Last week I watched a Newsnight report by the journalist, Sue Lloyd-Roberts, from the heart of Zimbabwe, which you can read and watch yourself here: Newsnight Report.
The report both angered me and brought me to tears. I can’t claim to understand how the world of politics and economics works, all I know is, our government appears able to be interventionists when it suits them, usually backing such moves with some sort of moral narrative to justify their actions.
So why aren’t they intervening in Zimbabwe?
This question has clearly been puzzling the Bishop of York, John Sentamu. In a scathing attack on our government’s unwillingness to do something to end the violence, starvation and economic meltdown that’s gripping the country, Sentamu calls on Gordon Brown to stop hiding behind the argument that this is an ‘African problem that needs an African solution’, and recognize it for what it is – a humanitarian disaster that needs international intervention.
Again, you can read what Sentamu has to say in full here: Sentamu’s Observer Article.
I initially went in search of Sentamu’s thoughts in an obvious place, the BBC’s religion and Ethics website. Rather ironically, Sentamu’s comments appear alongside an article about that old chestnut, the international Anglican community’s looming split over the issue of homosexuality. It would seem that the Anglican Church in Uganda has appointed John Guernsey, an American priest from a church in Virginia, to the rank of Bishop. The reason for this? His church in the States recently voted to leave the Episcopal Church (American Anglicanism) and now looks to the Ugandan Anglican Church for leadership because both are opposed to homosexuality and the appointment of gay clergy.
I say I find this ironic, because Sentamu is originally from Uganda. Yet while he is calling for intervention by the West to sort out one of Africa’s most pressing humanitarian crises, his native country, and a virtual neighbour of Zimbabwe is turning it’s attention to the West because, one assumes, they feel gay vicars are a more pressing problem.
Is there any wonder Sentamu despairs of an African solution when he can’t even get backing from his colleagues in the Church, because their attentions are elsewhere.
Even more ironic, perhaps, Sentamu suggests that Brown won’t commit to intervention because of ‘colonial guilt’. Yet it would appear that the ex-colonies are less embarrassed about intervening in affairs of their former colonizers.
I think Bishops (and other church leaders) from both Africa and the West, would serve the gospel of Jesus, and their fellow human beings better, if they backed Sentamu’s campaign and put pressure on the UK and Zimbabwean governments, in order to end this humanitarian crises, instead of placing so much time and energy into worrying about the sexual orientation of the person dishing out communion wafers.