The Question Remains
Whither Africa?, by G. McLeod Bryan (John Knox Press, 1961, 157 pp., $3), is reviewed by Francis Rue Steele, Home Secretary, North Africa Mission.
Sometimes a rapid ferment produces positive results; sometimes, explosion and destruction. The question is, “whither, Africa?” And it is this question to which Mr. McLeod addresses himself. During three extensive trips to Africa between 1954–61 he met and interviewed leaders in many fields and many countries. His book, packed with statistics, facts and quotes, attests to that. But a liberal theological bias and a tendency to compare the worst of the West with the best of Africa sometimes colors his analysis and warps his conclusions.
As a scheme for viewing the situation today Bryan has selected what he considers to be the seven main ideologies competing with each other in Africa. They are (in order of treatment): tribalism, Islam, Christianity, nationalism, racism, communism and educationalism. Space does not permit us here to comment fully on each one. A few notes must suffice.
Beginning with Africa’s cultural roots, tribalism is presented as having been ignored and defamed by Westerners in the past so that its true value is only just being recognized. There is much truth in this. But to suggest that “the missionary must … help reclaim and restore the good in the old (African animism) and blend it with the best in the new (Biblical Christianity)” surely overstates the case.
Islam is revealed in a role beyond the understanding of most outsiders. Bryan bluntly states, “the greatest surprise for the visitor who covers all Africa is the activity and extensiveness of Islam” and adds, “Islam is the religion of Africa” (p. 31). Moreover he proves it with facts. Not ...1
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