG-organising, there is a lack of acknowledgement of the interlocking nature of the factors and systems of oppression and how they continuously work together to produce domination, discrimination and marginalisation in this continent. Indeed as many commentators would agree, all of Africa’s so hyped ‘advancement’ has been founded on pyramids of oppression. In addition various forms of oppression overlap rather than ran parallel in the lives of affected people. Embedded in colonial histories and exacerbated by modern fundamentalist ideologies, the neo-liberal policies and processes in Africa have advanced further doom to already disenfranchised groups.
If one sampled any country in Africa, one would identify multiple local and national organising for change, resisting repression, fighting impunity or demanding transformation of the structures that discriminate. This is definitely a lot of traction and resources to ‘create’ a new order and better life for the citizens of Africa. But a critical question that must be raised is whether these efforts address the symptoms or the structural bases of the social problems they seek to resolve?
The answers to these queries can only be got if we are able to critically analyse the models that have attempted to resolve social problems in Africa. The ‘development’ approaches that have been fronted in the continent to resolve the social challenges have strengthened bureaucratic hierarchies either within governments or NGOs, systematically disempowered populations, strengthened elitist diagnosis of social issues and propagated other forms of oppression more than what they seek to eradicate. It is hard to forget the long-term effects of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) on this continent both socially and economically in the 1990s, which communities have to grapple with to date. 


But what do we mean by oppression in Africa? We can only understand what oppression is by putting a face to it, and more importantly, by removing the tint that has been placed on our eyes by the perpetrators of the oppression. A myriad of social problems chart our countries and continent, for example reproductive oppression, peasant farmers exploitation, farm workers’ unfair treatment, asset stripping of widows, destruction of the natural sacred sites by greedy encroachers and denial of rights to indigenous communities.
But how has oppression been manifested in these sites of struggle? The legacy of colonialism best depicts the different origins of the struggle to resist oppression in Africa. Colonialism (Clarke 1991) and neo-colonialism is a new form of slavery after the original slavery reached its saturation point. Its legacy and those of its concomitants such as racism, patriarchy, sexism or any other oppression has created huge inequality gaps between individuals in this continent, marginalisation and exclusion.
Yes oppression can be visible in certain obvious situations but in many more scenarios it isn’t. In Kenya, for example, a systematic and patriarchal structure in government planning has continuously wanted to control woman’s reproductive life as inspired by Malthusian constructs that believe that over-population has led to increased poverty levels. Women, especially those living in the economically disenfranchised communities, have continuously born multiple burdens of oppression starting from control and exploitation of their bodies through to attempts to conform their bodies to what are assumed to be natural, cultural and religious orders. Exploitation proceeds to control of women’s labour on what they should engage in to make livelihoods. The most affected in reproductive oppression are women, as health planning in most countries is removed from other social justice issues that affect women and their communities such as economic justice, environment degradation, refugees’ concerns, disability and discrimination based on ethnicity and sexual orientation and exclusion of women from decision making.
The reaction of civil society organisations to reproduction-related problems in communities has been to drive initiatives that narrow down advocacy for women’s reproductive rights without going further to confront the structures that produce reproduction oppression. This is such a limiting approach that ignores the intersection of these struggles.


African farmers especially those in government sanctioned irrigation schemes have had to shoulder the burden of poverty and exploitation on the altar of neoliberalism. The Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kenya, a smallholder rice production programme, has born the brunt of an inter-play of oppressive structures, legislation and system. Established in the 1950s by the British settler farmers with massive financial and political support from their government, the scheme has seen decades of peasant farmers’ economic exploitation in low produce prices and loss of farming autonomy. This imperialist structure then transformed to colonial rule exploiting African political detainees in the establishment of irrigation canal networks and rice production. An illegitimate legal regime was established to manage the conduct of the detainees. The independence government and other successive ones, which claimed to have gained power through popular support, have refused to scrap these punitive, colonial and out-dated laws. An uneven structure of global trade processes has not spared the farmers who now have to grapple with market liberalism that has led to cheap rice from all over the world adversely affecting Kenyan rice prices. So, how come these layers of oppressive systems and processes can consistently collude from generations to generations?
One cannot fail to trace the oppressive legacy of colonial occupation when analysing the situation of tea plantations in Kenya. The common assumption is that of worker exploitation in terms of poor pay and working conditions. But beneath these narratives are huge problems that came along with settler occupation. Massive fields were appropriated from native communities, which had strong spiritual, economic and social meanings. This displacement led to overpopulation and the current unresolved land disputes in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. Oppressive land legislation has failed to ensure restitution of land taken away by the colonialist. The current structure of labour management that is highly misogynist and capitalist has heavily borrowed from the way the colonialists treated the African worker, as thousands have worked as casuals for years and with no regard for their rights. The trade unions, which were bastions of worker organising, have been co-opted by governments that heavily support the exploitative corporations, which are British (colonial) owned. So, did the oppressive imperial colonial structure ever end with flag independence? 


Oppression must be dismantled. This is not an easy response. My argument as inspired by Paulo Frere’s (1994) beliefs in the ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ is love and dialogue. Organising to dismantle oppressive structures and frameworks has to be grounded in revolutionary love during our struggle. CSOs that claim to represent communities must be by guided this transformative spirit that is driven by love to transform the structure and one that doesn’t view issues as standing alone. Critical dialogues on the historical, political, economic and social contradictions, which form the impetus of oppression and status quo must be entertained in all our organising.
This is not a project-based apolitical work by NGOs; it is a lifelong emancipatory war or work that seeks to question the assumptions underlying rules and systems that propagate oppression. We must wake up as organisers to the fact that we cant homogenise communities. It is an acknowledgement that certain oppressive systems can also privilege certain people. This intermesh of oppression in Africa is strong and needs multi-issues- organising strategies to replace it. It is a matter of system change, not reform! Because it doesn’t work for you! 

* George Mwai co-educates with social movements and collectives affiliated with Fahamu Africa. 

Please, see:

The Worst Place to Be a Woman!...

Τετάρτη, 19 Οκτωβρίου 2016

The Holy Baptism and its effect on people who come to join the Orthodox Christian Church...

"Who is so great a god as our God?"
† PANTELEIMON of Brazzaville and Gabon

Before the beginning of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, that is to say, the integration of the new Church member into Her bosom, comes the service of catechesis with the reading of exorcisms, the renunciation and condemnation of Satan from the catechumen and the acceptance and confession of our Lord Jesus Christ as the One and Only God. Even from the early Christian years, as we can see in texts of the Holy Fathers, the catechumen had to leave behind his old erratic religion and renounce Satan consciously so that he could proceed to the Sacrament of Holy Baptism in Spirit and Truth.
Personally speaking, I had to come to the African equator, a place not purely Christian, in order to see things “in practice”. I had to go to places which either had never heard of Christ before, or if they had, they had heard, seen and lived everything through the prism of heresies and the schism. Now that the Church bells ring the Orthodox way, they give a warm and joyful welcome to the blessed Gospel seeds in this land, announcing the way that leads to Unity, the way that leads to the Truth of the One, Holy and Undivided Trinity.

Those who are out of Church belong to themselves. Those who are conscious members of Hers, belong to Christ. The Fathers say that the one who is in despair is under the power of Satan. So is the person who denies Christ and is not in communion with Him and His Holy Church except with himself. Here in Africa, those who cooperate with Satan through the relevant occult rituals, always move around their “ego”, always have speculations and ulterior motives, they only care about their own interest and always seek something for themselves whether that be wealth, social status or prestige, or whether they are driven by envy, jealousy or hatred for the other, his life or his progress. It is not accidental the fact that the sorcerers enjoy a lot of recognition in such societies, a recognition which has its roots in the inmost fear for the “powerful spirit” which only inflicts harm, even to those who are empowered to invoke it and are in virtual communion with it!

Orthodox Holy Liturgy in Mpaka, Pointe-Noire (from here)

Our brothers who come to Holy Baptism more or less know all these things that I mentioned before. They are well aware of the need for supremacy, the meaning of isolation or stepping on one another, or even cooperating with the devil. And this is so because a number of them, if not the majority, have had this sort of experiences without ever finding joy, hope or serenity in their life, as they themselves admit.  Therefore, the renunciation of Satan before Baptism becomes a decisive act for the life of the African catechumen which will be sealed in Christ with the Grace of the Most Holy Spirit during the baptismal service. As workers of the Lord who conduct the sacred mystery of Baptism in Africa, each one of us has had experiences to remember of demons trembling at the sign of the Cross! All of us have had experiences of newly-illumined brothers, who at the sight of the sanctified water of Baptism changed their behavior and were turned into wild animals only to calm down later on when immersing into the same sanctified water that a while ago made the demons tremble with fear.

I had such an experience myself a short time ago with a young woman who had had a smiling face until the part of catechesis was over but who started feeling uncomfortable from then on. And this turned into body convulsions, inarticulate screams and a fall to the ground at the sight of the sanctified water, before the triple immersion. Invoking wholeheartedly our Benevolent God and begging for His mercy and power, I insisted on the poor woman’s entering the holy baptistery. 
 “The servant of God … is baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. And it was then that the convulsions stopped and serenity returned to her face! When at the end of the holy mystery I asked that educated noblewoman to testify before everyone present what she had experienced a few minutes before, she boldly said that she had felt losing herself into utter darkness before immersing into the holy water, whereas when immersed into it, she felt “redemption from invisible ties”, as she mentioned word for word.
Satan rests where Christ is forgotten, where love is left aside. The societies that are ministered to by humble missionary laborers of the Gospel of Christ have had thousands of victims over the centuries, such as victims of witchcraft and sorcery, superstition, slavery, ignorance, illiteracy, war, the western civilization…In every case the victims suffered from those powers which are against anything God-driven, blessed or creative, anything that promotes spiritual development.  And it is indeed a miracle of the Triune God the sowing of the Word in a land barren of love over the centuries, a true love, which springs from the empty Holy Sepulcher of the Resurrected Jesus.
Lifting up my eyes to the Crucifix, the One who stretched out His holy arms on the Tree of Life and joined the unreconciled things of this world bringing unity, I pray that He leads our brothers of this ecclesiastical province into the common doxology of our Church “with one mouth and one heart”, so that joined in one faith and in true love with all the Orthodox Christians all over the world, they magnify His Most Holy Name and live within the everlasting Light of His Grace.

Please, see also

Orthodox Republic of Congo (tag)
Witchcraft (tag) 

Δευτέρα, 17 Οκτωβρίου 2016

The Patriarch of Alexandria & all-Africa in Mwanza, Tanzania: One journey has ended, one hope has risen!...

On 14th October, the seventh and final day of his journey to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, the Alexandrian Primate Theodoros II, had the joy of meeting with the clergy of the Holy Metropolis at a ...

Continuing the sixth day of his journey to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, on 13th October His Beatitude, accompanied by local Metropolitan Ieronymos, went to the city of RUBALE – KAGERA to ...

During his Pastoral visit to Tanzania, particularly to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, received a very pleasant ...

On 11th October, fourth day of the Pastoral visit by the Alexandrian Primate to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, His Beatitude, accompanied by local Metropolitan Ieronymos and the Greek Parliamentarian ...



On the 10th October 2016, the third day of the Pastoral visit by the Alexandrian Primate to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza,His Beatitude, accompanied by the local Metropolitan Ieronymos and the Greek ...

Please, see also:

Σάββατο, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2016

A Story to Make Your Day...

by Sara Staff (Posted 9/30/2016)

Earlier this year, His Grace Bishop Neofitos of Nyeri and Mount Kenya visited St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia. He had the opportunity to speak with the youth at St. Katherine’s about children in Kenya. He explained that many are very poor and do not even have shoes or a bed.
After hearing this story, Lena, age 5, and Mia, age 4, were inspired to raise money for this initiative. They decided to open a lemonade stand and donate all of the funds. They told everyone who came to the lemonade stand all about the children in Kenya and were able to raise $52.00!
What a sweet story about how the work of missions can be accomplished by anyone, even the smallest of God’s children. Thank you, Lena and Mia, for your service for missions, and thank you for sharing your story with OCMC!
May it remind us all to have a heart for missions and for the work of the Church.

Bishop Neofitos
See also 

Kanisa la Orthodox nchini Kenya, Kanisa ya kale ya Yesu Kristo
An Orthodox Christian parish in Turkana desert
Orthodox Christian dialogue with Banyore culture
Hope for the Kikuyu (Kenya) / "The caves along the Tana River became the refuge for freedom fighters..."

Orthodox Kenya (tag) 
African Orthodox Church of Kenya / Facebook

Πέμπτη, 13 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Evêques africains de l'Eglise orthodoxe

L'évêque de Neilopolis Christopher ainsi que d'autres grands missionnaires orthodoxes en Afrique sub-saharienne. Leurs noms ici.

En Afrique, il y a beaucoup de groupes chrétiens qui se disent "Eglises orthodoxes". La plupart sont âgés de quelques années ou quelques décennies. Mais, il a seulement une, véritable Eglise orthodoxe qui a été fondée par Jésus-Christ. C`est l'Eglise du Patriarcat d'Alexandrie, qui existe depuis 2000 ans sans interruption. Tous les anciens saints et martyrs chrétiens africains appartiennent à cette Eglise.
Certains chrétiens des africains "Eglises orthodoxes" la découvrent et se lient à elle, comme cela est arrivé en Ouganda, au Ghana et en Afrique du Sud.
Ici, nous allons parler de quelques évêques africains contemporains de l'Eglise orthodoxe du Patriarcat d'Alexandrie.
Voir plus ici et (en anglais) ici:

Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
Natives Africans bishops in the Orthodox Church


L'évêque de Neilopolis Christopher (Spartas Mukasa Reuben), le premier chrétien orthodoxe, chercheur de la vérité du Christ et grand missionnaire en Ouganda. Il a été emprisonné par le régime colonial en raison de la lutte pour le peuple de son pays natal.


L'évêque de l'Ouganda Theodore (Nankyama). Photo d'ici.

L'évêque de l'Ouganda Theodore (Nankyama), au numéro 6, avec quelques-uns des premiers chrétiens orthodoxes de l'Ouganda. Photographie et leurs noms ici.


George (Gathuna), du Kenya, évêque de Nitrie. Il a été emprisonné pendant 10 ans par le régime colonial au Kenya en raison de la son lutte pour l'indépendance de son pays. Voir plus ici.


Le archevêque Jonah (Lwanga) de l'Ouganda. Voir plus ici: The Orthodox Church in Uganda, an outgrowth of indigenous self discovery.


Le Métropolite de Mwanza (Tanzanie) Jerome. Orthodoxes chrétiens Mariages en Tanzanie.
Photo d'ici. Voir plus ici.

 Le Métropolite de Mwanza Jerome.



L'évêque Innocentios du Burundi et Rwanda. Photo d'ici et ici.


 L'évêque de la Nyeri et de l'Est de la Kenya Neophytos Kongai. Photo d'ici: How “White” is the Orthodox Church?.

L'évêque Neophytos. Photo d'ici.

L'évêque de Kisumu et de l'Ouest du Kenya Athanasius Akunda. La photo à partir d'ici.

L'évêque Athanasius. Photo d'ici.

Voir aussi: Eglise orthodoxe au Kenya: «Le message de l’orthodoxie est intemporel et dépasse les tribus et les langues»


Voir aussi: Métropolitain Narcissus du Ghana. Originaire de Jordanie. Photo d'ici (Soudan).

Voir aussi

Gregorios, Métropolite du Cameroun: «Dans deux ou trois siècles, le foi orthodoxe en Afrique aura sûrement sa propre identité», «Les tribus locales ont constaté que nous n’étions pas simplement une Église de colons»
Église orthodoxe et la culture africaine: belle vidéo du Cameroun
Eglise Orthodoxe
Église orthodoxe en Afrique

Héritage orthodoxe
Église orthodoxe Pères, la richesse et le capitalisme

Τετάρτη, 12 Οκτωβρίου 2016

A girl who was tortured for three months!

Holy Neomartyr Chryse as a Model for our Lives 

Holy New Martyr Chryse (Feast Day - October 13)
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

One of the brightest pages in the golden book of Martyrs was written by the Neomartyrs, who were martyred during the dark period of Ottoman rule, which they illuminated and brightened with the confession of their faith and their blood.

In the pages of the New Martyrology authored by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite we are presented with numerous Neomartyrs. Among them a prominent position is given to a young daughter from the area of central Macedonia, namely the village Chryse which is in the province of Almopia of the prefecture of Pella, whose name was Chryse. She was truly Golden (Chryse) in both her name and deeds. She was tested as "gold in a furnace" and found to be with faith that was twenty-four carat gold. Bathed in her martyric blood, she was cleansed and brightened to be accepted by the Giver of heavenly goods as a "whole burnt offering".

Her exterior life was simple, and she was also simple in her behavior and ways. She was a villager of little education, but wise according to God with a living faith, inner purity and amazing stability. Born to poor parents, they were honorable strugglers of life, and she was a hard worker together with her three sisters. Chryse was very beautiful on the outside, which at that time was an unfortunate thing for the enslaved Greeks, because beautiful girls were captured by the Agas for their harems, or they were pressured to change their faith to Islam to marry them. The latter happened to Saint Chryse. While gathering firewood on the mountain with her fellow villagers, a Turk was dazzled by her beauty. He captured her and then tried in every which way to convince her to change her faith and marry him. 
Seeing that it was unlikely he would achieve his purpose, he sent some trusted Turkish women to speak with her, since women know how to talk better to one another, in the hopes that they could change her mind. When he failed to change her mind in this manner, he was forced to threaten her parents and sisters to visit her and persuade her. With tears and lamentations they urged her to change her faith externally to save herself, while internally she could continue to remain a Christian. But the great soul of Chryse responded: "I have my Lord Jesus Christ as my father, the Lady Theotokos as my mother, and the Saints of our Church as my brothers and sisters", and then she sent them away. Before the stability of Chryse the Turks responded with horrible tortures. Finally on 13 October 1795, they cut her body into pieces with a knife and in this way the most worthy one received the crown of martyrdom from the Bridegroom Christ.

Perhaps her spiritual ripeness, wisdom, firm commitment to the faith of her Fathers and her refusal to marry someone of another faith, as well as her behavior towards her parents, which, as we shall see below, the great Hagiorite Saint Nikodemos comments on and praises, makes an impression. Let us analyze, then, these two things.

First, she refused to marry someone of another faith, when he asked of her to deny her faith and traditions with which she was nurtured and was raised. She was not enticed with riches and indulgence, nor daunted by intimidation, threats and inhuman torture. She was a young girl with a future and dreams in life. When forced to betray any honor she had, her holy faith, the living tradition, even her very life, she prefered martyrdom. It was impossible for her to live as if dead, which is why she died that she may live. This is because life is not a biological existence, but communion with the Creator and the Source of life, the Triune God. Whoever has come to know God within the limits of their personal life and tasted life-creating divine Grace, counts death as nothing. They consider death to be their separation from God. When the Grace of God encompasses the soul and body, then a person will not deny their faith for any reason and considers martyrdom as a God-sent gift. When, however, the soul has not tasted Grace, this "living water", then they are dominated by the passions and an evil spirit, which through the passions dominate the will of man. The greatest passions are those of sensuality, avarice and ambition, and on their altar are sacrificed, many times without even the slightest hesitation, every sacred and holy thing.

Second, the response she gave to her parents and siblings match the words of Christ, when He spoke of His mother and siblings, saying: "My friends and siblings are those who do the will of My heavenly Father." Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, commenting on the action of the martyr to dismiss her parents and siblings, as well as her wise words, says: "Bravo to her brave great soul! Bravo to her true love for God! Bravo to her wise intellect, which is worthy of heavenly praise! In truth, brethren, what the divine David said was fulfilled in this Saint: 'Father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord has received me' (Ps. 26:10), and that which the Lord said: "Think not that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword: to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and ones enemies will be found in their own household" (Matt. 10:34).

The inner freedom, stability in faith, and selfless and valiant spirit of the Virgin-Martyr in the evil days such as we are living in, in which hypocrisy, selfishness, fickleness, and spiritual enslavement to the dictatorship of the passions reigns, is for all of us a bright beacon and shining example for imitation.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Η ΝΕΟΜΑΡΤΥΣ ΧΡΥΣΗ", October 1999. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Women Saints Who Suffered Under Islam
Apostle Paul, the Christian equivalent to Mohammed
The Penalties for Apostasy in Islam  
Traditionalist View on Sex Slavery in Islam   

Early Muslim conquests & Rashidun Caliphate
About slavery in Mauritania today
The Orthodox Christian sentiment regarding the persecutions of Christians by Islamists
From Islam to Christianity: To our brethren who converted from Islam to Protestantism or Roman Catholicism
From Islam to Christianity: Saints in the Way to the Lihgt