National Times (Yaounde) – The appointment of Samuel Sako as leader of the Ambazonian Separatists interim government has raised questions over his ability to lead a military revolution given his experience or profession as a pastor.
History has taught us that pastors can be one of the strongest leaders to any revolution, and this a point that should be noted by both the government and critics of Samuel Sako. Here are four pastors who changed the world.
Martin Luther and the Reformation
During his first years at the monastery, Luther did not seem to be especially subversive. He quickly made a name for himself not only with his brilliance as a theologian but also with his meticulous observance of the harsh rules governing life in the monastery; he fasted, prayed, and confessed. Content with just a table and chair in his unheated room, he would rise in the early morning hours to pray matins and lauds. By the fall of 1506 he had gained full admission to the order.
The spark that ignited Luther’s confrontation with Rome was the sale of “indulgences,” which would lessen the impact of, or pardon, a person from their sins. In theory, indulgences were granted by the church on the condition that the recipient carried out some kind of good work or other specified acts of contrition. In practice, indulgences could be bought. The practice was abused by the church, which began relying upon their sale as a way of raising money, especially to pay for costly building projects.
Rome in the early 1500s was under the spell of the artistic projects of the Renaissance. Around 1515, Pope Leo X published a new indulgence in a bid to fund the reconstruction of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, entrusting Albert of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Mainz, with promoting its sale in Germany.
Luther must have realized early on that his reform movement had a political dimension. In 1520 he wrote a treatise, “Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.” It argued that all Christians could be priests from the moment of their baptism, that anyone reading the Scripture with faith had the right to interpret it, and that every believer had the right to assemble a free council. This declaration was revolutionary for the ecclesiastic hierarchy of the time.
In January 1521 a papal decree was published under which Luther was declared a heretic and excommunicated. Under normal circumstances, this sentence would have meant a trial and, most likely, execution. But these were no ordinary times. Both Frederick and widespread German public opinion demanded that Luther be given a proper hearing. The newly elected Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, finally acquiesced and called Luther to come before the Imperial Diet (assembly) to be held that spring in the ancient Rhineland city of Worms.
On his journey to Worms Luther was acclaimed almost as a messiah by the citizens of the towns he passed through. On his arrival in Worms in April 1521, crowds gathered to see the man who embodied the struggle against the seemingly all-powerful Catholic Church. Once inside the episcopal palace, Luther was met by young Charles V, princes, imperial electors, and other dignitaries. When charged, Luther said that he stood by every one of his published claims.
Rev Al Sharpton and the National Youths Movement
Ordained in the Pentecostal church as a child, Al Sharpton is an outspoken and sometimes controversial political activist in the fight against racial prejudice and injustice. In 1971, he established the National Youth Movement. His many critics and supporters have watched him run for Senate, mayor of New York and as a candidate for president. His dramatic style brings popular and media attention to his causes, and he has hosted his own MSNBC show, PoliticsNation, since 2011.
Social/political activist and religious leader Al Sharpton was born Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. on October 3, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York. Outspoken and sometimes controversial, Sharpton has become a leading figure in the fight against racial prejudice and injustice. He developed his commanding speaking style as a child. A frequent churchgoer, Sharpton became an ordained minister in the Pentecostal church at the age of 10. He often traveled to deliver sermons and once toured with Mahalia Jackson, the famed gospel singer.
To this day, Sharpton remains a political and social activist, with many supporters and critics. He is known for his deft handling of the media, leading some to call him the master of the sound bite. Others are concerned that his flare for the dramatic overshadows the causes he represents or he uses the causes he champions to further his own agenda. Sharpton seems to be pay no heed to his critics and continues to throw his talents behind important causes, cases and events in the African-American community, including the rebuilding of New Orleans after the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In June 2009, the Reverend Al Sharpton led a memorial for Michael Jackson at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. A lifelong friend of the Jackson family, Sharpton said Jackson was a “trailblazer” and a “historic figure” who loved the Apollo Theater.
Martin Luther King Jr
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor.
In 1954, Martin Luther King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation.
He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate.
The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals.
During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.
In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.
In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “l Have a Dream”, he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B.
Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.
At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.