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Posts tagged ‘Malawi’

Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.

By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Our President Took All The Christmas Toys And Left Us None.

By Dr. Peregrino Brimah

This September it was announced that the Malawi government was selling their presidential jet to use the proceeds, $15 million to feed the poor. The proceeds will be used to purchase maize locally and some for legume production. President, Mrs. Joyce Banda, said the cost of running the jet was too much and as such she was selling it to help feed the 10% suffering from food shortage in the African nation.

President Banda also cut her salary by 30 percent and pledged to sell off 35 Mercedes Benz cars used by her cabinet.

Nigeria according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has 112 million poor with 100 million ‘destitute,’ living under a dollar a day. The number of poor has doubled since 2004, midway into the predecessor Obasanjo’s government, when the number stood at 54 million, to the present 112 million in 2013.

Despite Nigeria recording impressive economic growth, the wealth is simply not reaching the poor who are getting poorer and more desperate while the government and business friends of the government are getting stupendously rich, cutting up chunks of the nation’s resource and sharing its assets among themselves.

As the year 2013 draws to a close, Nigeria is promised more of the same. The government, unlike that of Malawi has budgeted to purchase another presidential jet to add to 10 jets already in the presidential fleet.

According to a recent report, the proposal for the new aircraft has already been included in the 2014 Appropriation Bill submitted to the National Assembly. This latest toy to be added to the presidential fleet will cost 1.5 billion naira.

It is no secret that most of these presidential jets are used for personal business including the ferrying of the president’s political campaigners and even for transporting questionable cabal, investigated for national fraud. In November 2012, Jide Omokore, a front-man of the Nigerian president and minister of petroleum was flying from Monaco to Paris when the presidential jet was detained for two days by the French authorities, as reported here.

As Nigeria’s military does a great job checking the atrocities of Boko Haram in the north east, several sources in the military have complained that they lack proper equipment. This has led to vulnerability to attack with the superiorly equipped Boko Haram being able to ambush and destroy military barracks’.

In the recent attack of a barrack in Bama in which several soldiers were killed and their family members burned alive, raped and also killed, it was reported that the base had only one armored personnel carrier (APC). Most of the equipment used by the Nigerian army was purchased since the Shagari regime.

The battle against terror can never be won by military force alone, however it is almost unheard of for rebel forces to sack military barracks. Even if the army falls short in protecting civilian villages, it is expected that they are armed and equipped enough to protect themselves. However Nigeria’s government satisfies itself, getting all the toys, in private jets for politics and business and bullet proof cars, while the army is left exposed and civilians suffer living under a dollar a day without things as simple as drinking water.

It is true that the raping of Nigeria did not start with this or the immediate previous governments during this 6th republic; however Nigerians are tired of being raped. It is no excuse that because others from other ethnic groups have forcefully seized power via coups and raped the country, that the people must open up to all 500 ethnic groups to rape the nation’s people, civilian and military in succession.

While many in urban areas and the totally abandoned villages will be going to bed with empty stomachs, lit kerosene lamps and no hope of employment and restitution, those in the corridors of power sleep once again with all the latest toys.

While the army at war stays up at night afraid that Boko Haram terrorists will sweep their camps, lacking in craft, APC’s, drones and modern technology to keep them ahead in the war, Nigeria’s leaders will fly high-speed and happy in latest jets and drive safe in their bullet proof jeeps.

We pray for a miracle in 2014. We pray the Lord will give us leaders who will not free convicted murderers, but will help us arrest and lock up all the government thieves of the past… lockup the cabal thieves as the poor thieves are locked up today, for what is mete for the poor is likewise mete for the rich.

We pray the Lord replaces this crop with leaders who will start the process of cleaning up the oil polluted swamps of the Niger Delta. Who will protect the gold mining poisoned children of Zamfara. Who will repair government assets and not sell them to their friends to extort us in unregulated monopolies. Who will create a path to create jobs for our 50% unemployed Youth. Who will resurrect our police force, equipping them with the toys and decent wages they need to work proud and effectively in curbing crime. Who will build roads without taxing us and even build subway systems. Who will encourage the setting up of automobile industries in pure competitive fashion, without first punishing us by banning us from importing cars we manage; while they hand themselves unlimited waivers.

We pray the Good Lord will abruptly seize power from the wicked and give it to people with kind hearts, selfless nature and astute judgment, people like Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda, for we cannot last like this much longer.

And we pray the Good Lord strengthen each and every one of us to stand up and say NO! And demand our rightful toys. To resist temptations of xenophobic stupidity which make us complacent to corruption and rape when it is ‘one of ours.’  We pray for progress.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah [Every Nigerian Do Something]
Email: Twitter: @EveryNigerian


What We Could Learn From the African Church.

African church
We could learn a thing or two from the African church.

Last Sunday I attended both morning services at Deliverance Church in the Kasarani district of Nairobi, Kenya. I was dreading speaking at 8 a.m. because early services in the United States are sparsley attended and the energy levels tend to be weak. But this is not the case in Africa.

When the worship began, ushers were busy urging congregants to move closer together so they could pack people into seats. By the time pastor Jimmy Kimani greeted his flock, people were sitting or standing outside—even though there are more than 1,500 chairs in the main sanctuary. Latecomers have to wait until children are dismissed to their morning classes.

Welcome to Kenya, where churches are overflowing and where missionary-minded leaders are planting new congregations weekly. A study done by the Pew Charitable Trust two years ago confirmed thatChristian faith in Africa is growing exponentially. In 1910, Christians made up 9 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa; today the number has jumped to 63 percent. The study noted that Nigeria now has more Protestants than Germany, where the Protestant Reformation began.

I know the African church faces big challenges. I wrote last week about the devastating effects of theprosperity gospel in Africa, and readers are still debating that topic in our online forum. But as I watched the people worship at altars in Nairobi and Lilongwe, Malawi, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “I wish we had this in the USA.”

Here are four things we could learn from Africa’s dynamic church:

1. We could learn a lot about spiritual passion. Only 9 percent of people in Malawi have electricity, and most of them live on one dollar a day. Many of the Christians I met in Lilongwe struggle to find money to catch a bus, buy a meal or send their kids to school. Yet dozens of women who attended our meetings two weeks ago trusted God to help them get there—even if it meant they would go without food.

One of my friends in Malawi, a pastor named Peter, took a four-day bus ride to attend a conference in Kenya because he is so passionate about spreading the gospel in his country. We could use some of that desperation on this side of the Atlantic.

2. We could learn about biblical discipleship. While it is true that some African churches have exploited people financially with a selfish prosperity message, many leaders have rejected that emphasis and are working hard to train mature believers. At Deliverance Church in Nairobi, pastor Jimmy Kimani is surrounded by some of the most humble, godly, discerning local leaders I’ve met anywhere in the world. For years Kimani has emphasized the need for small groups and weekend retreats to encourage spiritual growth, and many pastors are following this model.

3. We could learn about defending biblical morality. Last summer during his three-country visit to Africa, President Obama urged lawmakers and members of the clergy to accept same-sex marriage. But Obama’s strategy backfired. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Senegal’s President Macky Sall and several top church leaders rebuked Obama for trying to impose acceptance of homosexuality on a culture that has long disapproved of it. Even though Africans initially cheered Obama’s election in 2008 because of his Kenyan roots, today many are disappointed that he has bought into what they view as an anti-Christian agenda.

“Those who believe in other things, that is their business. We believe in God,” said Deputy President William Ruto during Obama’s visit in July. “President Obama is a powerful man, but we trust in God as it is written in the Bible, that ‘cursed is the man who puts trust in another man.’”

Cardinal John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi and president of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, was more blunt. He told Obama, “Those people who have already ruined their society … let them not become our teachers to tell us where to go. I think we need to act according to our own traditions and our faiths.”

It is the height of Western intellectual pride to think we are the keepers of morality; it is even more reprehensible that Mr. Obama would require African counties to accept his religious views on homosexuality in order to receive U.S. financial aid.

4. We could learn about commitment to Christ in the face of persecution. In September, Muslim extremists in Jos, Nigeria, ordered passengers to get off a bus. They then shot those who identified themselves as Christians. Did you hear about the brutal incident on television? Probably not, because the world yawns or looks away when Christians suffer for their faith.

Persecution has kept Africa’s church strong. I have interviewed Nigerian Christians whose hands and arms were sliced off by knife-wielding Islamic terrorists. I also know African pastors who have been directly opposed by witchdoctors with occult powers. Christians in Africa today are perhaps better equipped to address the reality of Christ’s power in a world that hates the truth of the gospel. They are my heroes, and I intend to learn as much as possible from them.


J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project( You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

AU Tells ICC To Back Off Heads Of state; Malawi Cabinet Fired En-masse Over ‘Cash-gate’ GEJ Jets To Israel As Amnesty Releases Damning Report.

Oct. 15 (GIN) – The African Union has given notice to the International Criminal Court that it should end its war crimes trials of sitting heads of state.

Also, at the AU summit in Ethiopia this past weekend, it was agreed that the Hague-based court should suspend the trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, but they nixed a call for a complete withdrawal from the court.

Addressing the summit, Mr Kenyatta accused the court of bias and “race-hunting.”

Kenyatta and Ruto are accused of instigating and financing deadly violence in a post-election melee in 2007 that cost hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.

Critics accused the court of “hunting Africans” as eight cases were selected from Africa for prosecution out of 139 worldwide. These eight were Uganda, the DRC, the Central African Republic; Darfur, Sudan; the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.

But a growing number of African scholars, elders, and civil society activists back the jurisdiction of the court which steps in when local courts are unable or unwilling to do the job. A withdrawal from the ICC, they say, would enable those who have “killed, maimed and oppressed,” to easily do so again.

The court, insists former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, constrains those who act as if “neither the golden rule, nor the rule of law, applies to them.”

“Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence,” he wrote in a recent New York Times editorial.

“They believe the interests of the people should not stand in the way of their ambitions of wealth and power… and that those who get in their way — the victims: their own people — should remain faceless and voiceless.”

Writing in the online newsletter Pambazuka, Prof. Horace Campbell of Syracuse University, reflected on Africa’s judicial system and its weakness in prosecuting war crimes perpetrators.

“Far from opposing the ICC,” he wrote, “Africans must strengthen social justice movements in their societies so that it becomes a moot question as to where to put on trial those who orchestrate the deaths of thousands.

“This work must proceed so that by the time Africa is united and the Africans and indigenous peoples democratize Latin America, especially Brazil, there will be a new platform for the enforcement for international law.”  of Pres. Kenyatta 


Oct. 15 (GIN) – Madame President Joyce Banda of Malawi took a figurative broom to her ministers and sacked them all for their alleged roles in a corruption scandal dubbed “Cash-gate” by media.

Banda, like her counterpart in Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has been battling entrenched misuse of office by government officials. At a cabinet meeting last week, Banda reportedly told ministers she had lost faith in the lot of them.

“It is obvious that huge amounts of public funds have been lost through corruption and theft within the public service, and regrettably this still continuing,” Banda said in announcing the mass layoff although it was later reported that most of them were reassigned to new posts.

Among the 25 cabinet members fired was the finance minister, Ken Lipenga who had been leading a high-profile delegation to meetings with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. His dismissal was expected because “he was at the centre of fraud and cooked revenue figures at the treasury,” said analyst Ernest Thindwa.

According to local reports, upwards of $3 million was taken from state coffers. Ten government employees were arrested while 9 senior police officers were jailed in another fraud. The budget director, on the eve of revealing a major corruption ring, narrowly escaped death in an assassination attempt.

In the history of plunder from government coffers, Banda’s predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, stands out for increasing his personal wealth in 8 years from $1.5 million to $175 million. Bingu, as he was popularly known, had been an economist at the World Bank in Washington and worked in the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In a speech last week, the President credited the Police, the Anti Corruption Bureau and other government agencies for “uncovering and intercepting large amounts of cash in homes, offices and in the trunks of cars of some individuals in the civil service.”

While Banda, 63, has set up a special unit to audit state finances, she hasn’t agreed to calls by donors, which fund about 40 percent of the budget, to enlist foreign investigators.


Oct. 15 (GIN) –The United Nations, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, the European Union, among others are adding their voices to a call by local citizens seeking the release of results from polls held more than two weeks ago.

According to early results from 37 of the country’s 38 electoral districts, President Alpha Conde‘s ruling RPG party leads with 53 seats, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo’s UFDG has 38 seats and former Prime Minister Sidya Toure‘s UFR has 9.

In a statement Sunday, unofficial observers called on the government to cooperate fully so that results could be counted from the Matoto district of the capital city, Conakry, one of the country’s biggest, which both sides claim to have won. They recommended that international observers monitor the process.

The delay has prompted a call by the opposition to annul the entire exercise, dampening hopes for an end to years of instability since a 2008 military coup that deterred investment in the world’s largest bauxite exporter.

Guineans cast ballots on Sept. 28 in their first legislative election in more than a decade. Opposition parties said the polls were marred by a string of irregularities, including ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and minors casting ballots.

Tensions rose further when the Independent National Electoral Commission was slow to announce the results, blamed by the current president Alpha Conde on a manual tally and the “state of our roads.”

This week, some 30 young opposition supporters were detained for holding a protest without a permit against the alleged irregularities.

Alpha Barry, spokesman for a special elections-related security force, said the demonstrators gathered to denounce the disappearance of a ballot box in Conakry’s administrative district where the office of the president is located.


Oct. 15 (GIN) –  A new report released by Amnesty International lays blame on Nigerian security forces for the detention and deaths of hundreds of civilians in the military’s ongoing war against Boko Haram, an Islamist group in the country’s north-east.

Hundreds of prisoners suffocated in overcrowded cells, others died from starvation and extra-judicial killings, according to the report.

The Nigerian army has rejected all previous accusations of human right abuses but the report cites an account by a senior Nigerian army officer who admitted to Amnesty that at least 950 people died in military custody in the first half of the year.

Most were said to have links to the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Amnesty said.

A large proportion of these deaths were reported in Giwa military barracks, Maiduguri in Borno State and Sector Alpha, commonly referred to as ‘Guantanamo’ and Presidential Lodge (known as ‘Guardroom’) in Damaturu,Yobe State.

According to former detainees interviewed by Amnesty, people died on an almost daily basis in both Giwa and Sector Alpha from suffocation or other injuries due to overcrowding and starvation. Some suffered serious injuries due to severe beating and eventually died in detention due to lack of medical attention and treatment.

These interviews also revealed that in some cases detainees may have been extrajudicially executed. Some described soldiers taking detainees from their cells threatening to shoot and kill them. In many cases the detainees never returned. Others were reportedly shot in the leg during interrogation, provided no medical care and left to bleed to death.

In July, Human Rights Watch said 3,600 people had died in conflict related to the Boko Haram uprising since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

Nigerian security forces have been criticized by rights groups in the past for its approach to the war on the Boko Haram, often firing randomly in civilian areas or arbitrarily rounding up young men as suspects.

Meanwhile, it was reported that President Goodluck Jonathan will lead more than 30,000 Christian pilgrims on an upcoming trip to Israel. The President is expected to arrive on Oct. 23. He’ll be joined by several members of his administration and by other governors.

President Jonathan, who is the first sitting Nigerian Christian president to visit Israel, is expected to sign a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and Israel, making it easier for Christian pilgrims to visit.


Step Into the Realm of Glory.

woman praying

All of creation is waiting for the day that you and I become like Christ. It is waiting for the day we become God‘s holy love revealed to a world that desperately needs that love.

It is waiting for the day on which we finally step into the realm of glory that God has prepared for His sons and daughters—those of us who, like Jesus, have fully yielded our lives to Him.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” Paul wrote in Romans 8:18-19 (NIV). “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”

That is a powerful scripture! According to Paul, a time is coming when God will so possess His children that we will manifest His glory to the whole world!

Already we see people who operate in this realm of glory—forerunners whose lives are characterized by the love and power of God. We may, at times, even step into this realm of glory ourselves.

The Role of Suffering 

Taking that step, however, is neither easy nor painless. Romans 8:17 reminds us that we are children of God and heirs of Christ—”if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (emphasis added).

Suffering is part of the human experience. In life there will always be times of pain, sickness and misery. In a fallen world, they’re unavoidable.

But that suffering is nothing compared to the glory God has prepared for us!

I personally know what it means to suffer. During my years as a missionary, I’ve experienced great suffering.

But when I compare that suffering to the glory God has poured out in my life, which has spilled over to many hundreds of the world’s poor, homeless and orphaned, the pain seems like nothing.

We have to share in Christ’s sufferings in order to share in His glory. I have experienced both. And the glory has always far eclipsed the suffering.

My husband, Rolland, and I began our ministry in Mozambique in southeastern Africa in 1995. The government offered us a horribly dilapidated orphanage as our base. Before long we had planted a church and taken in 320 orphans, all products of years of brutal civil war.

Ministry was a struggle from the start. We had little support, and the formerly communist officials in the town were openly hostile toward us.

At one point I went into our warehouse and saw that it was empty, except for a little ketchup and some herbal tea. “How am I going to feed 320 hungry children with that?” I thought to myself.

“What should I do?” I cried out to God.

“Get together a couple of people who believe,” He said.

Immediately I went and got two or three believers, and we started worshiping in the empty warehouse.

“God, I choose not to look at the ketchup and herbal tea,” I prayed. “I choose to look at You. And here are a few people who will look at You with me.”

Within three hours, a huge Mack truck pulled up to the warehouse, and a man stepped out of the truck. “This food is for you,” he said. “Where do you want it?” Then he and another man proceeded to unload the truck, filling the warehouse with food.

We were ecstatic! We didn’t know where the food had come from—except, of course, from the hand of God.

Our happiness was short-lived, however. Thieves came, broke the lock on the warehouse and stole all the food.

But God’s glory would not be deterred. Soon another truck arrived and filled the warehouse a second time. I quickly changed the lock!

More Suffering, More Glory 

More suffering—and more glory—followed.

The local newspaper ran a story that called my husband and me Marxist spies. A contract was put out on my life, offering $20 to the person who killed me.

Government officials came and told us we could no longer pray, worship or sing to God at the orphanage. Neither could we continue to distribute “unapproved” food, clothing or medical assistance. I was personally banned from the property.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” I told the Lord. Overwhelmed and exhausted, my husband and I and our two children evacuated to our office in the city, 20 miles away.

The orphans who stayed behind refused to follow the government’s new rules. They continued to praise and worship God until officials came and beat them.

One by one, the children began making the 20-mile trek to our office on foot. Before long we had more than 50 children with us in the city—with one bathroom and not even a pot to cook in! But once again, God’s glory broke through the suffering.

A woman from the U.S. embassy brought dinner to us: chili and rice, enough to feed our immediate family of four.

“We have a very large family!” I told her, thinking of all the orphans who were living with us.

“Oh, this is only enough for you and your two children,” the woman responded.

“We have a lot of children,” I replied.

Not feeling particularly full of faith, I asked her to pray over the food. Then I directed all the children—several dozen of them—to sit down, and we began serving the meal.

Amazingly, everyone ate until he was full! But what was perhaps more amazing was that we never ran out of the plastic bowls we were serving the chili in or the utensils we gave the kids to eat it with.

God caused faith to rise in my spirit that day. “I have so much faith right now,” I told the Lord, “you could tell me to feed 100,000 people, and I would say yes.”

Some time later, when I was praying and worshiping God, something like a video screen appeared before my eyes. Face after face after face of starving people in Malawi, the small country bordering Mozambique, began to flash before me.

As I cried about the suffering I saw, I heard God say, “You give them something to eat.”

I was momentarily speechless. Then I said, “OK, I will.”

After all, I’d seen Mack trucks full of food show up out of nowhere. I’d seen chili and rice multiplied. Why would I question God now?

That was the beginning of our outreach into neighboring countries. At some point, you don’t care how much suffering you have to go through in order to see the glory of God touch people’s lives!

Spiritual Renewal

Thankfully, our God is a loving God. He doesn’t allow us to suffer indefinitely. He is faithful to renew our spirits with His glory when we need it most.

At one point I decided to leave Mozambique to attend a conference in Toronto, Canada. Exhausted, ill and discouraged, I’d heard that many people were experiencing spiritual renewal through a move of God there called “the Toronto Blessing.”

I determined to make the 30-hour journey against the advice of two doctors. I’d just been diagnosed with pneumonia, and they said I should not travel.

I went anyway, determined to trust God. Mercifully, He opened my lungs at the start of the conference, and I was able to breathe freely for the rest of my stay.

Each day I was there, my strength increased. I spent many hours receiving prayer from the people on the Toronto ministry team.

One night during ministry I began groaning in intercession for the children of Mozambique. In my mind’s eye I could see thousands of children coming toward me.

“No, Lord, there are too many!” I cried.

“Look in My eyes,” He said to me. “There will always be enough bread and drink because I paid the price with My life. Don’t be afraid. Only believe.”

I returned to Mozambique healed and strengthened—and ready to take another step into the realm of glory God had prepared for me.

God is saying the same thing to each of us: “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” He’s waiting for us to step into a new realm of glory.

Will it involve suffering? Yes. But the suffering won’t compare to the glory we’ll experience as the children of God!



M.K.O Abiola and The Philanthropy Dearth By M.B.O Owolowo.

By M.B.O Owolowo

Philanthropy can be defined as the altruistic concern for human beings, as manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons or to institutions advancing human welfare.

Based on the above definition of philanthropy, how many notable philanthropists can we easily identify in our milieu? From my early days till when I became an adult the name of M.K.O Abiola would easily have been mentioned, his name was synonymous with philanthropy for many years. Though he was wealthy he was not the wealthiest, he stood out because of his philanthropic activities, an unparalleled generosity.

Recently, we were informed of having at least 400 private jets in the country, a country where the airline industry isn’t up to scratch and our airports aren’t exactly world class. On a poignant note, some of us are still grieving from the loss of loved ones, one year after the ill-fated Dana air crash. The fact that most of the victims’ families haven’t been duly compensated or the airline carrying on with business as usual is another vexatious matter entirely.

By any standard the country is filled with wealthy people, but how does that benefit the country as a whole?
I have often asked myself why many amongst us celebrate fellow Nigerians who made the rich list, like it drives economic growth? Why with all our so called millionaires (or billionaire) on Forbes, we still have to wait for a foreigner like Bill Gates to assist us with the eradication of a deadly disease like Malaria?

Why do some of us need to praise those who have stolen our funds and plundered our resources for the flimsiest of reasons, like they are doing us a favour. These ‘privileged’ few should be generous because it is the human thing to do, and not because of praise singers or some chieftaincy title.

Charity begins at home, for how long would our ‘big men’ continue to enrich other economies? I have visited various countries and once I mention Nigeria, I am duly informed about edifices, businesses and investments owned by my fellow Nigerians. Then I begin to wonder if it is a curse to invest these monies, even if illegally acquired, in our country?
This country is blessed and has made some very wealthy people, so why not give back? Of what economic use or benefit is it to our immediate environment, when our funds are stashed in foreign lands, benefiting host nations?
A society surrounded with wealthy individuals who lack the capacity to give is cancerous to any social system. A country filled will selfishness across all strata is self detrimental.

Imagine if most of these so called ‘big men’ were philanthropic as Abiola was for example, the impact on society would be enormous. All strata of society would feel safer because jobs would be created. The current unemployment rate is scarily high, with about three quarters of the population not gainfully employed- a depressing statistic.

The extremely opulent can start by collectively empowering at least 100 people each; these 100 go on to empower at least 500 people each. Then those 500 empower at least 1000 each, and the chain continues- the multiplier effect of such an initiative on the economy would be tremendous.

Some of the ‘disillusioned’ few must understand empowerment isn’t about giving handouts or stipends, neither is it building some boreholes or patching up some potholes.

Empowerment isn’t having carnal knowledge of young girls at will, and ruining their lives till they can’t differentiate between fiction and reality. Then we wonder why many young men don’t have the means of getting married, and those with the means are afraid of falling into the hands of the remnants of these “big men”, a vicious social cycle, and another lamentable topic entirely.

Government seems to be a convenient way to ill-gotten wealth nowadays, but, do those in these positions of authority care about the welfare of the masses or are they ready to sacrifice their exorbitant wages and allowances for the benefit of all? It would be encouraging to hear those in the House of Assembly move a motion to dedicate a certain percentage from their income for a worthy societal cause, or the presidency takes the initiative of curbing some financial excesses for the benefit of the economy.

Earlier in the year we read about how Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda took the initiative of selling off the jet purchased by her predecessor to raise funds for the flailing economy, she cut her salary by 30% and further pledged to sell 35 Mercedes Benz cars used by her cabinet as part of her austerity measures.

For politicians in general, ask yourselves what charitable causes you are actively involved with regularly, and not hasty donations done during elections. Nobody is perfect and no one is a saint, all that is required is some commitment.
M.K.O Abiola’s critics say he wasn’t a saint and I wonder if there are any saints in our polity, or any saints actively involved in politics- I often say, if you can show me a saint in politics, then I will show you a talking mannequin from Mars. Despite M.K.O’s flaws, which we all have, our so called big shots should learn from his philanthropic gestures.

I remember witnessing the lamentations of some fellow citizens who were irked by the behaviour of a very prominent politician from the South West. They said he came into the living area where everyone was seated, lambasted everyone, and said he wasn’t there because of them, that he doesn’t want to see anyone and they should all leave. One of those narrating says, “But he asked us to come”. He further said they left angrily, one of them felt really insulted because he was a self made millionaire, he said “did we come to beg for money”
The other discussant states, “that’s his assumption, even if we did, why should he address human beings like that”
And his friend replied, “He is only pretending to be philanthropic for political purposes, it’s not natural like M.K.O Abiola, you can’t fake generosity”
They ended their conversation with one of them saying in pidgin English, “Na him wan be Abiola by force”, and the other replied “Nobody like M.K.O”
There are many more of such selfish and arrogant individuals across all our geo-political zones.
Evidently with M.K.O died many things, including genuine philanthropy. Whether you are comfortable or struggling, those who encountered him often left with contentment because M.K.O assisted unconditionally, as it was often said, it was a gift from God.

15 years ago today, an illustrious son of our country and the continent, drank a ‘rice’ ladened tea and breathed no more, he gave and gave till he gave his life for a selfless cause- the June 12 struggle. May he continue to rest in peace.

“Because of this man, there is both cause for hope and certainty that the agony and protests of those who suffer injustice shall give way to peace and human dignity. The children of the world shall know the great work of this extraordinary leader and his fervent mission to right wrong, to do justice, and to serve mankind. The enemies which imperil the future of generations to come: poverty, ignorance, disease, hunger, and racism have each seen effects of the valiant work of Chief Abiola. Through him and others like him, never again will freedom rest in the domain of the few. We, the members of the Congressional Black Caucus salute him this day as a hero in the global pursuit to preserve the history and the legacy of the African diaspora” – The Congressional Black Caucus of the United States of America


Nigeria Gay Marriage, Relationship Ban Carries 14-Year Jail Term.

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to criminalize gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships,” and even membership of a gay rights group, defying pressure from Western powers to respect gay and lesbian rights.

The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison, passed Nigeria’s Senate in late-2011 but President Goodluck Jonathan must approve it before it becomes law.

Two similar bills have been proposed since 2006 but this is the first time one has passed through the national assembly.

A spokesman for the presidency did not respond to a request for comment.

As in much of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment and persecution of homosexuals is rife in Nigeria, so the new legislation is likely to be popular.

Under existing Nigerian federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail, but this bill legislates for a much broader crackdown on homosexuals and lesbians, who already live a largely underground existence.

While European countries, most recently France, have moved to offer same-sex couples the same legal rights enjoyed by heterosexuals, many African countries are seeking to tighten laws against homosexuality.

Britain and some other Western countries have threatened to cut aid, a threat which has helped hold back or scupper such legislation in aid-dependent nations like Uganda and Malawi.

They have little leverage over Nigeria, whose budget is funded by its 2-million-barrel-per-day oil business.

“Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract, or civil union commit an offense and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” the bill says.

“Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offense and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Criminalized: Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Relationships Illegal in Nigeria.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria‘s House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to criminalize gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and even membership of a gay rights group, defying pressure from Western powers to respect gay and lesbian rights.

The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison, passed Nigeria’s Senate in late 2011, but President Goodluck Jonathan must approve it before it becomes law.

Two similar bills have been proposed since 2006 but this is the first time one has passed through the national assembly.

A spokesman for the presidency did not respond to a request for comment.

As in much of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment and persecution of homosexuals is rife in Nigeria, so the new legislation is likely to be popular.

Under existing Nigerian federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail, but this bill legislates for a much broader crackdown on homosexuals and lesbians, who already live a largely underground existence.

While European countries, most recently France, have moved to offer same-sex couples the same legal rights enjoyed by heterosexuals, many African countries are seeking to tighten laws against homosexuality.

Britain and some other Western countries have threatened to cut aid, a threat which has helped hold back or scupper such legislation in aid-dependent nations like Uganda and Malawi.

They have little leverage over Nigeria, whose budget is funded by its 2-million-barrel-per-day oil business.

“Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract, or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” the bill says.

“Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”



Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Tim Cocks and Michael Roddy

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

EU’s planned tobacco curbs break WTO rules, Malawi says.

By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) – The European Union’s plans for tough new anti-smoking rules would break international trade rules, Malawi has told the World Trade Organization, signaling a potential legal challenge from the developing world.

Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, is concerned that EU plans to make cigarettes less attractive to new smokers will hurt a sector which provides more than 60 percent of its foreign exchange earnings, according to a WTO survey in 2010.

“Malawi is deeply concerned that the EU’s proposed Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) will significantly restrict trade, and is inconsistent with the EU’s binding obligations under the TBT (technical barriers to trade) Agreement,” the southern African country said in a statement posted on the WTO website on Friday.

It made the statement at a WTO committee meeting earlier this month, where it was one of nine countries – including Indonesia, Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines – to voice concerns about the EU’s plans.

The EU policy proposals came after Australia, last December, enforced a ban on cigarette logos and required packets to be plain olive green with graphic health warnings.

To bring in the world’s toughest rules on tobacco packaging, it had to win a court fight against cigarette makers British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco.

The Australian law was seen as a precedent for other countries considering a similar move, including India, Norway, South Korea and Canada. But it could still face an upset at the WTO, where Ukraine, Dominican Republic and Honduras have launched litigation in a bid to force Australia to overturn it.

Malawi has taken an interest as a third party observer in that case but it has never launched a WTO dispute in the 18 years since it joined. It did voice objections to a Canadian tobacco law in 2010, without taking legal action to stop it.

The EU’s draft tobacco law, which aims to prevent young people from taking up smoking, was published in December, just weeks after Australia’s rules came into force. It needs to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament, which could take two years.

Malawi said it was not questioning the EU’s right to protect health, but Brussels’ plan broke the rules in four respects: by banning ingredients such as flavourings and additives, by imposing costly labeling requirements, by insisting on cuboid-shaped packaging with no lid or a fliptop lid and by banning “slim” cigarettes.

It said the EU needed to provide scientific evidence to show that its plans would reduce tobacco consumption and not just introduce barriers to trade.

It also cited WTO rules that require technical regulations “take account of the special development, financial and trade needs of developing country members” to avoid creating unnecessary trade obstacles for poorer countries.

“The onerous new obligations of the TPD will clearly create new, unnecessary obstacles to the tobacco exports of developing countries … (which) will disproportionately hit least-developed tobacco exporters such as Malawi,” it said.


By Tom Miles | Reuters

Amnesty fears new executions in Zimbabwe.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Amnesty International said Friday it fears Zimbabwe will resume executions after the state media quoted prison officials saying they have found a new hangmanfollowing a seven-year search.

Since the last executioner retired in 2005, 76 prisoners have been held on Death Row. Prison officials last week said only that the search for a hangman was over and did not elaborate.

Some convicts were condemned to death 12 years ago and rights groups have campaigned for all thedeath sentences to be commuted to life, describing years of delays as inhumane.

Amnesty said in a statement the “macabre recruitment” was a disturbing sign that bucked against world trends to abolish the death penalty.

After touring the main Harare prisons on Feb. 1, state media reported that the hangman signed on “mid last year” but has yet to be put to work.

Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director, said Friday Zimbabwe is a signatory to international human rights protocols that recognize the death penalty is “the ultimate denial” of the right to life.

“It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state,” he said.

A new constitution proposed ahead of national elections in Zimbabwe later this year exempts women and offenders younger than 17 and older than 70 from execution.

Of the 76 prisoners now on Death Row, just two are women and the exclusion of women “would therefore not significantly reduce the use of the death penalty,” Kututwa said.

The proposed constitution also calls for the death sentence to be imposed only in cases where extreme and aggravated violence is used by offenders.

“We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner,” Kututwa said.

During the seven years, Zimbabwe’s prison service prepared advertisements looking for a hangman. The former executioner was said to have taken retirement after struggling with his conscience. His identity was never revealed.

Officials said they received replies to the wanted ad from as far afield as Malaysia. One applicant was reported to have been from the southern African country of Malawi. The officials said ancient Zimbabwean culture, tradition and superstition on death and deep beliefs in the tribal spirit world deterred local applicants.

A group that campaigns against capital punishment said the job ad specified that a high school education was required but made no mention of execution by hanging needing knowledge of human physiology and basic mechanics.

Records show that nearly 100 convicts have been executed in Zimbabwe since the country won independence from Britain in 1980.

Hangings were suspended for a decade after President Robert Mugabe met with Pope John Paul II in Harare 1988. During the moratorium, scores of inmates’ death sentences were commuted to jail terms on humanitarian grounds and several have since been released.


By ANGUS SHAW | Associated Press

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