National Day of Prayer for peaceful election in Zambia, July 24, 2016

Day of Prayer Showgrounds July 24, 2016 00The National House of Prayer invited political, military and religious leaders for a day of prayer on the 24th July 2016 at the showground situated in the capital of Lusaka under the theme; “Seeking God’s intervention: saying no to violence and committing to a peaceful election through forgiveness, tolerance, love and unity” (Isaiah 60: 18). The same event also took place in other parts of the country.

Thousands of people assembled in a joyful and prayerful atmosphere while various Bishops, Apostles, Pastors and Priests of various Churches presented their petitions to the Almighty God. In his call for worship, Father Charles Chilinda, from St. Ignatius Parish, asked forgiveness to the compassionate and Father of all for the violence being committed in the current political campaign. “Gracious God, we pray for peace in our communities this day. We commit to you all who work for peace and those who work to uphold law and justice. We pray for an end of fear, and an end to tensions. (…) God gives peace to all who bear the burden and privilege of leadership, political, military and religious; asking for gifts of wisdom and resolve in the search for reconciliation and peace. In your mercy, hear our prayers, now and always. Amen.”

Father Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr, acted on behalf of Father Lupupa who could not attend the ceremony. In an improvised prayer, he called upon the blessing of God over men and women of the Zambia Police Service reminding them that their primary vocation and duty is to defend the poor, to bring justice and deliverance to the widows and the needy. The poor in Zambia want to be proud of men and women serving in uniforms to deliver peace in Zambia as they are those suffering first in times of political unrest and violence.

Inspired by this moment of prayer led by leaders of various Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches, Fr Serge, under the nickname of Father ‘Mbewe’ given to him while in Malawi years ago, also emphasised the need to put aside all kinds of discrimination, even those related to the colour of the skin. Using the famous slogan “One Zambia, One Nation”, he added, “One Colour!” “Whatever the colour of the skin, black or white, there is only one colour in Zambia; the colour of LOVE.”

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Mass with the Francophone Catholic Community of Lusaka

Eric-2014 JPGBy Eric Kambale Hasivirwe, stagiaire in Lumimba, Zambia

On this second Sunday of Lent, I was invited by Father Serge St-Arneault to St. Ignatius Parish to attend Mass with the Francophone Catholic Community composed of people from any country where French language is spoken. Father Serge is their Chaplain. On this day, the Church welcomed two new members who were baptized namely Pacôme and Grace, sons of Dr. Guy Somwe and Dr. Patrick Bukasa, both medical Doctors at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). It was a great opportunity for us also to renew our baptism promises. In his homely, on the day of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, the main celebrant invited us to imitate “the Son of God” by refusing the glory of this world only possible trough true love.

After Mass, we had a social gathering. It was a great moment for me to meet people from my home country; D.R. Congo. I took advantage of it to brush up my French as well as my Kiswahili.

I even met somebody from Butembo, my hometown. I heard the name of Mr. Kalyoto from my birth. But on this day I was privileged to meet him face to face. This really made my day. I am so happy to have been invited by Father Serge for this Mass as it was a great opportunity for me to meet different people of the Francophone Catholic Community of Lusaka

Finally, I would like to invite you all to join this community as long as you can speak French.

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Witchcraft or sorcery in the traditional African society – Malawi and Zambia

Serge-St-Arneault-2014By Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr

Witchcraft and sorcery are words impossible to define satisfactorily. Hundreds of books, thousands of articles, endless reports in newspapers make it challenging to streamline the topic.

In the traditional African perspective, the question of whether or not witchcraft exists is irrelevant. It is a ‘reality’ as much as the earth is moving around the sun. There is no need to believe in it. It is ‘there’ as an intrinsic part of a global worldview whereby a common vision is shared. In this vision, an ancestral spirit can reside in the body of a descendent and through the descendent perform powerful deeds.

Moreover, anything distracting from the bitterness and to the boring burden of daily life, from the anxiety of the unknown to uncontrolled changes, from deprivation to sickness or accident, from unfulfilled dreams to anger or resentment towards a neighbour or a family member, anything which is unusual, uncommon or simply inexplicable, all this is associated to witchcraft. The rationale is to know WHO among the living and the dead, meaning the ancestors, is responsible for the disorder or the pain inflicted. For instance, if a tyre bursts in a curve leading to a bridge provoking the accident of a mini-bus plummeting into the river and leading to the death of 20 people, the question remains; WHO sent a curse? Rationally, one can guess that the tyre was run out. Still, WHO made it burst at that specific place and time? Why not before or after the bridge? Therefore, someone is responsible for the accident to occur right ‘there’.

Anything related to witchcraft is primarily emotional. Witchcraft dies out like a plant without water if ignored. On the contrary, like an addiction, witchcraft rises or increases by itself when it starts nourishing lives through endless stories of flying planes baskets and flesh eaters. Actually, there is an appetite for witchcraft stories as much as of real food. There is an overall search, a social desire, a common will to eat endlessly in order to ease physical and emotional hungers.

In Malawi, food means ‘nsima’, which is the staple food made out of maize. Even though people are eating rice, sweet potatoes or beans, they will complain of hunger is there is no ‘nsima’ on the table. Similarly, desires are concomitant to witchcraft. Strange enough, it brings some kind of safety and safeguards. This is why children are being taught about witchcraft as a way to maintain a grip on the evolution of the society at a time of rapid changes imposed by modernity. Witchcraft is a way to regain or remain in control by using fear as a tool.

A lady who had a pretty nice house was accused of being a witch by her mother-in-law. She was also successful in business. Her children were doing well at school. As for the mother-in-law, she was living in a dilapidated house due to lack of maintenance. She was not able to move around easily, feeling neglected. Suddenly, the accusation brought some kind of life in this dull surrounding. Everyone was commenting with some laughter about this event. Then, the local chief intervened and asked the lady:

  • Witchcraft Carvings 00Do you agree to be a witch?
  • Of course, I do!

In the mind-set of the witnesses, this lady cannot deny to be a witch. She is so by simply being accused of being one. To deny it is a waste of time. How to prove the contrary anyway? Then, she took advantage of this accusation to overrun this critical moment for her benefit. 

  • I have learned to be a witch from a much stronger witch than me.
  • What! You mean that there is another witch in our village, said the chief.
  • Yes!
  • Where is the witch?
  • Right here among us.
  • How come? Who?
  • She is beside you; my mother-in-law!

Ironically, the accuser became herself a witch, something she could not deny either. This true story brought some entertainment for a little while. It gave also to the mother-in-law a chance to be remembered as being part of the community. Sociologically speaking, this event shows that those mutual accusations were a sign of a rupture or a blocking of personal relationship.

Nowadays, witchcraft has also become a way to take advantage of confusing reports and rumours. For instance, on July 02, 2014, in Zambia, Ndola residents rioted over ‘missing pupils’. Hundreds of citizens fought running battles with the police after word went round that 14 students from different schools were abducted by unknown people to be used in rituals (witchcraft). They burnt to aches four vehicles, set on fire the police posts and blocked the roads. Tear gas was dispersed but the residents were unruly and stoned the police. Then shops belonging to those suspected to be behind the ritual killings were damaged. “We have decided to take the law into our own hands, said a women, because the police have not done anything since we reported them about the killing of our children.”

Ritual murder rumours is enough to make people mad. It turns out to be an opportunity to revenge, to let the steam of anger out of the chess. Desperate people, having it hard to survive or move out from abject poverty, take advantage of this confusion to steal. At this level, witchcraft is being used to push down the personal responsibility of wrong doing by making the guilt collective.

Accusations of sorcery based on dreams are also an important channel to reveal the unconscious as a sort of safety device or as protection against some weakness of character in oneself. Like riots, dreams are being used to bring hostility between people to cover up feelings of helplessness. 

In this particular world view, everyone is a witch by using the ability to make others frightened. As everyone fells physically and emotionally hungry, witchcraft can easily be instrumental in fulfilling this hunger at the expense of others.

Nonetheless, despite the burden of cultural mind set whereby witchcraft is a profound ‘reality’, it is still possible to make it obsolete, or at least inoffensive, through the conviction that progress in life can be done without fearing anyone or anything, through honesty, hard work and faith in God. Witchcraft being a ‘reality’, the true question is rather more to choose the type of life people want to share; with or without anxiety. In this regard, the words of Jesus are quite relevant: “Do not be afraid!”… to ease broken relationship and to make dialogue part of reconciliation to counteract witchcraft. “All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth”, said again the Lord Jesus. The Christian who believes in that will never fall a prey to human forces, including sorcery or occult powers, for Christ has conquered them.

Witchcraft in GermanB

See the translation of this article in German on this PDF file.


Abigail Chaponda, Ndola residents riot over ‘missing pupils’, The Post, Zambia, Thursday July 3, 2014, page 4.

Mubanga Nondo, Ndola residents riot, Zambia Daily Mail, Zambia, Vol. 18, No 132, Thursday, July 3, 2014, front page.

Joseph Chakanza, Sorcery: Pastor Unresolved Issue, The Lamp Magazine, Malawi, No. 71, May-June 2008, pages 20-21.

Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA), Ancestor Religion and the Christian Faith, Pastoral Statement of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Issue No. 742, Monday, August 14, 2006.

Input given by Bishop Patrick Kalilombe at the General meeting of the Missionaries of Africa. Theme: Pastoral care and witchcraft, Bethany House, Lilongwe, Malawi, 17th October 2006

DREAMS. Where do Biblical, Zambian, and Western Approaches Meet? First book published by FENZA (Faith and Encounter Centre Zambia), Lusaka. January 2013. With contributions from Gotthard Rosner, Bernard Udelhoven and Patrick Mumbi.

Lire la traduction de cet article en français sur fichier PDF.

The spirit of Creativity remains

The Spirit of Creativity remains
By Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr from the Petit Écho, January 2014, No 1947.
I came to Zambia in January 2012, after spending about ten years in Malawi. In June of the same year, I took over the job of Provincial Secretary from Georges Lauzon. I have also lived for ten years in the Congo before going to Malawi but coming to the capital of Zambia has proved to be a joyful and beneficial change for me. I still think of my first missionary experience in the Congo as being my closest ever experience with people. This sort of encounter is not thinkable in an office like mine today. However, as much effort and dedication was needed in learning languages or customs and moving around visiting Christian communities in villages, I feel the same spirit of creativity at work today. FULL TEXT
Serge St-Arneault Filya 2 - CopieL’esprit de créativité persiste
Par Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr, extrait du Petit Écho, Janvier 2014, No 1947.
Du Malawi, je suis arrivé en Zambie en 2012 et, au mois de juin, j’ai repris la tâche de secrétaire provincial assumée jusqu’alors par Georges Lauzon. Venir dans la capitale de la Zambie après dix années de mission au Congo, et autant d’années au Malawi, s’est révélé pour moi un changement heureux et bénéfique. Je me rappelle encore mes premières années missionnaires au Congo. Ce fut pour moi l’expérience de la plus grande proximité jamais vécue avec une population. Aujourd’hui, ce genre de rencontre n’est plus réalisable dans mon service. De même que l’étude de la langue, des coutumes et les visites dans les communautés chrétiennes villageoises demandaient alors un effort et un engagement, je sens que ce même esprit de créativité est à l’œuvre aussi maintenant. TEXTE COMPLET

My journey to Merrivale, South Africa

By Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr
On the 12th December 2013, I travelled to Merrivale with Michel Meunier in view of witnessing the Oath of Antony Alckias and Tomasz Podrazik and their diaconate ordination. We left after celebrating Mass at 12:30 at Radio Veritas. The journey took five hours and gave me the opportunity to see impressive mountains. On arrival at Merrivale, not far from Edendale and Pietermaritzburg, I met Raphaël Gasimba, Rector, and the students. Many more people came for the event including friends from Zambia, Tanzania and Orange Farm in South Africa. Below are some pictures of our M.Afr Merrivale Formation House newly built. Also, on the same premises of Merrivale, the Louis Blondel house where our confreres René Garand, George Okwii, James Gordon Calder and Philippe Docq live. They are engaged at Henley Parish except for James who is teaching philosophy at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute, Cedara, where our students go. 
Journey to Merrivale 24
Meet the 2013 Merrivale Formation House Community members: (Front row left) Dieudonné Bulambo Amani (DRC), Ryan Lungay Contamina (Philippines), Raphaël Gasimba (DRC), Damian Ahimbisibwe (Uganda), Douglas Ogato (Kenya), (2nd row right) Antony Alckias (India), Albert Kondemodre (Tanzania), Paul Kikenge Mpombo (DRC), Serge Boroto (DRC), (3rd row left) Pierre-Claver Mutombo (DRC), Alphonse-Marie Byishimo (Rwanda), Tomasz Podrazik (Poland), Konrad Millanzi (Tanzania) and Edward Saguti (Tanzania).

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