The Second Term confrères’ meeting was held in Nairobi from the 26th of May 2019 to the 16th of June 2019. The composition of the participants reflected the international and interracial nature of our Society. The animators were Olivier SOMA from Burkina Faso and Gilles EFIYO from DRC all based in Nairobi, Balozi Formation House.
And the participants were:
- Joseph CHIPIMO from Tanzania working in Tanzania,
- Patrice SAWADOGO from Burkina Faso working in Zambia,
- Anand RAJA from India working in India,
- George ATHIKALAM from India working in India,
- Norbert NKINGWA from Tanzania working in Zambia,
- Saju AKKARAPATTIALAL from India working in India,
- Anthony ALCKIAS from India working in Tanzania,
- Ghislain MBILIZI from DRC working in Togo,
- Peter EKUTT from Nigeria working in DRC,
- Erus KISHOR Tirkey from India working in Ghana,
- Jean Bosco NIBIGIRA from Burundi working in Mozambique,
- John SSEKWEYAMA from Uganda working in DRC,
- Bernard GACHURU from Kenya working in DRC,
- Edison AKATUHURIRA from Uganda working in Rwanda,
- Gilbert RUKUNDO from Rwanda working in Nigeria.
For many it was a great opportunity to see each other after many years of formation and mission. Roussel House, which was the venue of our meeting in Karen, Nairobi offered a perfect lieu of encounter, celebration and prayers. We were happy for the conducive atmosphere that we had for our session coupled with the hospitality and virtue of services rendered by the sisters of the Donum Dei Congregation working at the center.
Our stories as follows….
Our Session was divided into three parts namely:
- Individual sharing of personal experiences,
- inputs for personal growth and
- input for pastoral and mission growth.
The first week was dedicated to individual sharing of missionary experiences. We started it with a recollection which was meant to help us to get in contact with ourselves and how we have lived our missionary vocations after these few years of missionary oath. The spiritual exercise was later followed by individual sharing. Confreres shared with confidence and trust the various experiences lived in mission placements. From various sharing, it came out clearly that the Lord has been with each one of us in various challenges and moments of joy.
With regards to inputs related to personal growth we had a wonderful talk on community life especially on how we can make our community life more meaningful as a community of care, prayer and forgiveness. There was also an elaborate talk on spiritual growth with the emphasis on being in touch with God who is at the center of our vocation. We benefited also from inputs on Burn out/Self care, addictions, affective and sexual maturity. Their objectives were to help us to be in touch with inner self in view of a better self-care and matured expression of our emotions and feelings.
With regards to mission related topics, we had inputs on Encounter and Dialogue, Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, Christianity and witchcraft, and finances. We were pleased that some of the talks were exposed by some resource persons of our Society. Besides various inputs received, we had moments of recreation and outings together visiting our community of Olchore in the heart of the Masai village surrounded by nature, peace and harmony. The welcome was just so tasteful thanks to Martin ONYANGO who welcomed us in a so beautiful and peaceful “white house”. We enjoyed also the company of many confreres working in Nairobi thanks to the social evening and super offered by the Provincial team of EAP. Thank you to our confreres of South B Parish for the invitation to share our faith with the Christians during a Eucharistic celebration concelebrated by all the participants of the sessions.
Moments of peace and self renewal
Taking our time to revisit our missionary experiences for the past few years has been a blessing to us. The experiences of pastoral fulfillment and challenges shared in all amount of confidentiality, the different inputs received during this period of ongoing formation have been some useful tools for personal growth and self renewal. We share in the joy of others, but also in the various experiences of sufferings, hurts, disappointments and resistance. It has been a period of discovery, discovery of God’s unconditional love towards us, the joy of having each other in the community as a blessing but also the desire to take up new challenges in order to grow and to help each other to grow. This has really helped us to look at ourselves, to awaken in us the spirit, to recharge our batteries for mission. It has made us to grow in love, forgiveness and patience. In fact, we discover more and more that there is no best community, no best Province and not even the best religious Society. We all live with love but also experiences of challenges which should help us to ask for forgiveness and for the grace to go on the path of Love and Encounter. Each story was unique and left us with some sense of relief and renewal.
In fact, it has been a period of a long journey of liberation for many of us. Liberation from frustrations and hurts which can cancel the thirst for God and the need to encounter the other in community. Liberation from the fear which we carry within ourselves, often unresolved from the past. Liberation from daily illusions we have about community life and the way we want it to be. It was three weeks led by the spirit to share our “stories” of human, spiritual, community, pastoral and every other form of formation as Missionaries of Africa which has been constant means to help us stay on the path. We treasure this time as we depart from each other.
In a nutshell, the whole session was presented in such a unique way that we don’t only wish to have such regular ongoing formation opportunities as invitation from Rome but also as important and necessarily programs receiving priorities in our Provinces.
In a way, this ongoing formation finds its basic meaning in the need to continually nourish and revitalize the grace of our missionary vocations. It’s never enough; the glass is neither full nor empty. This is why we must constantly stir up our missionary vocations, find renewed meaning each day as M.Afr and renew untiringly our mission of proclaiming the Gospel.
Above all, it has been an experience of sharing, listening and learning from each other. Therefore, we would like to express our gratitude to the Society for giving us this wonderful opportunity for personal growth and of self repairs. Thank you Olivier Soma for your support and listening qualities. Thank you Gille Efiyo for your availability and support. We felt that both of you really accompanied us- THANK YOU! And to all of you with whom we shared our joy and pains of our Missionary life and experiences during these three weeks, may the FIRE keep burning as we try to be sowers of prophetic hope for our brothers and sisters to whom we are sent. And may God help us to flourish where we are planted. Peace!
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.
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
Here is a text that comes from Uganda, where the Vocation animators from both institutes of the Lavigerie Family have organised together some vocational activities in the context of the celebrations of our 150th anniversary.
We are very grateful to the Lord for the gift of our two institutes founded by Cardinal Lavigerie. In this line, we acknowledge the different activities that have been taking place in collaboration in the field of Missionary Vocation Animation and awareness to the youth.
Here in Uganda, from 11th to 17th January 2919, the vocation teams of MSOLA and M.Afr. organized a “come and see” session in the context of the 150 years of our foundation.
Eight aspirants of the M.Afr. and eight aspirants of the MSOLA participated together with the MSOLA pre-postulants.
On Sunday 13th January we made a pilgrimage to some important sites linked to our historical background in Uganda. We visited the Rubaga Cathedral, the hospital and the cemetery where the pioneer MSOLA were buried. We also went to Nabulagala where the pioneer M.Afr. were buried and to the Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine where King Mwanga sentenced to death the then future Uganda Martyrs. At all these sites , we stopped and got some historical explanations and prayed with gratitude for all the 150 years .
On Tuesday 15th January 2019, we all met at the MSOLA house in Bunamwaya for a common session. Sr. Harriet, who came all the way from Rwanda, together with Sr. Theopista Mbabazi animated the session. In the morning, Br. Francis gave an input on Cardinal Lavigerie in the context of 150 years of our foundation. This was followed by some group work and sharing.
We also marked the day with Holy Mass, for which Fr. Otto Katto was the main celebrant. It was nice to see how the young people aspiring to be missionaries were joyful at Mass and during the session. One would imagine how Cardinal Lavigerie must have been happy seeing the future Missionaries working together.
In the afternoon, there was an input presented by Srs. Harriet Kabaije and Theopista Mbabazi concerning our activities today in the context of 150 years especially our struggle against human trafficking. This was also followed by some very enriching group reflection sharing about our present activities in the struggle about human trafficking and slavery.
It was also striking to see how the aspirants were able to identify the current situations where they feel called and how they were connected to our mission today. These were some of the outstanding points that motivated the aspirants in M.Afr. and MSOLA: the legacy of our ancestors in faith , the high influx of refugees, not being materialistic, helping the needy, a desire to promote Justice and Peace, love and unity, the diminishing number of Missionaries in Europe and the inner force to commit to prayer. Indeed God speaks to the hearts of his people. And the question remains: Whom shall I send?
We were grateful to the MSOLA who received us so well. The aspirants were very happy to have lived this beautiful experience of good collaboration between MSOLA and M.Afr. We are planning another common session in May in the context of the 150years.
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever after the order of Merchizedek.” (Ps 110:4)
We thank the Lord for our five brothers
who will be ordained priests in the coming weeks.
It is a special blessing for our province.
Please pray for them during this special time in their lives.
I encourage as many confreres as possible to join us
and to contribute generously towards the success of these celebrations.
Robert KubaiMuthamia will be ordained on 9th June 2018 in Meru, Kenya.
He will celebrate the first and thanksgiving mass on 10th June 2018.
Nicolas MulingeNzomo and Simon ChegeNjuguna
will be ordained on 24th July 2018 at the Cathedral in Machakos.
The dates for the thanksgiving masses will be communicated later.
John Charles Mitumba will be ordained on 25th August 2018
at Busanda Parish, Shinyanga Diocese, Tanzania.
He will celebrate the thanksgiving mass on 26th August 2018.
NB: Deacon Maurice Odhiambo Aduol is still completing his studies in Merrivale, South Africa. The dates for his ordination will be communicated soon.
Thank you to all who have accompanied our brothers up to this stage on their missionary journey. Thank you all for your fraternal support.
Aloysius Ssekamatte, M Afr.
For the past three years, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa have been working in the coastal region of Kenya, where they are trying to bring young children out of increasing sexual exploitation. Sr Redempta Kabahweza, Ugandan MSOLA, who works especially in the psychosocial support of these children, gives us her testimony.
|Sr Redempta console, reassure,
Kenya’s coast is famous for its beautiful white sandy beaches, palm trees, warm Indian Ocean waters… But these sunny beaches are also a hub for European sex tourism, especially with young miners. A 2006 UNICEF study estimated that approximately 10,000 to 15,000 girls aged 12 to 18 living in coastal Kenya were sexually exploited.
What explains such exploitation of children is the widespread poverty and social acceptance of the phenomenon. Tourism is one of Kenya’s most important economic sectors, accounting for 10% of the country’s GDP.
In 2015, in response to this situation, the Catholic Church opened a centre in Malindi, Kenya, called “Pope Francis Centre”, for victims of this sexual exploitation. There, minors receive the help they need and support to bring the perpetrators to justice. On a daily basis, children as young as three, sometimes boys and girls, report shocking details of the abuse they have suffered, often from relatives.
Sr Redempta, who is the centre’s main psycho-sociologist, remembers snatching two 10- and 12-year-old girls from two Italian tourists who had abused them for two years. She describes the trauma during the interview with the older of the two: “I would take her into the meeting room, and once I closed the door, she would start shaking. It was very difficult to prepare her to testify in court because she had to remember all the horrible experiences she had had. »
When we met Sr Redempta, she told us about her constant and difficult struggles, in the face of the deep suffering of the children, the account of the sexual violence and traumatic experiences they had lived, but also how she herself found the inner strength to continue to fight for justice.
Voix d’Afrique. : You are Ugandan. How did you come to Malindi and to the Pope Francis Centre?
Sr Redempta : A few months before my perpetual vows, the bishop of the Catholic diocese of Malindi, Mgr Barbara, contacted our Superior General to ask for his help in the management of the “Pope Francis Center”. Certainly, this invitation of the diocese corresponded entirely to one aspect of our charism, which consists in paying special attention to every wounded person, in difficulty, isolated from society. After several consultations, three of us were sent to respond to the urgency of this mission. Personally, I was very enthusiastic to receive this appointment as a psychosociologist just after my perpetual vows. I really wanted to work with the children, and the idea of taking on the role of “counsellor” makes me very happy. It was the first time I was going to practice my “counselling” skills (psychological and social support).
|Sr Redempta plays
with the two younger survivors
of sexual abuse.
They’re both four years old.
V.A: How are you doing with the kids?
Sr R. : It is an exciting mission, but it is far from simple. Listen to what they’ve been through, break your heart. One example among many: when I arrived here, I found a two and a half-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted several times. How can any sane person rape a baby?
V.A: Are you also traumatized by listening to these children’s experiences?
Sr R. : This, of course, affects me, as does everyone who works here. When a child who has been abused is brought to the centre, everyone: social workers, nurses or even the drivers who drive the children here, are really touched and compassion can be seen on every face. Nevertheless, we are working as a team to take a step back from these dramatic situations. Children need our confidence, to relearn trust.
V.A: Of all the people who care for children, you are the one who listens to their traumatic experiences of sexual abuse. How are you coping?
Sr R. : As a professional listener, I seek to restore confidence to these children in situations of psychological suffering. I try to help them reconnect with all that rehumanizes. But listening can take different forms: a child, for example, does not necessarily express himself with words but rather with drawings or with games. One of them, through a male doll, was able to confirm that it was her maternal uncle who had raped her, even though a police statement indicated that she had been involved in a traffic accident in which her private parts were allegedly injured! Her hospital examination confirmed that she had been sexually abused…
|Au Centre, les fillettes les plus âgées
s’occupent des plus jeunes.
V.A: In addition to follow-up with these children, do you offer other support?
Sr R. : Because they must be reintegrated into their families after three months at the Centre, I go to their homes to talk to their relatives and assess whether or not bringing the child back to the family constitutes an additional danger for the child. I must also investigate those who harassed them, it is my duty. I also prepare children to testify in court. Because lawyers cannot advance a case until the identification of suspects is confirmed and the children have testified. For example, one of the four-year-old children has already testified in court about the rape she suffered. Unfortunately, later, the clerks called us to tell us that the file was incomplete and that the child had to testify again. I refused, indicating that the child was not ready for a second interview. I firmly believe that someone was paid to make this file disappear.
V.A: What motivates you to continue your work despite the distress you sometimes encounter?
Sr R. : The Bishop of Malindi saw this “crime against humanity” that was rampant in this region and felt that something had to be done. He founded the “Pope Francis Centre”, based on the Church’s social teaching: “to create a society in which all children live with dignity and in which their rights are protected. “This is the mission of the centre: to help children who are subjected to sexual violence. This goal is addressed to all children, regardless of race, ethnic origin, religious belief or gender, to enable them to achieve their full potential one day. The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa are very committed to what promotes justice and peace. And because I am also very committed to this mission, I want justice for these children. I feel great joy for every child who can return to their family after months of support. I want to continue to follow them, to make sure they are safe and will no longer be abused. They all trust me to protect them from their aggressors, and I would not want to abandon them for anything in the world. When they call me “Sister” and share with me all their fears from the outside world, it convinces me even more that I can only be there with them and for them.
Sr Huguette Régennass, SMNDA
(Voix d’Afrique nr. 119 – June 2018)
Seven years after the declaration of independence, the situation in Southern Sudan is catastrophic: an obvious case of a failed country. Perhaps the enthusiasm did not take into account the endemic shortcomings affecting the country, but the ideal has also been betrayed and battered by its leaders.
Southern Sudan was at war with the North since 1955, a year before the independence of the Anglo-Egyptian protectorate from Sudan. Since then, North and South have been at war with a 10-year break, between 1972 and 1982, when a fragile peace reigned between the contenders. When the referendum was held in June 2011, which was a choice between unity and independence, 98.83% of South Sudanese who went to the polls voted enthusiastically in favour of independence. Southern Sudan became the youngest country on the planet. The abundance of oil and other natural resources held out hope for rapid and continued development, which has not taken place.
A little bit of history
The information prior to the 18th century is based above all on oral traditions according to which the Nilotic peoples (Dinka, Nuer, Shiluk…) entered the present territory of the South around the 10th century, while the Azande people entered it around the 15th century; and later, the Avungara people. Gradually, these peoples settled down until they occupied their present territories. Each of them organized themselves politically and socially according to their own structures until, in 1899, the United Kingdom and Egypt abolished their independence, establishing the Anglo-Egyptian Protectorate in Sudan. The protectorate, although unique, was administered as different territories: the North was Muslim and Arabic-speaking, while the South was animist and encouraged the use of English.
In 1953, the British and Egyptians decided to give independence to Sudan as a single country. Egypt hoped that, after independence, Sudan would form a federation with Egypt, thus securing the waters of the Nile. The unitary independence, however, upset many Southerners; they were particularly upset by the fact that Khartoum defined the country as Arab and Muslim. Hence, from 1955, one year before independence, a civil war began, which lasted until 1972. A peace agreement was reached at the time, giving the South an autonomous government, but the discovery of abundant oil in the south sharpened Khartoum’s desire for control. Its president, Yaafar al-Numeiry, dissolved the autonomy of the South and introduced Charía, or Islamic law, throughout the country, although the South was exempted from observing some of its precepts, such as the prohibition on drinking alcohol. This triggered the peace treaty signed in 1972 and began the second stage of the war of independence.
A new peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army, signed in January 2005, ended a 40-year conflict. This agreement re-established the autonomous government of Southern Sudan and provided for a referendum in 2011, in which the South Sudanese people would decide on the unity of the country or the independence of the South. The choice for independence was overwhelming and, on 9 July 2011, Southern Sudan was proclaimed independent. Despite Sudan’s acceptance of Southern independence, tensions and skirmishes between the two countries continued for opposing interests.
Southern Sudan has considerable natural resources, particularly oil. A World Bank report indicates that oil revenues would have been sufficient to reduce poverty in the country and improve the living conditions of its people. Today, however, it is not only among the poorest countries in the world, but its traditional economy is completely destroyed by the new intestinal conflict affecting the country. Southern Sudan could have a population of about 12 million. I say it could be because a couple of millions have been forced to take refuge in neighbouring countries. We will come back to that later. By ethnic group, the Dinka are the largest community, with some three million members.
Although the current constitution of 2011 recognizes all “indigenous languages” as national languages, it considers English as the “official working language in the Republic of Southern Sudan, as well as the language of instruction at all levels of education”. Yuba Arabic (a pidgin or macaroni language) is a lingua franca used, along with English. The most widely spoken indigenous languages are Bari, Dinka, Luo, Murle, Nuer, Pojulu and Zande. In addition, 60 other languages are spoken throughout the country.
In August 2011, the Ambassador of Southern Sudan to Kenya stated that Swahili would be introduced in Southern Sudan to replace the Arab, thus orienting the country towards the East African Community instead of the Arab bloc. In July 2017, the government of South Sudan asked teachers of Swahili from Tanzania to introduce this language into the school curriculum of South Sudan, thus preparing for the adoption of Swahili as the official language.
The economic situation in the country at the time of independence (2011) was encouraging. But it was a poor state, with basic infrastructure and a largely illiterate population. According to the World Bank, only 27 per cent of the population over the age of 15 was literate: 40 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women. Both infant and maternal mortality are high. Only half the population has access to safe drinking water and 80 per cent have no access to sanitation facilities.
However, Southern Sudan has a sufficient basis for considerable economic progress. Although its economy is based mainly on oil, it also has other natural resources: iron mineral, copper, chromium metal, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver and gold. The White Nile River crosses the country and many of its tributaries have their sources there, with possibilities of producing hydroelectric energy. It also has two natural parks: Bandingilo and Boma.
The basic means of livelihood are low-production family farming (78% of the population) and grazing in bobbins. Cotton, peanuts, sorghum, millet, wheat, sugar cane, tapioca, mangoes, papayas, bananas, sweet potatoes and sesame are grown. It also produces gum arabic. Although Southern Sudan has vast tracts of unused farmland and pasture, it currently imports food from Uganda, Kenya and Northern Sudan. Fishing is up to 37,000 tonnes per year. According to the World Bank, the agricultural sector accounts for only 15% of the Gross Domestic Product.
Oil, on the other hand, would be its greatest asset for the time being. Southern Sudan is the most oil-dependent country in the world. This constitutes almost all of its exports and approximately 60% of its Gross Domestic Product.
Today, Southern Sudan has a 192 km paved road linking Yuba to Uganda; the rest of the roads are dirt roads. It also has 248 km of single track railway.
Yuba International Airport connects the capital of Southern Sudan with Entebbe, Nairobi, Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum. Malakal airport connects with the main towns in the country.
Telephone communications are reduced to mobile phones with 2,853,000 connections in the country. The press has seven daily newspapers and one periodical. Four radio stations and one television station continue to operate, although freedom of expression is very limited.
According to the 2011 census and some studies conducted later, between 60% and 70% of the population would profess Christianity. Of these, 39.6% are Catholics; 20.90% are non-Catholic Christians, belonging to the Anglican Church of Sudan, the Coptic Church and several Protestant churches. 6.20% profess Islam and the rest, about 33%, profess traditional religions.
Conflict and its causes
The conflict in Southern Sudan has ethnic components, but it is not its only cause; political ambitions and access to the country’s wealth, especially oil, are part of it. The many peace agreements are short-lived on the ground.
At first glance, the clash appears to be an ethnic conflict, and this is the version reported by the media: Dinkas and Nuers, the two majority tribes, are fighting each other. The head of state, Salva Kiir, is Dinka, while the then vice-president, Riek Machar, is Nuer; their respective ethnic groups support them in the conflict. However, the real explanation seems to be more complex and, of course, control of the country’s power and wealth is, to a large extent, the reason for the confrontation.
Widespread corruption was soon introduced into the conduct of the classes close to power, to the extent that Salva Kiir accused them of embezzlement of 4 billion. Soon after the independence of Southern Sudan, the Minister of Culture, Jok Madut, pointed to several problems afflicting the government: the army did not function as a disciplined military force; civil society was severely weakened; the government’s service delivery was inadequate, unable to provide security and, finally, political unity deteriorated.
The head of state, Salva Kiir, wanted to remedy the first of these shortcomings by trying to reorganise the army, but his attempt was not well received. Kiir had hinted that some of his rivals were trying to rekindle old disagreements. For the presidential elections to be held in 2013, Riek Machar announced his candidacy. This led Salva Kiir to purge his government of dissent and, in July of the same year, to remove Riek Machar and the entire cabinet from his post as Vice-President.
Since then, tensions have become apparent and the head of state’s style of government has become authoritarian.
On December 15, by order of General Paul Malong (the president’s trusted man), Dinka soldiers tried to disarm the Nuer soldiers stationed in Yuba. They resisted, but the rebellion was crushed and the government-affiliated troops, mostly Dinkas, killed as many Nuer as they could find in the city of Yuba and its environs. The Kiir government tried to justify the killing by saying that Machar and the Nuer soldiers had planned a coup d’état. This alleged attempted coup d’état was reported in the press and accepted by much of the international community.
The result of the massacre, which could have caused more than 6,000 victims, immediately led to the uprising of all the Nuer soldiers in the various garrisons stationed in the provinces. Riek Machar, who had managed to escape, took the lead in the rebellion. Over time, other ethnic groups rose up against the Dinka monopoly and the Yuba government, while government soldiers and opposition militias massacred those they considered enemies in the villages. Thousands of civilians sought asylum at UN headquarters and in churches; those who could sought refuge in neighbouring countries. This chaotic situation has weakened the government and made a possible dialogue for peace more difficult.
However, on 17 August 2015, under pressure from the UN and the US, which continue to regard the established regime as legitimate and Riak Machar as guilty, a peace agreement was signed between the parties. Riek Machar, who feared for his life, asked for assurances to return to Yuba, where he was about to be killed on July 8, 2016. Fleeing on foot, he took refuge in the DR of Congo and was eventually arrested in Addis Ababa, where he had come hoping to find the support of the African Union, which is based there. Since then, he has been under house arrest in South Africa, despite not having been tried.
Contrary to the expectations of the international community, which assumed that the arrest of Machar would help to resolve the conflict, the situation has only worsened. In December 2017, the various groups of contenders agreed to a cessation of hostilities; the agreement was signed in Addis Ababa on 23 December 2017 and was due to enter into force on 24 December. Riek Machar, the former vice president and leader of the largest opposition faction, ordered his rebel forces to cease all hostilities. However, since this pact was signed, both the government and the opposition have continued to accuse each other of violations of the agreement.
In spite of everything, President Kiir launched a process of dialogue in May 2018, most of which is ignored by the contenders. Kiir also announced elections for 2018, although the African Union warns that in the current conditions of conflict, such elections would be impracticable.
The deepest roots of the conflict should be found in the colonial policies of the protectorate that benefited the North while the South remained underdeveloped and uneducated. After independence, the Christian and animist South continued to be colonized by the Muslim North, with greater determination when oil was discovered in the southern part of the country.
The fact that the conflict is motivated by political and economic interests is evidenced by the primordial role played by oil. When the fighting began in December 2013, the fighting was particularly violent in the oil states. For its part, the international community is not unaware of these calculations. Both the South Sudanese government and the rebels have continued to arm themselves without an international arms embargo. Interest in South Sudanese oil from countries such as China, Russia and the US explains why this is so passive. Russia and China have been reluctant when the possibility of sanctions or an arms embargo has been mentioned in the United Nations. Five per cent of China’s oil imports come from Southern Sudan, with whose government it has signed beneficial oil development agreements.
Added to this is the fact that the military in Southern Sudan is profiting from the benefits of oil, despite the famine in the country. One organization, which is dedicated to tracking money flowing around armed conflicts and crimes against humanity, has shown how a senior military officer in the South Sudanese army has 2.7 million euros in his personal account from the Kenya Commercial Bank, an amount that could never be explained by the salary he receives. According to the same organization, the President and his relatives have used the state oil company, Nilepet, to obtain funds, avoiding processes and controls on military spending during the civil conflict. Added to all this are other more than dubious businesses.
The human rights abuses and corruption of senior army officials are corroborated by Alberto Rojas’ article, published in the World on August 25, 2017.
What role does ethnicity play in this conflict?
Undoubtedly, ethnicity plays a role in these clashes. In Southern Sudan, ethnic affiliation has been a source of tension and division for a long time: even during the long years of struggle for independence, the liberation front was divided into ethnic factions: the Nuer, led by Machar and the Shiluk, led by Lam Akol, sometimes opposed each other instead of fighting the Northern army. They even came to accept arms and economic aid from the government of Khartoum, which was using them to weaken the political and military movement of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, led by John Garang.
The betrayal of a great ideal
The conflict has caused several hundred deaths and nearly three million refugees and displaced persons, as well as severe famine throughout the country. Faced with the powerlessness of the political pacts, civil society is beginning to demand an end to the war.
The conflict, which began in August 2012 and continues to the present day, has caused 1,792,000 refugees in neighbouring countries and 2 million internally displaced persons in southern Sudan, in addition to 5 million people in a situation of severe food insecurity. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Uganda has been forced to host 928,000 South Sudanese refugees; Ethiopia 320,000; DR Congo 72,300; Sudan 400,000; Kenya 70,000 and the Central African Republic some 2,000. UNHCR estimates that about 60,000 South Sudanese flee abroad every month.
The exact number of victims is unknown, although it is estimated at some 300 thousand, most of them due to disease and famine, although some 50 thousand would be victims of fighting and killing by both sides. To this must be added the untold rape of women and the unrestrained trampling of human rights.
According to a 2016 UNHCR report, when Kiir and Machar’s forces entered an “enemy” locality, they systematically martyred civilians and raped women.
According to a UN Human Rights Commission, violence in some areas of the country amounts to a process of ethnic cleansing.
Of the nearly two million internally displaced people, 220 thousand have sought refuge in the UN protection camps in Southern Sudan, protected by most of the 12 thousand members of these troops. This does not prevent women from being raped in these camps.
Conflict and drought have added famine to the suffering of the people. According to UNICEF, nearly 5 million people across the country depend on food aid. More than 1.1 million children suffer from acute malnutrition. The fear of being attacked keeps families from going out to farm. Because of food shortages, inflation has reached 800%, preventing families from buying food.
The Churches, some charities, such as International Mercy Corps, and United Nations agencies (UNICEF, UNHCR, FAO and the World Food Programme) are working to alleviate the catastrophic situation of the South Sudanese people, but the means at their disposal are clearly insufficient. Human rights abuses and violations are perpetuated to the present day.
Government investigations rarely lead to prosecutions and convictions. A court martial investigates collective rapes of a group of soldiers. The outcome of this judicial process remains to be seen. UN investigators claim to have identified more than 40 Southern Sudanese army officers suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include eight lieutenants general and governors from three states.
Looking for solutions
There is only one solution: peace. We have already mentioned the ceasefire’ agreements, which have so far been ineffective. Stronger national dialogue and vigorous and sustained international pressure must be established to achieve a political solution to the conflict.
The NGO, PeaceTech Lab Africa, is running a campaign to eradicate the hate language that inflames social networks on the Internet. A UN expert report (November 2016) warned that “members of all parties to the conflict, including senior government officials, have used social networks to exaggerate incidents, disseminate falsehoods and covert threats or post messages of incitement to violence. Much of the hate speech is generated in the diaspora and spread through family and personal networks: an SMS or a simple phone call.
A good number of South Sudanese are convinced that it is their responsibility to find a solution to the conflict that afflicts them. On May 12, 2017, a group of students from the University of Yuba and activists, calling themselves the New Society, organized demonstrations against government policies. According to the group’s secretary general, who was speaking from Nairobi, dozens of participants have been arrested and are unaccounted for. He also denounced torture, which is unconstitutional and deserves the condemnation of civil society. The pro-government “The Down” newspaper justified the arrests as politically motivated. Theoretically, the right to demonstrate is guaranteed by the constitution of the country.
AnaTaban activists – I’m Tired, in Arabic – have launched Blood Shed Free2017, in which they use artistic expressions such as hip-hop, poetry and graffiti, participatory theatre and street murals to mobilize their countrymen and promote a culture of peace. The campaign takes place in the streets and on social networks. They want to raise awareness among young people and promote dialogue instead of violence. Here is part of AnaTaban’s manifesto: “We are fed up, tired of war and all the suffering it brings with it. Tired of sitting around while our country burns. Tired of having a country with enormous natural resources but a collapsed economy. We are tired of our precious cultural diversity – 64 ethnic groups – being destroyed by tribal animosity. Tired of having a population dying of hunger, even though we have fertile land. We are tired of being used to kill each other for the benefit of a few.
The manifesto could not be more explicit or eloquent. They call for a permanent ceasefire, a halt to ethnic violence and an end to the insecurity that has turned roads into lethal traps, as well as respect for human rights and press freedom, which is non-existent in Southern Sudan. They also insist on being the ones to settle their disputes: “If the South Sudanese do not resolve their disputes, no one will do it for them”.
Specifically, four clear messages are sent to the entire population, but especially to young people:
- Ask forgiveness and grant it.
- Settle disagreements peacefully.
- Accept tolerance as indispensable.
- Every South Sudanese has a role to play in laying the foundations of peace.
Against the betrayal of a great ideal and the hopelessness that betrayal engenders, there are those who do not resign themselves, and are still able to wait.
Bartolomé Burgos, M.Afr.
From “Africana” nr. 192, June 2018 – M.Afr. Madrid
Translation with the help of www.Deepl.com
Fr. Gerard Reynaert (1925-2018) popularly known as “mukulu” passed away on 03.05.2018 at Nsambya Hospital in Kampala. He lived 67 years of Missionary Life and almost all of them in Uganda. At 93, he was still the local bursar/guest master at lourdel house-vocations centre and chaplain to a community of Little Sisters of Saint Francis at Nsambya. The following was written about him in the Order of Mass celebrating his life:
Gerard’s faithfulness and commitment to the apostolate up to the last drop of his life and strength remain for us a powerful reminder of the strong recommendation of our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie: “My dear children, you are not explorers or ordinary travelers… You are apostles and only apostles. All your other interests must derive from that fundamental fact. I beseech you, revive within yourselves these great thoughts of the apostolate.”
This reminder is even more meaningful when put in the context of the 150th Jubilee of the foundation of the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (Msola). Fr. Gerard’s faith has been ‘a down-to-earth and practical faith’. It is, therefore, not by chance that he passed on, on the day when we were celebrating the feast of St. James, whose teaching strongly emphasizes such a faith: “Faith without good deeds is dead”. (James, 2:26)
Gerard’s way of life corresponded well to the life that all Missionaries of Africa are invited to embrace: ‘Simple way of life’. He was a real Biblical Job: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I will depart.” (1:21) He departed from this earthly life “naked”; he left behind almost nothing! What a powerful message and legacy in a world full of greed of all sorts of earthly things! What a powerful message and legacy in a world where the “culture of grabbing” is on the increase everyday! Jokingly, Fr. Gerard used to speak of himself as “Ow’empisa ennungi” (someone with good manners). May we too, in spite of our human weaknesses, always aspire to be ‘abantu ab’empisa ennungi’ (people of good manners).
Fr. Gerard was laid to rest at Nabulagala parish where he helped out for masses until his dead. The faithful together with some confreres kept vigil and celebrated several masses throughout the night praying for Gerard. The Archbishop of Kampala, his grace Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga celebrated the funeral mass surrounded by a great crowd of people that came to bid farewell to jjaja (grandfather).
MAY FR. GERARD REST IN PEACE!naert (1925-2018)
This is a special year for our Kenya Sector. It is not just the increase in the number of members but also the blessing of God shown through the ordination of three confreres and another one expected in the near future. It all started in Meru, on 9th June 2018 where Bishop Salesius Mugambi, bishop of Meru, ordained Deacon Robert Muthamia to the priesthood. Robert Muthamia was ordained together with another priest of the Franciscan Conventuals and 6 diocesan deacons. Several confreres, a good number of Msola sisters and several friends (Lavigerie family) made the journey to Meru to support Robert. The bishop was so happy to present Robert to the Society of the Missionaries of Africa and to send him off on mission. However, he reminded us that Meru is also in Africa. Fr. Robert Muthamia celebrated his thanksgiving mass at Kangeta Parish where he comes from.
On 26th July 2018 all roads led to Machakos where Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri Archdiocese and administrator of Machakos diocese ordained our deacons Simon Chege Njuguna and Nicholas Mulinge. They were ordained together with 4 diocesan deacons and 8 priests in a colorful and rather long ceremony. The archbishop took the occasion to do vocation animation not only for the diocese but also for religious congregations. He too reminded us not just to milk the cow but also remember to feed it. Missionaries still have their place in the local Church.
We wish our new priests a happy and fruitful missionary life.