Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

They came and a Language was born….became sick, died, and was buried.

Written by: on October 11, 2019

There is an interesting story in East Africa that Swahili language was born along the East African coast through the interaction of the indigenous African Bantu language group with the Arabs. The story goes that Swahili is healthy in Tanzania and Zanzibar, fell sick when it got to Kenya, died in Uganda and was buried in Congo. That tells you that the language is spoken across East and part of Central Africa but it differs in how much its spoken in the respective countries which also shows how far into Africa and how much influence the traders from the middle East, India and the far East had on Africa. They came with dhows and their visits were seasonal depending on the direction of the wind across the Indian ocean. A language called Swahili which is a mixture of the Bantu languages and Arabic emerged that facilitated trade between the two groups of traders. The Oman Arabs brought spices, silk and other garments in exchange for food, ivory and other items, which eventually grew to include slave trade. These are the memories that were awakened by reading the book by Peter Frankopan[1].

Frankopan seems to echo the bible in declaring that:

what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun”[2]

History repeats itself and we can predict the future by reading history and this has become the default mechanism of modern practitioners to analyse the past in order to predict the future. While this is true in many instances, as leaders we needs to be aware of the limitations of this default mechanisms. Jennifer Garvey[3] highlights some simple habits for the complex times that we operate in our day which are powerful practices for leaders. She highlights the power of questions and asserts that asking questions, allows you to take a humble posture as the leader to bring aboard other leaders on the table to help come up with better solutions. I recognize that leaders have to envision and communicate powerfully, such vision to the followers and its easy to take Peter Frankopan’s book[4] as the vision for the future as he purports to suggest but is it necessarily true? He points to the recent trends like: none of top ten fastest growing economies in 2017 and neither in the last decade are  from the Western Hemisphere, all are coming from the East;[5] two thirds of the world population at 4.5 million living in the East; and many more facts, as evidence that the future belongs to the East. While there is credibility for what Peter Frankopan advances which for the bigger part seems to be a prediction from history, I am as a leader more inclined to ask questions which afford me the luxury of looking at other factors that I believe will affect the future. Are there other factors that affect the development of nations? Are the current trends sustainable into the future? These and other questions would seem to me to suggest that the morality standards in a society determines the progression or retrogression of its economy. Christianity has a way of influencing the social fabric in any society to raise the moral standards which have a direct influence in the upward growth in their holistic welfare. Christianity impacts on the value of human life, compassion and mercy, justice, marriage and family, education, government, science, free enterprise and many other aspects that lead to the overall welfare of society. Historian J M Roberts[6] is quoted by Dinesh D’Souza in his book What’s so great about Christianity[7] to put it in perspective as he highlights how Christianity has positively impacted many societies:

“Christianity is responsible for the way our society is organized and for the way we currently live, So extensive is the Christian contribution to our laws, our economics, our politics, our arts, our calendar, our holidays, and our moral and cultural priorities that historian J M Roberts writes in The triumph of The West, ‘We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen Him crucified, dead, and buried, and then rise again.’”

As Christian Leaders, we should rather ask ourselves what role Christianity will have in defining the future of the world. I’m persuaded that the answer lies in realizing that Christianity holds a greater promise for our world than mere historical considerations. As a Christianity leader, I am a witness of the positive impact that our Christian work among the poorest of the poor in Kenya is having and I sense the stewardship responsibility to work hard towards taking this work to more vulnerable communities in my country and beyond. As I work on my dissertation on biblical financial literacy for economically empowering Christians in vulnerable communities, I am persuaded that the future will be defined by the church’s efforts to spread Christianity. I’m persuaded that despite of the silk roads having influence East Africa and borne the Swahili language, Christianity will have a more greater influence as Christian Leaders give themselves more seriously to the Great commission of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

[1] Peter Frankopan (2015). The New Silk Roads: The Present And Future Of The World. Bloomsbury Publishing. Oxford, UK.

[2] Bible. Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV

[3] Jennifer G Berger & Keith Johnston (2015). Simple Habits For Complex Times: Powerful Practices For Leaders. Stanford University Press. Stanford, California.

[4] Peter Frankopan (2015). The New Silk Roads: The Present And Future Of The World. Bloomsbury Publishing. Oxford, UK.

[5] Ibid,…..Loc. 404, Kindle.

[6] J M Roberts (1998). The Triumph Of The West: The Origin, Rise, And Legacy of Western Civilization. Bernes & Noble.

[7] Dinesh D’Souza (2007). What’s So Great About Christianity: Your Guide To Answering The New Atheist. Salem Books. Washington D C, USA.

About the Author

Wallace Kamau

Wallace is a believer in Christ, Married to Mary Kamau (Founder and Executive Director of Missions of Hope International) and father to 3 Wonderful children, Imani Kamau (Graduate student at London School of Economics, UK), Victory Kamau (Undergraduate student at Portland state University, Oregon, USA) and David Kamau ( Grade student at Rosslyn Academy). Founder and Director, Missions of Hope International (www.mohiafrica.org), CPA, BAchelor of Commerce (Accounting) from University of Nairobi, Masters of Arts (Leadership) from Pan African Christian University.

7 responses to “They came and a Language was born….became sick, died, and was buried.”

  1. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Excellent, Wallace. I couldn’t agree more. We have such a significant responsibility to become like Jesus and spread his character and ministry throughout the world. We sometimes forget that salt, besides drawing out flavor, also preserves and we are “the salt of the earth.”

  2. Thank You Tammy, I guess it would be the worst mistake that we can make by forgetting or neglecting that important responsibility of the Great commission.

  3. Mary Mims says:

    Wallace, I love your perspective being from the African nation of Kenya. I also agree that true Christianity has a great impact on the shaping of any nation. It will be exciting to see what God does in the future, and good to be reminded that the future is really in God’s hands.

  4. Jenn Burnett says:

    Thank you for your beautiful insight Wallace! We were discussing at church this morning a similar theme in that Christianity has immense capacity to empower the oppressed and marginalized. My question is whether you have observed it have equal capacity to restrain the rich and powerful? It seems too often that even the people of God wrestle with the temptations of money and power to the detriment of the faith, and while Constantine used his power to spread the faith to the west, it was, according to Frankopan, at the expense of faith in the East. How might we best curb this by how we raise people up through faith?

    • Thank you Jenn, it’s true Money and power can be restraints but I believe that discipleship done right will be the answer. Our Christian Faith demands true stewardship to God over whatever is entrusted to us whether money, material things or power. True discipleship will properly prepare believers to rightly handle whatever is entrusted to them whether it’s money, material things, responsibilities or power. Paul admonished Timothy In 2 Timothy 2:2 to study and be be well prepared to rightfully and confidently handle the word.

  5. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    You are an integral player in what God is up to in Kenya and beyond. While various views of history are helpful in rounding out our understanding, may we never forget God loves this world and is intent upon redeeming it through his Church. This is what is often overlooked in history or projections about the future, that is, what God wants to do and will do for his glory and his purposes.

  6. John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Wallace, for sharing this great piece of write up. Thank you for adding to Frankopan’s story of the silk road. The East African trade and Christianity came at the same time. The Arabs were interested in trade and the West was interested in power and Christianity. The Swahili language was crafted for trade. They brought clothes to Africans and they killed Elephants and took away Ivory. They also traded in the Slave trade with the west. But all in all some values of Christianity were instilled in the communities. This has both negative and positive views of the Africans with the silk road. I appreciate your sharing brother this is great.

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