By Wilberforce Bukuta
This subject comes as we celebrate Africa Day as a continent. Let us salute African leaders who promulgated this day (25 May). It is a historical event with a present reality. What transpired in Addis Ababa in 1963 has an indelible mark in the history of Africa. This piece of work comes out after reflecting upon this great treasure from our own Fathers and Mothers.
Africa Day is not a political statement: rather, it is the story of our own existentiality and our prayer. Africa in history went through phases of different names; some called it the land of Kush, the land of Egyptians, the land of Ethiopians, the land of St Augustine, among other names. Nonetheless, here we are, Africans in the land of Africa, the land of riches, hospitality, generosity and openness. At the present age one common situation, without any doubt, is that Africa is full of problems. In almost all our nations, there is abject poverty, tragic mismanagement of available scarce resources, political instability and social disorientation. The results stare us in the face: misery, wars, despair.
Africa is continent of riches: minerals of all sorts yet many people are languishing in poverty. This statement may appear to be contradictory but it is factual. There is a serious scandal of inequality between the rich and poor. Poverty oppresses millions and millions of the inhabitants.
The continent of Africa is well known as the land of hospitality: It is recorded that the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary and child Jesus) found haven in the continent while running away from the wrath of Herod in their own continent. Matthew the evangelist reported that, “the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him” (Mt 2:13). This is the heart of Africa, the land well known for peace, the land where the refugees make home. Alas! These days Africa has so much hostility, the land of Africa is flowing blood. We talk of wars, xenophobia, genocides, tribal conflicts, just to mention a few.
The continent of Africa was well known for its generosity: Our generosity is well known long back, stretching to the time of Jesus Christ. It was Simon, Cyrenian, an African who helped Jesus to carry the Cross on the way to Golgotha ( cf Lk 23:26). Alas! The same continent is now known for selfishness and individualism; this is manifested in the high rate of corruption.
Africa as a continent was known for the leaders engulfed with the spirit of openness, open to new ideas and ready to change where necessary. It was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official, an African who was humble enough to say to Philip, “How can I understand unless someone instructs me” (cf Acts 8:31). Nowadays the same Africa is experiencing incorrigible leaders.
Looking at these ills one can safely say: Africa can be compared to the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; he fell among robbers who stripped him, beat him and departed, leaving him half dead (cf. Lk 10:30-37). Africa is a Continent where countless human beings — men and women, children and young people — are lying, as it were, on the edge of the road, sick, injured, disabled, marginalized and abandoned. They are in dire need of Good Samaritans who will come to their aid.
Africans we have a story to share, we are not who we are by change rather God willed us. His only begotten Son came to Africa in his earthly life. Let’s pray with confidency he knows our needs as a continent, he knows where we went wrong in regard to use of resources, generosity, hospitality and openness. May the Holy Spirit come upon Africa as He did to our fore-parents on the day of Pentecost as the Apostles recorded that “there were people from Egypt and Libya” (cf Acts 2:9). May Our Mother Mary intercede for us. AMEN.