(CPSA) It was time for the sleeping giant of Africa to rise up and take its rightful place amongst the nations of the world, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, told Anglican Archbishops from Africa at a consultation in Johannesburg this week.

He added that the rich heritage of Africa was no longer up for grabs as people of old had seemed to think it was, and it was not to be forcibly taken by the greedy of the world.

Archbishop Ndungane was speaking at the opening of a consultation of African Archbishops and their representatives, at the St Martin-in-the-Veld Anglican Church, Rosebank. The purpose of the consultation is to reflect on Africa, and the state of the Anglican Church on the continent.

The Archbishop said that recent occurrences in Africa led him to fear that the naked face of tyranny was appearing in new forms on the continent. Referring to the attacks on pro-reform demonstrators in Kenya in recent days, he said it was of the utmost importance that such occasions did not recur.

This was because Africa was now taking its destiny into its own hands. He said that a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit had calculated that five of the worldUs fastest growing economies are in Africa.

"That is remarkable and we need to build on this positive fact," he said.

On the issue of world debt, Archbishop Ndungane said the Churches in Africa could not allow the countries in which they minister to incur new debts which they will be unable to service.

"This has happened in the past, and the Church has to bear a large portion of the guilt for failing to act as an ecclesiastical economic watchdog in ensuring that these untenable debts did not occur.

"The disparity in wealth between north and south also directly impacts on us in Africa. There is an international groundswell towards Jubilee 2000 [the movement calling for the cancellation of the debts of developing countries] amongst people who are prepared to do something about the debt - even people who would not normally easily be persuaded by moral arguments.

"Now is the moment to pull out all the stops and to harness the energy of a world that, once in a century, seems prepared to use the opportunity of the new millennium to do something that is morally and ethically right - that is the cancellation of the debt."

Archbishops attending the consultation include those of Uganda, Zaire, Central Africa, West Africa, Seychelles, the Indian Ocean Islands, and Francophone Africa. The Archbishop of Nigeria, Archbishop Joseph Adetiloye, was unable to attend, as his government confiscated his passport earlier this year.

Bishop James Ottley, Anglican Observer to the United Nations, is attending the meeting.