The concept of Mang-Djala with reference to church unity in a context of ethnic diversity : the case of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon (ELCC).
This study examines the issue of ethnocentrism that has become so detrimental to Christian unity within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon, as it is pulling apart Christians of different ethnic groups. The study puts forward the indigenous practice of Mang-Djala as a possible indigenous resource that can be used as an added value not only in enhancing the Christian understanding of unity, but also in advocating for peace, justice and reconciliation in ordinary social life. In this regard, the study investigates the possibility of Mang-Djala functioning in the secular sense as social contract and in a religious sense as covenant. The study argues that the rejection of African cultures by the colonisers and the first missionaries was a big mistake, and that the Gospel needs to be incarnated in every culture and context. Contextualization therefore needs to be used to integrate African cultures and the Gospel. Hence, the study posits that Mang-Djala is a preparation for the Gospel, which can be defined as anything within a culture that can become an entry point, facilitating the transmission, clarifying the understanding of the Gospel and allowing the openness of the local people to that Gospel. The basic research question of the study is: in view of the challenges being presented to church and society by ethnic diversity in Cameroon is there a possibility that the indigenous concept of Mang-Djala may act as a reconciling or unifying agent? The study suggests that the concept of Mang-Djala should be introduced into the church at different levels via its structures in order to popularise it and integrate it into the church‘s theology and practice. In this way, the ethnic groups that are not accustomed to the concept will come to understand and appropriate it, as a new paradigm of understanding and living the Gospel of unity. The problem of ethnicity and the possibility of using Mang-Djala as a possible antidote needs to be introduced as part of the training of the clergy. Other institutions in the church where it could be introduced are The Women for Christ Fellowship and the Christian youth organisation. It should also be introduced at synodical level. More importantly, the study suggests that the Church should create and insert in its constitution a clause that should declare ethnocentrism a sin against which every Christian should stand because it promotes discrimination which is against God‘s commandment of love. The study also acknowledges, however, that Mang-Djala should not be considered as an ultimate solution to the problems posed by ethnocentrism.