The idea of faith groups as catalysts for constructive change is not a new one; but it is an idea whose time may have come. Within Africa, there has been increasing debate and real-world initiatives on engaging the faith communities regarding a transformative development agenda. For example, the Inter- Faith Action for Peace in Africa [IFAPA] has, since 2002, been a focal point for a multi-faith dialogue which also engages key political and business decision makers on vital issues such as water security and conflict resolution – there have been a number of IFAPA summits which have also included national and regional decision – makers. Faith groups also play a major role in the African diaspora; the July 2011 ‘Communities of Faith; Agents of Change’ conference (hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa) was both an affirmation of the importance of African diaspora multi faith communities, and also a clarion call for better co-ordinated action for constructive change by the faith groups and policy makers.
Religion is a potent force in Africa and across the globe. Faith groups traditionally confine their ministrations to social interventions, but there is potential for religion and faith communities to play a deeper transformative role in upgrading or changing ineffective social/value systems; enhancing local best practice and capacity-building for development. Traditional religious emphasis on spirituality and rigour is important, but it needs to be allied to the real-world challenge of uplifting millions from poverty.
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