Month: October 2016 Page 1 of 3

Chakwela makumbi rainmaking ceremony of the Soli: A faith event.

patrick_mumbiBy Patrick Mumbi, M.Afr (FENZA)

The literal translation of chakwela makumbi is ‘pulling down the clouds’. At this time of the year in Zambia, the earth is dry parched, people are thirsty and therefore hankering for rain. In some places, animals have begun to die. It is why Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II, through the ancestors, intercedes to God for a good rainfall. The seeds of sorghum, maize and other ones are brought to her. While at prayer, she shells maize, pumpkin seeds and squeezes sorghum into the gourd and mixes them. She raises eyes to heaven and cries to God.

I heard her prayer; “God of my ancestors, of heaven and earth, open your heavens and pour down rain to us. To whom can we go except to you our Father? I am your creature and you created me and you can take my life if you want.” After a lengthy prayer and while kneeling, she begins to sob and threw herself prostrate to the ground. This is a reminiscence of the psalmist distress; “I cry aloud, I cry aloud to God that he may hear me,” Psalm77, 142.

Women worshippers began to wipe away her tears. This was a moving prayer and I felt tears in my eyes too. I then saw some dark clouds forming in the sky. I could not help but think that God has definitely listened to such powerful prayers. I sensed a deep concentration on the side of the people as they implored God. I also could not help but notice the humility of people as they clapped their hands to God.


Also, prominent among the people, were a group of women worshippers, whom some people may call babinde, dressed in black symbolising the dark rain clouds. I was told that, in former times, the people chosen to go and pray were erecting some shelters in the forest. These were special people like diviner rain makers or cousin clan members (abena mfula na bena bowa). While they were in the forest, they would pray for rain and it would immediately pour down. During yesterday’s prayers, I saw some herbs and a black chicken placed on a black cloth within the same area of prayer. In the background, there was a chanting invocation song; “Twakabomba kuli mwami, mukamambo, katiye tulumbe,” meaning “we are saying thank you to the Chieftainess Mukamambo II. Let us go and say thank you.”

A woman worshipper dressed in black came and snatched away the black chicken, swung it and threw it at the other women seated nearby. This act was a symbolic gesture showing that our ancestor did not go empty-handed when approaching God. They would offer sacrifices to God in their supplication.

As Clifford Geertz said, the power of symbols lies in the ability to transform experiences by constructing a sacred reality upon which everyday events of life are grounded. Symbolic gestures reflect unconscious wishes, longing desires and even desperation. When people communicate through their ancestors with symbols, their prayers are addressed to God. They are speaking to God and not to a mountain, a big tree or the waterfalls. These are just spiritual symbols to solicit God’s power and benevolence.

chakwela-makumbi-rainmaking-ceremony-of-the-soli-03The second part of chakwela makumbi ceremony was the planting of seeds by the Chieftainess. At this time, she lights the fire within the cleared bush and burns a heap of stalks of maize. She then plants sorghum, maize, pumpkin seeds, etc. while people were again imploring God in a solemn song; “ilaloko, ilaloko kuli babinde, twebene mandondo, twebene imfula ilaloko ilaloko katuna tubyala. The language of this song is quite ancient. But the literal translation could mean; “it has rained, the raindrops are there, the rainmakers are praying the owners before the planting season.” This song implies that it would even rain at time before the planting season. But it could also mean that before the chief plants crops no one is supposed to do it.

Kings, Chiefs and Chieftainesses possess sacred powers over the land and there are the ones to sanction the planting season. This also corresponds to the sanctioning of gathering caterpillars among the Bemba people of Northern Province. Before the Paramount chief of the Bemba offers sacrifice to God, no one is allowed to gather caterpillars or else something worse will befall him or her. If this order is ignored, these are times when we hear that someone has been swallowed up by a python.

Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II herself is a Catholic Christian. For that reason, the ceremony begins with a solemn inculturated Mass. People know that she goes to sweep and clean the premises around the church. According to them, this should not what a Chieftainess should do. When people try to stop her sweeping and taking away weeds around the church, she answers them saying; “in heaven, there are no Kings or Chiefs. We are all the same!”

Venue of the event: Chongwe


Newsletter South Africa No 68 – 27th October 2016

newsletter-south-africa-no-68-titlenewsletter-south-africa-no-68-ordainedGreetings! Surely, a very important event which took place on 1st October is the ordination to the diaconate of 6 of our students in Merrivale. Being at the end of their third year of theology in Cedara, they were ordained deacons. They are Alfred and Daniel (both Rwandese), Amorain (Togolese), Anthony (Ghanaian), Eric, (Mexican) and Theophile (Burkinabe). On the same day, eleven candidates of second year received the order of acolyte, their first step toward priesthood. They are Philippe (Malian), Christopher (Zambian), Martin, Robert and Victor (all Burkinabe), Éric and Pierre (both Congolese), Ryan (Filipino), Silas (Burundian), Dominic (Indian), and Francis (Nigerian).

Our deacons ordained last year – now in their fourth and last year of theology – will, in the coming weeks, go to their respective home-countries to be ordained priests and take a well-deserved holiday with their families. After two or three months’ rest, they will go to the missions where they have been appointed. They are Robin (Zambian, appointed to Tunisia), Damian (Ugandan, appointed to DR Congo), Alphonse (Rwandese, appointed to Burkina Faso), Albert (Burkinabe, appointed to Tunisia) and Konrad (Tanzanian, appointed to South Africa). CONGRATULATIONS to all! We place you all in our prayers that you may be good and faithful missionaries. These are really good news to celebrate Mission Month!

As we prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of our foundation (1868-2018), we rejoice in having so many young Africans joining our ranks! At present there are 492 students in our formation programme (all in different African countries); 90% of them come from within Africa. During the first hundred years of our existence, our candidates came from Europe and North America. In Africa, our priority was to promote the diocesan clergy, and not our own missionary Society; we wanted first to establish a strong local Church. Only in the last 30 to 40 years have we started to recruit in Africa for our own. At present, 284 of our members are African. Our new Superior General and 2 of his 4 assistants are from Africa. Thus, we are starting to fulfil the wish of our founder: the initial work of evangelisation would be done by European and North American M.Afr., but it would be continued by the Africans themselves! Yet, we are still waiting and hoping for some South Africans to join us!

newsletter-south-africa-no-68-pdf-coverThis month, Patrick, our only candidate, wrote from Ghana. Here is a short excerpt from his email (in the box to the right). As you can see, we put a lot of emphasis on the learning of the local language, so we may be closer to the heart of the people we work with. Also, I had a chance to visit Pascal (see last month’s Newsletter) on 13th October in Assisi; he is really working hard on learning Zulu! Keep it up, Pascal! In Henley, they are waiting for you!

God bless you as his missionary. Fr. Michel Meunier, M.Afr

Learning a New Language

thierry-jawiyambe-uyirwoth-2016_jpegBy Thierry Uyirwoth, Stagiaire at St. Lawrence, Lusaka

I struggled to improve my English and learn few words in Chibemba at my novitiate in Kasama last year. Now, I have just completed ten weeks of Chichewa or Chinyanja, as it is called in Zambia. I am very happy as I am building a foundation for my future missionary life. As Frank Smith said: “the limits of my language are the limits of my world”. Ludwig Wittgenstein also said: “A different language is a different vision of life.” By learning new languages, I feel that I am opening myself to the world. It is really a special gift that I am receiving from the Society of the Missionary of Africa.

In return, I do my best in learning new languages. As a group, we started after a session offered by FENZA called “Welcome to Zambia” which gives a general view of Zambia. It took me some courage and conviction but I am able now to speak some basic Chichewa/Chinyanja.

I am overwhelmed with joy when I interact with people. They are happy to see that I am putting efforts to learn their language with enthusiasm. I feel challenged when I see people like me who have learnt and speak a foreign language. Soon, I will be fluent in Chichewa/Chinyanja.

learning-a-new-language-03We had a nice group of students. We were united in the struggle and work together. We found means of supporting each other. As a Chichewa/Chinyanja proverb says, “Mutu umodzi susenza denga”, meaning “one head does not carry a roof”. Hence, we were motivated to work together. This spirit of togetherness helped me a lot to go ahead. We were really a family though coming from different countries such as the USA, DRCongo, Kenya, South Korea, India, Ireland and Togo.

Of course, it has not been always easy. At times, I was discouraged as I could not see much progress. Perseverance is the key. As we were saying, “pang’ono pang’ono ndi mtolo”. This proverb was for us a motto. Literally, it means; ‘a bundle of firewood grows gradually.’ In other words: ‘gradual and persistent attempts reach their objective’. That proverb helped me by concentrating my efforts.

Most missionaries I have encountered have been telling me that knowing languages is the key for a fruitful mission. Therefore, I am putting all my efforts in view of enjoying the mission. Today, I can agree with them, when you know the language, you find yourself part of the people to whom you are sent. It is really a nice experience. After learning the structure and grammar of Chichewa/Chinyanja, we now have to go into the field and practice. May God help us always to give our best in the mission which we have been entrusted.

Thanks be to God for giving us this opportunity through the Society of Missionary of Africa. A special word of thanks to FENZA community for their hospitality, to the teachers, all the students, especially my fellow stagiaires; Chandan Nayak, Emile Baguma and Emmanuel Kopke with whom we had a good time.

Link: 10th Year of Cinyanja/Cicewa – Cibemba Class in FENZA

Blessing of children at Chudleigh House School, Lusaka, Zambia

chudleigh-house-school-oct-2016-27In the aftermath of its 20th anniversary which took place in 2013, Mrs Petronella Chisanga asked the Missionaries of Africa to bless the school. Father Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr did so by blessing all the children from Pre-School, Primary and Secondary School. Over 600 students were blessed individually knowing that the Lord has already blessed them in so many ways; the gift of life, the support of families, teachers and friends. With the help of their teachers, the classes drew a picture where the names of the pupils were written to symbolise the unity in diversity. Boys and girls as much as grown-ups are all children of God. Our prayer is to remain blessed by showing our mutual love and respect.

chudleigh-house-school-website-logo-20_jpegChudleigh House School, situated in one of Lusaka’s residential areas called Chudleigh, was officially opened by then University of Zambia Chancellor Mr John Mupanga Mwanakatwe on the 16th July 1993. The school was the brain child of Mrs Petronella Chisanga and was joined by Mrs Lalita Money, Mrs Dorothy Kasanda, Mrs Lucy Musonda and Mrs Maud Moonzwe as promoters.

Chudleigh House School is a multinational and inter-denominational school. The school aims at producing a well-rounded person after 12 years of learning. There are a total of 17 classrooms, a computer room, two science laboratories, a library, e-learning room, music room and home economy room. The school has a canteen on campus which serves hot healthy meals every day. The school has three sections; early learning Centre, Primary school and Secondary school.

Chudleigh House School is an examination Centre for Grade 7, 9 and 12 levels. The pass has been consistently above 90% at all levels in the last 20 years of its existence. May the blessing of the Lord upon the children and teachers makes it be the same for years to come.


Cliquer sur le lien suivant pour la traduction en français.

Bénédiction des enfants de l’école de Chudleigh, Lusaka, Zambie.

Death of Petronella Mubanga, sister of our confrere John C. Mubanga.

john-mubanga-2015-jpgYesterday afternoon, 21st October, around 16:30 when I was just preparing to go for Mass, I received a call from home that my sister Petronella Mubanga (Bana Chitoshi) passed away at 13:30 in Mandevu, Lusaka, Zambia. She was the first born in the family and when I was growing up, she contributed a lot to making sure that I finish my school since our parents were not working then. She contributed also a lot during my ordination in Zambia even though she was very sick at that time. Petronella has left four children. 

Remember her in your prayers. May Almighty God in his infinite goodness welcome her in his Kingdom. Amen.    John C. Mubanga, M.Afr

10th Year of Cinyanja/Cicewa – Cibemba Class in FENZA

p1140903bToday marks the 10th Graduation ceremony at FENZA. From August 15th till this day, two students spent their efforts learning Cibemba together with ten others who learn Cinyanja/Cichewa. They are from nine different countries; Burkina Faso, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Ireland, Kenya, South Korea, Togo and the United States of America.

Songs, plays, dances, power-point presentations, speeches, certificate presentation and food made this 10th Graduation ceremony a great event.

Thanks to all of them and in a special way our stagiaires Emile Baguma, Emmanuel Kokpe, Chandan Nayak and Thierry Levinas. We wish you to improve even more your knowledge of languages and feel at home in your new country Zambia.

Interviewed (in French) on KTOTV in France about the cult of ancestors with the participation of Norbert Mwashibongo, M.Afr

Norbert Mwashibongo was in Edenglen, South Africa, for some months. He has been interviewed on KTOTV in France about the cult of ancestors.

norbert-mwashibongo-2016-youtubeAjoutée le 9 oct. 2016

Dans la Collection Vie de l´Église. Vous avez été nombreux, lors d´une précédente émission, il y a un an, à vous interroger sur les cultes traditionnels et le regard que porte sur eux l´Église. Une interrogation qui concerne certes les continents africains et sud-américains, mais pas uniquement : avec les échanges, les diasporas africaines et américaines sont venues aussi en Europe et ce sont des questions qui concernent tous les continents, tous les pays. Qu´est-ce donc que ce culte des ancêtres ? Est-ce uniquement du paganisme ou de l´animisme, comme on le disait naguère ? Quel regard l´Église doit-elle porter sur ces religions traditionnelles ? Pour en parler, Pierre Diarra, responsable formation aux Œuvres pontificales missionnaires et auteur du document épiscopal sur le culte des ancêtres et père Norbert Mwishabongo, Missionnaire d´Afrique de la congrégation des Pères Blancs.
La Foi prise au Mot du 09/10/2016.

Durée de 52 minutes.

Official Entries into the Society of the Missionaries of Africa at the Spiritual Formation Centre in Lua-Luo, Kasama, Zambia.

official-entry-sfc-2016-01bBy Théogène Nshimiyimana

This day, Thursday 29th September 2016, will always stand out in our memory as our ceremonial official entry into the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. There was no immediate official entry form, no pompous rituals. It was simple yet prayerful and inspiring right from outside the chapel. It was very symbolic for many of us as we entered through the door of our beautiful chapel, crossing the threshold into a spiritual journey of self-discovery and gradual knowledge and attachment to Christ our Lord and his Gospel. As Saint Paul says, “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14, 7-8).

The ceremony was presided over by Fr Michael Mawelera who started by reminding us that, as we celebrate the official entry into the Society on the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, our names will be officially written in the book of the Missionaries of Africa. He did not mention though the fact that it was also his feast day.

The mass began at 11: 00. Michael was surrounded by the staff members, Francis Bomansaan, Leonard Hategekimana, Clenerius Chimpali and Justin Sebakunzi. Through his homily, Father Michael reminded us that, as Lavigerie said, we ought to “be apostles, nothing but apostles”. We become apostles, because we are sent forth by someone to someone and for a particular mission. He continued by highlighting that all this needs to be accompanied by faith, prayer, courage and commitment to the mission.  

During this mass, each candidate received the Bible and the book of the “Constitutions and Laws” of the Missionaries of Africa. The Bible will help us to deepen our relationship with Christ; the Word of God. So we are entrusted with the Sacred Scriptures for us to read, to live by and to share. The book of the “Constitutions and Laws” will inculcate in us a familiarity with the texts which govern our missionary society. He went on by reminding us that each one of us has been called by his name, to follow Jesus through the Society of the Missionaries of Africa and that the journey we have already started goes on. He promised to pray for us candidates and for the staff members who are tasked to accompany us on this journey of life.

All of us students, from eleven nationalities, were grateful to God, to the Society, to our staff and to many other people who contribute directly or indirectly to our wholeness. May our Lady Queen of Africa and her Son Jesus Christ continue to guide and protect us all in our missionary vocation.


Mafrwestafrica lettre du 18 octobre 2016

Mafrwestafrica logoAujourd’hui, les Missionnaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest vous proposent de visiter de nouvelles pages sur leur site


« Décès de Mr Francis Konkobo », père du Père Camille Konkobo, Burkinabè et Missionnaire d’Afrique en Zambie (lire la suite)


« Serment et diaconat à Merrivale » maison de formation des Missionnaires d’Afrique en Afrique du sud (lire la suite)

« Le Frère Jan Heuft témoigne » : ce frère Néerlandais a passé de très nombreuses années en Algérie (lire la suite)

Dialogue interreligieux

« Un conte Bambara » mis à notre disposition par le père Charles Bailleul qui a passé de très nombreuses années au Mali (lire la suite)

« Norbert Mwishabongo sur KTO » le chemin d’accès à une émission sur les religions traditionnelles africaines (lire la suite)

« Mgr B. Auza à l’ONU » Aucune raison de peut justifier le terrorisme, dit cet évêque Philippin à l’ONU le 5 octobre passé (lire la suite)

Justice et Paix

« Le Pape François à Bakou, Azerbaidjan » avec le texte de son discours à cette occasion (lire la suite)

Vu au Sud – Vu du Sud

« Burkina Faso, coalition de l’opposition » tout ne va pas pour le mieux pour Mr Roch Marc Christian Kabore (lire la suite)

« Côte d’Ivoire, référendum à venir » à la fin de ce mois d’octobre 2016, au sujet de la nouvelle constitution (lire la suite)

« Au Mali, rentrée des classes difficile à Kidal » avec un retard de près de trois de semaines (lire la suite)

« Niger, attaque contre une prison repoussée » sans doute la prison la plus sûre du pays. (lire la suite)

Death of the father of our confrere Jacek Rakowski in Poland.

Jacek RakowskiOnce again this month I am a bearer of sad news. Today, I have received a message from our confrere Jacek Rakowski that his father Aleksander Rakowski has passed away at the age of 77 at his family home. Mr Aleksander died after a long struggle with cancer. As Mr Rakowski’s health was deteriorating, Jacek went back to Poland last week. We wish him our condolences and we pray for Mr Rokowski and the entire family.

With fraternal greetings, Father Paweł Mazurek, Delegate M.Afr in Poland

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén