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Heed the Pope’s message of healing, hope for Africa

by kenya-tribune

Seeing Pope Francis frail, on a wheelchair, and yet determined to deliver his message of Hope to Africa, is a vivid image of the resolve of this humble messenger.

No to wars! No to hatred! From the time he took over The See of Peter, as captain of Christ’s boat, his message has been strong and loud, winning the praise of Christians and non-Christians alike. Christians, and indeed all humanity, must live more faithfully to the call of mercy, reaching out more to those often forgotten and marginalised – “the peripheries”.

This must not be an appendix or after-thought of our mission of evangelisation, but must be at the core of all the Church’s ministry. It must be the goal of the entire human society. We must be truly brothers and sisters, caring for one another irrespective of backgrounds and ethnicities, social status or religious beliefs.

Mercy means having the courage to forgive. Mercy means learning not only to stretch out a hand but moreover to open your mind and your heart. We sure need this awakening. Reconciliation must go beyond the theatrics of a mere “shaking of hands”, “window dressing” and measured public double-speak.

This is true for our brothers and sisters in Congo and South Sudan, but also for all of us in Africa.

Pilgrim of peace 

Africa needs to listen, and listen keenly. The central message Pope Francis is pitching to Africa and to Africans, to African leaders and African governments, to euphoric and easily manipulable African populace, to the energetic African youth, is that we must take up the “Revolution of peace”, harmony, understanding and care must become the trademark of Africa. He has said: “I come as a pilgrim of peace and an apostle of hope.”

But were these not previously the valued traits of African life? What became of us? Was not “to be African” synonymous with being welcoming, hospitable and kind? Where then did this venom of hatred and fratricide come from?

The previous Popes, in their trips to Africa, have always brought to Africans a strong message of social justice and reconciliation, so that we cease blaming and pointing fingers to others. But soon after, we revert to business as usual.

True, our colonial history, the ills etched in our political and economic history, have left deep scars of inhumanity. Scars that open from time to time. But can’t we open our minds and hearts to heal them? God’s love can truly heal us and lead us to forgive.

Pope Francis’s visit to war-torn and heavily bleeding communities of Congo DRC and South Sudan is, indeed, a visit to exorcise our violence-torn Mama Africa from the spirit of hatred!

Today the scramble for Africa is an epic battle for her soul. For us to win the battle waged from without, we must win the one from within us individually and as Africans.

The spirit of greed, our unmetered use of power, and our populist politics that do not really care for the poor and downtrodden seem to fight against the spirit of service, of solidarity, of a true social politic that allows dialogue.

Africa has become the battleground of ideology versus humanity; human dignity versus exploitation; solidarity versus ethnicity; peace versus violence; hope versus despair; love versus hatred; of Godliness versus materialistic secularism. Which road Africa? The real base for peace and prosperity is respecting the dignity of all. Only thus will we establish lasting peace.

Cry, the Beloved Country, a novel written in 1948, still depicts the weeping of many mothers and victims, and how we need to repent. We must change and embrace one another in an African spirit; We must rediscover our Africa, now with the rays of Christ’s truth shining through, without the shades of prejudice!

Embrace dialogue 

But the clarion call of Pope Francis is not “to cry”, but rather, “rejoice in the Lord, our beloved Africa”, and find in you the courage, the resolve, and the will to wage war against this “effigy” of Africa. Political violence, domestic violence and clan wars bring no solutions. Let us embrace dialogue and accommodation. 

As we listen to the words of this humble messenger, let our governments and leaders muster the courage to seek alternative ways.

Africa must awaken from the slumber of self-destruction, from the plague of violence and corruption. We hear the message, but will Africa heed? We look upon you African leaders. Shed your pride and walk together, in African brotherhood. Listen to this “humble invitation” of this special elder, to shun the path of violent conflict.

I hear the hearts of many Africans yearning for better: Yes! We can redeem the image of our beautiful Africa with the help of God and the prayers of Pope Francis. Listen, Africa.

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