Liberian Now Blogs

 
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Kelly with our sweet Chef Bendu and Mama Ruth

Having traveled to Africa now for over two decades, there are many aspects of this great continent that are striking. The natural beauty and abundant resources Africa has been blessed with; the swarm of daily activity that fills its cities; the turgent smells and cacophony of noises that echo throughout its streets are just a few of the things that can overwhelm a foreigner in his or her first foray into Africa. But the aspect of Africa that I find most striking is the hospitality it shows its guests.

From all the countries I have traveled to, the African countries are consistently the most hospitable. The African hosts I have had

 

Having traveled to Africa now for over two decades, there are many aspects of this great continent that are striking. The natural beauty and abundant resources Africa has been blessed with; the swarm of daily activity that fills its cities; the turgent smells and cacophony of noises that echo throughout its streets are just a few of the things that can overwhelm a foreigner in his or her first foray into Africa. But the aspect of Africa that I find most striking is the hospitality it shows its guests.

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Sierra Leone government burial team members wearing protective clothing carry the coffin of Dr Modupeh Cole, Sierra Leone's second senior physician to die of Ebola. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

Sierra Leone government burial team members wearing protective clothing carry the coffin of Dr Modupeh Cole, Sierra Leone’s second senior physician to die of Ebola. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Vox put out an extremely succinct but informative article about this deadly disease. For insightful coverage on this deadly disease ravaging West Africa be sure to check out their articles related to the Ebola Outbreak.

 The article on the origins of the Ebola virus begins by stating “One of the big mysteries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is where the virus came from in the first place — and whether it’s changed in any significant ways. These unanswered questions could be making it more difficult to diagnose the disease and find treatments.”

Below is the link explaining the origins of this current outbreak and telling the story of those who sacrificed their lives for us to know more about this evil disease.  http://www.vox.com/2014/8/28/6071071/ebola-sequencing

 

 

 

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African-Christianity-RisingI recently came across a short eight-minute video clip of a documentary film project entitled African Christianity Rising. I found these few minutes of footage quite compelling. In this short video, one gets to experience firsthand the mindset and movement of authentic African worship.

As Christianity begins to shift from the global north to the global south, a very relevant and pertinent question we should be asking ourselves is -what is the African experience of Christianity? I hope this short video clip gives you a little insight into that answer. This is a documentary is one I hope to see in its entirety sometime soon.

To purchase this video click here 

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The-Next-ChristendomThe Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins is at the top of my to-read list. Jenkins is a respected Christian historian who is the Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University. He also is a contributing editor for The American Conservative and writes a monthly column for The Christian Century.

When this book came out a little over a decade ago, it made many headlines both in the Christian and secular press. This third edition, published in 2011 continues to make the case for a Christianity that will soon be based primarily in the global South and especially throughout the continent of Africa. It is one I can’t wait to read.

 BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM AMAZON.COM & ENDORSEMENTS

In this new and substantially expanded Third Edition, Philip Jenkins continues to illuminate the remarkable expansion of Christianity in the global South–in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Drawing upon the extensive new scholarship that has appeared on this topic in recent years, he asks how the new Christianity is likely to affect the poor, among whom it finds its most devoted adherents.  How should we interpret the enormous success of prosperity churches across the Global South? Politically, what will be the impact of new Christian movements? Will Christianity contribute to liberating the poor, to give voices to the previously silent, or does it threaten only to bring new kinds of division and conflict? Does Christianity liberate women, or introduce new scriptural bases for subjection?Philip-Jenkins

Acclaim for previous editions of The Next Christendom:

Named one of the Top Religion Books of 2002 by USA Today

Named One of the Top Ten Religion Books of the Year by Booklist (2002)

Winner of the Christianity Today Book Award in the category of “Christianity and Culture” (2002)

“Jenkins is to be commended for reminding us, throughout the often gripping pages of this lively work…that the history of Christianity is the history of innovative–and unpredictable–adaptations.”

The New York Times Book Review

christianity-Africa-graph“This is a landmark book. Jenkins thesis is comprehensively researched; his analysis is full of insight; and his projection of the future may indeed prove to be prophetic.”

Baptist Times

“A valuable and provocative look at the phenomenon widely ignored in the affluent North but likely to be of enormous importance in the century ahead…. The Next Christendom is chillingly realistic about the relationship between Christianity and Islam.”

–Russell Shaw, Crisis

“If the times demand nothing less than a major rethinking of contemporary global history from a Christian perspective, The Next Christendom will be one of the significant landmarks pointing the way.

–Mark Noll, Books & Culture

To purchase this book on amazon.com, click here

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top-priorities-for-africa-2013To genuinely grasp what the greatest challenges in Africa will be in 2013, this in-depth, ninety-four minute, panel discussion is essential. Below is a summary of what this panel deliberated over.

SUMMARY OF THE PANEL DISCUSSION TAKEN FROM THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE WEBSITE:

“African countries start the new year with hope and optimism, as many continue to improve governance, deepen economic growth and advance democratic reforms. However, instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rising extremism in Mali and Nigeria, and ongoing youth unemployment in much of the continent make the great expectations for Africa seem fragile at times.

On January 9, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion with leading African experts on what the most pressing issues and challenges are for the continent in 2013. The panel included: Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who appeared via video conference; Laura Seay, assistant professor at Morehouse College; Steve Radelet, distinguished professor at Georgetown University; and Senior Fellow Mwangi Kimenyi, director of the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings. Isha Sesay, anchor on CNN International, moderated the discussion.

The event follows the release of the new Forsight Africa report, a collection of short briefs on the major issues for Africa in 2013.”

To watch the full video presentation of this panel discussion please click here:

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The-Fate-of-Africa

This seven hundred and six page book is not for the weary of heart but for those yearning to know more about this mysterious continent. Meredith’s masterpiece is comprehensive in its scope, covering what has happened in all of Africa since the independence of Ghana in 1957. Due to the colonial era, Africa was broken up into countries that had neither natural borders nor contained people groups, which would typically unite together to innately form a nation.

This book focuses in on the result of that. It peers deeply into the crimes and corruption of the charismatic African leaders in the post-colonial era. The meticulous research of Meredith substantiates the cyclical horror story, which consumed Africa for the first five decades of its independence.  africa.png.opt276x279o0,0s276x279

It chronicles the dozens upon dozens of successful and unsuccessful coup attempts, which were the scourge of Africa.

It details the decades of tyranny and torture, which engulfed Africa, while also demonstrating how entire countries went bankrupt because of their corrupt leaders.

The Fate of Africa, which was originally published in 2005 and was revised in 2011 with updated material, ends on a somber note. It documents through various indices how Africa still faces problems of epic proportions and leaves the reader with a sense of no hope for the continent.

As worthy an undertaking I believe this book to be, I do deem it to be only part of the African story. No doubt, a very important part which people need to read in order to really grasp what is going on in Africa today. The problem is, Meredith chooses to leave out the multitude of African success stories, especially the ones that have dominated the African landscape this past decade. (To learn more about these African successes click here)

corruption-is-deadly

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Millenium-Development-GoalsIn 2006, I first heard of the MDG’s, through its leading evangelist, the one-of-a-kind rock star, Bono. I then went on to read various books and articles about these lofty goals, which were birthed at the beginning of this new millennium. The more I learned, the more passionate I became about these goals, and in many ways, the MDG’s were the impetus for the eventual formation of Liberia Now.

That same year President Bush invited Bono to give the keynote address at the annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast. This prophetic rock star gave the most poignant sermon I had ever heard on the Biblical morality of these goals. He stated, “these goals are the Beatitudes for a globalized world.” As only Bono could do, he poetically put it like this: “God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries of the ruble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunities and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”

Bono-at-TEDIn the seven years since I first heard that sermon, millions of lives have literally been saved because of these eight monumental goals. The desire is by 2015 to see all eight of these goals reached. Many of the goals are well on their way to being fulfilled, while much work still has to be done in the areas of progress-MDGSchild and maternal health. To hear more about the progress of these beautiful goals and specifically how this is affecting Sub-Saharan Africa, be sure to check out the thirteen-minute video below.

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The-Lazarus-EffectCheck out this powerful thirty-one minute documentary which follows the story of HIV positive people in Africa who in as few as 40 days undergo a remarkable transformation thanks to access to treatment that costs around 40 cents a day. This film was a joint effort of the Red Campaign and HBO and is real life testimony of what the MDG’s are all about. 

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Africa's-Moment.png.opt407x269o0,0s407x269Rather than regurgitating what many media outlets are now picking up on, it would be more meaningful for you to read for yourself why Africa is on the rise. I have taken four short excerpts from a variety of venerable publications, which have written extensively about this issue. I would encourage you to check out the full articles from the first three excerpts. 

 

NY-TIMES-LOGO-

“Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa, according to The Economist. The International Monetary Fund says that between 2011 and 2015, African countries will account for 7 of the top 10 spots….Africa isn’t just a place for safaris or humanitarian aid.It’s also a place to make money. Global companies are expanding in Africa; vast deposits of oil, gas and minerals are being discovered; and Goldman Sachs recently issued a report, “Africa’s Turn,” comparing business opportunities in Africa with those in China in the early 1990s.”  (excerpt taken from Nicholas Kristof’s article entitled Africa on the Rise in The New York Times dated June 30, 2012)  Click here to read the rest of this article.

 

The-Economist-logo“Human development in sub-Saharan Africa has made huge leaps. Secondary-school enrolment grew by 48% between 2000 and 2008 after many states expanded their education programmes and scrapped school fees. Over the past decade malaria deaths in some of the worst-affected countries have declined by 30% and HIV infections by up to 74%. Life expectancy across Africa has increased by about 10% and child mortality rates in most countries have been falling steeply.”  (excerpt taken from Oliver August’s article entitled A hopeful continent in The Economist dated March 2nd, 2013)  Click here to read the rest of this article.

 

Foreign Policy logo“Africa has been the second-fastest-growing region in the world over the past 10 years. It has posted average annual GDP growth of 5.1 percent over the past decade, driven by greater political stability and economic reforms that have unleashed the private sector in many of the continent’s varied mosaic of economies…Poverty is also on the retreat. A new consuming class has taken its place: Since 2000, 31 million African households have joined the world’s consuming class. At this point, when their household incomes exceed $5,000, measured at purchasing power parity, consumers begin to direct more than half their income to things other than food and shelter. The continent now has around 90 million people who fit this definition. That figure is projected to reach 128 million by 2020.” (excerpt taken from Susan Lund, & Arend Van Wamelen’s article entitled Lions on the Move in Foreign Policy dated August 31st, 2012)  Click here to read the rest of this article.

 

 

world-policy-journal-logo“Africa has had its moment of hope and optimism, but this is the one that promises a genuine lasting, takeoff.  Across the diverse continent of 54 sovereign nations and more than a billion people, a growing number of Africans are finding success. With six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies over the past decade, Africa’s despair and penury, violence and intolerance are increasingly being left behind. Civil wars and despots are giving way to prosperity and democracy.” (excerpt taken from Ray Morris’ introduction in World Policy Journal’s Winter 2012/2013 issue titled Africa’s Moment) Click here to purchase the World Policy article.

 

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Africa-Straight-UpThe Africa Straight Up documentary begins with this poignant quote from the incomparable TED conference – “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete.” Africa is a continent who over a billion people call home, containing54 unique countries and where about 2000 languages are spoken. Yet this diverse and distinct land had been stereotyped by much of the Western World. It has become known as the “dark continent”, where only disease, famine, war and corruption are regularly reported on.

African Proverb

If someone really wants to begin to explore this mysterious continent though, Africa Straight Up is as good a place as any to begin. Africa Straight Up tells the under-told

story of everything that is right with Africa. It debunks the singular story of Africa as a land of all pain and suffering and nohope. It takes a person on the first step of a journey to truly begin to comprehend this amazingly assorted continent that is full of both joy and pain, love and hate, hope and despair. It is another side of the story of Africa that needs to be heard.

africa_infographic_bigIn the months to come, in this space called Understanding Africa, my desire is to discover more about this heterogeneous continent. I will explore the plethora of quality media, prose and poetry that helps to illuminate the birthplace of humanity and the most exciting continent of the twenty-first century. I hope you will join me on this African adventure.

A fellow learner,

Dave Signature

 

 

Dave Tippit 

 

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