The Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) is participating in a continent-wide commemoration of the Africans Rising theme on the 25th May 2017. The African Union has declared 25 May the Africa Day, mainly to reflect on the meaning of liberation from colonialism.
OAIC as a Christian network of indigenous churches across Africa is, therefore, urging the member churches to rethink the theme of liberation almost 60 years down the line since the then Gold Coast, Ghana today, became the first African nation to attain independence. To help member churches reflect on what “Rising” means, OAIC encourages the infusion of liberation theology in the sermons that kicked off on Sunday 21 May through to 28 May. Churches are free to use the theme in their services beyond the month of May.
The story of the Israelites and their bondage in Egypt, chronicled in the book of Exodus, which had a happy ending with Moses sent to free them from Emperor Pharaoh is the focal text to resonate with the chosen theme for this year. It is markedly documented in historical archives that founders of the African indigenous churches bore the brunt of the colonial masters much like the children of Israel endured suffering under Pharaoh. The persistent resentment and opposition to colonial mission churches to superimpose the observance of the deity from a European cultural point of view resulted in sacrifices where countless of them were maimed, others jailed indefinitely and yet many were brutally killed.
These were the Moses of the 20th century as they endured the hardship to free and liberate future generations of Africa.
“These ancestors refused to embrace mission churches’ style in the worship of God. They refused cultural domination, they refused economic domination and they refused political domination. They insisted on beating the drums and blowing horns and other musical instruments they designed as part of their worship services. This resistance and steadfastness by our ancestors birthed what we in our present generation celebrate as the AICs across the continent and in the diaspora,” the Rev Nicta Lubaale, General Secretary of OAIC explains.
Today, the OAIC is a part of the global ecumenical communion that fosters justice, dignity, peace and liberty for world peoples, regardless of the circumstances they were born into. As a member of the religious forum promoting the rights of citizens, the OAIC has continued to advocate for people-centred development that includes availing basic necessities such as potable water, electricity, education for children as well as health services for expectant mothers to deliver lives with as few problems as possible.
“We are no longer living under colonialism like 100 years ago. African Liberation Day, therefore, is significant for the OAIC mainly to gauge how far we have come as a continent endowed with unlimited resources, including its own people. As the OAIC, we encourage our member churches to deeply reflect on whether we are exploiting to our advantage, the abundant resources within our own space. We cannot remain poor and hungry in the midst of plentiful resources, that means we are not doing something right and we need to turn the tide around,” Rev Lubaale emphasized.
He said the meaning of liberation and independence would carry weight once Africa learns to create an environment in which the citizenry is actively participating in the economic, political and religious agenda that support development for every single person.
“For once, we wish our churches to reflect on what we are doing as individuals and as a collective to ride on the possibilities at our disposal. Yes, it is possible to have an Africa that is free from conflict, it is possible to have an Africa that has no hunger, it is possible to have an Africa that provides world-class health services to its expectant mothers to reduce infant mortality rate. These are the possibilities at our disposal, and we are encouraging our member churches to use the commemorations of Africans Rising as an impetus to align with what God intended for us as his own creation. For sure we are placed on earth to flourish and thrive not to wither and become stunted,” he elaborated.