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Africa in Crisis- The Merged Superthread

Edward Campbell

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I think that this, by Celestine Wamiru, Chief Editorial Cartoonist at The People newspaper in Kenya, just about captures Africa's relations with the USA vs China, even as President Obama visits ...

         
CLAnwlGWUAARaOm.png:large

 

Edward Campbell

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This chart, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from The Economist might not spell crisis but
it may bring on that old Chinese curse about living in "interesting times:"

         
20150808_woc916_1.png
 

Edward Campbell

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The long term growth projections (just above) mean that Africa needs money for development. Experience has taught Western banks and investors that Africa is 99% risk and 1% return ~ a deadly mix of corruption (which is far worse than China's, I have been told by people I trust) and political/bureaucratic ineptitude are the problem. But Nobel laureate Joseph E Stiglitz (who some will scorn, incorrectly,* as a left winger) disagrees in this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from Project Syndicate:

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-international-development-finance-by-joseph-e--stiglitz-2015-08
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America in the Way

Joseph E Stiglitz

Aug 6, 2015


NEW YORK – The Third International Conference on Financing for Development recently convened in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The conference came at a time when developing countries and emerging markets have demonstrated their ability to absorb huge amounts of money productively. Indeed, the tasks that these countries are undertaking – investing in infrastructure (roads, electricity, ports, and much else), building cities that will one day be home to billions, and moving toward a green economy – are truly enormous.

At the same time, there is no shortage of money waiting to be put to productive use. Just a few years ago, Ben Bernanke, then the chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board, talked about a global savings glut.
And yet investment projects with high social returns were being starved of funds. That remains true today. The problem, then as now, is that the world’s financial markets, meant to intermediate efficiently between savings and investment opportunities, instead misallocate capital and create risk.

There is another irony. Most of the investment projects that the emerging world needs are long term, as are much of the available savings – the trillions in retirement accounts, pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds. But our increasingly shortsighted financial markets stand between the two.

Much has changed in the 13 years since the first International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002. Back then, the G-7 dominated global economic policymaking; today, China is the world’s largest economy (in purchasing-power-parity terms), with savings some 50% larger than that of the US. In 2002, Western financial institutions were thought to be wizards at managing risk and allocating capital; today, we see that they are wizards at market manipulation and other deceptive practices.

Gone are the calls for the developed countries to live up to their commitment to give at least 0.7% of their GNI in development aid. A few northern European countries – Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and, most surprisingly, the United Kingdom – in the midst of its self-inflicted austerity – fulfilled their pledges in 2014. But the United States (which gave 0.19% of GNI in 2014) lags far, far behind.

Today, developing countries and emerging markets say to the US and others: If you will not live up to your promises, at least get out of the way and let us create an international architecture for a global economy that works for the poor, too. Not surprisingly, the existing hegemons, led by the US, are doing whatever they can to thwart such efforts. When China proposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to help recycle some of the surfeit of global savings to where financing is badly needed, the US sought to torpedo the effort. President Barack Obama’s administration suffered a stinging (and highly embarrassing) defeat.

The US is also blocking the world’s path toward an international rule of law for debt and finance. If bond markets, for example, are to work well, an orderly way of resolving cases of sovereign insolvency must be found. But today, there is no such way. Ukraine, Greece, and Argentina are all examples of the failure of existing international arrangements. The vast majority of countries have called for the creation of a framework for sovereign-debt restructuring. The US remains the major obstacle.

Private investment is important, too. But the new investment provisions embedded in the trade agreements that the Obama administration is negotiating across both oceans imply that accompanying any such foreign direct investment comes a marked reduction in governments’ abilities to regulate the environment, health, working conditions, and even the economy.

The US stance concerning the most disputed part of the Addis Ababa conference was particularly disappointing. As developing countries and emerging markets open themselves to multinationals, it becomes increasingly important that they can tax these behemoths on the profits generated by the business that occurs within their borders. Apple, Google, and General Electric have demonstrated a genius for avoiding taxes that exceeds what they employed in creating innovative products.

All countries – both developed and developing – have been losing billions of dollars in tax revenues. Last year, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about Luxembourg’s tax rulings that exposed the scale of tax avoidance and evasion. While a rich country like the US arguably can afford the behavior described in the so-called Luxembourg Leaks, the poor cannot.

I was a member of an international commission, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, examining ways to reform the current tax system. In a report presented to the International Conference on Financing for Development, we unanimously agreed that the current system is broken, and that minor tweaks will not fix it. We proposed an alternative – similar to the way corporations are taxed within the US, with profits allocated to each state on the basis of the economic activity occurring within state borders.

The US and other advanced countries have been pushing for much smaller changes, to be recommended by the OECD, the advanced countries’ club. In other words, the countries from which the politically powerful tax evaders and avoiders come are supposed to design a system to reduce tax evasion. Our Commission explains why the OECD reforms were at best tweaks in a fundamentally flawed system and were simply inadequate.

Developing countries and emerging markets, led by India, argued that the proper forum for discussing such global issues was an already established group within the United Nations, the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, whose status and funding needed to be elevated. The US strongly opposed: it wanted to keep things the same as in the past, with global governance by and for the advanced countries.

New geopolitical realities demand new forms of global governance, with a greater voice for developing and emerging countries. The US prevailed in Addis, but it also showed itself to be on the wrong side of history.

With regard to this: "The US is also blocking the world’s path toward an international rule of law for debt and finance. If bond markets, for example, are to work well, an orderly way of resolving cases of sovereign insolvency must be found. But today, there is no such way. Ukraine, Greece, and Argentina are all examples of the failure of existing international arrangements. The vast majority of countries have called for the creation of a framework for sovereign-debt restructuring. The US remains the major obstacle," see the article abour Prof Anne Krueger in the Failure of Imagination thread.

Africa is going to grow ... demographics is destiny as journalist/commentator/white supremacist Arthur Kemp said, and it just remains to be seen who (the West or China) will fund that growth and reap the profits.

_____
* Porf Stiglitz is a proponent of the third way which posits that unfettered free markets don;t work well enough for enough people (a utilitarian notion) but that government don't work well, at all, at correcting and controlling markets. Stiglitz believes in a few, strong and consistently enforced, regulations for markets and, then, generally leaving people to make the best decisions they can. This flies in the face of the IMF's penchant for dictating harsh austerity measures for poor countries.
 

Edward Campbell

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E.R. Campbell said:
This chart, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from The Economist might not spell crisis but
it may bring on that old Chinese curse about living in "interesting times:"

         
20150808_woc916_1.png


Here is another interesting graphic, also from The Economist, illustrating the same thing:

         
11896432_10153540883524060_8261039778839288219_o.png
 

CougarKing

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Speaking of East Africa...did China bribe Djibouti's govt. to kick the U.S. Military out so the PLA can take over their base?

Diplomat

Will China Take Over US Military Facility in Djibouti?

By Shannon Tiezzi
August 21, 2015

Want China Times has the juiciest story of the week, with its report that the United States is being ordered to vacate the town in Djibouti that China is eyeing for a military base. Citing Global Times and Counter Punch, Want China Times says that “Djibouti reportedly ordered the U.S. to vacate the Obock military base so that it can be turned over the People’s Liberation Army.” The United States’ actual permanent base in Djibouti is at Camp Lemonnier; Obock is a port city with an existing airport and naval pier.

Washington is reportedly deeply concerned about the move, which would give China its first-ever overseas base — one that incorporates U.S.-built facilities. In 2009, the U.S. unveiled a new, $14 million naval pier facility in Obock, with both civilian and military sections. “The military portion includes a 90-meter maritime platform, a head office, an administrative and berthing structure, fully-automated gas and firefighting systems as well as water and fuel storage facilities,” the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa reported at the time.

Neither this report nor earlier ones have been confirmed by official government sources from either China or the United States – in fact, China has repeatedly refused to confirm reports that it is seeking an overseas military base – so take this with a grain of salt. Our most official confirmation came in May, when reports cited Djibouti’s president as saying that China is in talks with the African country regarding basing arrangements.

(...SNIPPED)
 

CougarKing

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Islamic extremists in as far as South Africa as well?

Reuters

U.S. warns of possible attack in South Africa targeting Americans
Tue Sep 8, 2015 3:30pm EDT
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The United States warned its citizens on Tuesday of a possible attack by "extremists" against U.S. facilities or interests in South Africa, a rare security alert in a stable democracy seldom associated with Islamist militancy.

In a statement on its website, the U.S. Embassy said it had no information about a specific target or timing, but advised Americans to review their personal security plans and maintain their vigilance.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said he could not elaborate on what prompted the move. "The embassy had information indicating a potential terrorist threat and they acted on that," he said.

(...SNIPPED)
 

The Bread Guy

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S.M.A. said:
Speaking of East Africa...did China bribe Djibouti's govt. to kick the U.S. Military out so the PLA can take over their base?

Diplomat
It doesn't appear to be the case - this piece says a base is being built ....
The People’s Republic of China is setting up its first military base in Africa as it continues its evolution into a global superpower. Beijing has signed a ten-year leasing agreement with Djibouti to build a logistical hub in that nation, which is located in the Horn of Africa.

“They are going to build a base in Djibouti, so that will be their first military location in Africa," U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Africa Command, recently told defense reporters according to The Hill’s Kristina Wong ....
More here.
 

Edward Campbell

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Africa is, potentially, rich beyond belief. It has some of the world's best stocks of critical resources and it has a young and growing population.

Two things Africa doesn't have are:

    1. Good governments in 45+ of the 50ish countries on the continent; and

    2. Decent mentors from the US led West ... we have conceded the field to China.

Young Africans, the very young people who should be receiving good educations in African universities, are abandoning their countries because they can see no hope. Young people who should be doctors and lawyers and engineers and scientists in Brazzaville and Bakau are going to be waiters and taxi drivers in Berlin, Boston and Brampton ... and the Chinese are going to make do with what's left.

Our inadequately aimed "aid," described by very smart (African) economist Dambisa Moyo as Dead Aid, was a failure, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be engaged in Africa. We just need to be smarter and to do things that help both Africa, not just the governing strong men, and us.
 

The Bread Guy

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And, not surprising, a bit of pre-narrative, so to speak, to pave the way for Canadian Blue Berets into Africa?
Just two weeks ago, in the Throne Speech that set out his agenda, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated his election pledge that Canada will boost its support for the United Nations peacekeeping operations that were long-neglected under the previous Conservative government.

His resolve is about to be tested. Civilians are dying in brutal violence in Burundi and South Sudan, with no end in sight, and they desperately need soldiers to protect them. Without military intervention, more atrocities are looming.

In South Sudan, where war has raged for two years now, there is already a UN peacekeeping force – with just a dozen Canadian soldiers serving on it. The peacekeepers are severely understaffed and underfunded. They struggle to protect the 185,000 civilians who have sought shelter behind the fences of their military bases, and they lack the resources to protect the millions of civilians outside those fences.

In Burundi, where at least 400 civilians have been killed since a political conflict began in April, the African Union is planning to deploy a protection force of 5,000 troops, with the UN’s approval. The UN has warned that Burundi is on the brink of full-scale civil war. Some observers have even warned of the threat of genocide.

The war in Syria might overshadow these countries and push them to the margins of the global spotlight, but these African crises are within Canada’s ability to help ...
Some of the latest from Burundi (EU news aggregator) here and South Sudan here.
:pop:
 

The Bread Guy

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Someone in the GoC Info-machine is taking note of this and passing this along ...
Members of the Burundian community in Regina braved the cold to send a message this weekend: they marched and sang in front of Legislature to honour and remember the 79 victims massacred by the African country's military on Dec. 11.

The unrest in the small African country began when the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, announced a third term of office, which goes against the country's constitution, according to one of the protestors in front of the Legislature.

"The government didn't want anybody to come in to the country. But people need to be protected. The civilians need to be protected, and this is the message we want to send out: 'please help,'" said Valery Mucowintore, one of the marchers bundled up on Saturday afternoon.

Mucowintore said he hopes the march raises knowledge about the human rights violations happening in his home country, which is located in central Africa ...
 

CougarKing

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Perhaps it's only a matter of time before China's other African allies adopt the yuan as their currency as well?

Dambisa Moyo should have tweeted something about this by now.

Diplomat

Zimbabwe: China’s ‘All-Weather’ Friend in Africa

While many worry about China’s economy, Zimbabwe adopts the yuan as its international currency.

By Samuel Ramani
January 11, 2016

China’s currency has certainly been in the news so far this year, but one milestone of sorts at the end of 2015 attracted relatively little attention. On December 22, Zimbabwe became the first foreign country to adopt the Chinese yuan as its primary international currency. Zimbabwe’s Finance Ministry announced this decision after the Chinese government agreed to cancel $40 million in Zimbabwean debt. While critics of Beijing have described this move as neocolonial, Zimbabwean officials have insisted that the adoption of the yuan did not come from Chinese pressure but was instead the natural progression of Robert Mugabe’s “Look East” foreign policy strategy.

Zimbabwe’s isolation from Western markets due to its extreme economic volatility and Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian system has caused China to become its primary international ally in recent years. Chinese president Xi Jinping’s December 1 state visit to Harare reaffirmed China’s commitment to investing in Zimbabwe by announcing multi-billion dollar energy and infrastructure deals.

(...SNIPPED)
 

CougarKing

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Seems not all is gloom and doom from the African continent's news today:

Source: AFP

WHO due to announce end of Ebola outbreak on Thursday
by Agence France-Presse
January 13, 2016

The World Health Organization is due to announce the end of the two-year Ebola outbreak on Thursday, when Liberia is expected to get the all clear.

The announcement in Geneva will “mark 42 days since the last Ebola cases in Liberia were tested negative,” the UN agency said in a statement, after Guinea and Sierra Leone were previously declared free of the virus.


(...SNIPPED)
 

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Interesting times ...
Turkey has started to build a military training base in Somalia as part of its pledge to build up the national army for the Somali government, a senior Turkish diplomat has said.

Emel Tekin, the head of the Foreign Ministry department responsible for Somalia, stated that Turkey is establishing a military base in Mogadishu, a first for Turkey, to train Somali soldiers. She said the initiative is part of a framework agreement between the two countries on military cooperation.

“This military training facility will also be an important base for [providing] military training for the entire [continent of] Africa,” she added.

The Turkish diplomat's remarks were delivered during deliberations of Parliament's Defense Commission, where the agreement on defense industry cooperation between Turkey and Somalia was approved on Dec. 9, 2015. The agreement was signed on Jan. 25, 2015, in Mogadishu.

Col. Murat Yaman said at the commission meeting that the agreement is a framework deal to boost defense cooperation between the two countries. He noted that it built on two earlier agreements signed with Somalia in 2010 on military financial cooperation and military training. Turkey has been providing defense assistance to Somalia since then to shore up Somalia's security forces.

The Turkish military is also building a military school in Somalia to educate and train both officer corps and noncommissioned officers ...
 

a_majoor

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In a rather strange reversal, conservative African (and by extension other third world) Bishops are resisting trends to "liberalize" the Anglican church. I have also read that condervative American congregations are joining with conservative diocese's under conservative third world bishops (The Next Christianity). This has interesting implications, since large numbers of people in the third world are identifying as both Christian and conservative (at least according to Western interpretations of the term). This article also implies that this is a process we should not attempt to interrupt, as the social structures being built on the conservative and christian models are key in allowing millions of Africans to rise out of poverty.

http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/01/27/african-bishops-against-sexual-liberation/

African Bishops Against Sexual Liberation
Peter Berger
Will the Archbishop of Uganda excommunicate the Archbishop of Canterbury by 2019?

The World Missionary Conference met in Edinburgh in 1910. The delegates were in a triumphalist mood. The official purpose  of the meeting was “Carrying the Gospel to all the Non-Christian World”. The twentieth century saw this project successful to a degree that could not have been foreseen by those who formulated it in the Scottish capital in 1910. If they could have foreseen this success, they might have heeded the advice to be careful what you wish for. Not that anybody gave them such advice.

Just what kind of Gospel was envisaged in this missionary project? First of all, it was uniformly Protestant; no Catholics or Eastern Orthodox attended. I don’t know the theological character of the assemblage, but I am inclined to think that it was broadly Evangelical among those from English-speaking countries, broadly Pietist among the continental Europeans. The Protestants from the different countries were not theologically monolithic, but they were probably Evangelical/Pietist in the main; the others were less ready to go to places with crocodiles and hostile savages. The theology meant taking seriously the Great Commission, supposedly made by Jesus himself just before he left this world, to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). With the theology went a morality, taken just as seriously, which in English has been called “Victorian” and which in the United States reached its triumphal climax (soon to be regretted) with Prohibition. This kind of Protestantism still has a strong foothold in the United States, especially in the so-called Bible Belt—much less so in Europe; but remarkably so where it was established by the Protestant missionary enterprise in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America (no longer characterized by Catholic hegemony), and in parts of Asia.

Africa is today an area of frequently bloody confrontation between Christianity and Islam. But south of the Sahara there is a strong Protestantism very similar theologically and morally to the one energizing the 1910 conference, even though the religious landscape of western Europe and northern America has changed dramatically since then. The former is now the most secularized region in the world. The latter still contains a robust Evangelical subculture, but with its mainline Protestant churches (including the Presbyterians who were hosts in Edinburgh) greatly liberalized both theologically and morally.

The slowly unfolding schism in the Anglican Communion can be seen as a late (and rather ironic) fruition of the great missionary success of Protestantism. The incipient schism, mainly pitting African bishops against those in the English-speaking world, has focused on what I Iike to call issues south of the navel (sexuality and gender). But there are underlying theological issues, especially based on different views of the authority of Scripture. The schism is on a slow fuse. But it has recently accelerated.

It is important to understand both the demographic and the financial resources of the two parties. The total number of Anglicans in the world is generally estimated as between seventy and eighty million. The website of the Anglican Communion tries to be very careful to distinguish between official numbers (that is, individuals formally on parish rolls, some of whom rarely if ever show up in church) and “realistic” numbers (those who participate in the life of the church with some regularity). Even with the best of intentions, the latter are quite unreliable estimates. There is no central headquarters comparable to the Vatican (though recent revelations about its finances do not suggest confidence in its statistics): Each national church is autonomous under its own “primate” (an unfortunate term, since zoologists use it to refer to the big apes); the Archbishop of Canterbury is no pope, but simply presides over meetings of all the other bishops; the mother church, the Church of England, is still a state establishment headed by the monarch (thus its membership figures mean very little indeed—you stay listed unless you make the effort to opt out); finally, many government censuses do not ask questions about religion, as for example in the U.S.). Nevertheless, the discrepancy between the main Anglican churches in Western countries and those in Africa (now the demographic center of the Anglican Communion) is instructive. The Church of England has 44 dioceses with 26 million official members, 1.2 million “realistic” ones. The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has 111 dioceses with 2.4 million official members, 800,000 “realistic” ones. Nigeria and Uganda are the largest churches in Africa, the website does not differentiate between the two categories of members; be this as it may, in Nigeria there are over 100 dioceses with over 17 million members, in Uganda 32 dioceses with over 9 million members. It’s clear who has the numbers. Needless to say, the financial resources of the Western churches are much superior to the African ones.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been trying hard to avoid an outright schism. A recent event, which he himself caused for this end, has made his task more difficult. The leaders of African Anglicans, along with those in other non-Western countries, have been particularly shocked as the Episcopal Church in the U.S. sequentially consecrated an openly gay bishop, then ordained gay and lesbian priests, and most recently authorized priests to conduct same-sex weddings. Welby had adopted a relatively moderate position after the Westminster parliament legislated same-sex marriage. He said that this was now the law of the land, and the C.of.E. (unlike, he, implied, Rome) would not fight it. But it continues to consider marriage as between one man and one woman, and would only bless such unions. He pointed out that individuals wanting other arrangements would have no difficulty finding churches happy to accommodate them.

Unfortunately for Welby’s peace-making efforts, the General Convention (the annual legislative authority of the Church) made just this accommodation. (The Archbishop of Canterbury is not even a mini-pope in England!) The Africans were now fully enraged. Welby had already cancelled one Lambeth Conference (the body in which all primates meet every ten years) because he feared that the meeting would lead to the schism becoming unavoidable. He now convoked an extraordinary gathering of the same group, even adding the bishop presiding over the rather small group of American dioceses that had seceded from the Episcopal Church for the same reasons that troubles the Africans. Welby was in favor of remaking the international Anglican Communion into a much looser federation, allowing its member churches much wider divergences of doctrine. Only he did not persuade the majority of the assembled bishops, who instead voted to impose sanctions for three years on the Episcopal Church. It was made clear that this time limit was until the next meeting of the General Convention, giving it a (presumably last) chance to recant its vote on same-sex nuptials. The sanctions now imposed sharply limit the American participation in Anglican Communion affairs.

The chances of a recantation are slim; the Americans were put on probation—a kind of suspended excommunication. This did not please all the conservatives. Stanley Ntagali, the Archbishop of Uganda, walked out of the conference when it did not endorse his proposal to immediately demand that the Americans (and the Canadians who went almost as far as their coreligionists to the south) be required to repent and “voluntarily withdraw” (whatever that means). Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., predicted that his church would not reverse its decision on same-sex marriage, though he held out a signal of hope: “If this is of God, things will change in time”. Susan Russell, associate rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena, was more unbending in her reaction to the majority vote for sanctions: ”As a lifelong Episcopalian and a married lesbian priest, I think [the vote in favor of same-sex marriage] it’s not only an acceptable cost, it’s a badge of honor in some ways”. After a week of meetings the primates ceremonially washed each other’s feet (I don’t think that this was a gesture toward Pope Francis). Now everyone can exhale with some relief that the worst was avoided, and then hold their breath until 2019. The Diocese of Massachusetts, ever in the progressive forefront, stated that “We re-affirm our commitment to the full inclusion of all Christian persons, including LGBTQ Christians, in the life of the church”.

There is profound irony in what is happening here. The Protestant missionary enterprise in Africa did convert large numbers of people to Christianity and with it to a morality which was then closely linked to the Christian message. The whole enterprise has in recent years been criticized as having been an exercise in cultural imperialism, directly or indirectly in the service of political and economic imperialism. Cultural influences from one region to another can, if one likes this term, be called “imperialism”. Was it “imperialism” when, starting with the evangelism of the Apostle Paul, early Christianity made ever deeper inroads into the Roman Empire (despite the many Christians who were martyred for refusing to pay obeisance to the imperial cult)?

As far as Anglican missions in Africa were concerned, the British colonial authorities had mixed feelings about missionaries, because the modus operandi of the British Empire was to be respectful of indigenous culture and religion as pillars of social order, and because the pukka sahibs suspected (with good reason) that the network of mission schools would make the “natives” uppity and eventually endanger imperial rule. And so it happened: As the Union Jack was ceremonially lowered and the flags of newly independent African nations fluttered in the breeze, the leaders of the resistance movements took over, dressed in business suits and speaking fluent English. (I imagine that colonial officials learned early to prefer untamed “savages” to Africans who quoted Shakespeare.) But the new African elites who celebrated the end of the Victorian Raj had been successfully indoctrinated with Victorian morals—and those turned out to be very functional to poor people trying to get out of poverty (if you will, the Max Weber effect), even if the elite (like elites everywhere) only paid lip service to moral principles while enjoying the hedonism supported by the privileges of power. But Anglican bishops are not part of the elites in Africa: When they uphold good Protestant values, in the best Evangelical tradition, this is no mere lip service—they really mean it! And so the Archbishop of Uganda may by 2019 excommunicate the Archbishop of Canterbury!

One way of looking at what is happening here is as an international extension of the American culture war. America is at the heart of the Anglican crisis. It is the Episcopal Church of the U.S. that is specially sanctioned by the angry African bishops; even the Canadians have thus far avoided sanctions (they have only allowed some local variations on same-sex marriage while the Americans have formulated a policy for everyone). The Church of England has offended the Africans by allowing women into the clerical hierarchy, but Archbishop Welby has been much more cautious on gays (he even said that the sanctions were justified to make clear that the consensus of all in the Anglican Communion must be respected; on the other hand he apologized to gays for any hurt they incurred by past policies). The American mass media, especially Hollywood, have weighed in heavily on the progressive side; sitcom after sitcom has portrayed gays in a favorable light, spreading this image of sexually liberated America throughout the world. On the conservative side Evangelicals have been active both in the U.S. and in Africa; Evangelical visitors from the U.S. went to Uganda and preached on the evils of homosexuality in a crusade that supported the draconic anti-gay legislation in that country. Evangelical theology emphasizes the continuing authority of the Old Testament, including the ferocious penalties for gay activities in Leviticus (mandating the death penalty for both men). I think that in an African contest between Hollywood and Nashville (headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention), Hollywood has the stronger hand.

It is instructive to compare the contrasting cultural developments in the Western and in the developing worlds. In the former the 1960s and 1970s saw a powerful sexual revolution that by now is largely victorious. In the same period the developing countries have been undergoing an accelerating modernization process. In the nightclubs of Nairobi and Lagos American films, music and sexual liberalism have been fully adopted. But there is a deep class divide: Most Africans are still poor; they don’t dance in classy nightclubs; they try desperately to get out of extreme poverty and secure a better future for their children. And here Hollywood is an elusive mirage of frustrated aspirations; Nashville is of more practical help in getting out of poverty—the “good old religion” is also the good old Protestant ethic.

The wider African cultural change is very relevant. Traditional African culture was certainly not ascetic, if anything hedonistic, but with men getting most of the fun. As long as this culture was polygamous, it put women into an inferior status, but even so it provided a certain order for them and the children. Modernization broke down this order, as it was based on kinship and tribe. This was enhanced by men employed in migrant labor in the cities, their families left behind in the villages for long periods of time–lives of these women certainly not enhanced by sexual liberation. Instead they wished, not for the old polygamous order (many of their men were already in serial polygamy), but precisely for the bourgeois family propagated by the good old Protestant ethic. Women play an important role in African Protestant churches in the cities, and they often succeed in “domesticating” their men. Using a lot of historical sources, Brigitte Berger has shown how what she calls the “conjugal nuclear family” (husband and wife living with their children in a household separate from wider kin) played an important causal role in European modernization (The Family in the Modern Age, 2002).  She also argued that the same arrangement has a modernizing effect in developing societies today, particularly in Africa. This is the real liberation for women and children in the slums of what used to be called the “Third World”, and the ensuing domesticity can be attractive for men as well in the midst of rapid and tumultuous social change, where all the traditional sources of stability–village community, tribe and extended kin–have weakened or disappeared. The British sociologist David Martin has shown in a series of studies how the Protestant congregation, especially in its rapidly growing Pentecostal version, fills this gap.
I think that the African bishops understand this very well. This helps explain their visceral reaction against the sexual revolution as it has affected Anglicans, especially in America and the English mother church. Economic and political developments will certainly affect this particular contestation. But theological reflection in both camps could lead to some compromises. I don’t think that rigorous neo-Puritanism has a bright future: If you let children eat as much candy as they want, they will be furious if you take away the candy again. On the other hand, gorging on candy can become boring or lead to stomach troubles. Since Anglicanism originated historically in the sweaty bed of Anne Boleyn, it has mellowed and developed a culture of moderation – its legendary via media. It is conceivable that this genius will re-assert itself.
 

Edward Campbell

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I have heard from a couple of friends/acquaintances (including one who is a quite well known scholar of church history) that this will split the global Anglican communion.

The Church of England is already on the verge of a split within itself and with the Africans, and this could be the tipping point. Ditto, I'm told, for the Episcopal church in America where the social issues already are deeply divisive.

I rather hope it happens sooner rather than later so they can put themselves out of their misery.

There are, I'm told, no issues of real theological difference ~ there are different interpretations of social issues upon which the scriptures barely touch at all and, when they do, are frequently ambiguous.

(It reminds me of the splits and schisms in the 4th and 5th centuries that were, essentially, over the exact meanings of Greek texts ... as written and later understood by people who neither spoke nor read Greek with any fluency at all.)

 

YZT580

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Actually there are serious doctrinal differences and as far as the African Bishops are concerned there is nothing ambiguous about them.  They believe in a literal interpretation of what they read and they won't tolerate those who don't stand firmly on those same statements.  In all truth it is the Church of England and Episcopal branches that have permitted liberalism to erode their beliefs in their desires to be something for everyone. In so doing they have become nothing for anybody.  Sad.  And yes they will implode, eventually.  Look at the history of the United church here in Canada.  They are no more than a social organisation and their members have discovered that their country clubs have better company and that Tim Hortons serves better coffee so they have stopped attending in droves.  The Anglican church is chasing them in this regard and the same results will occur.  No beliefs, no need to go.
 

Edward Campbell

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YZT580 said:
Actually there are serious doctrinal differences and as far as the African Bishops are concerned there is nothing ambiguous about them.  They believe in a literal interpretation of what they read and they won't tolerate those who don't stand firmly on those same statements.  In all truth it is the Church of England and Episcopal branches that have permitted liberalism to erode their beliefs in their desires to be something for everyone. In so doing they have become nothing for anybody.  Sad.  And yes they will implode, eventually.  Look at the history of the United church here in Canada.  They are no more than a social organisation and their members have discovered that their country clubs have better company and that Tim Hortons serves better coffee so they have stopped attending in droves.  The Anglican church is chasing them in this regard and the same results will occur.  No beliefs, no need to go.

Scholars, like Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford, say there is nothing theological at stake, only social doctrine. Now that is, possibly, splitting hairs, but I think it does matter. There is no real theological foundation, in so far as I can understand Christianity, for excluding homosexuals (or women) from anything. Homosexuality may (or may not) be a sin, but all Christians, archbishops or architects or artists, are sinners, aren't they? Some, by the public record, are guilty of sins that seem, to me anyway, much more harmful to children than sex between consenting men or women.

I have no dog in this fight ... just a very few friends ~ including the wife of a member here ~ who are concerned about the fate of their community.
 

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Just a reminder to those aching to send troops into "peacekeeping" missions in Africa ...
Malian Islamist militant group Ansar Dine said it carried out a suicide and rocket attack on a U.N. base in Kidal, north Mali on Friday that killed six peacekeepers, the SITE Intelligence Group said.

Ansar Dine, led by Tuareg commander Iyad Ag Ghali, briefly seized the desert north alongside al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in 2012 and the two groups are involved in an intensifying insurgency that has spilled over Mali's borders.

In its statement, Ansar Dine named the suicide bomber who blew himself up with a truck bomb as Muhammad Abdullah bin Hudhayfa al-Hosni from Mauritania. Heavy weapons fire ensued.

It was not immediately clear if Ansar Dine was also responsible for an ambush on Malian soldiers near Timbuktu on Friday that killed three.

"The (Kidal) operation is a message to the Crusader invaders and all those who support them and promise to send their soldiers to us, like the German President said in his current visit to Bamako," according to the statement sent late on Friday.

Germany has pledged to send 650 soldiers to help support a U.N. peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) and President Joachim Gauck visited Mali's southern capital Bamako on Friday.

As well as U.N. peacekeepers, militant strikes have targeted hotels popular with Westerners, killing 30 in Ouagadougou in January, and Malian army checkpoints ...
How Canada's helped the French in this part of the world in the not-too-distant past.
 

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Only just spotted this piece on protecting civilians in special camps in South Sudan -- U.N. peacekeepers have been killed trying to keep outside forces out, while keeping factions inside the camp from killing each other.
Since the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war, U.N. troops have been sheltering civilians inside their bases from marauding bands of soldiers and militias battling throughout the country. Both sides of the war regularly rob, murder and rape civilians in their path.

The U.N. has come to call its facilities “Protection of Civilian” sites, or POCs. The U.N. mission estimates blue helmets are responsible for protecting as many as 200,000 people.

But on Feb. 18, the U.N. Malakal POC — home to 48,000 refugees — erupted in violence. According to witnesses, government troops descended on the camp while armed militiamen inside began fighting each other.

Several sections of the camp burned down and thousands fled ...
Just a warning/reminder to those aching to send Canadian troops on "non-combat" peacekeeping missions ...
 

MilEME09

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Defeated Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh made off with government money, luxury cars

Exiled Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh stole millions of dollars in his final weeks in power, plundering the state coffers and shipping out luxury vehicles by cargo plane, a special adviser for the new president said Sunday.

Meanwhile, a regional military force rolled in, greeted by cheers, to secure this tiny West African nation so that democratically elected President Adama Barrow could return home. He remained in neighbouring Senegal, where he took the oath of office Thursday because of concerns for his safety.

At a press conference in the Senegalese capital, Barrow's special adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists that the president "will return home as soon as possible."

Underscoring the challenges facing the new administration, Fatty confirmed that Jammeh made off with more than $11.4 million US during a two-week period alone. That is only what they have discovered so far since Jammeh and his family took an offer of exile after more than 22 years in power and departed late Saturday.
GAMBIA-POLITICS/

People celebrate the arrival of the regional ECOWAS force in Banjul, Gambia, on Sunday. The soldiers are clearing the way for newly elected President Adama Barrow to arrive. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)
'Gambia is in financial distress'

"The Gambia is in financial distress. The coffers are virtually empty. That is a state of fact," Fatty said. "It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia."

Fatty also confirmed that a Chadian cargo plane had transported luxury goods out of the country on Jammeh's behalf in his final hours in power, including an unknown number of vehicles.

Fatty said officials at the Gambia airport have been ordered not to allow any of Jammeh's belongings to leave. Separately, it appeared that some of his goods remained in Guinea, where Jammeh and his closest allies stopped on their flight into exile.

Fatty said officials "regret the situation," but it appeared that the major damage had been done, leaving the new government with little recourse to recoup the funds.
Exiled in Equatorial Guinea

The unpredictable Jammeh, known for startling declarations like his claim that bananas and herbal rubs could cure AIDS, went into exile under mounting international pressure, with a wave to supporters as soldiers wept. He is now in Equatorial Guinea, home to Africa's longest-serving ruler and not a state party to the International Criminal Court.

Jammeh's dramatic about-face on his December election loss to Barrow, at first conceding and then challenging the vote, appeared to be the final straw for the international community, which had been alarmed by his moves in recent years to declare an Islamic republic and leave the Commonwealth and the ICC.

Barrow's adviser disavowed a joint declaration issued after Jammeh's departure by the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) that bestowed a number of protections upon Jammeh, his family and his associates — including the assurance that their lawful assets would not be seized.

"As far as we're concerned, it doesn't exist," Fatty said.

The declaration also said Jammeh's exile was "temporary" and that he reserved the right to return to Gambia at the time of his choosing.

Although the declaration was written to provide Jammeh with maximum protection, it doesn't give him amnesty, according to international human rights lawyer Reed Brody.

"Under international law in fact you can't amnesty certain crimes like torture and massive or systematic political killings," he said in an email. "Depending where Jammeh ends up, though, the real obstacles to holding him accountable will be political."
Clearing the way for Barrow

Barrow will now begin forming a cabinet and working with Gambia's national assembly to reverse the state of emergency Jammeh declared in his final days in power, said Halifa Sallah, spokesman for the coalition backing the new leader.

The president's official residence, State House, needs to be cleared of any possible hazards before Barrow arrives, Sallah added.

The regional military force that had been poised to force out Jammeh if diplomatic efforts failed rolled into Gambia's capital, Banjul, on Sunday night to secure it for Barrow's arrival.

Hundreds greeted the force's approach to State House, cheering and dancing, while some people grabbed soldiers to take selfies.
Truth and reconciliation

Defence chief Ousmane Badjie said the military welcomed the arrival of the regional force "wholeheartedly." With proper orders, he said, he would open the doors to the notorious prisons where rights groups say many who have disappeared over the years may be kept.

"We are going to show Barrow we are really armed forces with a difference, I swear to God," Badjie said. "I have the Qu'ran with me."

Some of the 45,000 people who had fled the tiny country during the crisis began to return. The nation of 1.9 million, which promotes itself to overseas tourists as "the Smiling Coast of Africa," has been a major source of migrants heading toward Europe because of the situation at home.

"I think it will be safer now," said 20-year-old Kaddy Saidy, who was returning to Banjul with her three young children.

Barrow, who has promised to reverse many of Jammeh's actions, told The Associated Press on Saturday he will launch a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate alleged human rights abuses of Jammeh's regime. Rights groups say those include arbitrary detentions, torture and even killing of opponents.

"After 22 years of fear, Gambians now have a unique opportunity to become a model for human rights in West Africa," Amnesty International's deputy director for West and Central Africa, Steve Cockburn, said in a statement Sunday.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/gambia-yahya-jammeh-money-cars-1.3947489

never a dull day in African politics
 
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