Religion and Underdevelopment in Africa in a Critical Perspective

Ogbuehi, Friday Ifeanyichukwu Trinity Theological college, Umuahia, Abia State.ogbuehitheologian@gmail.com. 08064725052.

Abstract

It is discovered that Africa has passed through sufferings. This is occasioned by underdevelopment that is prevalent in Africa. There are abundant human and natural resources, yet majority of people in Africa live in abject poverty if compared with the develop countries. Unfortunately, all the countries in Africa are known for being underdeveloped for so long without any improvement. There are bad roads, inadequate supply of electricity, poor infrastructure, hunger, low standard of Education, poor clothing, poor sanitation, diseases and so on. The writer covered Africa considering the fact that for Africa to come out of underdevelopment and become developed there must be a collaborating and collective effort to realize this age long aspiration. It is widely believed among Africans that religion has great influence on the society. There is need to ascertain whether religion is an obstacle to development in Africa or not. Therefore, the paper ascertained the role played by religion that poses an obstacle to the development of Africa in order to proffer solutions that will remove her from the present situation. The work used phenomenological approach. It was descriptive and analytical. The two sources used include primary and secondary sources. It used primary source like observation while the secondary sources include books, journals and dictionary. The work revealed that despite the positive role of religion in Africa, religion has contributed a lot to the underdevelopment of Africa.

Introduction

Humans not only long for physical development, but also they desire spiritual development. Religion influences socio-economic, political and psychological sphere of human existence. Political leaders are influenced by their religious beliefs. There is no doubt that major political policies have religious undertones.

Religion is seen by some people as an obstacle to progress since it ensures sustainability of the status quo. The religious belief negates the much desired socio-political and economic change in Africa. There is an aspect of African culture that is anti-development and anti-social. The advent of Christianity in Africa paved way for the colonialists who exploited Africa and rendered her underdeveloped. It has to be stated that since the colonial rule, Africa has not recovered from the exploitation. This partly accounts for its perennial underdevelopment. Previous writers have written on underdevelopment from cultural, political, educational and economic perspectives. But, the work examined the role of religion in the underdevelopment of Africa in order to proffer solutions to its underdevelopment.

The work used phenomenological approach. It was descriptive and analytical. The two sources used include primary and secondary sources. It used primary source like observation while the secondary sources include books, journals and dictionary. Religion contributed to the underdevelopment of Africa which has given rise to the classification of Africa by the west among the underdeveloped continents of the world. It was discovered that religion is not inherently evil, but the colonialists and missionaries hide under the cloak of religion to impoverish Africa. The work revealed that despite the negative impact of religion on Africa, religion has contributed a lot for its development.

Conceptual framework

Religion

It should be stated that religion is a term that is difficult to define. There are various definitions of religion; due to every person defines religion from his perspective. Madu (1996:19) observed that "religion denotes man's moral relations with God, relations of creatures to creator. In it, man internally and freely acknowledges his dependence on God, as well as externally expresses acts of cult either individually or communally". It embodies moral requirements that enable humans to realize moral development. McGuire (1997:10) quoted Melford Spiro as saying that religion is "An Institution consisting of culturally patterned interaction with culturally postulated superhuman beings". Sociologically, religion consists of the way of life of a people. Muck (1993:28) quoted Emile Durkheim as saying "A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church, all who adhere to them". Religion unites people of different political, ethnic and tribal affiliations. Nma (2008:13) asserted "Religion is a response to what is experienced as ultimate reality..." Religion offers man an opportunity to respond to the relationship initiated by the Supreme being. Tylor defined religion as ' a belief in spiritual beings'. Religion is a platform that enables adherents to depend on the spiritual beings believed to control the universe. Radcliffe-Brown stated that religion 'is everywhere an expression in one form or another of a sense of dependence on a power outside ourselves, a power of which we may speak as a spiritual or moral power' (Scharf, 1970:31-32). Religion endows life with meaning and purpose.

Underdevelopment

According to Wehmeier (2006:1604), underdevelopment occurs when a country has few industries and low standard of living. Underdevelopment is characterized by diseases, indebtedness, chronic malnutrition, reduction in life expectancy, insecurity, high mortality rate, lack of access to Medicare, unemployment, inflation, poor infrastructure and so on. It is believed that development is natural while underdevelopment is unnatural. Agudosi (2007:82) asserted that underdevelopment corresponds to a situation where humans cease to grow or improve his environment and welfare. There is a perception by people that Africa is caught in a web of stagnation and quagmire. The pessimism of development of Africa is borne out of perennial underdevelopment which has led some people to think that Africa will never develop. Osunwokeh (2007:65) observed that Africa is a continent known for poverty. For him, Africa is a miserable continent. It is on that note that Okon (2008:126) opined that "there is no possibility of future improvement or development. Africans perpetually are to be protected, supervised and monitored by the "superior'' races". The under rating of Africa has created a sense of hopelessness among Africa countries which has demoralized them to make efforts toward development.

Leadership

Leadership is vital in every organization. The leader is a person who is appointed or elected to occupy the helms of affairs. He is in position to manage both human and natural resources. Iroegbu (2004 : 135) averred that leadership means the art of giving direction and guidance for a group of persons, organization or nation with the aim of achieving common objectives. For a leader to realize his objectives, he must exercise authority over the led. Ideyi (2007 :166) maintained that leadership occurs when a person exercises authority over a person or group of persons. Leadership can be formal or informal depending on the condition a leader finds himself. A leader exercises authority over others for the common good. Segun. J.,Oni. S. and Agbude (2012:162-163) observed that leadership is a process in which the leader directs and motivates his followers to cooperate with him for the purpose of achieving his vision. Agha and Nwaoga (2012 :6) stated that leadership is the ability of a member of the structured group to have influence over other members. It is not only that a leader should have influence over others, but also he must be ready to carry the members of the organization along.

Corruption

It should be stated that corruption is endemic in the society. Agha (2002 : x) averred that corruption is derived from a Latin word corruptio which literally means to decay, to be depleted, to rot, to degenerate, to desiccate, to waste away and to lose dignity and integrity. For him corruption thrives in a situation where there is a denial of justice, fairness and goodwill. Corruption covers every aspect of life. Coker (2006 : 92) asserted "corruption refers to the misuse of power for private benefit or advantage....Besides money, the benefit can take the form of protection, special treatment, commendation, promotion or the favours of women or men". It takes the form of bribery when gift or gifts are offered with the ulterior motive of perverting due process in an administrative set up. Ikubaje (2006:11) quoted Nye that corruption is " a behaviour which deviates from the formal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (personal, close family, private clique) pecuniary or status gain; or violates rules against the exercise of certain types of private-regarding influence". Holistically, corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the society.

Poverty

Poverty is a miserable condition. Okwueze (2003 : 42) asserted that poverty takes place when there is lack of basic needs of life. It is a condition of wretchedness and scarce means of livelihood. Poverty occurs when there is absence of decent living condition. Chukwuemeka (2004: 21) sees poverty as lack of goods that are helpful for normal human living. Ntamu and Ikwun (2006:113) quipped that poverty is a state of lacking basic necessities of life that is occasioned by unavailability of resources. Poverty is a condition of human existence that is below standard of living. Kalagbor (2008:141) maintained that poverty is a situation in which a person is unable to satisfy his basic needs of life like food, clothing, shelter, health, transport, education and so on. It consists of deprivation of human basic needs that make life worth living. Ebuara and Akpaitan etal (2008:78) opined that poverty is a living condition in which the citizens of a country cannot afford economic, social, educational, political and environmental needs.

Theoretical Framework

The work used the theory of imperialism. The term imperialism became popular through the writing of Lenin in 1916. Lenin explained imperialism from economic perspective. For Lenin, imperialism was the highest stage of capitalism. Karl Kautsky (1854-1938) applied the term imperialism in describing the relationship between advanced nation and underdeveloped nation. There is imperialism when advanced countries politically dominate underdeveloped countries (Mcgrath 1993:27). This ugly scenario creates room for the underdeveloped nation to depend on the developed nation for survival. Keeling(1994:16) argued "the underdevelopment of the poor countries, as an overall social fact, appears in its true light - as the historical by - product of the development of other countries". This is evident in a situation where rich countries in a bid to develop their countries exploit poor countries. It creates inequality between the rich and the poor countries. In this situation, there is a yawning gap between them. The rich countries become richer while the poor countries become poorer.

Religion and Governance

The church intervenes in politics on the grounds of her belief in theocracy. There are cases where the church has supported political leaders in order to do the will of God. The Divine Right of kings emphasizes that political power is given by God which demands total allegiance. Political leaders are seen as mere representatives of God who rules the world. Therefore, failure to obey them is tantamount to disobeying God (Umoh, 2010:44, Ozumba, 2006:72). In African traditional religion, there is also a belief in Divine Right of kings. Booth (1977:54) averred that in Bantu-speaking Southern Africa, the king or chief (Mulopwe) was a recipient of authority from the ancestors. The problem that is associated with Divine Right of kings has to do with producing political dictators who extremely exercise power to the detriment of the led. No wonder Izibili (2004:16) asked "what of the powers of field marshal Idi Amin Dada when he was the undisputed ruler of Uganda? What do we say of the power of Emperor Bokassa, the sole ruler of the short - lived central African Empire? Were these also ordained of God? Perhaps, these autocratic rulers drew their inspiration from the Divine Right of kings that held sway then.

The Divine Right of kings does not influence political leaders alone, it also influences religious leaders. Historically, religion has influenced governance of empires, kingdoms and countries. Okere (2005: 94) maintained that "the popes became the highest authorities divine and human on earth, made and unmade Emperors and kings". History has shown that popes of the Roman Catholic Church have abused the infallibility of pope in both political and religious matters. Ozumba (2006: 72) collaborating quipped

It is this tendency that led to papal dictatorship in the early church. The vestige of the wide scale abuse of the holy is still noticeable today. We thank God for the courage of Martin Luther who initiated the reformation in the 16th century and his courage to challenge the monster of autocracy in the church of the living God.

The reformation initiated by Martin Luther brought changes in the church that occasioned schism in Christianity.

It is pertinent to note that the advent of Christianity in Africa is traceable to Europe. Okere (2005: 103) noted that it was only Egypt that was excluded from the missionary endeavour of Europe. Unfortunately, Europe imposed Christianity on African people. There was no negotiation between Africa and Europe concerning the acceptance or rejection of Christian religion. Webster (1965:22) asserted that apart from some areas missionaries had treaties with Muslim kings like Malay States and Northern Nigeria, Africa was helpless in the face of imposition of foreign religion.

The missionaries came to Africa with ulterior motives. Okon (2008: 122) observed "early missionaries in west Africa had a dual purpose to promote legitimate trade between Africans and Europeans and to convert Africans to their own religion". The receptivity and openness of African traditional religion worsened the situation. Gray (1978: 95) affirmed "with their eclectic insistence on practical results, African religions have been flexible, open to innovation and thoroughly capable of assimilating new concepts". The missionaries took advantage of openness, flexibility and pragmatism of African traditional religion to destroy the religious heritage of Africa. There is no doubt that the missionaries resorted to attack African traditional religion and political structures in a bid to establish Christianity and colonial government.

It is worthy of note that there was no aspect of African culture that was not affected by colonial rule. Okon (2008: 121-122) opined that Jomo Kenyatta the first president of independent Kenya claimed that colonialism deprived Africa of their land, government, condemned their religious ideas and eroded their understanding of justice and morals. However, the colonialists find it difficult to admit that colonialism was a plan to impoverish Africa. Okon (2008: 120) further argued that Africa was in a state of underdevelopment prior to the advent of colonialism in Africa. Colonialists were attracted to Africa owing to their savage condition that needed urgent intervention. Prior to the colonial period, Africa had no defined boundaries. Mgbada (2007:118) quipped that it was the colonial masters who hastily created countries and boundaries in Africa. He further maintained that

Colonial boundaries in Africa date back to the Berlin west African conference of 1884 - 1885, which invariably climaxed the scramble and partition of the continent. The scramble is used to qualify the hasty and hectic struggle with which the European powers - Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Italy - carried out the partition or allocation of various parts of the African continent among themselves.

The colonial powers ruled Africa with cruelty and subjected her to perpetual bondage. It is discovered that the creation of boundaries and states has been a major obstacle to unity in Africa. Gwamna (2010: 78) asserted that colonial governments created perennial ethnic conflicts and antagonisms by creating artificial states and boundaries without considering ethnic, historical and cultural peculiarities.

Under development in Africa

The high rate of underdevelopment in Africa has become worrisome. Gustavo (1973: 24) argued that in order to measure the level of development in Africa, her gross national product or its per capita income will be compared with developed countries. Okafor (2004:14) averred that per capita income is a strategy used by United Nations to determine the capacity of individuals to meet their basic needs based on their income. It should be stated that per capita income in Africa is at its lowest level if it is compared with the per capita income of advanced countries.

Nyerere (1997: 112) asserted that in United States, the income per capita is $3,200 a year while Tanzania has $80 income per capita a year. The resultant effect is that it will take a Tanzanian forty years to earn what an American earns in a year. He maintained that the developed countries increase the income per capita of their citizens with the sum of sixty dollars while Africans receive less than two dollars a year. This has created economic chasm between Africa and developed countries.

The rural nature of many African countries necessitates African people to depend largely on pasture and land for livelihood. This has caused environmental degradation. Mwikamba (2000:34) observes that Africa has witnessed environmental damage due to poverty and population growth. Some African countries like Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia and Mauritania have witnessed 80% of damage in pasture. He further stated that;

A combination of high population densities and low investment has caused arable land per person to decline from 0.5 in 1965 to 0.3 hectares in 1987, especially in countries like Burundi, Lesotho and Kenya. In some African countries the standard of living is actually falling. Zaire's population grew at an average of 3% annually while it GNP shrunk by 7% between 1973 and 1986.

It must be stated that Africa is a continent that is averse to population planning and statistics in order to control her population density. There is no gain saying that Africa has remained underdeveloped owing to too many mouths she feeds on daily basis. Until African culture that encourages production of too many children is dealt with, population explosion will continue to be one of the major challenges that confront Africa.

Africa has passed through ordeals due to underdevelopment. Obeng (2000:29) maintained that underdevelopment has made provision of basic needs impossible. He asserted that underdevelopment has occasioned oppressive injustices, corruption and terrorism. This has caused psychological stress that makes peace elusive in Africa. In order to survive harsh economic reality, people resort to alcohol while others engage in prostitution, thuggery and armed robbery. Getui (2000:48) opined that in African countries like Nairobi, there are uncollected garbage, traffic Jams, shortage of water supply, electric power failure, clearing of recreational park for building construction, inadequate supply of essential commodities and shanty dwellings. Those who dwell in shanties experience consistent overcrowding and congestion which may cause health hazards like epidemics.

Factors that are Responsible for underdevelopment

1. Neocolonialism: Africa liberated herself from clutches of colonialism since fifty six years ago when many African countries gained independence. But, Africa is independent in principle not in practice. In collaboration with this statement, Uduma (2008:242) argued that Africa cannot be said to be independent when her economic system and political policy are directed from outside. Nyerere (1997:110) intoned that Africa sells her natural resources at a lower price and buys machines at higher cost in the international market. It becomes a problem when Africa claims to be independent politically but economically foreign countries control the means of livelihood of her citizens. For instance, many African countries like Nigeria is struggling to survive as a result of fall in oil price.

2. Corruption: Africa is a continent where corruption has dwindled her meagre income.

Kanu (2012:493) observed that according to 2006 Transparency international corruption index, out of 25 most corrupt countries, 15 are African countries. Punch (2016) noted;

It is argued that giant spectre of corruption is arguably more harmful than terrorism as it siphons an estimated $1 trillion from developing countries annually, wastes about $40 billion in direct aid and kills an estimated 3.6 million of the world's poorest annually through inadequate health care and poor living conditions. A CBS TV report says at the extreme case, corruption causes people to lose faith in government, states to fail and violence to erupt in the form of organized crime and terrorism (p.20)

It should be stated that corruption is a clog in the wheel of development. In corrupt countries, money budgeted for development is diverted to private pockets. Misappropriation and stash of public funds to foreign banks become the order of the day.

3. Indebtedness: Most of the African countries are indebted to developed countries. It is

sad that corruption is a major factor that is responsible for indebtedness in Africa. Kanu (2012:493) maintained that in most cases, the indebted countries incurred debts by taking loans for projects that were never executed or completed. He further quipped;

Of 46 African countries, 8 have debt less than $200 per capita, 22 have each a debt of between $200 and $500 per person.... Most heavily indebted are 10 countries that owe between $500 and $1,000 for each citizen, while cote d'ivore, Angola, Tunisia and Mauritania owe between $1,000 and $1,500 per person. Congo has an estimation of $2,000 per person, and Gabon suffers from an estimated $3,500 per person.

One of the resultant effects of this ugly situation is that the indebted countries spend national income on servicing loans alone which affects other sectors adversely.

4. Bad Leadership: It is pathetic to note that Africa has suffered in the hands of bad leaders. According to Iroegbu (2004:100), the major challenge that confronts Africa is sit tight on power, lack of political will and commitment to development. Adjei-Brenyah (1982:362) averred 'the State of non-development associated with most African States is directly attributable to the prevalence of the very lethargic, most unproductive political chieftains operating as "imperial-Lord" life- presidents". Many African countries that claim to practice democracy, deprive the citizens of an opportunity of benefiting from the dividends of democracy. Ongong'a (1999:12) maintained that some politicians abandon their campaign promises immediately they are elected into power. Some African leaders refuse to vacate offices at the expiration of their tenures due to political power offers an opportunity for amassing wealth, acquiring prestige and undue privileges.

5. Ethnic Conflicts: Ethnic conflicts have caused incessant unrests and wars in Africa where both human and material resources are lost. Anyacho (2009:80-81) opined that African countries that have experienced civil wars as a result of ethnic and political conflicts include Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Angola, Burundi, Luganda, Liberia, Ivory Coasts, Congo, Sudan and so on. The breaking out of civil wars have resulted to the displacement of people. In South Sudan, it has been discovered that more than 326,000 people have been displaced from January to October 2011 as a result of conflict. There was inter-ethnic violence that took place between 2007 to 2008 that claimed 1,300 lives and 500,000 people displaced in Kenya. Consequently, many Kenyans were raped, property looted and arson committed (Crooks and Mouradian, 2012:6, Misolo 2013:5). Ethnic conflicts cause great loses to Africa and subject them into perennial poverty. It also creates ethnic and political tensions that stifle economic growth and national development.

Contributions of the Church to Development in Africa

There is a wide belief that the church occupies a vital position in the development of any country. The pivotal role of the church is realized through her social services. It is the responsibility of the church to improve the welfare of the poor masses. Ekpunobi (1993:62) observed that the missionaries contributed a lot in the development of many countries in Africa by constructing roads and building hospitals for them. The church constructed roads to ease problem of transportation of goods and services from one place to another. It is unacceptable for the church to emphasize on other- worldly at the expense of this- worldly. Therefore, the church should strive to enhance people's social and economic status.

The church should emulate missionaries who made positive impact in Agriculture in order to save a lot of people from malnutrition. Ekpunobi (1993:62) further insisted that most of the improved varieties of fruits and seeds that have improved the economy of African countries were brought by the missionaries. The missionaries were role model in massive agricultural production that offered employment opportunities for the youths.

Missionaries invested in human development in Africa. Iroegbu (2004:178) argued that development that is not centred on human development is not worth it. This accounts for the establishment of schools by the missionaries in order to provide formal education for the people. Iwuagwu (1996:121-122) affirmed that the missionaries through mental and intellectual upliftment give Africa her Leaders and professionals who specialize in Medicine, Engineering, Law, Politics, education and economics. Some of the Nationalists who fought for the independence of African countries were products of missionary schools.

The missionaries used enlightenment to educate Africans on the need to get rid of some obnoxious culture that impedes development. In the past, killing of twins, albinos and human sacrifice were prevalent in Africa. But, today some of these ugly practices have become things of the past. Ugwu (2002:61) asserted that the church has curbed bribery, nepotism, authoritarianism and political crisis through preaching and open condemnation of these evil practices. The church has reduced the level of ethnic and political unrests by preaching peace and embarking on reconciliation to reconcile aggrieved parties, hence creating an enabling environment for economic activities to thrive in Africa.

The church has not lost sight of the reality of unemployment that has bedeviled the youths. Haselbarth (1976:37) opined that for the church to contribute in rural development, she has to take cognizance of high rate of unemployment and low agricultural production. The church is not resting on her oars. Efforts have been made by the church to eradicate unemployment by establishing skill-acquisition centres and processing industries, where greater number of youths are employed. The church is committed in empowering the youths through skill-acquisition centres to enable them be self-employed and self-sustained.

It has been discovered that the church has done a lot in alleviating the plight of poor people in society. In Nigeria, the church has built homes for widows and established orphanage homes. The church has paid hospital bills for the poor and awarded scholarships to indigent students. All these are done to alleviate the plight of the poor in society.

The church has intervened in politics by educating the citizens and politicians on the necessity of good governance. According to Misolo (2013:5), in Kenya, there is Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE) that was founded to cater for gender Justice and equality in Africa. He maintained that with the partnership of Johannes Angela, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Bondo, a one-week civic and Leadership training was organized. It is observed that 160 church and community leaders attended the seminar.

The topics handled in the seminar include Peaceful elections, Leadership and Kenyan general elections, democracy and rule of law, devolution of power and new constitution. It must be noted that the organization ensures that there are good governance, rule of law, dividends of democracy, Justice, free and fair election and patriotism which are hall marks of development. Obeng (2000:30) quipped that a church has indicated interest in purchasing Kentucky Hotel in Harare. The church has also considered engaging in bus service. He further averred that the church of the province of Kenya has established motor vehicle training institute at Murang'a for training of women as automobile mechanics. All these efforts are geared towards eradicating poverty and attracting development for the people.

Religion and underdevelopment in comparative analysis.

Religion has caused doctrinal differences among churches. Uzoho (2006:115) observed that doctrinal differences ensue due to disagreement among churches on "burial of a dead member during or after burial, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and infant baptism". There is no doubt that they have caused rivalry, disunity and schism in Christianity. Aguene (nd:12-13) maintained that disunity and hatred have gone to the extent that in Nigeria, particularly in Igboland it is difficult for a Roman catholic to marry an Anglican and vice versa. The prejudice and sentiment that exist between Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church on marital grounds have deprived many people from marrying their lovers, thereby causing family problems. Doctrinal differences resulted to the emergence of New Religious movements that have bedeviled Africa. The New Religious movements have spread heresy and syncretism. In most cases, fake Pastors engage in unethical and unwholesome practices with the ulterior motive of exploiting their victims and rendering them poor. It should be noted that world religions like Christianity and Islam emphasize other-worldliness and play down this-worldliness. Some religions condemn adherents who aspire to accomplish socio-economic and political ambitions. This has led people to become lazy dormant (Ugwu, 2002:64). It accounts for the high rate of poverty in Africa.

Church abolished barbaric cultural practices that held sway before the advent of Christianity. Although, some of the obnoxious cultures still persist till today. In many African societies, cannibalism and ritual killing are still going on despite Christian teaching that thou shall no kill. Some of the cultural practices that rear ugly heads are widow hood rites that subject women under torture and inhuman treatment. They are deprived the opportunity of inheriting their late husbands' property, thereby imposing poverty upon them. There is a culture that reduces women to mere chattels of the men. Uka (2013:12) decried the condition of women when he described them "as chattels who are given up, sold into marriage (and a man can purchase as many as he pleases), in a society in which the myths, the folklore, the proverbs, the taboos, all conspire to dehumanize and oppress womanhood...." There is no doubt that in patriarchal society; women are not given opportunity to contribute towards the development of the society.

Church has disorganized the African society by disrupting instruments of social control like divination and consultation of oracles (Aguene nd:10). It has condemned cleansing or purification rites (ikwa ala), ostracism, banishment of offenders, use of ofo, and payment of fines which hither to were used to checkmate criminal offences like stealing, telling lies, murder and so on. There are anti-social acts that range from armed robbery, kidnapping, fraud, murder, bribery and corruption that are clog in the wheel of progress.

It must be noted that when the missionaries introduced western education, not everybody had the opportunity of acquiring western education. The African traditional religion has made it possible for young girls to enter into forced and early marriages. Apart from early marriage depriving women the opportunity of choosing their husbands, it has deprived them the opportunity of acquiring formal education. As a result of lack of basic skills for employment, many women are unemployed, backward and poor. The African culture has reduced the dignity of human beings to nothing by institutionalizing the outcast system. It is difficult for the outcasts to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of their communities. They suffer discrimination, segregation, abuse, insults, mockery and humiliation.

Recommendations

  • Adherents of religions in Africa should emphasize more on peace which will help to reduce incessant political and ethnic tensions.
  • Religious Leaders should partner with government to provide basic amenities for the people.
  • Religious Leaders should make moral development their priority which will contribute in no small measure in increasing and sustaining development in Africa.
  • Religious Leaders should encourage tested and trusted members to participate in politics with the aim of producing political Leaders who have fear of God.
  • The religious Leaders should act as watchdogs of political Leaders in order to checkmate political excesses.
  • Political Leaders in Africa should make integrity and accountability their watchwords.

Conclusion

Africa has witnessed underdevelopment not due to lack of human and natural resources, but as a result of bad leadership. The underdevelopment in Africa is attributed to both internal and external factors. It is internal in the sense that some political leaders in Africa are corrupt. They divert public funds to their private accounts, thereby depriving the masses the opportunity of having basic amenities of life. The external factor is visible in the manner in which the developed countries exploit the underdeveloped countries for their enrichment. However, religion in Africa has played crucial role in providing basic amenities, skill-acquisition centre and formal education that have helped to develop Africa.

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