The 21st century will be the African century. Our population is growing and youthful. Our cities are expanding.
We are in the midst of a technological revolution. But the natural, human and spiritual resources that God has blessed Africa with have been plundered by outside forces or captured by the elite few.
We face multiple crises of poverty, inequality, biodiversity loss and the climate crisis. We have a short window – a kairos moment – in which to turn from well-worn, broken paths and choose a better story for ourselves and for the world. But what story will we tell? Some say that Africa is failing, doomed to chaos and poverty and reliance. Others say that Africa is rising, but as a slave to a narrative of greed, power, violence, individualism and extraction, to the benefit of just
a few. We see another way – a courageous choice to turn from these two single stories and tell a new story, one created by the agency and voices of all African citizens: an Abundant Africa.
An Abundant African economy could be built upon shalom, upon African values of innovation, freedom and relationship. It could reduce poverty and inequality, honour human dignity, care for creation – and in so doing be an economy that will lead the world.
Throughout history, such change has come not from elite leaders but from movements for change. Africa is facing a generational transition. Every generation has a role to play in working together for an Abundant Africa. The younger generation in stepping into leadership. The older generation in stewarding our values, telling us stories of what has been and mentoring the leaders of today and tomorrow.
Today’s church should be working towards the sacred mission of building God’s kingdom and growing the movement, through:
1. Building agency: Growing the agency of every African to be a leader.
2. Developing narratives: An Abundant Africa story will emerge from the blending of the voices of a million prophets.
3. Creating accountability: Imperfect people, holding each other to account and influencing others to change.
We believe that there are seven key shifts that need to be realised to take Africa closer to the reality of shalom:
1. From valuing growth to valuing wellbeing: If we do not measure wellbeing, how will we know shalom when we see it?
2. From dependence to innovation: We long for innovation founded in relationships – built on our diversity, committed to community and empowering our youth.
3. From extraction to caring for creation: We seek to restore the wholeness of people and the health of the earth.
4. From sprawling slums to lifegiving cities: We look to the new Jerusalem as the model for the cities we want to raise and restore. Inclusive. Creative. Sustainable.
5. From decisions by centralised elites to decisions by active communities: We have an opportunity to equip an active citizenry to engage in decision making, to lay claim to the stories of their own lives.
6. From self-interest to ethical leadership: We long for leaders and citizens characterised by integrity and accountability.
7. From division to connection: We seek healing for the past. We look to the future, to a bigger ‘us’, to a larger African identity.
We have suggested ideas for the church, for governments and for the African Union – recognising the need for multiple actors to play their part and that these are first ideas and steps towards making an Abundant African economy a reality.
This is the invitation: to listen together, to share stories, and to nurture the emerging green shoots of hope that bring us closer to an Abundant Africa.