I recently received a paper of personal reflections from Kingdomizer Garry Tissingh, who has served in Senegal and traveled widely across Africa. This paper shares principles that he has observed are hindrances to development.
We could easily make similar observations about many of our cultures. Our goal here is not to single out one culture, but to promote the flourishing and development of all people by observing culture and promoting its transformation to reflect the biblical worldview.
I hope you will share your comments, feedback, and interact with others in this post. Perhaps your comment could share a testimony of how you have responded to these worldview hindrances, or ask a question of others. Maybe you could share a Scripture that has been useful to you.
Here is the first part of the paper from Garry Tissingh:
Beliefs & Values of Africans/Muslims that may hinder Transformation (Part 1 of 3)
Observations by a foreigner, resident in Senegal, widely travelled across Africa
What is the desired picture of a community you would like to see? What would the Kingdom of God look like and what values would you observe therein? How would it be, what would it look like, if Jesus was the Mayor of your city or the President of your nation?
Here are some of the basic values, beliefs and worldview that have been observed that may impede transformation and development in Africa. Obviously, they vary from region to region, context to context. Also, they are continually changing as all cultures do, ebbing and flowing from season to season. All cultures are influenced by other cultures and the thinking of groups influence other groups. These are realities.
I put these out there as observations, not as determinative judgments but as something to interact with, go deeper into and together be challenged to take these into account in our ministries and in seeing the Kingdom come.
- A pervasive attitude of fatalism – whatever happens is so because it is God’s will (or spirits). The poor, disabled, garbage, destruction, success or failure are all attributed to God or the gods. Everything that happens is because God is sovereign, all powerful and arbitrarily does what he decides and desires.
- There is an apparent perceived injustice of God and the spirit world meaning in reality that life is not fair and therefore its ok to adjust things to make it fairer and to defend your own place and lot in life.
- Apparent insignificant worth of an individual life. Death is normal and accepted without great loss or serious steps taken to stop it. Good health is gambled with and no strong sense of responsibility for ensuring ongoing care for self or others.
- Women are inferior to men in value and purpose and children even less so with their worth being seen mainly to provide in the future for parents and family. There is therefore little priority of investing in the next generation or education or sense of progress being possible or even desired.
- The community is of more value than an individual so we should all be in it together. All decisions are based on the good for the community and responsibility acted on in that way. This brings a false sense of worth and an egalitarianism which is not real or helpful. Behaviour as well success or failure is endorsed or frowned on by the community at large.
- Tribalism says that one’s tribe is superior to others and loyalty is always to be to the tribe above truth or cost. There are privileges and value to being part of the same ethnic community.
- Time and the present relate predominately to the past not to the future. It is respecting of the ancestors of the past that is important not the wellbeing of the future generation and therefore progress appears to not be a high priority. Predictability and status quo are seen as normal and expecting or seeking change is not a great desire.
- There is the perception that resources are limited so the assumption that there is not enough for all to go around or sufficient so get whatever when you can by whatever means you can. This means queues don’t exist, everybody rushes to get to a source first, and generally the value of respect for others is not seen.
- Most relationships and friendships are for what you can get out of them, so use them for that purpose, to benefit you. The development of patron relationships is a key to survive well, and everyone seeks them. Being indebted to others is good so that in the future when needed pay-out will come.
- Often failure in life and business is accepted and forgiven but success is often resented and despised by others. The community monitors this and will seek to ensure an egalitarian stance so that all are relatively equal.
Don’t forget to share your comments, feedback, and interact with others in this post. Perhaps you could share a testimony of how you have responded to these worldview hindrances, or ask a question of others. Maybe you could share a Scripture that has been useful to you. Thanks in advance!