Category Archives: Poverty

Pan-Africanism in the Balance

Dear Readers:

Pan-Africanism is essentially the promotion of a united African continent for, inter alia, the economic and cultural benefit of those in Africa, and the descendants of those scattered by the transatlantic slave trade. One laudable vision by a noted pan-Africanist was for a United States of Africa.

Pan-Africanism appeared to have its genesis with persons who had witnessed the abolition of slavery, not through mass rebellion, but rather through the prayers and the actions of men and women who claimed to have a personal relationship with God. Two of the leading figures in the development of pan-Africanist thought in the 19th century were Alexander Crummell (1822-1898 ) and Edward Blyden (1832-1912).

Both of these men left their native USA and Virgin Islands respectively and resided in Africa for decades. During their stay, they identified a major threat to the creation of a powerful united African continent as African spiritism and idolatry. These men encouraged Africans and persons of African descent everywhere to reject African spiritism, and pursue a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. African spiritism is essentially the summoning of ancestral spirits to provide guidance.

Why were these early pan-Africanists so insistent that spiritism be rejected? Why not allow a mixture of Christianity and spiritism like in Haiti? It seems that there were three principle scriptural reasons. First, mankind is incapable of summoning ancestral spirits, but are deceived into summoning demons who have no beneficial interest in mankind. Secondly, God Himself explicitly states that: He is the only living God, He will not share His glory with anyone or anything, and any attempt at worshipping Him and anything else is a rejection of Him akin to adultery. Thirdly, God’s response to a nation worshipping Him and others was generally to remove His protection from the land and economy, leaving the land vulnerable to natural hazards, and the economy vulnerable to that nation’s enemies.

African governments generally rejected Crummell’s and Blakes’ warnings. Corrupt political leaders, imperialist minded nations, and greedy trans-national corporations have all taken full advantage of the unprotected state of those African economies. Such countries are characterised today as being: disunited, politically unstable, debt-ridden, exploited, poverty-stricken, and oppressed. However they comprise the most valuable land and mineral resources in the world.

The main African beneficiaries in the countries that have adopted spiritism appear to have been the political leaders, and their family and friends who have amassed millions and in some cases, billions of dollars from alleged corrupt practises. In contrast, the general population of these countries have suffered from: war, terror, genocide, crime, misery, poverty, inflation, illiteracy, hunger, disease, unemployment, famine, drought, floods, disillusionment, and corrupt and incompetent governments that have mortgaged their children’s future with a crippling debt burden.

The political leadership considers anyone willing to speak the truth a threat to their survival, and any dissent is typically met with persecution, merciless torture, and even death. The modern African continental experience is a mirror into which we all can look if we choose as a nation to reject God’s guidance and protection.

If developing countries wish to reject God’s guidance and protection, then it is necessary that legal instruments be first established, to protect their economies from its enemies. The USA has a system to restrict the power and spending desires of its President. Developing countries generally have no such system and are thus vulnerable to politicians driven by power and greed.

We have been fortunate to have generations of Christians who have faithfully worshipped God and have asked Him to bless Barbados. Whether we believe it or not, we are the grateful or ungrateful beneficiaries of their prayers. Our responsible response should be to ensure that our children and grandchildren enjoy similar blessings. However, despite the warnings of the early pan-Africanists, and the apparent consequences, the promotion of African spiritism at some national events is alarming.

If we as a nation wish to reject God’s guidance and protection, then all citizens are advised to brace themselves for the terrible consequences. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Poverty in the Balance

Dear Readers:

Today we shall examine the issue of poverty. There is currently a fight being waged to eradicate poverty. The strategy appears to be to establish bureaucracies to administer funds earmarked for poverty related projects. To increase the likelihood that these funds will be used effectively, it would be prudent to examine how different cultures have historically managed their poor.

The cultures examined in this study were segments of the: American Indian, Middle Eastern, and African. While the methods for addressing poverty appeared to differ, there seemed to be a general principle that underlined how poverty was addressed.

The principle seemed to be that poverty was an experience to which all people were vulnerable and may pass through during their lifetime. Therefore since poverty was not a permanent state but a temporary experience, those who were not yet experiencing poverty were admonished not to despise those who were.

Poverty could be experienced due to a number or reasons including: transgressing a cultural norm, a poor attitude to work, addictions to negative behaviours, borrowing and being unable to repay, being a surety for a friend, poor investment decisions, ill health, death of a financially supportive relative, loss of employment, being born into it, war, poor government decisions, unfavourable climatic conditions, and expected or unexpected calamities.

The reasons for poverty can therefore be divided into three categories: the individual’s fault, someone else’s fault, nobody’s fault. Regardless of the reasons, the community appeared to see it as their responsibility to assist persons out of this experience.

In the first category, poverty was a consequence of a person’s negative behaviour. The community’s responsibility appeared to be to encourage the person to turn away from the negative behaviour. So whatever negative behaviour brought the individual into the poverty experience, the individual was encouraged to practise the opposite behaviour to get out of it.

In the second and third categories, a person’s poverty experience was not a consequence of their own choices. The communities’ responsibility appeared to be to lend assistance and reinforce the concept that the experience was temporary. This would help the individual not to be overcome by the experience to the extent of giving up. The community appeared to cultivate an environment where the individual experiencing poverty could maintain a positive attitude and thereby be prepared to recognize and take advantage of any opportunity that arose.

Assistance for persons experiencing poverty seemed to come from three sources. The first source was from businesses that accepted that there were aspects of their economic growth that they had little control over, and therefore became thankful enough to share some of their excess with the poor. The typical example is of farmers planting and tending crops who accept that the yield is beyond their control. They may influence the outcome with fertilizer and irrigation, but they cannot really control the yield.

Another example is with trading in goods and services. The business owners cannot control what the potential customer finds attractive enough to purchase. They may influence the decision to purchase by enhancing the presentation of an item or service, but they cannot really control the volume of sales.

The second form of assistance came from those who transgressed certain cultural standards and were brought before the authorities to be punished. The punishment for some transgressions was for the offender to assist the poor either financially or with their labour.

The third form of assistance came from persons in the community who were encouraged to lend to the poor. This appeared to reinforce the concept that poverty was a temporary experience.

Some of these methods of assisting the poor would be burdensome in an environment where personal income and corporate taxes are excessive, the motive for business growth is greed, crop larceny is effectively ignored, and those who reportedly forcibly remove garments donated to the Salvation Army for the poor, and subsequently sell them, are not prosecuted.

To properly address poverty in the manner described in this study requires a change in attitude within the community. The poor should not be viewed as if they do not deserve to aspire to the greatest heights of achievement. When they do succeed, it should be viewed as a confirmation of the temporary nature of the poverty experience, not that the person must have been exceptional.