The Antislavery Campaign was officially launched in Rome on 9th November 2012. Each Province/Sector was asked to organize its own calendar of events already at the time of Richard Nnyombi’s visit which took place about a year ago. Though we got off to a somehow slow start, it doesn’t mean that nothing has been done yet.
In South Africa Michel Meunier had a calendar and a book mark printed for the occasion, gave an interview on Radio Veritas and a talk in Pretoria. In Malawi, as Bill Turnbull told us, “at the 8th December celebrations in Balaka, our students presented two excellent plays and a poem. The topic of the plays was human trafficking. They were lively, humorous, educative and straight to the point”. There is now a plan to repeat the performance in Lilongwe in front of a wider audience. In Zambia, on 26th November, our confreres in Kasama combined our Founder’s Day with their own little opening of the year of anniversary for the Antislavery Campaign. As part of their celebrations, they had an input on the Antislavery campaign of Lavigerie and its place within the history or our Society by Paul Johnston. FENZA centre is planning a conference on the topic in the next few months. At the moment we are also preparing a leaflet explaining a few basic facts about the campaign. It should be distributed in parishes at the beginning of Lent. I am sure that more initiatives were taken by others which I am not aware of. Please let me know directly or use this forum to share them.
Maybe this is the time to set aside a few commitments and concentrate more on this strong appeal that is coming from the Society. All of us are asked, as individuals and in our communities, to continue praying, sharing, reading and being up-to-date on the event.
For those in parish work is just a question of using the various means already at their disposal: talking about the campaign and its meaning in homilies, talks, Parish councils meetings and newsletters. Lent is coming soon: we received from Rome the Stations of the Cross adapted to what we are celebrating; if we are not happy with them let’s come up with something new but let’s make the most of this opportunity!
On a different level, in our countries we can easily go into schools, give interviews on the radio and have articles printed in the local newspapers. Our candidates in the different houses of formation are also warmly invited to give their creative contribution. Balaka has shown us the way, let others follow the example!
Following in the footsteps of the Cardinal who was capable of dropping everything and started touring the capitals of Europe to deliver his message, we are also asked to show some enthusiasm and determination in order to make known the slogan of the campaign: Let’s break the chains!
Finally, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the way we will close this year’s celebrations which should happen in September or thereabouts. The grand finale with the bus tour seems to be losing support by the day and surely it will not make sense if there isn’t an adequate preparation in the months leading up to it. Maybe the project was not properly presented and/or understood but it is becoming increasingly evident that it will be difficult to pull it off. Malawi has already withdrawn and Zambia will take a decision in the next few days. But even if this particular project does not get off the ground it does not mean that we should give up all.
In February, March and April I will be visiting the communities in South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi and I hope that such occasion will present us with an excellent opportunity to find out where we are at, to clarify some issues and to share ideas and plans for the coming months.
Best wishes in all your endeavours, Claudio Zuccala, M.Afr