When engaging with Africans, chaplains need to know the people’s view of them and build their trust, according to Colonel Monwabisi Andrew Jamangile, Brigadier General-Select for the South African National Defense Force Chaplain Service. Jamangile was speaking to the U.S. African Command Chaplains’ Conference in March 2011.
Jamangile was speaking as the head of the second largest chaplain corps in the world. U.S. chaplains were stationed in Africa to engage with the people and promote peace in the region. Jamangile wanted to make sure they were successful.
“Teach Africans how to do it themselves. Don’t impose anything on the African people, especially now when democracy is prevailing and the people are willing to change,” he said.
In Africa, other nations with chaplain services use the South African model of reconciliation and peace. Jamangile said chaplains were the first people into the country of Burundi when war broke out. They connected with the people and now Burundi rules itself.
“The focus is on values because we chaplains are people of values,” he said. “We tell the people that we are not politicians but men of God. We bring nothing but blessings, blessings from God for your people.”
Jamangile said to South Africans, peace and reconciliation were more of a spiritual change rather than political. “Politics did not change our country. It was God himself.”
Religion in South Africa, whether Muslim or Christian, is not about war or hatred but peace. “As religious leaders, reconciliation is our job.”
The South African chaplaincy came out of formerly hostile forces. The chaplain service began with a ritual washing of each other’s feet, just as Jesus did for his disciples. Also, at conferences, the chaplain service puts people of different faiths in the same room.
“If we don’t lead by example, then people won’t trust the military. South Africa did not want to look like other nations which had coup after coup,” he said.
South African chaplains, although part of the military, represent their different religions – mostly Christian and Muslim. A chaplain must advise his commanders in ethical matters and the commanders must trust their chaplains for advice, Jamangile said.
“Don’t forget to remember who you are and where you come from,” he urged the chaplains.
For more information on Chaplain Jamangile see South African General-Select Chaplain shares abuntu