British writer and former MP Matthew Parris shares a reluctant conclusion: despite his own atheism, he has become convinced that Africa needs Christianity if it is to have any hope of development:
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. [...]I particularly applaud Parris's rejection of the forced equivalence of "traditional" African culture and Western civilization. Since Decolonization, nothing has done more to keep Africa in the dark than the indefensible claim that cultures based on collectivist groupthink, corrosive jealousy, and brutal misogyny are intrinsically valid and deserving not just of respect but of proactive protection and encouragement.
There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours. I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. [...]
Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.