The founder of African Village in Mukono, Maria L. Preanin made a profound statement that got me thinking for many days. “The curse of Africa is in Its blessing!”. As she shared a story of her time growing up in Austria in the 1950’s, she observed that there were only 4 months when they could do productive agriculture. The rest of the year the ground was frozen cold. This meant that they needed to plan their planting, harvesting and storage of food for the long winters.
“I cannot imagine how blessed you people are!” she exclaimed. “One can accidentally throw beans on the ground and return a few weeks later and they have germinated, without any fertilizer! – HOW BLESSED CAN A COUNTRY BE, HOW BLESSED CAN A PEOPLE BE?!” She remarked as with a gobs marked look on her face!
I am inclined to think that our Africa’s problem is largely because we think that ownership is better than stewardship and this I dare say is WRONG! One of the greatest impediments to Uganda’s development presently is our land tenure system. It has made it difficult for us to plan our cities and made the much needed social services extremely expensive. Our roads cost too much because of the amount of compensation need to acquire land.
Picture this, one man owns a 5 square miles of land in rural Uganda and without discussing how he acquired it he is constantly patrolling its boarders and further invests money to “build a wall!”, nothing economically viable is happening on most of it except for one acre where he has built a country home that he visits once a year. On the other had is another man who comes to town and decides to lease a third of that land, he isn’t taking ownership but is actually paying to steward the land for a period of time. For the year that it is under his stewardship, he plants crops and farms some animals on a commercial basis. He actually takes the products to the market and the owner of the land is happy to pay a premium for the products off his piece of land. The second man has cash flow, enough money to clear the lease on the land and even a saving for another investment.
Drawing parallels with the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, I think it won’t be long when the master returns and gives all the 5 square miles to the one who has demonstrated great stewardship with a smaller piece of land. The owner of the 5 square miles is like the man who buried the talents. The man who took his masters talent and buried it had an “ownership mentality”, he didn’t want to risk what wasn’t his. My question is who would you rather be? What would you rather do? Own or Steward?
Remember we are pilgrims in this land, it is dangerous to begin to take on the mindset of settlers. I dare us to be better leaders, better stewards of what God has placed in our possession.
We are called to be owners of NOTHING and stewards of EVERYTHING.
I dare us all to STEWARD, I dare us to LEAD!