ABLI calls for change

Overcoming corruption and finding ways to harness the wisdom of women and the energy of youth have been central themes at ABLI, writes Andrew Boyd.

The 8th African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) Forum was held for the first time in the south of the continent in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).

ABLI attracted considerable interest from the media, with coverage on national TV and the Times of Swaziland, as well as the UK.

As ever, ABLI concluded with a declaration, setting the course for the coming year.


One major theme was corruption. ABLI declared:

‘The Church is plagued with corruption as much as any other institutions. ABLI is calling on the Church to continue to be the prophetic voice and moral compass of society.’

‘Huge resources are invested in the fight against corruption and the battle is not easily won,’ said Mr Ngcebo Mbuli, of the Bible Society of Eswatini.

Young leaders, he said, are born into an atmosphere infested with fraud and corruption.

‘The Bible,’ he continued, ‘is the only book which can bring change and conviction from within a human being, which will transform institutions and nations.

‘The Bible has what the world needs to curb corruption, and the Bible has what it takes to bring up leaders full of truth and integrity.’


Another key theme was gender inequality, which is said to hold back social and economic development.

Gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa some US$105 billion, said ABLI Forum speaker, Rev Mfanaleni Mkhatshwa.

Rev Mkhatshwa observed that in African patriarchal societies, privilege and authority were reserved for men in family and society. Women were seen as second-class citizens.

‘Gender equality is essential to economic development,’ he said. ‘Closing the gender gap would set Africa on track for double-digit economic growth.’

ABLI recognised that the wisdom of Africa’s women must be harnessed in leadership and decision-making. Opportunities must no longer be denied to half the population of the continent.


Another principal theme was Africa’s youth, described as at a crossroads, torn between globalisation and tradition.

Six out of ten Africans are under the age of 25 and more than 40 per cent are below the age of 15.

The 2018 ABLI declaration called on churches, Christian organisations and governments to help Africa’s youth take their place as global citizens – without undermining their cultural identity.

The energy of youth must be harnessed to build, rather than burn, the continent.

Other ABLI declarations addressed the need for integrity in eldership in Africa and for Christians to commit to act as agents of change.

‘We really want to see transformation through the word of God,’ said Mr Ngcebo Mbuli, CEO of the Bible Society of Eswatini.

‘In academia, business, church and politics, we need the word of God and its values We want to see the Bible assume its rightful place everywhere in society and in the Kingdom of Eswatini.’The next ABLI Forum in 2019 will take place in Rwanda.

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