Poverty is Africa's new colonialism, says churches' chief

By staff writers
July 14, 2007

"Today, in order to fight poverty, Africa needs to mobilize similar efforts to those rallied against colonialism," World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia told Tanzanian church leaders.

Kobia met leaders of Tanzanian churches during a 1-3 July 2007 visit to the country, which brought him to the capital Dar es Salaam and to Arusha. He praised the churches advocacy work in the area of debt relief for poor countries as well as their efforts in fighting corruption.

"Tanzanian churches have much to offer to other African countries given their experience in overcoming the problem of ethnicity and tribal rivalry, as well as in dealing with interreligious issues, notably through the Christian-Muslim Commission for Peace, Development and Conflict Resolution," Kobia told the church leaders.

Tanzania's population of near 40 million is made up of more than 120 tribes. Christianity and Islam are the two main religions.

In Arusha, Kobia visited the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where he was briefed about the work both already accomplished and remaining ahead. Created by the UN Security Council in November 1994, the ICTR was established for the prosecution of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda in 1994.

For the visit to the ICTR, the WCC general secretary was joined by two Rwandese church leaders: Bishop Onesphore Rwaje, president of the Protestant Council of Rwanda, and Abbé Vincent Gasana from the Roman Catholic Church.

Also in Arusha, Kobia visited the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). The church top leadership informed the WCC general secretary about the church's mission, development and HIV/AIDS work.

During the continuation of the visit, the WCC general secretary was accompanied by WCC central committee member Rev. Dr Elisée Musemakweli and Dr Rogate Mshana, WCC programme executive for Economic Justice, Poverty and Ecology.

In addition to the ELCT, other WCC member churches with headquarters in Tanzania are the Anglican Church of Tanzania and the Moravian Church in Tanzania.

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