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African press review 5 April 2012

Kenya awaits more refugees as hostilities escalate in Sudan. And there's renewed violence in Mogadishu. Who's to blame for crime in the Nigerian diaspora? Whp preaches the gospel of bling? 


"Juba warns of return to total war", headlines the Daily Nation in Nairobi. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement has warned of a full-scale war if attacks on Kordofan state and the Blue Nile are not stopped, says the Nation.

This bothers Kenya because a steady stream of refugees from Sudan has been entering the country in the past three weeks.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

According to the SPLM, since violence broke out in June last year more than 400,000 people have been displaced.

If clashes continue, Kenya will continue receiving a flood of refugees, the paper says. The District Commissioner in Turkana West, Patrick Muriira, explains that laws governing the handling of refugees prohibit the local authorities from blocking them from entering Kenya.

On its editorial pages the Nation reflects on yesterday's violence in another of its troublesome neighbours.

Just over a fortnight ago, it recalls, there was great joy in Mogadishu when Somalia’s national theatre, which has been ravaged by years of war, reopened.

That residents could gather to enjoy drama and music was testament to the resilience of a people ready to defy the threat of Al-Shebab terrorists.

That message of hope was rudely shattered yesterday with a deadly suicide bomb attack during festivities there.

The bombing is a stark reminder that the terrorist threat is still very real, the paper says. The lesson is that the war against terror must be executed with even more resolve until the extremist threat across the entire region is annihilated.

In Lagos, the Guardian is worried by the large number of Nigerians in jail abroad as a result of criminal activities. In Brazil alone, more than 450 Nigerians are languishing in prisons for various offences, including drug trafficking.

The paper reports that the House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora yesterday blamed the ugly trend on leadership failure in the country.

“There is failure of leadership in Nigeria, this is not what should be happening to us," committee chairman Abike Dabiri-Erewa said.

“Followership has problem," she says. "But we have to get our leadership right. It’s a shame that we are where we are today; we are now the largest number of drug couriers, we are the largest number of fraudsters, we need to do something."

Quite right. Though one wonders why she puts more blame on "leadership" rather than "followership" by which one assumes she means the drug smugglers and fraudsters said to be languishing in foreign jails.

Elsewhere, the Mail and Guardian in South Africa has a special edition focused on "God in Africa". And from Zimbabwe reports on what it headlines: "Preaching the gospel of bling."

If you are unfamiliar with the word "bling", it is a slang term popularised in hip-hop culture, referring to flashy, ostentatious or elaborate jewellery and accessories. The message is: I have money and I spend it. What used to be known as conspicuous consumption.

In Zimbabwe, the Mail and Guardian tells us, a younger generation of Christian pastors, such as the suitably named Ubert Angel, have become hugely popular.

Angel is one of the poster-boys of Zimbabwe's prosperity gospel brigade who attract worshippers yearning to fill the gap left by old-time religion, that's to say the promise of prosperity.

The old churches favour Christ's teaching to "store up your riches in Heaven". But why wait when the prophet in the velvet jacket says you can have it all, here and now?

Crowds of up to 40,000 gather to hear that when the Devil steals from you, God replaces what was stolen two-fold. Which is why, says one, when he crashed his Mercedes Benz S-320, it was quickly replaced by a brand-new S-600.

So, how do you get in on this prosperity lark? You must become a "partner". Being a partner means giving more to the Church than ordinary people. The more you give, the more you are blessed.

There are six different classes of partnership, ranging from "bronze" ($10 a month) to "star" ($1000 a month or more).

Does it work ?

It does for Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, the charismatic 34-year-old who leads the United Family International Church, Zimbabwe's biggest church. He's the fellow driving the Mercedes S-600.


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