Opening Ceremony

Femi Cole-Njie, conference organiser set the scene.

Akwaaba! Jambo! Eh carbo! nyu gi len di nyuyu! Sawbona! Wangelegile! Welcome!

It is an honour that this year, when we celebrate the centenary of Methodists for World Mission, the focus is on Africa. Our theme “Scaling the hurdles in Africa” takes note of the fact that this is an Olympic year, but also that all is not well in Africa. There are hurdles to be scaled: hurdles of poverty, of disease, of political and religious conflict, of marginalisation, of bad governance.

We are grateful to God for all the missionaries and Mission Partners who have served and are still serving in Africa. For some of the early missionaries, this was a costly offering. I remember memorial plaques on the walls of Wesley Methodist Church in Banjul the Gambia, which tell of missionaries who died shortly after arriving in the Gambia. I know that many here tonight have stories of sacrifices made by missionaries and Mission Partners.

But we are conscious too of the mistakes that were made and of the fact that missionary enterprise was undeniably linked to colonialism. Given the fact that Africa was at the same level of development as the West in the 15th century, one is led to ask the question “Whatever happened to Africa?”

  • Africa, the cradle of civilisation.
  • Africa, the richest continent of natural and human resources, yet home to some of the world’s poorest people.
  • Pre-colonial Africa, where women were at the helm of economic prowess – the Mokola and the Lagos market women in Ghana and Nigeria respectively.
  • Pre-Colonial Africa where women were the leaders of religious worship – the Jola priestesses in the Gambia.
  • Pre-Colonial Africa where women were powerful in governance structures – the Queen Mother in Ashanti, Ghana.
  • Africa, the continent whose people have been described by John Mbiti as being notoriously religious. But has faith become simply an opiate, a narcotic, instead of a transforming influence?

Is there no hope?

Yes, there is hope and that is why we are here. This is a Kairos moment in the history of MWM! We are here to think together, to pray together and to discover how together we can act for the liberation of Africa.

We do not present ourselves as people who can put right the wrongs in Africa. Instead we desire, under God, to prayerfully chart a course that will help to speed up holistic development and thus assist in restoring the fortunes of Africa.

“If you believe and I believe,

And we together pray,

The Holy Spirit shall empower

And Africa will be saved.” Amen!


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