In African countries including Burkina Faso, In Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mali and South Africa, the weeks leading up to Easter were marked by lamentations, grief, tears and blood as terrorist attacks and counter-attacks by government forces – as well as natural disasters – killed many people and devastated homes.
In the case of Nigeria, a train bound for the northern city of Kaduna from the capital Abuja was attacked by terrorists, resulting in the deaths of eight people and the kidnapping of more than 160 passengers. Two weeks later, another group of terrorists invaded a community in Plateau State, in the same northern region, shooting and burning houses and killing at least 154 people.
In Mali, “the country’s armed forces and associated foreign soldiers reportedly summarily executed around 300 male civilians, some of whom were suspected Islamist fighters, in the central Malian town of Moura in late March 2022,” according to Human Rights Watch.
In Zimbabwe, 36 ZCC church members died while many others were injured in a road accident on their way to an Easter event. And in the KwaZulu Natal region of South Africa, catastrophic flooding has killed more than 340 people and destroyed many homes.
In Zimbabwe, 36 members of the ZCC church died while many others were injured in a road accident on their way to an Easter event.
In this context, Christian leaders, in the redemptive spirit of Easter, called on people to forgive themselves, avoid bitterness and embrace peace.
Pastor Dauda, who is based in the troubled northern region of Nigeria, said in his Easter message, “As we celebrate Easter, by the grace of God, I love to pray for our nation Nigeria. As we see Nigeria bleeding over insecurity, we pray that the Lord will intervene for us in this nation and as believers who are being persecuted. … Our joy is that many souls will come to Jesus Christ because we believe that he is God who came to save mankind and we believe that his salvation is even for those who perpetrated this evil. So our prayer is that they meet Jesus Christ.
A video of Pastor Dauda’s sermon was shared online by Open Doors, an NGO that helps persecuted Christians in the country it considers “the deadliest place in the world” to be a Christian.
In Ghana, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in an Easter message prayed for peace in the country and elsewhere. “Never tire of praying for peace, for a kneeling church is stronger than a standing army. As Christians, our faith tells us that prayer can help bring peace in times and places of war,” they said.
Catholic leaders have warned that many people around the world have not followed the example of Jesus Christ, who after his resurrection from the dead appeared to his disciples and said, “Peace be with you”.
Of suffering and sacrifice made by the Cross and the Resurrection, God “has created out of all the races of this world a common race and a family for himself”, they said. The clerics emphasized that “the gift of peace from the risen Lord was intended not only for his disciples, but for the whole world”.
But rather than imitating Jesus, “this gift from the Prince of Peace is often rejected by acts of strife, war and division”, for “when we look all around us, we see strife, war and the horrors associated with these acts of evil,” they added.
It is not just church leaders who have sent messages of hope or peace across the African continent. Government and political leaders have also done so.
In the province of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, where more than 340 people have died as a result of flooding, messages of sympathy poured in from government officials and public figures.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa offered an Easter message in which he urged his fellow citizens to pray and help those affected by the disaster. The flooding incident, he said, is proof that climate change remains a threat.
Asmaa Botmi-Clarke, a freelance journalist and resident of Kwazulu Natal, in an interview with Voice of America, said that although her own home was not affected by the flood, “about 2,000 people” lost their homes. “and 4,000 houses” were destroyed in informal settlements.
“People who are unhappy have lost everything,” she said. “They lost their property, their homes and even part of their life. Some people are still missing. There is so much destruction around (Kwazulu Natal) Durban right now. You can see houses shattered, schools destroyed, roads, bridges and entire buildings washed away in North Durban.
Even Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Easter speech criticized the decision of the British government led by Boris Johnson to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Welby said such a policy is contrary to God’s way of welcoming and helping those in need.
The plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda – while paying Rwanda $158 million – had been denounced by numerous human rights activists and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as Amnesty International.
The British Prime Minister said the relocation was part of a necessary plan to control human trafficking across the Channel. But Welby disagreed.
In his Easter sermon, Welby said such a plan to send asylum seekers to another country from the UK “raises serious ethical questions” and therefore fails to meet the standards of love and care. goodness of God.
“The details of politics and politicians, the principle must stand up to the judgment of God and he cannot,” he said. “She cannot bear the weight of the righteousness of the resurrection, she cannot bear the weight of life victorious over death, she cannot bear the weight of the resurrection which was first revealed to the least valued, because as a policy it privileges the rich and the strong, and it cannot bear the weight of our national responsibility as a country shaped by Christian values because such outsourcing of our responsibilities, even to a country who seeks to do well – like Rwanda – is the opposite of the nature of God who himself has taken responsibility for our failures.”
Anthony Akaze is a Nigerian-born freelance journalist currently living in Houston. He covers Africa for BNG
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