By Victor Ochieng
Pope Francis is in Africa, where he arrived in Kenya before proceeding to Uganda. His message to African leaders was terse, stating that the leaders must do more to reduce inequality, injustice, and to fight “new colonialism.” The Pope was the first to talk firmly on these issues, which many agree are glaring issues. However, there are some points that he missed which should have been addressed.
Some of these are:
Apologize on behalf of Christianity – Looking back into history, Christianity has caused great pain to Africa and across the globe. There have been numerous atrocities committed in the name of Christianity, with many of them dating back centuries. Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, is also among those who’ve cause serious damage. This refers particularly to his suggestion that Catholicism had cleaned the indigenous people and condemning the rise in indigenous religions, terming it a step backward. History also tells us of the hand of Pope Nicholas V, who in 1452, made a move that paved way for slavery in West Africa. In fact, the Pope, working together with King Alfonso V of Portugal, authorized the reduction of “Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers.”
Shame European Powers, China and other countries that rape Africa – While addressing the leaders is very important, new colonial powers are equally a huge problem in Africa. Instead of working with African countries for the betterment of the world, they’ve only come to plunder with no regard for human life. France is one example of a country that’s using neo-colonialism to make African states slaves. A point to demonstrate this is the country’s demand that 14 African countries pay tax for perceived “benefits” derived from her during the colonial period. China is another country that has come to Africa to rip the continent off its resources. The country now has bigger presence in the continent than the U.S. The Asian nation has $200 billion in trade and $75 billion in investment. The country is exploiting resources, grabbing land and is set to open its first military base in the continent.
Offer to provide help and then shame corrupt African leaders – With such a huge following, the Pope should do more than just point fingers at African leaders. After making a pledge to help the continent with the Catholic’s enormous resources and by helping recover what has been amassed abroad by corrupt leaders, he could turn his focus on African leaders that ought to be kicked out. When Obama visited Kenya, he also warned leaders who promote ethnic divisions, corruption, and abuse of human rights. He termed corruption as “an anchor that weighs you down.”
The truth of the matter is that it’s useless to provide financial support to countries that are run by rogue leaders, whose only focus is amassing wealth. Moreover, expecting African countries to compete with colonialism at a time when neo-colonization is also stifling growth is demanding too much. A lot must be done, and as the leaders of the biggest church, the Pope should provide infrastructural assistance and systematic approaches to helping Africa.