Challenges for rural substance farmers in Zambia.


By Douglas Ogato, M.AfrDouglas-Ogato-2014

While travelling along the Great North Road in Serenje area, I came across a number of women and children by the roadside selling big and cute looking sweet potatoes. For a distance stretching about 15 kilometers, there were about 10 groups of them at different points airing their commodity for sale. One group of sellers after another kept on waving at moving cars begging them to stop. It became blatant to me that those sellers shared the same serious challenge; lack of market.

sweet potatoes copieMy mind and heart got immersed in the daily lives of these people. As I did so, I took a mental flight to the month of October when they were toiling on their farms under the scorching sun to plant sweet potatoes. While working, their hearts must have been full of vigor and hope for the future. They must have hoped for bumper harvest; enough for household use and for fetching some income for the family. At the end of my mental flight, I landed at their present lives. These women and children virtually spend their whole day by the roadside. At the wee hours of dawn, women are already by the roadside hoping to catch up with a generous motorist. And as the day goes by, their children come to join them. This explains why one always sees children accompanying these women selling by roadside. It has become their life; they cook lunch and supper from there. They only go home late at night to lay their heads. During school days, it must be very difficult for schooling children as they won’t have time to do their homework from home, perhaps they do it by the roadside.

As I kept on reflecting on my mental flight and its eventual landing, I made a decision that on my way back to the parish I will stop by one of this “stop and buy roadside markets” not to extend a hand of solidarity. As I parked my car, they all rushed to me with a bucket of sweet potatoes. And no sooner had I came out of the car than they began one by one promoting their commodities. For the few minutes, I realized that, due to lack of market for their produce, they end up disposing them at a throw away price.

As I drove back home, I kept on thinking about these hardworking women of Serenje who tirelessly work hard to break the chains of poverty. May Saint Joseph, the hardworking worker and patron of all workers, intercede for them and all those in similar conundrums!

Statement on the Current Political Situation in Zambia, T-G Mpundu, PRESIDENT – ZAMBIA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS (ZCCB)


IF YOU WANT PEACE, WORK FOR JUSTICE (Paul VI)

“Let Justice flow, … down like a river that never dries …” (Amos 5:24)

Statement on the Current Political Situation in Zambia

ZCCB LOGO copieTo all Catholic faithful and all people of good will in Zambia.

This is Easter Tide when we celebrate the great feast of Easter till the feast of Pentecost. My greeting to you is in the words of St. Paul: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:2-3; and Ephesians 1:2).

PREAMBLE

  1. As Shepherds of the Church, it is our honour, privilege and duty to teach and guide the faithful through instructing them in matters of faith and morals. It is also our duty to enlighten them concerning the issues confronting them in their daily lives in the light of our faith and the teaching of the Church as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) so succinctly put and expressed it: The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.[1]
  2. The Prophet Jeremiah reminds us in Chapter 22 verse 16 that we cannot claim to know God if we fail to respond to and confront the injustices in our society because to know God means to do justiceand to do justice is to know God.” Therefore, knowing God cannot be separated from doing justice and from what we do or omit to do to our neighbour. Consequently, people who inflict pain and suffering to their fellow human beings cannot claim to know God, let alone be “Christian!
  3. The unfortunate incident that happened in Mongu during the Kuomboka ceremony has since been followed by the arrest and detention of Mr. Hakainde Hichilema followed by the slapping of a treason charge on him. We do not in any way condone illegality. We nevertheless deplore the massive, disproportionate and entirely unnecessary force with which the Police acted in apprehending him. Would it not have been much more civilised and professional to deliver a summons to him containing a charge and ordering him to appear before the police to answer charges of alleged law breaking? The brutal way in which the Police acted has only served to heighten the already considerable tension in the nation particularly between supporters of the UPND and PF. The peace that we wish for you and the nation at large in the words of St. Paul is not mere absence of war or strife. Peace means harmony, understanding, respect for and acceptance of others, respect for and even defence of divergence of opinion, wishing others well no matter who they are and what they do for a living. This peace comes from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. This peace right now is in short supply in our nation. Why?
  4. The continuous tension between the UPND and PF has affected the lives of many other citizens in the country who are living in fear and are not going about their business of life freely. We as Shepherds of the Catholic Church in our country are deeply saddened by the incidents of unprofessional and brutal conduct of the Police Service, the damage to the innocent citizens’ property by suspected cadres, the arbitrary arrests of and horrific torture of suspects as well as the careless, inflammatory and divisive statements of our political leaders. All these are indications that our democratic culture is yet to be firmly planted, nurtured and promoted to enhance the respect for human dignity and rights. Our democratic credentials which have not been much to go by at best of times have all but vanished in this nation that loudly claims to be “God-fearing,” “peace-loving” and “Christian.”
  5. It is our considered view that as a nation, we have lamentably failed to robustly address a number of recurrent snags including those that stem from our previous elections. The current political predicament directly flows from deep-rooted problems we have failed to fix or resolve, notwithstanding four constitutional commissions of inquiry. As we have stated before, “The political environment in Zambia, today, is characterised by manipulation, patronage and intimidation of perceived government opponents. We urge the government to stop using state security institutions to intimidate its own nationals. The police service in particular must be professional and impartial in carrying out their duties of maintaining law and order. Too many of the nation’s resources and time are wasted on politicking at the expense of real development. This culture must change for the better.”[2]
  6. Ideally, the period immediately after such a divisive election as was held in August 2016, our political leaders should have embarked upon a programme of national reconciliation, building and fostering dialogue by keeping old channels in good repair and creating new ones more suited to the new situation. Unfortunately, the Judiciary, the arm of government responsible for adjudicating between individuals and between institutions and delivering justice did not do much, if anything, to engender a mutually acceptable solution.
  7. We are also convinced that the big part of the problem is that politics in Zambia are still reeling in the hangover from the pre-independence political struggle for independence which was reinforced in the One-Party-State. This hangover derives from the wrong perception that political competition is aimed at annihilating or totally silencing political opponents at all costs and by all means available! This is the root cause of intra and interparty intolerance and violence. However, a democratic dispensation that cherishes the parliamentary democracy we would like to build and consolidate demands respect for divergent views and for the rights of individuals and political parties to organise, associate and assemble without any undue restrictions and intimidation. We are again disappointed when we review the events that marked the run up to the August 2016 elections. The democratic principles we have come to know have been violated left, right and centre so that instead of going forward and consolidating our still fragile democracy, we are retrogressing and not so slowly! The political party in power is in the driving seat of the political game on the political field.

We therefore demand from the government of the day to put in place concrete measures to reverse this worrying and dangerous trend.

OUR HOPES AND CONCERNS FOR 2017

Political Situation

  1. We applaud and praise those Zambians on the political playing field who, in spite of all sorts of provocation, are committed to peaceful means of doing politics and refrain from any violence, verbal or physical. These are the people who give us and the nation hope of holding on to a functional democracy in a multiparty scenario where there is more than ample room for citizens’ participation through organised groups although there is tremendous pressure to the contrary. Such people are martyrs of true democracy and must be emulated.
  2. We decry the bad habit which political parties in power assume immediately they make a government of using the Police Service to settle political scores and prevent their political rivals from organising, campaigning and therefore selling their vision of the country and nation to the electorate. It is the same story from one administration to the other and the present government is no exception, if not one of the best examples of the misdeed just mentioned! As a result of brutalising the people through the Police Service, the general public is reduced to fear so that the order of the day is corruption and misuse of public funds. Anyone who criticises the government for wrong doing is sure to have the police unleashed on him or her.
  3. We have always been concerned about the selective application of the Public Order Act by the Police. It is quite disgraceful that a quarter of a century after the return to plural politics and more than half a century of political independence from Great Britain, our governments which we put into power through our votes use the Public Order Act to oppress political opponents and prevent them from organising and assembling together political rallies and to openly express themselves instead of protecting the rights and liberties of the very people who put them into power. Paradoxically, each political party in opposition goes through the biased use of this notorious Act but once in power, they find it so useful that they do nothing to modify or repeal it. Disgraceful indeed! We hope and pray that this law will be revised and if not, then the Police Service must be required to apply it professionally and without targeting opposition political parties only.

The Judiciary

  1. It is an open secret that the Judiciary have let the country down by failing to stand up to political manipulation and corruption. How can one explain the failure of the Constitutional Court to hear and exhaustively conclude a presidential petition? We reiterate what we said before: “For some time now, there has been a persistent discourse on the state of the judiciary in Zambia with respect to its independence and impartiality. This situation has undermined public confidence in this institution. There is need to restore confidence in this important arm of Government. There are also many unresolved questions of public interest that have been left hanging and unanswered by the Executive.”[3] Where is the Judiciary to call the Executive to attention?
  2. We also strongly denounce attacks on the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and the government’s plans to undermine it. We believe that given optimum conditions, LAZ could play its rightful role as one of the most effective checks and balances in a true democratic dispensation. The plans to kill LAZ are discreditable and we hope and pray they will fail. Together with the Judiciary, LAZ is the last defence of citizens particularly in respect of excesses by the Executive.

A Police Service or Police Force?

  1. What a pity that all the efforts and financial resources our government and the donor community spent to reform the Police from a British South Africa Company and British Colonial Administration Police Force to a modern one of being a Police Service have paid little, if any dividends at all. It is sad to see the police being used and acting like political party cadres. Police officers are supposed to and must be exemplary in following the rule of law since they are in-charge of keeping law and order. We strongly appeal to the Police Service Personnel to be professional in their conduct, impartial and scrupulously fair in the manner that ensures and is seen to ensure that citizens’ rights are respected, protected and not violated. We call upon the government to depoliticise the Police Service forthwith and leave them to do a professional job they have been trained for. Almost immediately after independence, the politicians took over the Police Service as they told them whom to arrest and prosecute and who not to touch!

Culture of Silence

  1. There is fear and trembling among the people shown in the way they are afraid to speak out against injustices. This is due to several actions by government which were meant to instil fear into and intimidate the masses. One does not need to belong to a political party in order for him or her to speak out on the misdeeds happening in the nation. Furthermore, we are witnesses to what transpired during the run-up to the August 2016 general elections when several media houses were harassed and finally closed. The recent happenings were not reported by several media houses because of the heavy presence of the Police. Our country is now all, except in designation, a dictatorship and if it is not yet, then we are not far from it. Our political leaders in the ruling party often issue intimidating statements that frighten people and make us fear for the immediate and future. This must be stopped and reversed henceforth.

Call for Genuine Dialogue and Reconciliation

  1. As hinted earlier on, the process of national healing and reconciliation after last year’s election should have been priority number one for the government as the institution in the driving seat. Unfortunately, the Executive missed this chance. It has been opined that the Church Mother Bodies should have continued their arbitration role as evinced by the Holy Cross Cathedral Meeting before Easter last Year. That initiative was taken on the appeal to ZEC (ZCCB) of the President on 12th March 2016 on the occasion of the ordination of Bishop Justin Mulenga of Mpika Diocese. The Church Mother Bodies did their best but immediately after the meeting, the resolutions which had been taken and agreed to by the participating political party leaders were broken particularly by the ruling party. The Church Mother Bodies were not allowed to succeed! We believe strongly that now that the political party in power because it is now in a strong position and has nothing to fear by way of electoral defeat must be in the driving seat. The Church Mother Bodies, if called upon, are ready to come along.
  2. The politicians especially those in the ruling party must realise that the nation they are governing is deeply divided between those who voted for UPND and those who voted for PF in the last elections. Let the politicians of both parties take it from us since we always have our ears close to the ground that our country now stands on the edge. It is no use playing an ostrich game by burying our heads in the sand thinking that the storm will pass away. It will not, at least not before it has done great harm to this nation. The use of force and intimidation are not the solution whatsoever. Only genuine and sincere dialogue aimed at national reconciliation is the long-term solution. This reconciliation must be firmly rooted in the Christian values of Truth, Forgiveness, Peace, Unity, Social Justice and Freedom. Let us learn to burry our immediate past and rise again to new life.
  3. To the Church and other Religious Leaders, we appeal to them to be instruments of peace, reconciliation and unity. They must urge the entire membership of their flocks to be collectively and individually channels of peace and reconciliation thereby living to our Lord’s call to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Shepherds and the faithful together must be committed to preaching messages of peace, reconciliation and love in word and in deed. Our nation is much larger and transcends our present and future individual or collective political fortunes.

Issued and signed on 23rd April 2017 (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Mpundu signature

 

 

 

T-G Mpundu

Archbishop of Lusaka

PRESIDENT – ZAMBIA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS (ZCCB)

[1] Vatican II Documents, Gaudium et Spes – Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #1.

[2] Cf. Pastoral Statement of the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), Issued on Thursday, 23rd January 2015, #5.1

[3] Cf. Act Justly and Walk Humbly with your God, A Pastoral Statement of the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), Issued on 27th January 2013, #8.  

IF YOU WANT PEACE, WORK FOR JUSTICE – pastoral letter Mpundu April 2017

Mafrwestafrica lettre du 19 avril 2017


Mafrwestafrica logoAujourd’hui, les Missionnaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest vous proposent de visiter de nouvelles pages sur leur site http://www.mafrwestafrica.net.

Actualités

« Nouveau provincial d’Europe » en la personne du père Gérard Chabanon, qui a déjà eu de nombreuses responsabilités chez les Pères Blancs (lire la suite).

« Que devient le franc CFA ? » des nouvelles prises sur ‘Jeune Afrique’ et qui remettent les choses à leur place (lire la suite).

« Nouvel évêque de Laghouat-Ghardaia » des nouvelles déjà connues sur ce sujet, mais quelques précisions intéressantes (lire la suite).

Témoignages 

« Une femme se déradicalise » la recension d’un livre écrit par Laura Passioni, où elle raconte son évolution, son parcours en faveur de Daesh, et l’abandon de cet engagement (lire la suite).

« Décès du Père Francisco Hellin », le 14 avril en Espagne, à l’âge de 78 ans dont 50 ans de mission, au Burkina, au Mali et en Espagne (lire la suite).

« 70 ans de serment missionnaire » pour le père Jean Fisset, présentement à Bry sur Marne, et qui a vécu la mission en Algérie (lire la suite).

« Les M.Afr africains bien présents en France » leurs noms sont donnés, ainsi que leurs engagements en communauté ou en paroisse (lire la suite).

Dialogue interreligieux

« Le pape en Égypte » il y a 17 ans que Jean Paul II y était allé, en février 2000. Suite à l’attaque terroriste contre les églises coptes, ce déplacement est d’autant plus significatif (lire la suite)

« Journée mariale islamo-chrétienne » qui se passera à Alger, le 29 avril prochain, sur le thème ‘Écologie et spiritualité’ (lire la suite).

« Dialogue islamo chrétien au Sénégal » où il n’y a que 5% de chrétiens, ce qui n’empêche que la Pâque sera célébrée par tous (lire la suite).

Justice et Paix

« Côte d’Ivoire, procès en cours », suite aux attaques à l’hôtel Novotel d’Abidjan, 5 militaires risquent la prison à vie (lire la suite).

« Jugement à venir pour Blaise Compaoré ». Même si ce dernier est toujours en Côte d’Ivoire, la Haute cour de justice du Burkina a annoncé que l’ancien président et les ministres de son gouvernement seront jugés à partir du 27 avril (lire la suite).

« Dialogue entre l’état et les étudiants au Niger ? » le chef de l’État, le président Issoufou, a rencontré les dirigeants des étudiants mécontents (lire la suite).

Vu au Sud – Vu du Sud

« Nouveau gouvernement au Mali » Le nouveau premier ministre Abdoullaye Idrissa Maïga a rendu publique le 11 avril la liste des membres du nouveau gouvernement malien (lire la suite).

« Famine en Afrique » Le nombre de morts provoqués par la famine en Afrique s’accroît de plus en plus. Il faut une aide urgente. La guerre est un facteur déterminant de cette situation (lire la suite)

« Financer les entrepreneurs au Burkina ». L’exécutif burkinabè a décidé de fournir des fonds à ceux qui veulent se lancer. La somme prévue est de deux milliards CFA par an sur 5 ans (lire la suite).

« Fin de grève dans la santé au Mali » Le mot d’ordre de grève est levé, parce que nous avons obtenu satisfaction, a déclaré secrétaire général adjoint du Syndicat national de la Santé (lire la suite).

Monseigneur Étienne-Benoît Larue: The Founder of Child Jesus Sisters.


ChilongaBy Douglas Ogato, M.Afr

Recently, in the wee morning hours, I passed by the convent of the Child Jesus Sisters in Chilonga for a short visit. No sooner had I arrived, the Sisters welcomed me into their house for breakfast. I spotted a portrait of a man hanging on the wall. He was wearing a gandoura and a rosary around his neck. From a distance I could see that he was a White man with a long beard. I saw a name scribbled on the base of the portrait: Monseigneur Etienne Larue. Below were the following words: Our Founder. I asked the sisters: “Who is he?” In unison they responded: “He is our founder.”

Étienne-Benoît LarueAccording to her narration, the seed of the Congregation of Child Jesus Sisters was born when a White Fathers was preaching in Ipusukilo, Kitwe. A girl came to see him after Mass to share her wish to become a priest like him. The story came to the ears of Monseigneur Etienne Larue who heard a similar story from another girl. It became crystal clear to him that the Spirit was at work. God was calling these girls to religious life. So, he saw an urgent need of founding a local religious congregation of Sisters that will be admitting Zambian girls wanting to devote their lives in serving the Lord. This is how the congregation of Child Jesus Sisters came into existence.

Monseigneur Larue requested the White Sisters to help in admitting the first group of girls into the novitiate and to assist in forming and training them. By doing so, Monseigneur Larue applied a similar method to that of Cardinal Lavigerie when he asked the Jesuits to help in forming and training the first group of candidates he had just recruited for his missionary Society he had founded.

As I ardently listened to the Sister narrating their foundation story, my heart throbbed with nods. The Bemba people rightly say: Umwana uushenda atasha nyina ukunaya (a child who does not travel or visit other places praises her mother for her wonderful cooking). Initially, I had thought that the Child Jesus Sisters had been founded by the White Sisters. My stop over at their convent in Chilonga educated me about their foundation. Had I not stopped over, I was going to remain in ignorance about this rich and important moment of evangelisation in Zambia. Indeed, this is some of the history that we need to cherish and celebrate as we are commemorating 125 years of evangelization in Zambia. May the Spirit of Monseigneur Etienne Larue continue engulfing his daughters so that they may continue serving the Lord in truth and charity!

Bishop Étienne-Benoît Larue, M.Afr

Brother Moses Sense Simukonde, M.Afr


The Missionaries of Africa, Sector Zambia, are proud to invite you to participate at the festive celebration in honour of Brother Moses Sense Simukonde, M.Afr, who recently made his Missionary Oath in Nairobi. Let us unite in this event as our family of missionaries is once again increasing. Praise the Lord!

The event will take place in Kasama on Sunday 7, Mai 2017, in the morning, at St. Anne’s parish.

Here is the journey made so far by Brother Simukonde:

 

Justice and Peace Statement on Stay Away (7th April 2017)


Catholic Arch of Johannesburg logoThere seems to be a stigma of challenging and critiquing an elderly person or any hierarchical authority in the African context. This could be due to a cultural background within which the respect of an elderly person or hierarchical authority is instilled in one’s mind at a very young age of one’s upbringing.

The area of concern with such a stigma is, serious erroneous decisions may certainly be made by an elderly person in the society or by any hierarchical authority, should that happens, how could the society convey a message of concern to any hierarchical authority so that any erroneous decision which cripple the society/country could be reconsidered or rather reversed.

In the political arena, mass protest is one of the means which the society uses to express its grievances to the government. The mass protest in itself as a means of the society voicing its concerns to the government with the expectation of being heard is not a bad gesture. Unfortunately, such a gesture often comes with a pack of a double aged disastrous outcome.

On one hand, the disastrous action may come from the protesting group who may end up showing its anger by burning hospitals, schools and university computer labs.  Such a gesture is certainly to be condemned through and through for it brings no human transformation to the society but rather cripples the society from bad to worse. Furthermore, we urge the leaders to refrain from using violent language which insinuate public violence.

On the second hand even if the mass protest is done peacefully, unnecessary shootings which claim the lives of people may follow as the outcome. Such a gesture is also to be equally condemned.

The country is now faced with a very crucial moment whereby Friday the 7th of April South Africa is encouraged to shut down as a means of communicating a serious message to the government. The Catholic Church in Johannesburg (Justice and Peace) urges a peaceful demonstration or stay away whereby people express their concerns to the government without causing any calamitous way which destroys the country’s environment, people’s lives and property.

The Catholic Justice and Peace Department of Johannesburg urges the South African government that it hears the massive cry and concerns of the people; discern these concerns and ultimately come up with decisions which transform the country.

Issued by Episcopal Vicar of Justice and Peace Department of Archdiocese of Johannesburg

Fr. Innocent Mabheka scj

http://www.catholicjhb.org.za/departments/justice-and-peace/