From the Worldwide Faith News archives

AANA BULLETIN No. 04/03 February 3, 2003 (a)

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 03 Feb 2003 14:32:47 -0800

AANA BULLETIN No. 04/03 February 3, 2003 (a)

P. O Box, 66878, 00800 Westlands, NAIROBI, Kenya.  Tel: 254-2-4442215,
Fax: 254-2-4445847, 4443241; Email: ,


Massive Starvation: Churches Send Out Urgent Appeal

NAIROBI (AANA) February 3 - Churches in Africa have sent out a joint urgent 
appeal for humanitarian assistance to millions faced with starvation in 
most of Africa.

The appeal, targeting the international community and sent out on January 
29, notes: "We, the 168 member churches of the All Africa Conference of 
Churches (AACC) as a continental ecumenical body wish to add our voice to 
one of the most severe and widespread hunger now facing most African 

  "People are dying daily. Most of those alive are too weak to produce more 
food. The animals are being wiped out," states the appeal.

The appeal explains that refugees have been dying in camps in southern 
Africa, central Africa, eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa.

It quotes World Food Programme Executive Director, James Morris, who last 
December said that hunger threatened nearly 18 million people in Ethiopia, 
Eritrea and the Sudan.

The appeal notes that over 16.4 million people from Malawi, Zimbabwe, 
Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique are facing grave food shortages 
because of drought and crop failure for consecutive seasons.

It is also estimated that about 2.7 million people in the Great Lakes 
region are in dire need of food.

Accordingly, the AACC member churches, which are national church bodies in 
their respective countries across the continent said on January 29: "We, 
the AACC family, therefore join the rest of the world in appealing for an 
urgent major infusion of more funds for humanitarian relief."

"This is urgent, notwithstanding the past generous contributions from 
United States of America [which] provided 62 percent of all food aid 
world-wide last year, that enabled World Food Programme to feed 77 million 
people in 82 countries," they added.

The two-page funds appeal, signed by AACC's Interim General Secretary, 
Melaku Kifle, is a request to Heads of State in Africa, African Union, 
Western Governments, United Nations agencies, civil society bodies, 
non-governmental organisations and churches in Africa, to consolidate 
efforts to "provide badly needed food for starving millions in many 
countries in Africa".

AACC is critical of some African governments who  lack "political will in 
dealing with the food crisis in Africa".

"A number of governments in Africa have indeed made wrong and costly 
political decisions. Empirical evidence indicates clear linkages between 
violence, wars and hunger.  The situations in the Sudan, Liberia, Ivory 
Coast, Great Lakes and Angola are living examples," says AACC.

Reported By Osman Njuguna

Villagers Opt Not To Sleep For Fear Of 'Bloodsuckers'

BLANTYRE (AANA) February 3 - Malawi Government is at pains to allay fears 
in one of the country's major tea growing areas in Thyolo district, where 
villagers are spending sleepless nights following reports of alleged 
vampires said to be trading human blood for maize.

The villagers have been quoted saying that unidentified people were 
invading their houses at night with hand sprays to suffocate occupants.

The bloodsuckers, according to the villagers, would then enter through the 
windows or rooftops to suck blood.  The police have, however, brushed aside 
the reports as hearsay.

Recently in Thyolo district, three Catholic priests were attacked by 
villagers who demanded to know what they were doing in the area at dusk.

Their car was smashed by the irate villagers on suspicion that they were on 
a blood-sucking mission. They were saved from being lynched by a few 
villagers who recognised them as clergymen.

A senior official of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) was also 
attacked by a mob in a suburban township of Manase, five kilometers from 
Blantyre city centre.

The official, Erick Chiwaya, who is the party's district governor for 
Blantyre, was hospitalised after the mob assaulted him on accusation that 
he invited vampires to collect blood from the township. He denied any 

There has so far been no evidence to back up the bizarre rumour of 
vampires, which first surfaced in Thyolo district early in the year.

The police have charged a journalist, Maganizo Mazeze, from a community 
radio station MIJ 90.3 FM in connection with the story.  His case is in 
court as he awaits trial on March 4.

There is widespread belief among rural communities in the district that 
some international organisations were working with the government to force 
them to give their blood in exchange for food.

Members of the public including those from the affected Thyolo district 
denied suggestions that the reports were mere hearsay or superstitious 
belief, saying they had full evidence.

President Bakili Muluzi has dismissed the claims against his government.

Political and traditional leaders in the Mulanje and Thyolo districts, have 
mounted a big public relations exercise with the police to try to convince 
villagers in the affected areas that there was no truth in reports that 
vampires were after their blood.

Reported by Hamilton Vokhiwa

Anglicans Meet To Strengthen  Campaign Against Scourge

MUKONO, Uganda (AANA) February 3 - Over 35 Anglican church leaders from 
across Africa converged here last week for a crucial workshop on 
strengthening church leadership for HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

The meeting, which was the first of its kind in bringing together 
representation from all Anglican Provinces in Africa, was aimed at 
enhancing the capacity of church leaders to plan and implement effective 
HIV/AIDS activities in their churches and communities.

Among the key points of deliberation were how to remove stigma over 
HIV-infected people, encouragement of home based care, and reduction of HIV 
prevalence through behaviour change.

The workshop was officially opened on Monday January 27, by the Prime 
Minister of Uganda, Prof Apollo Nsibambi, who underscored the critical role 
of church leadership in the fight against AIDS.

"We as Governments of Africa urge you, religious leaders, to continue 
playing your traditional and divine role of caring and providing spiritual 
support to those infected and affected by AIDS,'' he said.

He also called on the Church to take a proactive approach in advocating for 
HIV/AIDS preventive measures.

The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, The Most Rev Livingstone 
Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, commended the Government of Uganda for working closely 
with the Anglican Church and other faith-based organisations, saying the 
Church had the benefit of a good grassroot network and a captive audience.

The workshop was organised by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa 
(CAPA), and drew resource people from Africa, America and Europe. All the 
Anglican Provinces in Africa were represented.

Reported by Justus Waimiri

AACC Team Prepares For Pastoral Mission To Eritrea

NAIROBI (AANA) February 3 - The All Africa Conferences of Churches (AACC) 
plans to undertake a pastoral visit to Eritrea this month.

AACC Coordinator for North and East Africa sub-regions, Mitch Odero, said 
the banning of most churches in Eritrea by the government and the spread of 
famine, have necessitated the mission.

As such the visit will enable the delegation to update itself on the 
goings-on, Odero said in an interview with AANA/APTA.

In May last year, Eritrean government banned all churches in the country, 
apart from those of Catholic, Mekane Yesus (Lutheran) and Orthodox.

"Our mission is to find ways of effective intervention, with support of the 
remaining churches," Odero disclosed during the interview.

Odero, who is also AACC's head of Information and Communications Desk, 
described the ban as "unfortunate".

He was part of a delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) that 
toured the Horn of Africa last July on a fact finding mission. The team was 
led by WCC's  General Secretary, Rev Dr Konrad Raiser.

AACC's team on mission to Eritrea, which Odero will lead, will be 
accompanied by representatives of Fellowship of Councils and Churches in 
the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLHA).

Earlier, Odero, while speaking at an annual ecumenical prayer service in 
Nairobi to mark this year's Ecumenical Week of Prayer on the theme 
Christian Unity (January 23), stressed that Christian unity must be 
anchored on Christ to enable the Church realise its mission.

He said that such unity had to be expressed through the spirit of "love thy 
neighbour".  The prayers had been organised by Kenyan churches.

Odero, who represented the AACC Interim General Secretary, Mr. Melaku Kifle 
at the prayers, said Christian unity had to be experienced at the family, 
national, continental, and international levels.  This he added, was also 
essential for the ecumenical movement.

He said the essence of Christian unity challenges surviving churches in 
Eritrea to intervene for their banned colleagues beyond denominational 

"Equally, it is with Christian unity that empathy can be practically 
expressed for the suffering people in Africa," Mr. Odero added.

Other speakers at the prayer session included Catholic priest, Rev Fr Peter 
Ignatius Gichure of St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Nairobi and Mr. 
Calisto Odede of the International Fellowship of Evangelical students.

Reported By Osman Njugun

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