Pentecostals and Development in Nigeria and Zambia
Community Organizing as a Response to Poverty and Violence
Keywords:Pentecostalism, community organising, Nigeria, Zambia, social capital, integral mission
Faith-based community organising is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective form of democratic engagement and community development, especially among low-to-middle income urban communities in the United States and Britain. This article focuses on two African Pentecostal initiatives with no formal links to Western community organising networks: the Young Ambassadors for Community Peace and Inter-Faith Foundation in Nigeria and the Jubilee Centre in Zambia. In both countries, neoliberal economics, associated with diminished public sectors and decreased government interventionism, has taken its toll, resulting in increased levels of unemployment, poverty and violent conflict. In response, these initiatives are engaged in citizen mobilization through training church and community leaders, and empowering ordinary people to improve the quality of life in their communities. While faith-based community organising is relatively rare in Nigeria and Zambia, the case studies discussed in this article show the potential of this form of intervention for generating social capital and addressing the dual crises of poverty and violence that assail the African continent. The article assesses the added value of Pentecostal beliefs and practices in relation to civic engagement and development.
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