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Posts from the ‘Conflict Transformation’ Category


Nana Aberewa Theology

Vincent Assanful, Department of Religion and Human Values, University of Cape Coast, describes an Akan Concept of Consultation and Decision Making.


Nana Aberewa is a mythological figure among the Akan of Ghana who is believed to be full of wisdom and is always consulted whenever the people are confronted with any problem and would need to take decision. Read more »


Conflict Resolution Approach, Ghana

The Rt. Revd Matthias K. Medadues-Badohu, Anglican Bishop of Ho, reflects on conflict resolution approaches in Ghana in relation to Continuing Indaba. 


Life is relational.  We relate with one another to have our needs met and our desires fulfilled.  As John Donne (1572–1631) would put it, “No man is an island entire of itself”. Human nature and the human condition require that we depend on others for survival and satisfaction of our individual needs. Read more »

Rev. Dr. Sammy Githuku

Conflict and African Spirituality: Agĩkũyũ Perspective

Rev. Dr. Sammy Githuku, Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Paul’s University, Limuru, reflects on conflict following the 2007 Kenyan elections. 

Human blood is heavy, and hinders the one who has shed it from fleeing. — a Sotho proverb Read more »


Seeking Reconciliation in the Anglican Communion

The Rev. Canon Jonathan Draper, Canon Theologian of York Minster, explores the context for Continuing Indaba in the Anglican Communion and reflects on the process of seeking reconciliation. 

The Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion is made up of more than 80 million members in 44 autonomous and self-governing regional and national churches, spread through more than 160 countries. Historically, the growth of Anglican churches throughout the world went hand-in-hand with two major movements: the development and expansion of the British Empire from the 17th century onwards, and the great missionary movements of the 18th and 19th centuries. Read more »


The Hand and Concrete Models of Conflict Resolution

The Very Rev. S.K. Ablorh, Diocese of Ho introduces the West African hand model and offers it as a model for a potentially flourishing church.


Almost every society or organization has challenges as a normal part of living or working together.  Conflict is one of the challenges and can be seen as a world problem but if nothing is done to check it, it can drain individual vitality and organizational resources.  Unresolved conflict may result into unhappiness and lead to a break down of the society.  Breakdown in relationship and communication has serious negative effects on the individuals and the society as a whole.  The Church is no exception to this phenomenon. Read more »


Talking, Conversation, and Reconciliation

Talking, conversation, and reconciliation- three bulwarks against disaster- are not means to an end.  They are ends in themselves.  And it seems, to Andy Trenier, peculiarly Christian ends.

Week after week I look askance- nay agog- at the international news section of my copy of Church Times.  What catches my eye and ignites my ire is the drip-drip of argument, litigation, and general apparent anarchy that seems to characterise parts of the Episcopal Church in the USA.  The same kind of thing occasionally bubbles up in cases involving individuals in England, and yes of course, our public battles are hardly bridled.  And yet- it is that bit, where conversation has so deformed that fellow Christians end up in court with one another, that is so terrible.  I always think there is an irony in some walking this way since it is so clearly advised against in Scripture – especially when what is at stake is at heart- or is it?- a question about scriptural observance and interpretation. Read more »


Peace, Not as the World Gives by C.B. Peter

C.B. Peter is Senior lecturer in Old Testament Studies at Saint Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya. He reflects here on Biblical Models for Conflict Resolution.

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Harmony ‘Hé’ [和] Theology

Frankie Lee draws together the thoughts of the Hong Kong Hub during their conversation at Hong Kong Ming Hua Theological College and later over Facebook and email.

During the summer of 2010 a group of Anglicans in Hong Kong, lay and ordained, were asked to consider ways in which Chinese people resolve conflicts, and by doing so, to offer ideas of resolving conflicts to the wider Communion. Over two nights of inspiring discussion at Hong Kong Ming Hua Theological College, we have learned a lot from each other, all of us having come from the three different dioceses of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH). All of us generally agree that there is much to be learned from the classical Chinese word/philosophy of ‘Hé’ (和), whose concept is heavily influenced by Confucian and Taoist teachings.  While the Chinese character ‘Hé’ (和) has normally been translated and understood as the notion of ‘harmony’, this word/philosophy carries a much deeper and richer connotation rooted in Chinese culture.

For us, ‘Hé’ plays an vital part in Chinese thinking and in solving conflicts, and we have mentioned some  well-known Chinese phrases, all of which include this particular Chinese character (和) to help illustrate the profound meaning and philosophy of ‘Hé’ (和). For instance, we stress that ‘Hé’ is precious’ (以和為貴), and the need to treat everybody and everything with ‘a quiet mind and a peaceful disposition’ (心平氣和). Some of us also recall the age-old saying that: ‘Prosperity is born out of a household in “He”/harmony’ (家和萬事興). Generally, the concept of ‘Hé’ speaks of the forbearance (‘Ren’, 忍) and suppression of personal goals in favour of the Common Good. Nevertheless, it is worth stressing that this is not to suggest that ‘Hé’ is equated to conflict avoidance, or the suppression of differing views or voices to maintain peace and harmony. Rather, the classical understanding of ‘Hé’, heavily influenced by Taoist and Confucian teachings, does allow room for disagreement and honest discussion. For instance, Confucius is recorded saying that: ‘the gentleman agrees with others without being mere resonance; the mean man resonates even if he does not agree.’ (The Analects Confucius quoted Zi Lu, 君子和而不同, 小人同而不和₀ «論語· 子路第十三») For Confucius, it is important, and is indeed possible, to maintain a peaceful and harmonious (’Hé’) relationship while there are disagreements. If people only seek pragmatic and easy solutions by echoing each other’s views, while secretly disagreeing, this is not true ‘Hé’ because misunderstandings and tension still exist.

While ‘outward’ agreement and compromise may lead to short-term peace, it is neither true peace nor a way of maintaining long-term stability and peace. Hence it is vital to seek out opposing views and to understand why there are such disagreements, while at the same time to have the ultimate goal of ‘Hé’ in mind. The concept of ‘Hé’ encourages dialogue and open discussion with people of opposing views, and this can be summed up in a short Chinese phrase, ‘Qiu Tong Cun Yi’ (求同存異): ‘While seeking the Common Good, one needs to tolerate Differences’. Rather than seeking uniformity of views, or, for the sake of avoiding tension and confrontation, to oppress differences, the classical philosophy of ‘Hé’ does allow room for disagreements and open debate. As one of the members of our Hong Kong Indaba’s Facebook has noted, ‘Qiu Tong Cun Yi’ emphasises the necessity to look for the ‘common grounds among different parties first. It is because, the common ground is more important than the differences…it is to allow the differences exist among the groups, giving spaces for the higher aim—to reach the state of harmony’.

Therefore, rather than oppressing differences and suppressing varied voices, one should approach conflicts with the goal of promoting ultimate harmony and true peace, which is ‘Hé’. Hence the use of ‘Hé’ is not regarded as merely a means but also an end in itself, driven by trust, sincerity and an honest care for others. Nevertheless, the concept of ‘Hé’ has often been perceived as a means to suppress disagreement because, in real life situations, it always seems to call upon conflicting parties to compromise for the sake of maintaining peace and harmony. It asks people to give up their personal objectives to preserve unity. This, however, is not to suggest that ‘Hé’ is imposing an artificial peace. Rather it seeks to the call upon the conflicting parties to ‘calm down’, to have a ‘break’, and to create some sort of a ‘quiet time’ for the conflicting parties to consider and study each other’s views, with the strong hope for them to negotiate true and long-term peace and harmony.

As such, it is vital not to regard ‘Hé’ as a means to exclude, to suppress differences or to silence voices. In the name of maintaining peace and harmony (’Hé’) it is easy for one to choose the trouble-free option of avoiding conflicts all-together. People may be persuaded to sacrifice their personal goals for the time being, for the sake of maintaining unity or temporary peace. Yet, while one particular confrontation may be suppressed with either of the conflicting parties giving up their personal goals, tension continues to exist and eventually will lead to other confrontations. Therefore, in real life situations, ‘Hé’ is used both as a means and an end, with the goal to pursue ultimate harmony and peace for all parties. For instance, when there is disagreement and opposing parties are in great tension, it is quite normal for a third party to step in to mediate (‘He Shi’, 和事) and to ask the conflicting parties to calm down. I will come back to the role of this mediator later, but now it is worth stressing that the main objective of the mediator is to help the parties concerned cool down, stressing the need to be in harmonious (’Hé’) relationship. As noted earlier, the famous Chinese saying, ‘Prosperity is born out of a household harmony’ (家和萬事興) will be emphasised here to persuade the conflicting parties that only when united does the ‘house’ stand in strength and prosperity.

This is a very important stage of reconciliation. While more often than not, when in conflict, people can easily turn an objective argument into personal attack, this therefore tests the skill of the mediator to keep the opposing parties away from, for example, offensive words which do more damage than good in helping to make the arguments clear. If the mediator succeeds, this will lead opposing parties from the heat, and allow them to calm down and, most importantly, to help the conflicting parties to gradually realise that it is on the issue or an argument that they disagree or dislike, not the people involved. The mediating work here is to prevent turning an ‘objective’ debate into one which involves personal insults and attacks. As has been stressed earlier, this is the first stage of reconciliation to bring along ultimate ‘Hé’.  Furthermore, I would argue that the notion of ‘Hé’ goes further than recognising the other party’s concerns, it also requires one to learn to affirm the other party’s position and to learn to take upon oneself the responsibility of the issue or problem under discussion. This means that one is to be cautioned not to turn the discussion into a personal assault while, at the same time, being prepared to apologise for the possibly of hurting the other party. This does not mean that one should be without principle and compromise all the time, but it emphasises that one should learn to be both confident with one’s argument, yet also be co-operative and accommodating in his/her approach to the debate.

Hence the notion of ‘Hé’ is more than affirming each other’s needs, which is indeed important, but emphasises relational harmony. This calls on the conflicting parties to show empathy and to be willing to sacrifice if required for the Common Good. ‘Hé’ is also related to the Chinese understanding that one should never be over-confident of his/her knowledge, status or ability, but be prepared to learn from others, including those whom one may consider less knowledgeable, lower in status or without much talent. This is stressed by the Master Confucius himself when he says: ‘When there are two people who walk beside me, I can always see them as teacher and learn from them. I will select what is good and learn from them, and will watch out what is bad and avoid’. (The Analects Confucius quoted Shu Er; 三人行, 必有我師焉₀ 擇其善者而從之, 其不善者而改之₀ «論語· 述而第七») Therefore it is vital to encourage conflicting parties to learn about and try to appreciate the needs and concerns of each other.

In our discussion group in Hong Kong, we also talked about the concept of ‘Mientze’ (literally translated as ‘face’), which is usually translated to represent one’s reputation, moral standard, personal performance and status. The concept of ‘Mientze’ goes deep down in Chinese culture. In a conflict situation, it is particularly important to make immediate moves to soften the tension between confronting parties and prevent either side from losing ‘Mientze’. Since, if one party feels that he/she is losing ‘Mientze’ in public over an argument, one may be easily led to believe and see the opposing party’s criticism as a personal attack without much difficulty. It must be emphasised that damages to ‘Mientze’, in real-life situations, are very likely to have lasting repercussions which will spill over to future debates and deepen the tension between the opposing parties, regardless of how ‘objective’ or how well-intentioned the arguments may be.

Different actions and words carry with them varying degrees of force either to damage or to enhance one’s ‘Mientze’, and their relative power is closely related to the relationship one is in. Generally speaking, depending on the intimacy and closeness of the people concerned, their words and actions can mean very different things. The stronger one’s criticism, the more likely it is to cause the one being criticised to lose ‘Mientze’. More caution is therefore demanded and this requires more ‘politeness’ by the criticising party to the criticised, in order to create a ‘Hé’ environment where both parties may feel respected—both have been given enough ‘Mientze’—and hence they are more likely to listen. In our group, we call this the modern ‘culture of face-giving’ (給面子的文化). When people are in conflict, as noted earlier, a third party may act as the mediator to act between the conflicting parties to negotiate a solution to the problem. In practice, this mediator is normally a person who has the respect of both conflicting parties, who is likely to share the same social network of both parties, and someone who has a higher status or authority than the parties concerned.

The mediator’s role is to separate the conflicting parties and to ensure that neither side loses ‘Mientze’. This is why this mediator is likely to have moral or formal authority over the conflicting parties and/or have the respect of the parties.  The mediator normally asks the parties to give the mediator ‘Mientze’ and to quarrel no more. The mediator may stress the earlier saying which emphasises ‘Hé’, such as ‘Prosperity is born out of a household harmony’ (家和萬事興), and remind the conflicting parties of the need to be together and united. Generally speaking, if the mediator has enough ‘Mientze’, the parties will cease the argument without each side losing ‘Mientze’. In the process of negotiation, the parties may take different ways and each side will be asking the other side to give ‘Mientze’. Normally, in order to keep a harmonious and peaceful relationship, with the help of the mediator who will provide the ‘set of steps’ (下臺階 )for the parties to ‘step off the stage of battle’, the parties are likely to concede and give ‘Mientze’ to each other and agree to disagree.

Perhaps, it will be good to illustrate my point with a life-example. One is invited to a dinner party by a friend, who also invites other people, most of whom one does not know. While the friend is proud of his/her cooking, even if one does not find the food at all delicious, one will try to say ‘good words’ to express appreciation of the friend’s hospitality. This is not being dishonest but being courteous. Imagine how embarrassing it will be if, at the table full of other guests, one publicly criticises the food, and how easily the friend may see this as a personal attack with the intention to bring disgrace in front of others. No matter how good the advice may be, which may possibly improve the way of cooking, yet after having been criticised in front of his/her guest, it is quite unlikely that the cook will listen. Nevertheless, if one really feels giving some useful suggestions on how to have the food made better, one can choose, for example, to speak with the cook privately after the dinner party. This resonates Jesus’ advice of first speaking with the ‘believer who sins against you’ privately before bringing the argument to open discussion (Matthew 18: 15-17). I believe we should bear in mind Jesus’ advice when we are involved in disagreements with others, even when we feel we are in the right and others are wrong.

This leads us to another important aspect of Chinese thinking which is about the concept of ‘Guanxi’ (關係, the closet English translation of this word is ‘relationship’ or ‘network’). The Chinese understanding of ‘Hé’ places more emphasis on the ‘Guanxi’ than on the individual concerns of the conflicting parties. The traditional Chinese philosophy of ‘Hé’ stresses human relation, places significant emphasis on people’s ‘Guanxi’ with each other, and understands that each person has his/her place under Heaven. Thus, true peace and harmony cannot be achieved without first having a society which is in ‘order’. It is worth mentioning here what the coordinator of the Hong Kong Continuing Group, Fr Samson Fan, has noted in our Group’s Facebook of  another profound saying of Confucius quoted in Yu Tsz:

‘Hé’ (和) is the value of performing ‘Lǐ’ (禮; this word/concept can loosely be translated as rite, or courtesy).  Of the ways of the kings past, this is the most beautiful of matters small and great. However, there are times when this is not acceptable. When one only seeks ‘Hé’ for its own sake, without be regulated by ‘Lǐ’, this does not do well. (The Analects of Confucius, quoted Yu Tsz)

有子曰:「禮之用, 和爲貴₀ 先王之道, 斯爲美; 小大由之₀ 有所不行, 知和而和, 不以禮節之, 亦不可行也₀」«論語· 學而第十二»

Referring to this quotation, Fr Samson points out that, while ‘Hé’ is a core concept of Chinese values, it needs to be disciplined by ‘Lǐ’ when one should not seek ‘Hé’ for its own sake. Fr Samson raises a vital question in relation to the link between ‘Hé’ and ‘Lǐ’. It is worth reiterating my argument which has been noted earlier in this paper that the philosophy of ‘Hé’ should not be seen as either merely as a means or an end to itself. Rather it should be understood as both a way and the goal which aims for a Common Good (大同) in which there is true peace and harmony.

禮 always means “Rites” or “Ritual”.  My point was to contrast rites with rights, normally understood as the rites which do not point to themselves, but carry with them the ultimate aim of the promotion of true harmony and peace. I would argue that there is much resonance between the Chinese notion of ‘Lǐ’ and the Anglican Common Prayer tradition. The Prayer Book does not and should not point to itself as an end in itself, yet it is within this Prayer Book tradition that we Anglicans, of different languages and cultures, have been living together for hundreds of years. For us, rites, liturgies or any Christian practices and customs, are created for the worship of God and points toward God; they are of themselves of no value if they fail this purpose. Rites are there to help us to serve and to promote true peace and harmony and we, as humans, are not there to ‘serve’ the rites.

To take a well-known example, in the Church of England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer, both the consecrated bread and wine are not defined as either a symbol or whether they have been transubstantiated into real flesh and blood. The Communion services speaks nothing more than the core of Anglican belief that the bread is the Body of Christ, who ‘died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving’, and the wine is ‘Christ’s Blood’ which ‘was shed for thee, and be thankful’. By faith with thanksgiving, in the beauty of the Communion liturgy, it seeks to embrace people who hold different theologies of the Eucharist. It is at the Lord’s Table that all are embraced and welcomed. Nevertheless, the Communion liturgy here does not point to itself, but to God and to God’s Grace for all people.

It is worth noting here that ‘Lǐ’ is one of the classical Five Cardinal Virtues (五常), which include ‘Yen’ (仁, benevolence), ‘Yi’ (義, righteousness), ‘Lǐ’(禮, rites and courtesy), ‘Zhi’ (智, wisdom) and ‘Shin’ (信, faithfulness). These Five Cardinal Virtues are often linked with the Three Principles (三綱), which explain the ‘rightful’ relationships of people in a hierarchal structure—namely the relationship between the emperor and his officials; that between father and his son; and, that between husband and wife. While both the Three Principles and Five Cardinal Virtues can trace their origins to the teachings of Confucius, Mencius and the Legalist schools (法家) respectively during the later part of the Zhou dynasty (from the second half of the 8th century BC to the first half of the 5th century BC), they have been used jointly since the Han Dynasty. However, even though the Three Principles and Five Cardinal Virtues have had a profound impact of the thousand-year history of China, there is not enough space here to explain in detail what and how they influence Chinese thinking. Nevertheless, it is worth stressing that both the Principles and Virtues principally set out that each person has their place under Heaven, and to act contrary to one’s status, class or place, will disturb the ‘order of things’ which will lead to discord, disruption and damage of Harmony and Peace.

For example, the traditional reading of these Principles and Virtues speak of the duty and responsibility between a ruler and his/her subjects, between parents and their children, and between older and younger people. People are defined according to their places under Heaven, and they should act according to their status and places under Heaven. This notion has, however, been abused over the centuries with, for instance, tyrant emperors oppressing their subjects by invoking their divine right from Heaven as prescribed and understood in the Three Principles.  Nevertheless, an abuse of a system or a philosophy does not justify its abolition altogether. The Classical Chinese concept of ‘order’ and its related belief in the interdependent nature of humans lead us to understand the philosophy dynamically rather than literally. This means that we need to see the philosophies of the Five Cardinal Virtues and the Three Principles in their own historical and cultural contexts and to understand the concept of one taking one’s place under Heaven as a way and a process through which one learns to be human (to be whole). In other words, the heart of these Virtues and Principles, in close relation to ‘Hé’, emphasises the individual to assume his/her moral and natural obligations which are inherent in his/her position, and focuses on human relations above the individual.

This may sound very odd to modern ears, especially in the West, but one does wonder whether the excessive individualism and obsession with ‘human rights’ has done as much good as bad to human society. The Chinese notion of ‘Hé’, as noted repeatedly in this paper, places much importance on human relations, with its emphasis on maintaining harmony and peace. While ‘Hé’ does not suppress differing views, it does require people to respect each other and calls upon people to sacrifice their personal goals for the sake of the Common Good. One has to appreciate that, for us to grow together in an interdependent and harmonious relationship, we have to learn to ‘sacrifice our small self for the great self’ (犧牲小我 , 完成大我, a modern saying).

Moreover, within an interdependent relationship, one’s identity does not rest on one’s own self. One’s identity is built within a set of networks, including one’s family, friends, occupation and philosophy. In other words, one is not complete until and only when one is within the ‘great self’.  This close-relatedness can be seen in the ways and words we use to describe ourselves. For example, when Chinese names are written or spoken, the family names always come before the given names, and this speaks a lot about how we understand ourselves and how our identity rests heavily on the families from which we come. Chinese parents often describe their children as their ‘bone and flesh’, and this not only displays the closeness between parents and their children, but also stresses that the children are parts of the parents and the wider family network. Hence traditional Chinese philosophy teaches that the children’s ‘hair and skin come from parents, so no damage should be done to them’ and that the ‘children should live a good and honourable life so that the children’s names can be renowned and remembered in generations to come, and by doing so, the parents will be honoured’. (Xiao Jing, a classical book about filial piety; 身體髮膚, 受之父母, 不敢毀傷, 孝之始也; 立身行道, 揚名於后世, 以顯父母, 孝之終也₀ «孝經»)

In an age which stresses the rights of the individual and ‘equity’, the call for collectivity, duty and responsibility may appear very weird and one may even find it unacceptable to speak of one’s taking one’s place under Heaven.  Nevertheless, it is vital to stress that, within traditional Chinese thinking, in order to achieve true ‘Hé’ where there will be true and long-lasting harmony and peace, one needs to learn to take upon oneself one’s responsibility in society before one even begin to talk about one’s rights—bearing in mind that one’s rights and identity can only be understood in relation to one’s place within that society. While traditional Chinese teaching stresses the duty of subjects to the emperors, and it also calls upon the emperors to live up their roles as heads and fulfil their duties to bring peace and justice to their subjects. A classic example can be found in the Great Learning (Da Xue, «大學»), when it stresses that the higher the position the higher one’s responsibility and moral conduct.

For me, the Chinese understanding of self finds much resemblance in St Paul’s teaching on the Church being the Body of Christ. Anglicans have always professed themselves to be part of the ‘One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ in communion with Christians of all ages and in all places. We also believe that we have each inherited different gifts from God. As St Paul describes, we function like different parts of the body, each having its different function, but we need each other to be whole, under the supreme Headship of Christ our Lord. Therefore, while we pay our respect to bishops and leaders of the Church on earth, our obedience to them comes from our allegiance to God, and we believe that, regardless of one’s particular ministry (whether as verger, bishop, reader, or as a lay Christian), each one of us is equally loved by God. While we are different, we need each other because we all share the common identity as part of the Body of Christ. Since we believe that the Anglican Communion (our Family) is a gift from God, we need to learn to respect each other and try to appreciate each other’s views even if these views seriously challenge ours. Furthermore, if our Lord can eat with sinners and outcasts in society, to the point that He even shared His Last Supper with Peter who would deny Him three times and Judas who would betray Him, we are encouraged to be at the same Table and share meals with those with whom we disagree. We should even be prepared to eat with our ‘enemies’ whom our Lord has commanded us to love, without whom we are never ‘whole’.

Furthermore, as has been noted earlier, classical Chinese teaching encourages us to place ourselves in the other’s shoes and try to understand how we might have felt if we were in their positions. In our Hong Kong Continuing Indaba Group, we commended the important Chinese concept that calls upon us to discipline ourselves strictly while treating others with great leniency. (律己以嚴, 待人以寬) We understand that traditional Chinese philosophy stresses self-discipline. The Analects («論語») and the Great Learning («大學»), for example, both encourage one to discipline both one’s body and mind, and keep one’s desires and impulses under control. Confucius teaches that ‘being capable to discipline oneself and observe ‘Lǐ’ is ‘Yen’ (benevolence)’. (The Analects Confucius quoted Yan Yian;克己復禮為仁 «論語·顏淵第十二»)

This means that one will be truly benevolent if one is a self-disciplined person who observes the rites (’Lǐ’). While ‘Lǐ’ requires one to act according to one’s place under Heaven, and to perform one’s duty and responsibility as given by nature, the process and goal of being a well-balanced, self-aware and disciplined person who is capable of controlling his/her temper and feelings is therefore of utmost importance. This is similar to the age-old Christian theology of the relationship between ‘faith’ and ‘good works’. We Anglicans do not think that our salvation is earned by our ‘good works’, but by faith through Grace; but we also recognise that faith cannot exist without good works. Similarly, the observing of ‘Lǐ’/rites in themselves does not lead us anywhere unless we are first people of true benevolence ‘Yen’ (仁). Only because we want to do good in the first place—out of our search for ‘Hé’—will we readily put ourselves under strict discipline and observe ‘Lǐ’ earnestly. Our discipline and our performing of ‘Lǐ’/ rites, like the Christian ‘good works’ are not there to show off and to earn the respect of people surrounding. Rather, just like ‘good works’ are the outworking of the Christian faith (these good works are done naturally without the desire to earn praise from people), ‘Lǐ’ is the outworking of one’s emphasis on ‘Hé’ and the Five Cardinal Virtues stated above.

The Doctrine of the Mean «中庸», one of the Chinese Four Classical Books (the other three are the Analects «論語», the Great Learning «大學» and the Mencius «孟子»), states that: ‘The gentleman should be aware of places where he is not seen. He should be anxious and concerned in mind when he is in places where he is not being heard. Even in places where he is alone, he must be strictly disciplined, observe and live up to the standard of “Li”’. (The Doctrine of the Mean, first paragraph; 是故君子戒乎其所不睹,恐懼乎其所不聞₀ 莫見乎隱,莫顯乎微,故君子慎其獨也₀ «中庸· 第一段»)

This suggests that we have to discipline ourselves well before we can even consider criticising or judging others. As has been noted earlier, even the Master Confucius expresses that he has things to learn from anyone who happens to walk besides him; we have more reason to be modest and have the courage to open ourselves to the challenges and admonitions given to us by others.

As Christians, we are even further called to imitate and display the humility of Christ, who speaks about loving and serving others and who warns us not to ‘judge’ others lest we ourselves be judged. When we are criticised by others, we should learn first to forbear the critical party and try to see their good intentions when they make such criticism. Traditional Chinese philosophy speaks very much of the importance to forbear others, especially when we feel that others are criticising or offending us, or making us lose ‘Mientze’. Forbearance (‘Ren’, 忍) is one of the virtues traditionally taught in Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist philosophies. A well-known Chinese saying which derives from Buddhist teaching advices that: ‘There will never be an end if people cannot learn to forgive but keep being occupied with anger, revenge and the repaying evil for evil. Far from it, we have to forgive others when we have the opportunity to do so’. (冤冤相報何時了, 得饒人處且饒人) Again, this finds much resonance in Christian theology when we are called to forgive (see, for example, Matthew 18:15-35). Our Continuing Indaba Group also cites a modern Chinese catchy phrase: ‘Forbearance for a while will clam the sea; willing to yield a few steps backwards allows one to see the wider sky and sea’ (忍一時風平浪靜, 退一步海闊天空).

To have good relationships among members of the family, each member needs to learn to forbear with one another and try to appreciate each other’s needs and concerns. In fact when one takes a few steps backward, one’s view of the world becomes much bigger and one’s horizon much widened. When one’s emphasis is on human relations and the responsibility of every person to promote harmony, and less on the rights of individuals, people will then be more willing to forbear with one another, and to engage in open dialogue. This is a different way of thinking, in opposition to modern Western stress on the individual, ‘rights’ and ‘equality’. This paper argues that, human relationships are very complex and often talk about ‘rights’ or ‘equality’ simply does not work in real-life situations. To take an example, there are times when married couples choose to leave each other for a while when they are having an argument—perhaps with one being in the bedroom and another in the study—so that both can calm down and talk about the problem later. Often in marriage, one side may have to ‘make the first move’ and even to ‘apologise’ in order to avoid direct confrontation, or to reconcile. Good family relationships often require more forbearance, sacrifice, communication and willingness to serve, than on the rights of the individual members of the family.

To conclude, I would like to argue that sometimes a period of separation may help to serve for future long-term union and harmony. Like the husband and wife noted in the example above, the short period of separation allows them time and space to cool down, to think deeply about the issues and problems involved, and even to consider each other’s concerns; while at the same time neither side loses ‘Mientze’/’face’. This separation may sometimes be a very short period, while at other times this may be longer. Sometimes we may feel reluctant to separate. Traditional Chinese philosophy emphasises ‘Hé’ which places enormous importance on unity in difference and warns against light separation and division.  Nevertheless, I will argue that sometimes perhaps a period of separation will change people’s previous held position. So often it is only when we have lost something which we have previously taken for granted that we discover we have lost so much. Separation may lead one to realise how precious it is for one to be part of the ‘big self’, and forces one to rethink whether it is really worth breaking relationship with those with whom one disagrees.  Furthermore, sometimes it is only after a separation, when we look back, that we realise how much we had missed out when we were in conflict with others. One classic example can be found in the present relationship between Methodists and Anglicans. While it has taken us many years to realise the sadness of the separation, we are gradually working more and more closely in our common mission for the Gospel as one Christian family. We have become more and more appreciative of each other’s differences and gifts, which I believe is a blessing from God.

While writing this paper, I have wondered whether we have sometimes lost sight of and have not been putting enough trust in the Spirit. While, of course, we need to do our best to preserve unity, as Christ has called us to be One, yet we have to acknowledge that, just as the Communion is a gift of God to us and the world, it is God who is in charge. When we have done our best, we cannot but learn to trust and rest in God. One may recall the incident in Acts 15 when St. Paul and St. Barnabas had to choose their separate ways of mission because of the disagreements over whether John Mark should be on the trip.  While St. Barnabas and St. Paul must have had a very close relationship as fellow Christian brothers, they eventually decided to go on separate paths. If we have stopped our reading here, we may find it sad to see these two important church leaders separate from each other over a ‘trivial’ matter. Nevertheless, if we continue our reading of the Biblical accounts, we realise that their separation eventually led to the furtherance of the Gospel.

It is a difficult decision to separate sometimes, but when one has sought all means to preserve unity and has failed, one can do no more than to consider a temporary separation, to put one’s trust in God and to hope that the separation is a way of leading to reconciliation and long-term harmony and peace. I will suggest that the ‘reunion’ after separation will require the work of the mediator again. The mediator will need to find ways through which conflicting/separated parties will not lose ‘Mientze’/ face if these parties have found reasons to reunite. In Chinese culture, the mediator may invite the parties involved to dinner, and, while eating, the mediator will ask the parties to give ‘Mientze’ to the host to reunite. In this way, both parties can then state that their reunion is due to their common respect to the mediator (to give the mediator ‘Mientze’) and both parties are able to preserve their honour. Of course, during the conversation, one party may say something like, ‘I am sorry, I should not have said/done this…’, while the other party will probably reply, ‘Please, no need to say sorry, it is actually my fault…’. While these may be honest apologies as both parties recognise their mistakes, these words are more likely to have been spoken as a matter of courtesy (’Lǐ’) to show that they are considerate of each other’s concerns and needs, are willing to give each other ‘Mientze’, and are prepared to seek a solution that works for both parties.

I present this paper with the hope that it may provide some insights in the current situation within our beloved Communion. Nevertheless, I stress that the concept of ‘Hé’ and its related ideas and means of resolving conflicts have derived from a particular Chinese cultural context. Caution is required if one is to apply the Chinese philosophy to Western contexts. I encourage my readers to keep ‘Hé’ in mind and see it as both a means and an ultimate goal where there is true harmony and peace. I stress the importance of forbearance and the willingness of one’s sacrifice for the Common Good.  One should learn to be critical of both one’s own position and others, but never be judgmental of others, following the traditional Chinese teaching to keep oneself strictly disciplined while treating others with great leniency. Finally, as a Chinese Anglican, I leave my readers with the following Scriptural passage, with the hope that, when we are in tension, we may learn to cool down and listen to those with whom we disagree, and make our reply with caution and pastoral sensitivity:

Those with good sense are slow to anger; and it is their glory to overlook an offence.

Proverbs 19:11 (NRSV translation)


The Luo Drumbeat for the Baraza Model

Rev. John Mark Oduor of All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, uses the Luo drumbeat to describe how conflict transformation might be possible in the Church.


In this world we live in, it is said that everyone dances to a certain drumbeat. Carl Henry calls it the “go-go generation”. He puts it this way “we are becoming nomads in the world of ideas and values no less than in the world of space and time”

Many dance to the drumbeat of wealth and prosperity, business and success, football and other sports, they live controlled and manipulated by these drumbeats. But there is a drumbeat that is significantly becoming louder by the day and it’s hard to ignore. It keeps our ears blocked and our hearts palpitate with a rhythm that makes many of us uncomfortable. We try to ignore it, brush it aside, push it to the periphery but it has refused to go away. It is the painful drumbeat of fear, conflict, and tension, beaten by the sticks of war and turmoil, accompanied by the Kayamba

that sheds blood and whistles that cause death.

Drumbeat of Fear and Conflict

This drumbeat is so loud in our ears that we no longer can hear any music at all. This drumbeat is heard in every corner of the globe, from Europe to Asia, the Middle East to East Timor, China to Mexico, Colombia to Indonesia Afghanistan to Iraq. But the continent that beats them all is Africa.  You can no longer think of Africa without thinking of this drumbeat, from Zimbabwe to Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda. It finally landed in Kenya after a democratic election turned sour. When Kenyans burnt each other in January 2008, one CNN reporter loudly said, “Another African State is on fire”. It can be said, like in the Movie Hotel Rwanda,

“TIA” meaning “This Is Africa” This drum beat is synonymous with Africa and vice versa, unfortunately recently Kenyans have joined in. Which part of Kenya can you think of without seeing the painful picture of those who have lost loved ones and have been maimed or worse are so hurt that they don’t know what to say. Watching on TV you hear one survivor saying in Kiswahili “Sasa unataka ni seme nini – now what do you want me to say?”

This drumbeat of terror, fear, conflict, tension and shedding of blood has become part of the African life in the last few decades. Its almost hard to image that there are children who have never known peace, stability, or a place they can call home. This drum beat is killing our eardrums and we have reached a point that we cannot hear anything else. It is unfortunate that even the church has been so caught in the dance that she forgot which drumbeat she should be dancing to and whose music she should be listening to. Worse still, whose drum she should be beating. This, my friends, is the problem. It is when we forgot the drumbeat to which we should be dancing that the rain started beating us. We, the church, got so wet that we almost forgot that the church was supposed to be different. We stopped being different we became like everyone else. Brothers and sisters this is the problem.

The second problem has been the desire by everyone to change the drumbeat so that we hear less of the noise. We have tried to dance to several beats but this has not helped. The crisis has gotten out of hand, but many of us have not seen it nor realized the magnitude of the noise in our ears. Carl Henry tries to describe this crisis and says it’s a spiritual, moral, social and intellectual crisis. He sums it up that “this crisis, in short touches the whole of humanity and the whole man. The soul of modern man has been sucked dry by temporary concerns that eclipse the eternal world.”

We have tried to offer solutions to reduce this noise and silence the drumbeat, but we have not succeeded. This is because we have offered temporary solutions. We have treated symptoms and signs but not the real issue.

The world has offered temporary solutions to a problem that will soon get out of hand if we do nothing. We have heard the cry for justice. This has been done and in many ways.

Let me highlight some of the temporary solutions that the world around us has tried to offer. There are those who opted for instant justice or mob justice. Its actual name should be instant injustice. Many have taken the law into their hands when faced with situations of injustice. Others have tried to change the drumbeat with instant injustice because they have felt that the official system and the powers that be will not serve them well enough. They would say that they know that nothing will be done and so they take the law into their own hands and install their own form of justice. This unfortunate situation brings temporary satisfaction to the enforcers but not to the victims. Neither does it deal with the problem. It just creates another drumbeat of conflict tension and bloodshed and the cycle continues. Those who have been hurt harbour revenge, anger and bitterness. This only perpetuates the cycle and the drumbeat continues.

The same drum beat has been perpetuated also by the delayed justice in our legal system. It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. Many who have felt that the legal system isn’t working for them have opted not to trust it and they would rather not waste any time or money in the system and this drumbeat has not helped either. There is no change. The same drumbeat different players, while our ears continue to hurt and our bodies ache with pain and fear and our hearts bleed.

Drumbeat of Silence

Some survivors opted to use the samedrum beat that made HIV and AIDS the worst killer in this continent. The drumbeat of silence. This drum beat kills slowly and painfully. Carlos Falconi

in his book The Silence of Pope Pius XII identifies two major reasons why the Pope opted to be silent about the Second World War atrocities, that it is useless to speak as speech alone can’t do a thing, and that sometimes talking about such issues endangers the victims and the one speaking. Many who find themselves helpless would rather be silent as they ask the pregnant question, “who will fight for us and who will stand for us”? They resign themselves to a state of solitude and abandonment with nothing to look forward to. They see the future like a little boy sailing in the sea who wakes up early in the morning to see how far they are to go before they get to the land; when asked by the parents what he sees he sadly stoops down and says “nothing”. This drumbeat will not change things and it speaks so loud we need to ask ourselves why it is blasting our ears. Some keep hoping that someone or something will remove the conflict, the fear, the tension, but they don’t go away. Nothing happens.

Drumbeat of Blame

Another drumbeat that has echoed through the corridors of our land is the blame game: accusations, rhetoric and passing of the buck. Everyone seems to know who was responsible, who should be penalized and who should be arrested and imprisoned, but nobody does a thing or even owns up and says “I’m responsible”. It’s called the “culture of impunity”. Read in the papers and you’ll be shocked at how many people know who the guilty ones are. But nothing gets done. Many in Africa hope, pray and wish just that someone would rise up and say “we are tired of everybody blaming everyone else but nobody doing anything about it”. It’s like the words of an a cappella song, “everybody said that anybody could do the important thing that somebody should do….. But this important thing is what nobody did”. The drumbeat continues and the cycle continues and the rhythm of fear, turmoil pain and suffering is perpetuated and more people die and nothing gets done.

Brothers and sisters, growing up in the rural areas, was an interesting experience, I saw another drumbeat being practiced yhat was common among the women folk. This is the drumbeat of mock fights, trading insults and warmongering. This drumbeat was practiced by people who, on their own, could not fight but could engage the enemy in an emotional and psychological stimulation that lead to the real soldiers coming out to prove their point. They would make faces, throw their arms in the air, call names, and tell you what they could do if you tried touching them. How useless you are, if you were near enough they would draw a line on the ground and ask you to cross it and see what they would do to you. This drumbeat has not changed, today in the political arena; the mock fighters claim to speak on their people’s behalf. Words such as “we are being finished but we won’t take it lying down”. Some of us remember the days of “money has been poured to finish us” and “our people are being marginalized”. Most of this rhetoric is selfish and self-centred but nobody seems to say so and  they are bought by the masses. The title of John Githongo’s experience should echo this drumbeat well enough “Our turn to eat”. This battle cry only gives a false security that we can manage all things only if we the victims fight back, but like I said earlier, this is just a mock fight. Nothing concrete comes out it. The warmongers make threats but the threat will not be carried out unless by the ill-willed and uninformed.

Another drumbeat that East Africa has heard very loudly lately, and is so loud in Kenya today, is the salsa dance beat that someone else will do it for you. Get the perpetrators to another man’s court. Get the International Criminal Court at The Hague to do the job. I call it a salsa dance because, like salsa, it is foreign but we think it will get our justice done. Maybe we could learn that the ICC is a good project, but for whom and by whom? We may take 50 years to arrest the culprits and take them to The Hague, but without the survivors’ witness it will be a pipe dream to get justice done. We could learn from Rwanda. 15 years down the line and less than 30 people convicted.  You may have noticed that Sudan strong man is adamant that ICC can do him nothing.

The LRA strong man in Uganda says he won’t sign any peace deal if his name is among the wanted men by ICC. This drumbeat might look like a nice outfit, but is the survivor getting his deal right? The targeted big fish also happen to be well equipped, well resourced and some are even citizens of several countries so getting them can be another story. We are all aware of the reportedly wealthy Rwandan genocide sponsor who is staying in Kenya where he owns several estates; for him life is “business as usual”. Could this drumbeat provide false hope to the survivors of the deafening sound from a killer drum?

Ladies and gentlemen, one more drumbeat that kills our ears will not kill you if I mention it. Many have realized that humans cannot help them so they have turned to God for divine intervention and invocation of the spiritual. Many curse and hope their curses will have generational effect. They curse the perpetrators and wish their children and families will live to regret all their days or that they be doomed in the land they or their parents, grabbed, stole or acquired through dubious and illegal means. They call on God to “fix” their enemies. They conveniently quote the psalmist, “let God arise and our enemies not His be scattered. …Let them run in seven different directions (Psalm 68).”  They cannot depend any more on humans. In fact they quote an Old Testament prophet “cursed is the man who puts his trust in man (Jer. 17:5)”. But like the great saints of old they still deal with the same old questions: “Why do the wicked prosper? Why do the unjust seem to have it easy? How come they trample on the poor and the innocent yet nobody does a thing”?. Their hope of God unleashing wrath on the unjust seems to fade away because they don’t see this happening in their generation and time and God seems to take His time. So it turns into despair, hopelessness, resignation and ultimately death of the spirit, heart and rejection of God.

We can openly conclude that these drumbeats above are not solving our problems. Some provide only false security or temporary satisfaction.

Wrong drumbeat or wrong drum?

We need to ask ourselves one key question: “Could it be that we are not just listening to the wrong drumbeat, could we actually be listening to the wrong drum”?. I want to suggest to you that we need to review the sound we have heard for too long. From the time the winds of political change leading to waves of independence started in the 50s, this continent has not known peace. Friends, 50 years is more than enough time to ask the serious question. Could it be that we have heard not just the wrong drumbeat but actually the wrong drum? Africa is known for her drums. The Asante Kingdom of Ghana was known for their talking drums. Again growing up in the rural Kenya, you would know the occasion or event by the drumbeat. You would know that it was Sunday because at 10am the church verger would beat the drum to tell people that it was time to go to church. The drum said that it was God’s time. The sound would tell you if it was a funeral, or a wedding. You could tell that it was the church bell and not the political rally drum.

Remaking the Drum

Is it, therefore, possible to critically look at the drum that has given the above beats that don’t seem to sort out our problems. I know that one can tell a lot by hearing the type of sound. We need to ask several fundamental questions and get answers so that, as a people of faith, we must have a solution. To get the solution we need, we must go back to the foundation upon which our faith and mission is based.

Lets go to the drum. What is our drum made of? Is it made of the crocodile skin of careless rhetoric, or the hippo’s skin of revenge? Could it have been made of the genuine leather of love, forgiveness and grace? Are we looking for a beautiful outfit like the snake skin of deceit or are we looking for the real buffalo skin of endurance? So can we go and see what our skin is made of.

Jesus Christ in many ways shows us how to deal with conflict. He gives us a 5-step model, which I call the Theology of Baraza drumbeat.

To make the drum we would need a wooden trunk: This trunk becomes the defining material that gives the drum the shape, size, and ultimately its sound. The trunk is Christ. He defines who we are and what we do. He gives us the message, our philosophy and agenda must be based on Him and his agenda. Like Christ the trunk comes hollow not with a hidden agenda ,but to be inculturated and incarnated in us and our community; it still remains the defining component of us, our faith and our mission. He is objective in the way he deals with our issues but remains focused and open-minded. He not only defines our mission but gives it  clearly as we find in John:

This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.

You are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

These things I command you, that ye love one another.

And Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians “We have been given the ministry of reconciliation”.

This is where we find our skin. Our skin is our mission. Our mission is what makes us sound different when we play the drum.  It’s the heartbeat to our calling and purpose. The type of skin defines the type of sound. Our mission is reconciliation. This reconciliation must “remain”, last a long time and pass the test of time.

Reconciliation is sometimes defined as “to bring together those who are separated by conflict”.  It means that they were once together but are now apart.

Now to make the drum, since we have found the trunk and the skin, we need strings to pull the skins at both of the entrances of the hollow trunk together. The strings were usually made of the same substance as the skin but thicker and stronger. We find these strings from Jesus’ commission and mandate to us in the above text in relation to the purpose of the sound we produce which is to call people together. Here we find our strings and they are five. These five strings pulled the skin together and this made the drum. It was the familiar drumbeat that called people to a Baraza. Baraza is a Kiswahili word for a local assembly. It was in this local assembly as was typical of the Luo people in rural western Kenya that the agenda of the community was discussed. People knew what was going to be discussed because they heard the drumbeat that was familiar. The drumbeat told people what the agenda was. They could tell whether it was a funeral, a new-born child celebration or a political meeting. The drumbeat brought the people together as a community. It’s based on this once togetherness that I pick up Jesus’ way of conflict resolution in relation to Baraza drumbeat.

The strings from Christ’s mandate are:

  1. Relationship: There was a relationship between the members of the community. They stood together with one another in all circumstances. This is seen in the way Jesus talks to his disciples: “I have loved you….” “You are not servants but friends”. Prophet Amos
  2.  says “two cannot walk together unless they agree”. A prerequisite to understanding the community and dealing with its issues was that you are part of the community—there was relationship. Is this what the church confesses in our liturgy every time when we start the service? “We have come together the people of God…….”
  3. Conversation: The community appreciated the diversity within itself. They expected people to hold different opinions, but everyone was allowed to talk and share their ideas. There was room for everyone. In conflict resolution Jesus allowed the survivor and the perpetrator to talk to each other. Jesus taught his disciples “If your brother has anything against you go talk to him first”.  Isaiah
  4.   says “Come let us reason together”. Go, talk to the coming king with a stronger army Jesus insisted. Talk, talk and talk that seems to be so loud and with talking comes listening.
  5. Fellowship: This is a forum where people of the same mind, values, thought etc meet to share ideas and experiences. The Baraza created a forum for fellowship for the community. This meeting took place at the foot of a particular tree. Fernado Domingues
  6.  calls it “The Tree of meeting”. Among the Luo the word fellowship has several meanings. It is translated as “One” or “Oneness”. In Luo the word fellowship is lalruok which also means something that goes round in cycles around one thing and attaches itself tightly to it. Fellowship is a forum in which people, as friends, brothers and sisters, share about their lives’s experiences. It’s here where people share one another’s burdens, weaknesses, strengths and encouragements. Like in the Baraza, this forum creates an opportunity for the community to be one.
  7. Appreciation of our uniqueness.  We are all different and have various talents and gifts. The community allowed members to use their best qualities, skills and talents to enrich the life of the community. Jesus reminded the church in Revelations that he knew them and their strengths, but also appreciated their effort to do things differently. The church as a community of believers must uphold the basic principle that binds them together:  The love factor. Jesus taught that without love it would be impossible to identify them. Stanley Grenz puts it this way “In a word, such community life is the life of love. And love is merely life in the community”.
  8.  Among the Luo one’s identity was not based on individual name but on the whole community.
  9. Walking together with each other after forgiveness. This was, and is, the hardest part of community life—yet it is the best. Richard Gehman says “Forgiveness is costly and difficult. True forgiveness is the hardest thing in the universe, our idea of justice pulls the other way”. He goes further to say, “God’s forgiveness should motivate us to forgive others”.
  10.  This would be the only evidence that there was a conflict resolved. The Luo called forgiveness wena – “Leave me or let me go”. It gave the prerogative of the final say to the victim after or during the forgiveness process. After forgiveness, with the community’s encouragement, that victim and the aggressor walked together. William Barclay in his book Turning To God identifies the following as the obligation of the church as was practiced by the Luo community, namely teaching, strengthening, admonishing and encouraging people to live together after forgiveness or conversion.
  11.  Jesus best showed this by choosing Peter to be the Chief of the Apostles even after he denied him. In spite of his failing he was accepted back.

Baraza Drumbeat

Stephen Covey says that leadership is not position but influence.

The church can show leadership in reconciliation, healing, peace building and conflict resolution through the above model which can be seen in what I have coined the Baraza drumbeat Theology. The Baraza, as we know it, is the gathering of the community, including the leadership to the smallest, to decide which way forward in the community. Like making the drum one needs to personalize the process of conflict resolution.

Baraza, like the church (ecclesia), is when we come together. We could borrow from the monastic life of the medieval Catholic monks.  In the monastery when the monks sat to do business, it was the least whose opinion would be heard first. You were considered least either because you were the newest recruit, or youngest, or recently recovered from an experience, habit or an addiction. Traditionally, among the Luo, when someone had a complaint against another and you were brought to the Baraza, it was worse if the accuser was a woman. She would have to be heard and her story believed and the man had no favours.

I believe that the Baraza model is what President Paul Kagame used to sort out issues in Rwanda after the genocide of 1994 in dealing with perpetrators and victims.

The church over the years has used councils (read Baraza) to sort out her theological challenges. Today the earlier mentioned drumbeat won’t help deal with people’s issues until they are willing to sit down and give some Jesus drumbeat and Baraza to the process.

If you ever see a drum maker working on a drum, every part of his body gets involved. The legs held something, the hands worked, the eyes got busy. Everyone and every part is important. Let’s make a new drum to produce the beat that creates a Baraza theology, one that is all inclusive, allows all to talk, share and feel they belong and have a role to play.

In Kenya, honestly I have not heard the church trying to bring people together, to talk and sort out issues. They have loudly acknowledged the need for the International Criminal Court drumbeat, but how will that heal the hurting people in the village who don’t know of a Mr. Ocampo.

Some are so scared of their neighbours that, unless the church helps create a prevailing environment for Baraza theological model, not even the government will help. It’s the people in the villages who are hurting, not the rich powerful big shots in the offices and parliamentary offices in the cities.

The most important thing other than the sound of the drumbeat, it was also the beater of the drum that matters. It wasn’t just an ordinary person, but a special person. Today the church is that special person to beat the special drum that summons the community to a Baraza, under the tree of meeting of the old rugged cross of Calvary, for the healing, reconciliation, and unity of the community and the world.

May our drumbeat be heard in the world so that we lead them to the Baraza of life.


Barclay, William. Turning to God.  Edinburgh: St Andrew Press, 1978.

Carlos, Falconi. The Silence of Pius XII.  London: Faber and Faber, 1970.

Covey, Stephen R. The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. London: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Gehman, Richard. Learning to lead: The Making of a Christian Leaders in Africa. Nairobi: Oasis International,  2008.

Grenz, Stanley J. The Moral Quest: Foundations of Christian Ethics. Downers Grove, Chicago: Intervarsity Press, 1997.

Henry, Carl F.H. New Strides of Faith. Chicago: Moody Press, 1972.

Okullu, Henry. Bishop Quest for Justice. Kisumu, Kenya: Shalom, 1997.

Various Authors, (Ed. Department of Systematic Theology). Theology and Transformation of Africa. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2000.

White, John. Greater Than Riches. Downers Grove, Chicago: Intervarsity Press, 1992.