Africana: History of a stable country

History of a stable story

In just a few years, Botswana has become the most stable and thriving country on the African continent. Botswana represents, according to the World Bank, “one of the true successes of economic and human development in Africa”. Its history also takes us back to the beginnings of human habitation on the African continent.

Since several African nations gained their independence in the 1960s, Africa has undergone major transformations, moving from the independence euphoria and pessimism of the 1970s and 1980s to the optimism of the 1990s that has led some media to speak of “Afro-realism”. We have moved from headlines such as “Africa, the hopeless continent” to “Africa emerges, the hopeful continent”.

The problems are not over, but the hopes have been increasing so that more than one country has managed to advance for the good of the population in general. One such country is Botswana.

Upon independence from the United Kingdom in September 1966, Botswana’s future was not very promising; five decades later, it is considered one of the most stable and thriving countries on the African continent. Botswana is the only African country that has not suffered any coup d’état, maintaining exemplary stability. In its 2017 report, the World Bank ranked Botswana among the 16 countries with the greatest political stability and absence of violence in the world and the first among the African people.

Gaborone, Capital City of Botswana

For the United Nations, Botswana is “one of the true successes of Africa’s economic and human development”. Greg Mills of the Brenthurst Foundation, an independent South African economic research group, says that Botswana’s transformation is “the result of a long-term vision, political stability and prudent governments”. Situated in southern Africa, the Republic of Botswana is bordered to the north by Zambia and Angola, to the south by South Africa, to the east by Zimbabwe and to the west by Namibia. Its area is as large as that of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), with a population of 2,370,000 inhabitants since the Kalahari desert occupies 70% of the territory (with only 4% of the remaining area suitable for agriculture). In the north are the marshy basins of the rivers Makgarikgari and Okavango that irrigate a large expanse of savannas, where livestock and agriculture are the main economic activities. Although English is the official language, Setsuana, Cannabis, San (Bushman), Khoi-khoi (Hotentote) and Ndebele are spoken. Its inhabitants are mostly Christians (76%), of which 6% are Catholics; 20% are faithful to the traditional religion and the rest are minorities Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Muslims.

The Bushmen of today are descendants of the first inhabitants of the country.

At the origin of the first African peoples
To get to know Botswana you have to delve into its past, a past that goes back millennia, to the dawn of humanity, when man took his first steps through the savannas of southern and eastern Africa. These peoples inhabited the great plains, moving with the seasons through meadows and mountains through the great wetlands that covered the north of Botswana. Thirty thousand years ago, the Bushmen, the main hominid group in southern Africa, evolved into an organized society of hunter-gatherers; anthropologists believe they are the ancestors of today’s Bushmen living in Botswana. With the Neolithic, some of these peoples adopted a pastoral lifestyle, sowing and grazing cattle on the banks of the Okavango River. Some migrated west to central Namibia, and in 70 B.C., others reached the Cape of Good Hope.

Between 200 and 500, the Bantu came to these lands from the north and east of the continent. One of the first and most powerful groups to inhabit this region was the Sotho-Tswana, formed by three peoples: the northern Basotho who settled in South Africa; the southern Basotho who settled in Leshoto; and the western Basotho who occupied what is now Botswana. By the year 600, groups of nomadic herders began to arrive from Zimbabwe; in the 13th century almost all of eastern Botswana was under the influence of Great Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s most legendary ancient kingdoms. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, Great Zimbabwe absorbed many tribal territories in northeastern Botswana; several hundred years later, the region was part of the Monomatapa kingdom that succeeded that of Great Zimbabwe.

Mokgweetsi-Masisi, president and first lady of Botswana.

European colonisation

From the 18th century onwards, the British, Dutch and Portuguese arrived. The British tried to unite the continent from South Africa to Egypt and the Portuguese wanted to unite their colonies of Angola and Mozambique through Botswana. The fact is that this region became a real crossroads between the different strategic colonial interests, and between these and the Tswana tribes. In 1840, came the Boers or Afrikaners who were Dutch settlers fleeing the English established in Cape Town.

The Boers, who were farmers, disputed the scarce fertile lands to the Tswanas, provoking conflicts between them and the Zulu whom the white settlers had expelled from southern Africa. 

Many Tswana began working on the Boers’ farms, but it was an uncomfortable association plagued with revolt and violence. In 1895, three tribal Tswana kings went to London seeking support against the Boers and against German expansion from Namibia.

Botswana became a British protectorate under the name Bechuanaland, but the Tswana kings had to grant, in exchange for protection, that the British Company of South Africa build a railway between their lands and Zimbabwe. British tutelage prevented these lands from being absorbed by South Africa, but facilitated economic domination by the Boers. Great Britain colonised Botswana until, giving in to the nationalist movement, which began in the 1950s, it granted independence on 30 September 1966.

Magazine Africana from the Sector of Spain, n° 197 of June 2019

Consultation, Petit Echo & EAP Newsletter

Petit Echo
and various

By now, you should have received a new consultation letter from the General Council, on the Brothers’ vocation this time. The topic will be debated at the forthcoming Plenary Council. So your reflection is requested and your opinion matters.

The timing is particularly good, for the July edition of the Petit Echo is precisely on the Brothers in the Society. And it should be shortly on its way by snail mail (I mean by post) and is already on line on this website. I believe it might be very wise to go through it prior to reflecting on the Brothers in our Society.

You will find as well the Newsletter “Mini-Lien” from the French sector, as well as the “Nuntiuncula” from Belgium, both on the download page of the PEP newsletters.

And on the download page of EAP, you will find the latest newsletter from the East African Province.

Petit Echo n° 1102

The sixth edition of the Petit Echo 2019 has just been published. Until it arrives by snail mail, you can start reading it online. It’s this way.

Please, mind the planet and especially the trees! They are the lungs of Mother Earth! 

Before printing the PDF of the Petit echo, consider learning to read from your screen. 

Ordination to the Priesthood of Bipin Kerketta

Here are some pictures of Bipin Kerketta’s ordination and first mass in northern India. The photos are of confreres who were present. Some photos come from Georges Jacques’ Facebook account, who had attached the following words to it:

“Here is a sample of this beautiful celebration of the ordination of Bipin Kerketta in India. We were 4 confreres to accompany him in addition to Felix, an abbot of Ste Marie d’Aguetto (Abidjan). But also the large crowd in the village! Beautiful cultural traditions. Unforgettable moments for Bipin and for each of us.”

SOA – Ordination sacerdotale

Dn. Bipin Kishor Kerketta

The delegate superior of the Section of Asia (SOA), Father John Gould, has the pleasure to announce the imminent ordination of Deacon Bipin Kishor Kerketta this coming Sunday 9th of June at Sacred Heart Parish in the diocese of Simdega by Rev. Bishop Vincent Barwa. Following, you will be able to visualise the area where Bipin comes from, the invitations he sent out, as well as photos gathered from his Facebook account. Seeing him in various  environment might help you to pray with us for him, that he may find hapiness and peace in his ministry.

EAP – Forthcoming ordinations in East Africa

2019 Ordinations in East Africa

The Provincial Superior of East Africa, Fr. Aloysius G. Ssekamatte, is pleased to announce the ordination to the priesthood of four confreres of the East Africa Province. Following on this page is a map with the four places where our confreres will be ordained. Then you will find, for each one, a short curriculum and a few pictures mainly taken from their Facebook accounts.

Recommendations to use this map : Click ONCE on each red circle to read the details. You will move the map by persistent left click and move in any direction. You will zoom in or out by clicking on + or – (bottom left) or by scrolling the mouse wheel. On selecting the top right square, you will see a full view and, zooming in, you will be able to see distinctively the churches where our confreres will be ordained. Enjoy.

Edwin Obare Oduor

Born in 1984 in Kenya, Edwin did his spiritual year in Kasama, his stage in DRC and is completing his theological studies in Nairobi where he pronounced his missionary oath on 23rd November 2018. He will be ordained at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Karen, Nairobi (Kenya) on 29th June 2019 by Bishop David Kamau.

Alex Akankwasa

Born in 1986 in Uganda, Alex did his spiritual year in Kasama, his stage in DRC and is completing his theological studies in Abidjan where he took his missionary oath on 8th December 2018. He will be ordained at Kiabi Parish, in the Archdiocese of Mbarara (Uganda) on 29th June 2019 by Archbishop Paul Bakyenga.

William Thomas Budotela

Born in 1984 in Tanzania, William did his spiritual year in Kasama, his stage in Ghana and is completing his theological studies in Nairobi where he took his missionary oath on 23rd November 2018. He will be ordained at Ilemela Parish, in the Archdiocese of Mwanza (Tanzania) on 2Oth July 2019 by Archbishop Renatus Nkwande.

Joshua Masive Musyoki

Born in 1987 in Kenya, Joshua did his spiritual year in Bobo-Dioulasso, his stage in DRC and is completing his theological studies in Kinshasa where he took his missionary oath on 9th December 2018. He will be ordained at Machakos (Kenya) on 31st August 2019 by Bishop Norman King’oo Wambua. 

South Africa at its best

Since its inception in 2009, the Ndlovu Youth Choir has profoundly affected the lives of the choristers and demonstrates the potential of any human being to achieve excellence no matter their background, education or place of birth. From its humble beginnings as an after-school activity the choir has evolved into a truly outstanding professional ensemble.

BF: Solidarity but not division!

Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner 
28th May, 2019

Theologians, pastors are looking for a way to display solidarity without accentuating ethnic and religious divisions

Anti-Christian attacks in Burkina Faso are continuing.

On Sunday May 26, heavily armed individuals entered a Catholic church during Mass at Toulfé in the north of the country.

Opening fire on the faithful, they killed four people and wounded several others.

On April 28, terrorists entered a Protestant church in Silgadj, killing the pastor, his sons and three members of the faithful.

On May 13, as the Catholic church celebrated the funeral of a priest and five members of the faithful who had been killed the day earlier in Dablo, four others were killed at a Marian procession in the neighboring province.

The messages of friendship and calls for prayer that circulated afterwards indicate the depth of emotion felt as well as growing concern at the determination of jihadist groups to sow terror in this small country of the western Sahara, which has long enjoyed a reputation for religious tolerance.

As has occurred after each anti-Christian attack in Sri Lanka, Egypt or the Philippines, the same question keeps returning. How to show solidarity with the victims without increasing religious division and thus assisting the terrorists’ in their objective?

“We must not fall into their trap and making a lot of noise is precisely what they are seeking by attacking religious institutions,” argues Father Anselme Tarpaga, the provincial of the White Fathers in the Maghreb region and originally from Burkina Faso himself.

Instead, those who wish to show their support should commence by informing themselves of the local situation. Although the authors of the attacks share the same ideology, the context and thus the resources available always differ.

In fact, tribal and family links have created a strong interreligious network in Burkina Faso where interreligious marriages are the norm, according to Father Tarpaga, who has a Muslim father and a Christian mother.

Similarly, Congolese Father Pascal Kapilimba, the director of the Institute of Islamo-Christian Formation in Bamako, Mali, sees this phenomenon as a means of countering the jihadists “by focusing on what unites us rather than what divides.”

“Rather than speaking of Christian victims, it is better to say they belong to the Yampa or Sawadogo tribes because when we say that, all Yampas and Sawadogos feel concerned, whether they are Christians, Muslims or practice traditional religions,” he believes.

While Wahhabi Islam – a form of Salafism – is growing, it is mainly based on the rural exodus.

“Since people are far from their families, young people are more easily seduced by the discourse and money of preachers formed in Saudi Arabia,” said Father Kapilimba.

“They may allow themselves to commit acts that are regarded as reprehensible by traditional Islam,” he says. “Moreover, they prefer to desert their villages because they will be viewed badly there.

“Father Christian Delorme, who is responsible for interreligious relations in the diocese of Lyon, identifies more fuel for the Salafist contagion in “the accumulated anger, jealousies, and feeling that the West – and therefore Christians – are to blame for all the evils of the world.”

For this reason, it is equally indispensable, in his view, to “display our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Africa and our refusal to normalize such actions” and to “refuse the fracture and the fatality of war.

“This can be achieved, he argues, by refusing to distinguish between “good and bad victims” and raising our voices against “all forms of violence.

“In a statement condemning the Dablo attack as “ignoble and unjustifiable,” the Federation of Islamic Association in Burkina Faso noted that imams have also suffered.

“The jihadists’ aim is to increase insecurity among all those who refuse to adopt their vision of the world,” said Father Delorme.

“It happens that attacking Christians has a greater impact than attacking victims practicing traditional religions,” he said.

Highly concerned by the attacks in his country of origin, Father Tarpaga has shared on social media the text of a practicing young Muslim Burkinabe who witnessed publicly to his gratitude to the Salesian priests with whom he “played football while young.

“Foreign Christians “must aid the Churches in Burkina Faso to keep their social and charitable works going,” he said because if they also give in to “the closing in, they will end up justifying the terrorists.”

Pope’s prayer intention

Pope's May prayer intention: For the Church in Africa

In this month of May 2019, Pope Francis invites us to pray that the Church in Africa may be a ferment of unity.

With all our apologies for the delay, we unite with the Pope’s prayer for Africa.

“The ethnic, linguistic and tribal divisions of Africa can be overcome by promoting unity in diversity. I want to thank the religious, priests, laity and missionaries for their work in promoting dialogue and reconciliation between the different sectors of African society. Let us pray this month that through the commitment of its members the Church in Africa will be a ferment of unity among peoples, a sign of hope for this continent.”