Religion and Poverty in Africa. Why is the ‘Most religious’ country the ‘poorest’?
I haven’t been to all countries in Africa but I have seen enough to understand some of the poverty stories that CNN churn out. Many find these reports offensive because it builds a negative continent equity . Alas, it doesn’t show the other beautiful sides of Africa- Our culture, our people, our values, our vibrancy, a rich history, the arable lands, our entrepreneurs, the tourist locations and so much more.
Statista published the list of nationalities that consider religion most important. Interestingly, 7 out of the top 10 countries with the highest ranking are African. Ethiopia ranked 1st with 98% and Nigeria grabbed the 9th position with 88%. No African country made the bottom 10 list. China has just 3% of her population considering religion important in their lives.
Curiosity creeped in and I did a side by side comparison of the GDP/Capita (amount of average income per person in a country) and the Corruption perception index (A ranking of countries according to the extent to which corruption is understood to occur.) I overlapped these with the religion importance ranking and there is a clear INVERSE relationship between the religion dependency and both the corruption and poverty levels.
- China is the LEAST religious country yet its corruption perception level is lower than 7 of the most religious countries.
- Ethiopia is the MOST religious country yet it is the ‘poorest’ within this pool which is counter intuitive.
- Ukraine which has the lowest GDP/Capita amongst the least religious countries is richer than 90% of the most religious countries.
- 70% of the least religious countries are less corrupt than the most religious countries.
- Japan, the 2nd least religious country ranks 18th on corruption perception index ahead of EVERY top 10 religious country.
From this, it shows the religious dependency in Africa hasn’t translated to lower corruption nor improved economic conditions . Does this mean Africans should become less religious?
I believe some of these actions will go a long way to help.
- Focus more on Salvation versus Religion. There will be fewer wars if personal salvation is the focus versus religious intolerance or advocacy.
- Practice the GOLDEN rule. ‘Do unto others as you want them to do unto you’. Do this EVERYDAY no matter your title or hierarchy.
- Show Love. These days, LOVE is becoming one of the world’s scarcest resources, ahead of precious stones and Energy. If we all truly loved our neighbors, we will think of common good versus personal greed. There will be better leadership , less public funds looting, fewer traffic offences, less hate campaigns, less fake drugs in circulation, less pollution, less oil pipelines damages, less sabotage, less social media bullying. The list is endless
- Do what God has placed in your abilities already. This is a sensitive one as it can come across as being less God dependent but the truth is God has given us brains already. Creation is already done; it is not work in progress. We have been given health, amazing arable land, great weather, natural resources and more. We are 1.1 billion Africans; we are 15% of the worlds’ population. It is up to us to turn Africa around.
Why are some of the most religious countries the poorest corrupt countries whilst some of the least religious are the richest and least corrupt?
It is often said that curiosity killed the cat. What are your thoughts?
Tolu Adedeji, March 18th 2016
Picture credit; Africanleadership, watoto, sheknows
Corruption perception index : Transparency international http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015
GDP per capita, PPP (current international $) GDP/Capita source: World bank: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.Cd