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AWAKE, AWAKE AFRICA; PUT ON YOUR STRENGTH
AND BEAUTIFUL GARMENTS   (ISAIAH 52:1) – AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CONFERENCE THEME
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BY:  YAW ADJEI AFRIYIE NKETIAH

The theme for the impending Convocation for Advocates Africa, scheduled to take place at the 5-Star Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra-Ghana, from the 16th day of August to 22nd day of August 2017 is taken from Isaiah 52: 1 “Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion, put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.  Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck. O captive daughter of Zion”

There are some key words and phrases that appear in the theme that I think, need to be critically examined. “Awake, awake put on your strength; put on your beautiful garments”.

My World Book Dictionary edited by Robert K. Barnhart defines the word ‘awake’ as (i) to come out of sleep at sunrise; wake-up; arouse; to bestir oneself; become vigilant; to become aware of; realize; to rouse to activity or awareness.

The same dictionary defines the expression ‘to put on’ as to don or clothe with.

The implication of the above theme in the context of Africa is that, she must rouse herself from sleep, by consciously making an effort, drawing on her God-given inner strength.  The theme is a call on Africa to bestir herself and become vigilant and clothe herself with strength and her beautiful garments.

The fundamental question I would want us to critically examine, wherever we find ourselves as Africans, is this: Is Africa in the first place aware that God has endowed her with strength and beautiful articles of clothing? If we conclude that the answer is ‘yes’ the follow-up question would be: Why then is Africa apparently weak and naked to the extent that even her own sons and daughters are avoiding her and risking their lives to seek greener pastures in ‘strange’ lands?

It is my candid view that if Africa would bestir herself from the sleep, stupor or slumber in which she finds herself now, someone needs to blow the trumpet; since by herself she may not even know that she has discarded her beautiful garments that God has given her.

Who will blow the trumpet to arouse Africa from her sleep? Who will remind Africa that she has been endowed with strength and very beautiful garments by her creator and should therefore do everything possible to protect them, instead of going after other people’s used or discarded clothes or rags?

Who would draw Africa’s attention to the fact that most of the “used garments”, from other jurisdictions that attract her so much, may be contaminated with diseases, strive, agony, low self esteem, corruption, disdain, disgrace, disrespect – the list is not exhaustive?
Some of the beautiful garments we in Africa appear to have discarded include fear of God; family as envisioned by God; our sense of community; respect for one another; and above all praise and worship.

Isaiah 51:17 calls on Jerusalem: “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up O Jerusalem”.  What this means if we apply the verse to Africa, is that she should make the effort to wake herself up. No one will do it for her!

After Africa has woken herself up, she should then live as God had purported her to live “Now this I say and testify in the LORD that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of ignorance that is in them, due to hardness of heart ……………….. to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 17-24)

As we begin a new life as a people, reminding ourselves that Africa is a continent of hope, opportunity and transformation, we should endeavour not to soil our new and beautiful garments and remain pure:- “yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white for they are worthy” (Rev 3:4-5)

The effort to rediscover ourselves at the August 2017 Convocation is not going to be easy because, the accuser of the brethren would seek to remind us that we are not worthy and capable.  Do we remember what happened to Joshua in Zechariah 3: 1-4 (A vision of Joshua the High Priest?) “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.  And the LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke you,  Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem (Africa) rebuke you!

 Again our resolve to rebuild Africa would continue to face opposition since it is an old trick of Satan.  Do you remember the opposition Nehemiah   and his brethren faced from Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of the enemies?  (See Nehemiah 4 and 6).

 In the face of the opposition let us learn to pray like Nehemiah did “Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me” (Nehemiah 6:14)

“Now Joshua was standing before the angel clothed with filthy garments.  And the angel said to those who were standing before him” “Remove the filthy garments from him” And to him he said “See, I have taken away your sin, and I have put rich garments on you”. [Zec 3:3] This is exactly what God is going to do at the Accra Convocation - arouse us from our stupor; strengthen us, rebuke our accusers, and order that new and beautiful garments be put on Africa in spite of Satan’s opposition.

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