What to Do With Africa's "Cancer"

Synod Fathers Reflect on Bad Governance, a Few Solutions

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The cardinal archbishop of Nairobi and president of Kenya’s episcopal conference summarized today the overall problem in Africa, saying the continent “continues to thirst for good governance.”

Cardinal John Njue said many African nations “struggle under bad governance where unchecked hunger for power has led to impunity, corruption, manipulation of people, and other similar social political evils bled from human hearts in need of conversion.”

And, he observed, “This is what has impoverished the people across the continent.”

“Bad governance,” the cardinal asserted, “[…] by and large can be termed the cancer of Africa.”

“This synod gives us a special opportunity to reflect on the cancer that is eating up our continent,” Cardinal Njue said. “Good governance is not only a priority but a must. I can as well add that politics in Africa is so important that we cannot leave it to politicians alone. […] The time to act constructively is now!”

The cardinal’s thoughts were echoed by Bishop Timothée Modibo-Nzockena of Franceville, president of the episcopal conference of Gabon, as well as by many of the 21 synod fathers who gave their interventions during today’s 11th congregation.

Bishop Modibo-Nzockena observed: “Our region of Central Africa continues to be the theater of injustices, division and untenable violence. This makes our present life difficult and mortgages the future of our countries. Poverty grasps most of the populations. Social evils take on an alarming breadth.

“The killings, rapes, thievery, [and] all types of violence are trivialized here. The consequences of this violence deeply permeates individuals and society, hearts being more often inhabited by sin than turned to conversion, justice that creates life is derided, the truth that only can free is in a bad way. To get out of this situation, the reactions and cultures of justice and truth must be built.”


And though no one claims solutions in Africa are easy to find, some bishops proposed ways to make small inroads.

Bishop Menghisteab Tesfamariam of Asmara, Eritrea, noted that the family “is the first and indispensable school of reconciliation, justice and peace.”

“It is in the family that one learns the sense of belonging and identity, and the values of solidarity, sharing, respect for others, hospitality, togetherness, etc.,” he said.

The bishop further observed that many African emigrants have been able to establish themselves in foreign nations.

“If motivated by us,” Bishop Tesfamariam asserted, “they are ready to make their contribution toward the improvement of life in their countries of origin. We must not exclude them from being involved in developing Africa’s potentials.”

On another level, Bishop Gervais Banshimiyubusa of Ngozi, Burundi, noted one war come to an end, that of the civil war in his nation (1993-2008).

He called on the experience of the Church in Burundi: “Since 2004, in this situation of a society that has lost all its cultural and moral bearings, given over to collective offenses and sins on a wide scale, we decided to involve ourselves in the diocesan synods with this theme: ‘Let us convert to promote a culture of peace and reconciliation.'”

Bishop Banshimiyubusa encouraged diocesan synods that continue the theme of the world assembly, saying they would involve “the whole ecclesial family and even beyond so that the light may be visible.”

Secondly, he appealed that the Church in more financially stable nations “help us with their resources in creating in Africa institutes and universities with faculties having traits of prevention and resolution of conflicts, as well as faculties for peace and reconciliation.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Vatican summaries of the interventions from the synod’s 11th congregation: www.zenit.org/article-27164?l=english

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