From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN January 20, 2003 (C)
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Sun, 19 Jan 2003 10:02:03 -0800
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN January 20, 2003 (C)
All Africa News Agency
P. O. BOX 66878 NAIROBI, KENYA.
TEL: (254 2) 442215 FAX: (254 2)445847/443241
Editor - Mitch Odero
Acting Editor - Silvie Alemba
Colonial Legacy, Modernity Could Be A Threat To Faith
Title - Creation in "The Catechism Of The Catholic Church": A basis For
Catechesis in Post-Colonial Africa
Author. J. Njoroge wa Ngugi
Volume: 319 pages
Year of Publication: 2002
Price: Ksh.800 (about USD 10)
Publisher: Paulines Publication Africa. P.O. Box 49026, Nairobi-Kenya
NAIROBI (AANA) January 20 - Churches in Africa, says the author of the book
under review, should institute a theology that will effectively improve and
rejuvenate Africans' image of self and of God as Creator.
The Kenyan Catholic priest and scholar, Dr. J. Njoroge wa Ngugi, is of the
opinion that the faith of Africans is currently being threatened by both
colonial and apartheid legacy, which he says, are still doing the rounds on
the African continent today.
The author points out that apart from this, there is equally another force
that is effectively doing the same. This, he explains, is the new modern
secular forces both national and international, which no longer respect the
moral order established in creation.
The paperback book is broken into two parts and eight essential
chapters. Part One presents a critical outlook on the religious situation
in post-colonial Africa. The second part analyses the "doctrine of
creation in the catechism of the Catholic Church as a paradigm for
catechesis for building a human community."
The book calls for the institution of African theological projects. These,
according to Dr Njoroge wa Ngugi "should attend not only to the historical
concerns of theologies of liberation, reconstruction and nation-building,
but also to the wider cosmic, earthly, and cultural dimensions".
In this scheme, the doctrine of creation acts as a basis for building a
human community that transcends the exclusiveness of tribes, races, status,
religion, and nations.
The doctrine of creation, according to the author, makes it possible to
build bridges between indigenous cultures of the past and the global
culture of modern technology.
"It also provides a common ground for facing the challenges of human
dignity and human rights and of counteracting the degradation of the
environment," says Dr. Njoroge.
The same doctrine, he notes, provides a better basis for a catechetical
framework for social, cultural and religious construction that culminates
in the new creation in Christ.
African people should now develop new structures and a new outlook, now
that they are out of colonial and apartheid period, the book recommends.
The move, he says should effectively transcend tribalism, reconcile native
people with immigrants from Asia and Europe as well as supporting efforts
to build bridges between the indigenous cultures of the past and the global
culture of modern technology.
The author has recalled the historic 1994 special synod for African
Catholic bishops, held in Rome on the theme "The Church in Africa and its
Evangelising Mission Towards the Year 2000".
He recollects that the bishops at the synod considered inculturation as an
urgent priority in the life of particular churches, for a firm rooting of
the Gospel in Africa.
"It is a requirement for evangelisation and the greatest challenge on the
continent at the dawn of the third millennium," he explains.
The book has pointed out that modern African societies need a theology of
human rights, stressing that "the proposed theology should be based on the
Christian doctrine of creation".
Such a theology, says the author, would stress the essential equality
before God of every person, regardless of gender, race or social status.
The practice of human rights in Africa, as elsewhere, would benefit the
Catechesis of the Catholic Church's (CCC) teaching on human rights based on
the doctrine of creation.
The book stresses that in light of Church tradition since the Apostolic
times and also of African traditions, catechesis on creation occupies a
prominent position for it concerns the very foundation of human and
It further adds that every living human community must be engaged in some
kind of catechesis to initiate its members into fullness of life.
As many African theologians have recognised, the traditions of African
communities have taken catechesis seriously through a pedagogy of
initiation rites by means of which they have addressed the issue of
fullness of life, explains the author.
Reviewed By Osman Njuguna
Calling For African Ways Of Resolving Conflict
Whereas this century has seen a myriad of successes in terms of technology,
medicine, information, communication and commerce, peace and harmonious
coexistence has remained beyond reach. Hundreds of millions of people have
been killed in violent conflicts within this era, particulalry in
Africa. AANA Correspondent Isaiah Kipyegon reports that traditional ways
of resolving conflicts could provide a way out of the various internecine
wars that have ravaged the continent.
n Africa, the continent that has not known any single year of peace in the
past four decades, many are calling for a return to culture and indigenous
knowledge on conflict resolution and peace building.
According to Prof. Catherine Odora Hopper of the University of Pretoria,
South Africa, more than 170 million people have been killed by their own
governments during this century, and genocide has claimed the lives of over
21 million people.
"From this perspective it would appear that the 'never again' pledge by the
international community at the end of World War II has instead become
'again and again'," laments Prof. Odora.
The present world realities as far as conflicts and peace building are
concerned, seem bleak. At the same time, the methods of resolving these
conflicts seem not to work.
Meanwhile pain and suffering, which are legacies of war, continue to
torment millions of people all over the world.
It is against this background that a one week inter-faith peace summit was
organised last September in South Africa, by the Lutheran World Federation
The summit hailed the ability of African traditional ways of resolving
conflicts to ease tensions between parties and to bring harmony and
Speaking at the summit, Prof. Odora said that while tremendous progress had
been made in the field of conflict management, very little had been done in
the area of peace building.
In her opinion, it was time peace building took pre-eminence.
"Conflicts rack the African continent as well as a great part of the world,
and it is clear that our understanding of innovations, should extend to the
rediscovery of traditional or indigenous resources for peace-building and
human security," she said.
African philosophies emphasise a way of life that acknowledges obligations,
and seeks harmony, balance and equilibrium.
As such, all aspects of life are based on relationships embracing
courtesies and dignities of daily life.
It is upon such principles that the spirit of Ubuntu, an attitude of
togetherness in spirit and humanhood, is founded.
Dr. Ishmail Noko, General Secretary of LWF, describes Ubuntu (or Botho) as
bearing the central meaning that nobody can survive and realise their full
human potentials in isolation from others - whether the isolation is by
choice or imposed.
According to Sultan Somjee from the African Peace Museums in Nairobi, the
difference between the conflicts we experience now and those of the past,
is the fact that whereas we do not seem to be able to resolve our feuds,
our forefathers always had solutions for theirs.
Among many African communities, several different methods of resolving
conflicts have been used.
Margaret Arach of the Landmine Survivors' Network in Uganda says that the
various methods of resolving conflicts are universal but rather unique to
countries, communities or even clans.
"The uniqueness of these traditions is based on the values of the members
of specific communities, but whenever peace needs to be fostered between
members of different communities, shared values are invoked," says Arach.
The Acholi of Uganda have since time immemorial used Mato-Oput, a
reconciliation ritual, to bring together communities or individuals in
In this ritual, the persons or communities involved appear before a council
of elders (Lotido Apoki), where the root cause of the conflict is
identified after scrutiny. When the guilt is admitted and justice
administered, the two parties are blessed and a covenant of peace is made.
Prof. Odora believes that the jewel in Africa's frame of reference in
conflict mediation and resolution responses are interwoven in two elements,
namely: a tradition of family and neighbourhood negotiations facilitated by
elders, and the attitude of togetherness.
"Beneath these, is a profound commitment to community and an orientation to
the comprehensive view of life through the two-fold mechanism of
co-operation, and complementing one another," she observes.
Separateness and individualism, which set people against each other, are
not part of African culture. Peace building in African communities does not
acknowledge others as enemies, victors, or even victims. "Demonising others
is diametrically opposed to the idea of Ubuntu," says Dr. Noko.
The traditional African approach views conflicts as non-isolated events in
life. Moreover, experts say that distinctive African way views conflicts
and their resolutions as events in a comprehensive continuum of social life.
Says Dr. Noko: "Conflict is not new to Africa. It has not been imported to
this continent from outside, although external influences are significant
factors. In the same way, peace cannot be imported from outside the
continent. It must be created here from local ingredients."
"Our respective faith traditions and our cultural backgrounds provide us
with many valuable raw materials for this process," he adds.
A Community That Sees AIDS As A Cultural Taboo
The Luo community in Tanzania believe that AIDS is a new term for Chira
(curse) from Nyasaye Nyacalaga (Supreme Creator). They continue to perform
some harmful traditional practices such as tero or widow inheritance, and
prefer doho (polygamy) and ochodororo (entertainment of
prostitutes). They don't believe much on AIDS, but are very afraid of
Chira, writes AANA Correspondent Daniel Benno Msangya.
IDS is still considered to be chira among the Luo in northern Tanzania,
around the eastern shores of the Lake Victoria. And they believe that
chira can not be treated in hospitals, similar to what they hear about AIDS.
Experts in health and education sectors say that the community cannot
distinguish between HIV/AIDS and chira, owing to striking similarities in
Chira for instance, is a gradual loss of weight that befalls one who
breaks a taboo and therefore punished with a curse by ancestors. These
symptoms, as the Luo see it, are similar to those experienced by AIDS
Christian Konjra, a village elder in Tarime district, says that taboo
breakers must spontaneously be cursed. He maintains for example that,
"marrying a young wife of your father when he is still alive will result
He also adds that marrying before one's elder brothers was not acceptable
traditionally, and would automatically lead to chira. "But today, they do
whatever they want because they no longer believe in what they call
Konjra is the author of a book titled Otieno Achach (Mischievous Otieno), a
novel written in Dholuo (1966). He is also a former Catholic Catechist in
Kowak Mission in Tarime.
The village elder agrees that AIDS infection among the Luo is high. The
major areas affected include the fishing villages around Lake Victoria, and
According to Konjra, most of the divorced women from far away as Awendo,
Migori, Kisumu, Kericho and Nairobi in Kenya, and from other towns like
Mwanza, Dar es Salaam and Arusha in Tanzania come to the fishing camps and
to every rural market where they get hired as cooks for the fishermen.
They later accompany the fishermen to dance in local bars, and this
eventually leads to other forms of entertainment. "This is the main reason
why the rate of chira is high," Konjra explains.
He adds that most of them come to earn income as commercial sexual workers
and brewers of local drinks.
"They attract men in many ways," says Konjra. "Many are experts in
seductive belly dancing during popular traditional tunes played by orutu
(an equivalent of the violin) and nyatiti (traditional harp)," he elaborates.
Otunda Okech (not real name), a highly educated man who worked in Mwanza as
a manager of a private campany, was forced by clansmen to perform the tero
ritual (inheritance of the widow of one's brother).
Okech died towards the end of last year in Mwanza, where he had been
diagnosed as suffering from AIDS.
After his funeral in the village of Omuga in Luo-Imbo Division, the village
council decided that Nyaloca, the wife of the deceased (Otunda Okech) must
be inherited to fulfil Luo rites.
Names of potential inheritors were floated. The name of a young brother of
the deceased featured high on the list. That was Otieno Okech. He was
considered the closest brother-in-law to the widow.
The village diviner (Ajuoga) was consulted to clear any possible doubts
about the possibilities of Otieno inheriting the widow, the children and
property of the deceased. After engaging in vigorous rituals, he declared
that Otieno was the chosen one.
But Otieno is too young to take care of two wives. He already has a wife
with three children. Nevertheless, it would be difficult for him to escape
Ajuoga's decision, which elders among his clansmen in Cachiemo clan support.
Ajuoga had conviced them that the late Okech had died from chira for having
defied some traditional rites at some stage in life, and not from AIDS as
sounded by his co-workers in Mwanza.
Many Luo people in Tanzania still believe in chira and need technical
assistance to distinguish it from HIV/AIDS.
According to Dr. John Mtimba, the Dodoma Regional Medical Officer, TB
(tuberculosis) infection especially candidiasis and cryptococcosis strains,
occur frequently among HIV infected people in Tanzania. The rate is high
among the Luo.
Investigations indicate that male domination over women in Luo culture
plays a great role in the spread of HIV/AIDS within their communities.
Traditionally, African women are not supposed to be outspoken about sexual
matters, much less to negotiate safer sexual practices.
"They are handicapped because men take charge of their economic
well-being," says Rogate Makundi, the Manager of the AIDS Network in
Dodoma. Makundi is also a gender activist.
In Tanzania, the African Rural Press in Action (ARUPA) and the Tanzania
Media Women Association (TAMWA) campaign against the pandemic through
media productions, both electronic and print.
Recently, President Benjamin William Mkapa came out strongly to declare a
national struggle against the deadly pandemic. He embarked on taking a
number of steps.
He has for example formed the Tanzania Commission for AIDS Control
(TACAIDS) under the Prime Ministers' office, to oversee the implementation
of the National AIDS Policy.
The President has also called upon the government, communities,
individuals, religious organisations, non-governmental organisations,
private institutions, schools and colleges to join hands in eradicating
In addition he says that men should use their masculinity in fighting
against the pandemic, underlining that they could "make a difference".
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