Electric shock for African Christianity

July 17, 2007 at 9:53 am 5 comments

*This article first appeard in the Nairobi Star on July 14th, 2007.


An interesting story came off the wires in Kampala the other day.

Kojo Nana Obiri-Yeboah, a Ghanaian preacher, had been nabbed for the most unseemly crime a man of the cloth could have been known for.

The good old Beeb told us that “he tried to import an electric shock machine to make people believe he could pass on the Holy Spirit.”

Ever faithful Reuters quoted an online magic shop selling the device as saying:  “With a simple touch, make a fluorescent bulb glow on and off at your command, make confetti move, charge a spoon and watch as it shocks a volunteer!”

Reports indicate Ugandan security services are looking into the matter, with a long-term view of regulating religion in the Pearl of Africa. 

Similar talk is rife in neighboring Kenya where concerns over charismatic Christianity more than bothers some religious and political leaders.

It gets even funnier in the reportedly 85% Christian East African nation – Mary Akatsa, a self-proclaimed prophetess from Nairobi’s environs, reportedly once claimed she had talked to God and now had Christ enclosed in some cupboard at her abode in Kawangware, a rather shanty side of the capitol. 

A BBC report three months ago indicated that there has been a massive influx of Nigerian, Pentecostal preachers into neighboring Cameroon.

“Some of these churches attract so many people because they promise some many things,” a one-time adherent was quoted as saying.

“One is healing. Another is providing riches to so many people – especially in Cameroon, where very many people live in poverty and are affected by disease – when they hear such messages, they decide to go there.

“But when they reach those places and don’t find a solution to those problems, they leave.”

A scholar of religion was quoted as saying:  “There are also limited leadership opportunities in Nigeria now, so many Nigerians see neighbouring countries as a possible place to start churches – and thereby make an income as well.”

Everywhere in Africa you turn today, you are bound to encounter the most interesting understandings and celebrations of the Christian faith, much of which borders on the heretical. 

Everywhere you turn you will find an African praising and worshipping hard, punctuating the next sentence with “praise the Lord” and a fairly long testimony. 

Their dances to celebrate God’s goodness can only be rivaled by its opposite in African dancehalls, – the romancing gyrating of hips that has every well-moneyed Westerner gracing African tourist resorts like nowhere else. 

Undress such “active” Christians and you will more than likely find a charm or amulet someplace, guarding against some calamity or warding off some demons.

The same fellow will seek wisdom in African metaphysics – an euphemism for witchcraft – in the very likely event that he or she gets into some trouble.

What are God’s people in Africa to do when they suffer, as they quite honestly do? 

How best to find one’s way through this maze in a century that has largely been christened as “the African century?”

How best to experience genuine spiritual renewal, revival and growth to authenticate the thesis that Christianity is truly moving into the Global South, the supposed fulcrum of the faith this century?

How best to dispel the thinking that African Christianity is miles wide but only inches deep?

They say theology develops in context – sourced out of Church traditions, personal reflections and, importantly, the canonical Scriptures.

It would seem inappropriate that, these many years after the indigenization of the Church in Africa, we still have to seek to develop reflections and theologies around some of these issues. 

Yet nothing, perhaps apart from teaching and discipleship, could be more urgent and pressing.

And there is yet another reason we should take this challenge seriously – the crucial place of women in missions in a globalized context.

Walk into any of the congregations in question and you will find that women constitute, on average, more than half of the entire population.

The battle is even more intense outside Christianity where various competing faiths and value systems seek to win the fairer sex over; – their vulnerability or lack of it is now more than an academic item for intellectual leisure.

In the final analysis, the one question we must respond to in light of the Kampala incident is: Whither African Christianity?

Jesus, in the Gospels, confronts us with a command to do just that by going into the whole world and preach his Good News, and his is not merely another request, suggestion or recommendation: It is a command. 

For more information on my campaign, click here. 

Entry filed under: 2007 General Elections in Kenya, Africa, Crime, Culture, Economics, HIV / Aids, Humour, Jesse Masai, Kenya, Literature, Media, Middle East, Missions, Persecution & Martyrs, Personals, Politics, Prophecy, Religion, Science, Society, Sports, World, World Cup.

Why I am defecting to Labour Second Chance

5 Comments Add your own

  • […] walk away, my journalist friend in Nairobi texts to say: “The article is wel covered, titled Electric shock 4 african xtianity. Its on page 10 (comment pg). They r askin pple 2send opinion on whether u r right. Its […]

  • […] Here is a link to the commentary I wrote for the Nairobi Star. […]

  • 3. mmnjug  |  July 17, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    That Pastor had really lost his mind. What i must say is that it was pure ingenuity on his part. But also. that was taking a joke too far. What i really find strange is that the followers will not accept that, they will in-turn defend him and claim that everyone else apart from them is insane and with the devil. It will be a classical case of ‘us against them.’

    Its quite a shame, but the million dollar question now is, how many more out there are carrying the same gadgets?

    click to http://assidous.blogspot.com

  • 4. jamiiyakenya@blogspot.com  |  July 20, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007
    Tremors in Kenya———-Repent
    Panic has hit several parts of Nairobi and its environs as a result of mild tremors. Its sad that tremors and earthquakes get people unaware and nothing can be done to stop them. It is also said that no one can predict an earthquake, but I have doubt about this when it comes to prophesy.

    Remember Dr. David Owuor a scientist turned prophet and televangelist. He featured in the media worldwide for predicting disasters. He predicted the Asian Tsunami, America’s Hurricane Katrina and Pakistan’s earthquake. In February he predicted that earthquake will hit Nairobi unless the country repents.

    Could this be the beginning of that prophecy? If that is the case we should pray and repent our sins to avert a bigger calamity.

    The government is now busy telling people to ignore prophecy (saying no one can predict earthquakes), while if the tremors were to repeat in violent frequencies they would be the first ones to call for National prayers after the damage is done.

    I think the best thing is that we just repent of our sins whether Dr. Owuor was right or not furthermore we are not repenting to him but to God. If we repent and the tremors don’t reoccur, what do we lose? Nothing. But when we fail to repent and the tremor increase we lose property and lives.

    Repent Kenyans .

    May God help us.
    Posted by jamiiyakenya@blogspot.com at 2:40 PM

  • 5. Ciru  |  July 20, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    Hi,its Friday the 20th of July 2007,a member of our bookclub forwarded this link.We’ve had 6 tremors as reported in the media.While I have not read all the entries,I just thought to post this fact.No earthquake yet,not sure there’s repentance either.Personally,I find that honesty is hard to come by:sadly even amongst us as believers.That for me is reason to repent.Truth telling is important.Lets each look inward first and use the Lord’s scale.God’s word the Holy Bible is clear.Our God of love is also our God of Justice.


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