The antennae meetings of the central region of Africa involving Cameroun and Central African Republic took place from March 4-12, 2019. Initially, the Secretariat planned to bring Central African Republic to join Cameroun for a common meeting as a way of building a regional advocacy group but logistics and finance made it practically impossible. However, it turned out to be a good thing because it enabled the Secretariat to experience the different contexts and have a firsthand assessment of their situations as well as exchange with more members of the antennae.
The antenna of Cameroun is developed, well-structured and enjoys a wonderful relationship with the Conference of Major Superiors. Their office is located in the Secretariat of the Conference of Major Superiors with two religious and two lay people coordinating the activities of the antenna. The antenna has established poles (working groups), in each of the six ecclesiastical provinces of Cameroun. Each of these poles is seriously engaged and coordinated. One of the poles led by a Franciscan nun gave me a report of their work on the season of creation in 2018. Please click on this link to read the report Please click on this link to read the Cameroon Report Season of Creation
The antenna meeting focused on the implementation of the AEFJN 2019-2022 plan of Action in Africa. The Secretariat and the antenna have jointly presented a project seeking for funding for the implementation of the plan of action in the central African region. The meeting was intentionally scheduled to hold alongside the meeting of the conference of Major Superiors to realize the first set of activities of the project. The first of activities are drawn to bring the major superiors and the antenna on the same page regarding the orientation of the new plan of action. Principally, AEFJN future advocacy is envisaged to be African driven and inter faith. This new perspective of the AEFJN advocacy was well received by the Major Superiors and the antenna. If we are fortunate to have our project granted, other activities of the project would commence in June. It is expected that the antenna of Cameroun will anchor AEFJN advocacy activities within the region.
Prior to the meeting, the Secretariat representative and the antenna took some to visit and hold meeting a community resisting their land from being grabbed. The antenna has been accompanying the community. It was a very emotional moment to see the community leaders committing to defend their land even with their blood. The community promised to write their story for the Secretariat.
The last session of the meeting was devoted to listening to the experiences and stories of the conflict in Cameroun. In summary, there is genocide going on in Cameroun but very little is heard about it. We were fortunate to have the President of AEFJN visiting Cameroun during the period of the antenna meeting and he was present for this session of the meeting. The Secretariat is making a report of the situation to be sent to the office of the nuncio to the European Union and the dicastery for integral development to help draw more attention to the situation. Please Click here for the pictures of the events in Cameroun
The antenna of Bangui (Central African Republic) is somewhat different. The devastation of the war, the poverty and the mistrust among the people is quite noticeable on arrival into the country. The confusion in the country has giving way to limitless resource grabbing and environmental pollution. What is so unique about this antenna is its constitution. Initiated by Sr. Elianna of Comboniane Missionary who has now left the country possibly for another mission in Africa; the antenna is ab initio interfaith and ecumenical. In other words, the antenna is a mix of Christians (Catholics and other Christian traditions) and muslims. The structure of the antenna is designed not only for the struggle against resource grabbing and economic exploitation but also an instrument for peace building. However as the Congregations in the country are living in a survival mode, the antenna rarely gets financial support from the major superiors. Nevertheless, the commitment of the antenna and her leaders are not in question. We at the Secretariat are wondering how the antenna would get the minimum support from anywhere. Click here ti see the photos of the Antenna of Bangui