The impact of Christianity on Africa has lasted for almost the whole Christian era. Although Christianity had the benefit of entering Africa at least five centuries before Islam, it has significantly trailed behind in terms of expansion over the last 12 centuries. Both religions have grown at the expense of African tribal religions, but Christianity has historically lost far more people to Islam than Islam has to Christianity. In fact, its impact can only be truly evaluated in the perspective of their influence upon the cultural, political as well as upon the religious spheres of life in this continent.
Expansion of Abrahamic Religion
Over time, Christianity became well established within the borders of Africa and expanded beyond these borders, particularly along the Nile into the north-eastern part of the continent. Many dioceses were established in North Africa especially in Egypt and along the Nile. Apart from the expansion of Christianity in Africa, there was the expansion’ of Egyptian monasticism from this continent into Asia Minor, Arabia, and Europe.
However, post the Islamic forces invasion in the seventh century especially in North Africa, the Christian dominance has been erased from North Africa. Furthermore, since its invasion, Islamic conversions are on the rise in Africa and has been coupled with the spread of Jihadism in the resource-rich continent.
Despite sharing the same theological outlook, African Christians are unfortunately isolated by their Western counterparts, who rather than uplifting the Christian population have sown the seeds of violence, poverty, and dictatorship, persistent till date. Furthermore, Western countries continue to have a paternalistic attitude toward Africa, refusing to accept their Christian African brothers and sisters as equals.
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Pope slams the West
Pope Francis’ trip to the DRC is the first visit by a pope since John Paul II travelled in 1985, when the country was known as Zaire. Additionally, DRC is the second- largest country in Africa and has a population of some 90 million people. Interestingly, the Church runs 40 percent of the country’s health facilities and about six million children are enrolled in Catholic.
During his visit Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, recently criticized the West and stated to keep their “HANDS OFF” from the African continent. Additionally, the Pope heard dismaying accounts from victims of conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, including rape, amputation, forced cannibalism and sexual slavery, and he condemned the atrocities as war crimes. Similarly, the Pope responded to these stories with an emotional speech calling for an end to violence and resignation. Precisely said. “Your tears are my tears. Your pain is my pain. To every family that grieves or is displaced by the burning of villages and other war crimes; to the survivors of sexual violence and to every injured child and adult, I say: I am with you.
Considering the scenario, the recent visit of the Pope should be viewed through a broader theological lens, and the appeal by the head of the Catholic Church to “rescue” African nations is also intended to not fall on deaf ears in an otherwise deafening decade of Western Powers. Likewise, it indicates that Pope’s visit to Congo and South Sudan indicates an attempt by the Church to promote Christian unity among the African and Western Christians. This, in turn, also acts as a euphemism for all colonial powers to shed their colonial lens and treat Africans on same footing.
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