A significant trajectory of the AEFJN new work plan is an orientation towards an African driven interfaith advocacy. It is not enough that Africa must take her future in her arms, but such efforts must be seen to go beyond religious and tribal lines for it to be productive. This position is hinged on the premise that our shared humanity and social values of Ubuntu far transcends our religious inclinations and tribal groups. The globalization of Western democracy has undermined the African Ubuntu as a system of governance and has in its stead enthroned western capitalism. It is in this vein that AEFJN celebrates, “The Capacity for Inter-Religious Community Action program (CIRCA)” of the Kenya antenna. It is a viable interfaith advocacy strategy that the antenna has chosen to contribute to peacebuilding as well as to the economic well–being of the population torn apart by religious conflict in the Catholic Diocese of Garissa, Kenya.

CIRCA is a deliberate choice of the antenna to bring Christians, Muslims and the adherents of the African Traditional Religion together on a commercial project fondly called Connectors Project which aimed at improving their common economic and social conditions. The participants are trained to respect the faith values, religious calendars and rituals of other participating units. The mantra of the Connector-Project is that when there is a conflict, all are losers. The overarching goal of the program is to contribute to the human development and peaceful coexistence among the designated Muslim and Christian communities in Kenya. The result has been a remarkable improvement in the relationships of the Muslims and the Christians in the Diocese of Garissa. The conflicts that have taken place in Africa in the name of religion were profoundly misguided. With success recorded in Garissa, the antenna is encouraged to explore more opportunities to develop and implement joint Muslim-Christian projects focused on the common good and scale up the existing ones. Such projects will contribute to human development and peaceful coexistence through inter-faith networks. The sustainability of this project lies in the lasting impacts that triggered the interactions of the participants. The relationships outlast the projects and have become the basis for exploring further avenues of peaceful inter-religious coexistence.

The organizational structure of the antenna of Kenya is unique. Unlike other antennae where individual congregations choose to subscribe to the antennae, the antenna of Kenya is anchored by Religious Superiors Council of Kenya (male arm of the Conference of Major Superiors), Justice & Peace Commission (RSCK-JPC) and Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (female wing of the Conference of Major Superiors), Justice and Peace Commission (AOSK-JPC).  The structure gives them enormous flexibility in their choice of program. The whole antenna can choose to initiate a program together or the collaborating units may choose to initiate programs independent of the other.

The Connector-Project program is the specific advocacy initiative of the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya, and Justice & Peace Commission (AOSK-JPC) partner of the antenna.  The current project is supported by the GHR Foundation and supplemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The project has thus lasted for three years, and the Secretariat team is now concerned that the antenna of Kenya might not continue with the laudable project in the coming months because of financial constraints.

AEFJN lauds the creative innovation behind the Kenyan Antenna as an effective response to its vision for Africa-driven advocacy. Both the mix in the composition of the principal drivers (the different religious leaders) and the ground agents (the multifaith approach) are essential elements in the building of resilient antennae. The Kenyan case in East Africa is indeed like the biblical case of the star that appeared in the East and guided the Wise men to the newborn King. We uphold the Kenyan initiative and call on other African antennae to emulate the multi-drivers and multifaith approach. In the same vein, we call for financial support for the budding project from the broad spectrum of stakeholders and our partners. It is our ardent desire that the star that has risen in East Africa will guide African advocacy for the common cause to an unprecedented height.

Chika Onyejiuwa