A JOURNEY FOUNDED ON GRACE AND GRATITUDE PART II

Important moments in my formative journey

I consider each stage on my formation journey momentous. Each step was a hurdle that came with its baggage of opportunities for self-discovery and more growth.  Particularly, the gift and challenge of having to be formed with students of different cultures, nationalities, some younger than me, right from the pre-postulancy to the Scholasticate. Such an environment afforded me space for continual self-examination and purification of my motivation. In many instances, much was demanded of me due to the age difference, something that helped me to be always vigilant.

Initially I had to struggle with the transition of starting a new way of life, giving up all my independence and projects and submitting to my formators to be formed and helped to grow. I am really indebted to my formators who midwifed this transition, notwithstanding the storms that had to be weathered. For instance, my formator in the postulancy, Fr Daniel Villaverde, always encouraged me that what counts is the quality of service but not the number of years that one has served or ministered. It is in the Scholasticate that our formators, Fr Lelo and Fr Casillas opened vistas for us to experience integral formation and explore leadership and creativity. I will always cherish the many moments our confreres in the different missions joyfully hosted us for mission exposures. It was an opportunity to have a lived experience on the concerns of our different missions in the world and to make our studies useful.

Values based Formation

I am grateful that I have been formed for life; my formators journeyed with me and showed me by examples that it is far much better to be more than to have more.  It has been a formation hinged on values that many education systems in the world do not offer. In the pre postulancy, I encountered for the first time community life and I learnt the joys and struggles of witnessing and evangelizing as a community.  This short experience helped me to live with confreres from other cultures and nations both in the novitiate and the Scholasticate. I remember my formator in the postulancy stressing the need for detachment and always going an extra mile in what we do. He not only said these but we saw him acting on it. I learnt how to make sacrifices and to take studies seriously. Seriousness in studies was coupled with a high sense of time management and discipline. My formator in the postulancy, Fr Jesus Lobato, always reminded us that we are formed in the best ways and taken to good Universities so that we can minister and serve people better. Indeed there was no room for mediocrity with respect to academics.

Prayer life, both personal and communitarian has been at the centre of my formation journey. Along this line other values that were  inculcated included: detachment, service, self-control, moderation, hardwork, perseverance, creativity, stewardship, accountability, spirit of community, solidarity, tolerance, flexibility, continuous reflection and evaluation, self-confrontation, and fraternity. I have never forgotten the spirit of living with intensity and going an extra mile. This was emphasised in the novitiate by my novice master, Fr Pierpaolo, and it is in the missions that I found its fullest expression or lack of it.In the Novitiate, we produced our own crops and stuffed the store with different variety of homemade jam and juice. This was the greatest lesson on self-reliance and healthy feeding. We were formed not to be consumers but producers. Indeed in the spirit of the founder, the little things and the sacrifices we made daily as individuals and as a community helped us to grow in dying to oneself like a grain of wheat (Jn 12:24). In fact the Socius, Fr Moroni, always reminded us missionary life entails slow martyrdom, something that has started making sense now that I am out of the formation house.

In line with St Daniel Comboni

Comboni was a great gift to the people of Africa. This is seen in his conception of Africans in his introduction to the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa.In no uncertain terms his letter on the day he came back to Africa after illness suffices to show how dear Africa was to his heart. Such sentiments were incomparable; he was not just sentimentalizing or romanticizing but speaking from an existential point of view; his writings explodes with what he lived. It is devoid of rhetoric and leads the readers to the envisage a different world for the Africans, a world of justice and equity as envisioned in the book of Revelation.

It is very difficult to see a conflict between what he wrote and what he lived. I find this irresistible in Comboni. His passion for the people of Africa and the Cross is unexampled. His spirit of detachment and sacrifice was exceptional. His resilience and courage in face of difficulties and determination to get what he wanted for the good of the African people challenges any establishment.  Infact his novelty and passion to embrace the cross and to ask for more for the good of the Africans is unprecedented. Most importantly is his open heart to forgive and reconcile with those who presented calumnies against him.

Conclusion

Paraphrasing Fr David Glenday MCCJ, I see myself having been led by gratitude to see how Grace has unlocked the mystery of my existence.  Moreover I have seen also how the same grace has been crystallising in my salvation history as providence. The Comboni formation has increased in me a desire to work for the liberation of the African continent. I believe the best way of doing this is to continue increasing my knowledge about Comboni and share his vision for Africans.  As we prepare to celebrate 150th anniversary of our institute, I am convinced that there is still plenty of untapped heritage from his life that can help in living my vocation today.  I began this journey in 2007 and was ordained a priest on 16th July 2017. Yet I know that my ordination does not complete me; on the contrary, itis,infact, another bold step towards more life, greater growth, service and deep knowledge and love of God and St Daniel Comboni ( Acts 20:24).

BY FR. ROBERT KINENA NDUNG’U MCCJ

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A JOURNEY FOUNDED ON GRACE AND GRATITUDE PART I

I am the fourth born in the family of the late John Ndung’u and Esther Wanjiru. My three brothers and three sisters are all married. My parents, originally from Kikuyu, settled in Kitale in the 60s and all of us were born there.  My mum instilled in me the desire for priesthood by practical examples; my dad was indifferent and his main concern was academic success. Though she ran a grocery stall in the Municipal Market in the town, she volunteered to teach catechism and decorate the altar with flowers. Her desire to see one of her child join the seminary materialised when I accepted to apply and was admitted to join the minor seminary after my KCPE Exam.

I knew very little about Comboni Missionaries despite having studied in the Mother of Apostles minor seminary in Eldoret for four years. It was in Lokori Mission that I personally met the first Comboni, Fr Simon from Mexico. Later, for the second time, I met more Comboni Missionaries in Korogocho in the year 2007. This was the time I was still discerning with the Jesuits and had been assigned to work with the Comboni Missionaries in Korogocho, serving the community and tutoring in St Johns Primary School. I was fortunate to live in this robustic community of three priests (Fr Moschetti, Fr Paolo, Fr Webootsa), a brother (now Fr James), and two lay missionaries from Italy (Gino (RIP) and Luka). With time I came to appreciate and be initiated informally into the life of the Combonis. I admired their energy and passion to work and make present the kingdom of God among the poor. It was my first time to see priests inserted into the harsh reality of the people.  Though crime was rife in the area, especially dagger- totting boys, I found people friendly and joyful. There were plenty of youths who were always available to take us around to celebrate the Eucharist for the sick each evening. With time I got another family in Korogocho; the Comboni Community and the people. It is interesting that the Combonis treated me as one of their own from the beginning to the end of my experience there. I lived this experience fully and joyfully.

What struck me most is the experience we had immediately after the contested 2007 elections and the post-election violence in 2008.  Korogocho was a war zone between the supporters of PNU and ODM.  Our community became a point of reference in terms of fighting for justice and broking peace between the two warring groups. Acts of injustice had to called by names and condemned, notwithstanding the consequences to our non-aligned community.

I remember vividly the fateful night when some hooligans, supporters of one of the party busted into our community accusing us of supporting and defending the other group that was allegedly terrorising and victimising them. I admire the courage of the confreres to confront the heavily armed gangsters who were more interested in robbing than addressing the allegations. They made away with some items and threatened us to stop meddling in their affairs. With time the political situation became volatile and violence escalated. More young people joined gangs and robbed innocent passers-by in the name of contesting the elections. I will never forget the day that the then Provincial Superior, Fr Mariano, came to visit and suggested we vacate the place due to insecurity and threats. The confreres were categorical that this was the time people needed us most and to vacate would be a betrayal of our vocation and mission. It was indeed a dire moment of evangelical witnessing than flight; and one could sense that martyrdom was beckoning. Yet the community was convinced that it was most importantly a moment of credible witness and energising presence following Jesus’ words “I am with you to the end of time’ (Mt 28:20). So we stayed put, breathing confidence in these consoling words and working for peace with the people while praying forthe situation to normalise.

 

BY FR ROBERT KINENA NDUNG’U

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VISIT OF THE VICAR GENERAL TO ST. DANIEL COMBONI INTERNATIONAL SCHOLASTICATE, PMB.

From the 26th – 30th September 2017, the above community was privileged to host the Visit of the Vicar General of the Comboni Missionary Institute, Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins who was accompanied by the provincial superior of South Africa, Fr. Burgers Jude Eugene.

Uncoincidentally occurring at a time when the scholastics were having their traditional ‘Michaelmas break’, a seven-day period of rest from studies that closes the first term of the second semester of the academic year and is a preparation for the second term, it was an opportune moment to share life with the bigger community of the Institute represented by the Vicar General.

Both Fr. Jeremias and Fr. Jude celebrated the Eucharist with us, during which they shared central aspects of the Institute’s charism, particularly in relation to the purpose of the visit. Sharing the table of the Eucharist also gave us an opportunity to enter a deeper communion with our confreres working in various places around the world, especially in difficult missions. Being a house of formation, it was certainly a moment to consciously pray for more committed and faithful ‘personnel’ (vocations), people who have personally and deeply experienced the love of God in their lives and are ready to embrace the cross as ‘a bride’ and source of joy and consolation in answering to Jesus’ demanding call to journey with the poorest and most abandoned of our day.

During the five days, each of the fifteen present members of the community (three are out to learn the English language) had a moment to share in person with Fr. Jeremias. The visit ended with a community sharing in which Fr Jeremias presented to the community the existential situation of the Institute and the six-year plan.

As a community, we thank God for this time of grace and as we celebrate the 150 years of our Institute, we pray through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, St Joseph her spouse, St Peter Claver, patron of our Institute and St Daniel Comboni, for guidance for each one of us and our leaders in particular, that we may remain faithful as persons and as an Institute to the missionary mandate of Christ in the footsteps of St Daniel Comboni.

BY AUGUSTINE EPIERU MCCJ 

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ACKNOWLEDGING GOD AS THE PROTAGONIST ALONG THE JOURNEY

Our Christian journey demands a constant renewal and reflection of our commitments. This is imperative to those who long to be radically rooted in Christ; first, as  Christians and second as religious. The journey is not easy humanly speaking but with the help of God the impossible is made possible. We are reminded always to attach ourselves to God the protagonist of our life.

On 6th of August during the feast of the transfiguration eight of us, scholastics of St. Daniel Comboni Scholasticate in Pietermaritzburg made a step to express our gratitude to God for his abundance graces animating us to continue witnessing Him to all, especially to the poor people of our time; spiritually and physically.  On this day two ministries were conferred to us; ministry of acolyte and readers by His Lordship Bishop Sandri Giuseppe of Wit bank diocese. The ministries conferred to us reminded us that we have to ask God to help make this services part of our lives and to exercise these ministries to the poor people and to love as God wills.

In his homily Bishop Sandri Giuseppe, a Comboni missionary of the aforementioned diocese urged us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; terming this the primordial call to all of us, not only as Christians but also as missionaries. He was pragmatic in his homily citing many examples to learn from; one of them being of a woman who had been bedridden for ten years.

Whom he visited, while interacting with her, she said, ‘I am happy for being here (bedridden)’, reasons being she had good caregivers ensuring he had all that she needed, this is  true love for her. ‘What about you who have all you need?”  He challenged us.

 

It was not entirely a way to show  or to fulfill the  rules of installation into these services as stipulated by the church but it was a moment to ask ourselves, what is it that God call us to? To our knowledge it is a service to all centred on love.

In addition to the above mentioned we were reminded that; first, it is the duty of all of us especially readers to ponder the word of God each day letting God speak here and now to us and then nourish God’s people with the same word. Secondly, for the acolyte to know that it is a God given chance to help the priest to reach out to the spiritually poor people and revitalize them with the God who has become and continues to become part of them in their reflections and contemplation of the word.

As acolytes, we are called to carry the light of Christ for all to see, to lead the procession as we come together to worship and give thanks to our Lord and God. To direct people in worship since we have learnt the names and items of our worship {Catholic Church}, the symbols and sacraments, the messages of color and themes of our worship life.

 

But most importantly we will be bearers of the light for the assembly, the ones who remind us of the light of Christ, the light we follow: The ultimate service is an invitation to follow our Lord’s example of humble service to others in this world. I hope that our yes will be inspired by God, since for us nothing matters than to acknowledge God as the protagonist in this noble ministry

BY JUSTUS  OSEKO MCCJ 

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THE GODS OF PLASTIC

 

 

THE GODS OF PLASTIC:  Part two

Over the years, the government of Kenya has been trying to find ways to manage waste disposal, especially plastic/polythene bags.  According to Ondieki (2017:10)[1] there has been three attempts to ban or control the manufacture of plastics. In 2005 Mr Kibaki’s government came up with a 10-point plan aimed at addressing the plastic menace, wherein plastics under 30 microns thick were banned.  However, a plastic recycling firm that was created soon ran into headwinds. Then in 2007, Finance minister Amos Kimunya banned manufacture of polythene bags below 30 microns and introduced a 120% excise duty on them.  Consequently, traders protested and Parliamentary Committee on Trade and Finance introduced a green tax instead.  Again in 2011, National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) slapped a ban on polythene bags below 60 microns and tasked the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to execute it. This move also flopped.

It is clear that there has been no goodwill from the manufacturers in alleviating and controlling the massive production of plastics with no clear ways of disposing them. Nonetheless the fight has been revived once again. On February 28 2017, in a notice published in the Kenya Gazzete, Prof Wakhungu ordered polythene bags, both carrier bags and flat bags, commonly used to wrap foodstuff and shopping, done away with by August 28. She banned ‘the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging’. This announcement commended by UN came three weeks after the launching of UN Environment “Clean Seas Initiative”.  It is also in tandem with the intention of The East African Legislative Assembly in banning the use of polythene bags across the region.  The Executive director of UN Environment, Mr Erik Solheim, was convinced that this step will help Kenya ‘to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty’.

However, The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), as usual sees the ban as affecting the country more negatively than positively, arguing that over 176 plastic manufacturers in Kenya directly employ 2.89% of all Kenyans and indirectly employs over 60,000 people.  They further argue that the six months’ notice is not enough to clear stock and to find alternative packaging. These are the two formidable arguments they have been using all these years to continue manufacturing plastics. It appears that it is a lesser evil to destroy the environment in order to create jobs.

This is absurd and if it worked before, we just have to look at our surroundings from the Suburbs of Langata-Karen to the slums of Kibera, from Upper Hill to Mathare Valley to conclude that it is time to do away with plastic bags. In fact, the famous Nairobi River has become ‘Plastics River’ thanks to the youths who collect garbage from residents’ doorsteps at a fee and dump them in the river.Note that the current Nairobi Governor, Dr Kidero argues that the city produces 1,700 tonnes of solid waste daily, much of which is plastic. According to Kanyiha MP 86, 000 plastic bags are handed out in Nairobi daily. Internationally, in one day there is 3200 km of trucks carrying plastics. Monetary wise, it costs US$4000 to recycle 1 tonne of plastic bags.  Given the quantity of plastics manufactured, disposed, and possibly recycled daily, it is not imprudent to conclude that we can do much better without plastic bags.

 

From the above few facts, it has become expedient to again ban plastics. However, since the manufacturers are not showing goodwill, people are looking for alternative ways of fighting this menace. For example, Kanyiha MP has created a site called Avaaz.org wherein people sign up to push for diverse causes. His intention is to collect 100,000 signatures to petition the Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary (CS), Adan Mohamed and the KAM to stop the manufacturing of plastics.

Time will tell whether this ban will be effected successfully. Certainly, the gods of plastics will not sit down and watch their creation destroyed. Meanwhile, Kenyans will have to contend with the recent shocking revelations that the air in Nairobi city has cancer causing elements of 105 microgrammes per cubic metre, a figure that is 10 times more than the WHO threshold of 20 microgrammes per cubic metre.[2]This is greatly attributed to the fumes that come from plastic bags that are burned in the dumping site and in people’s home.

 

 

[1] Ondieki E 2017. Plastic bag ban gets support. Daily Nation, Thursday March 16. p 10.

[2]Kilonzo, E 2017. Air pollution reduces effectiveness of antibiotics. Healthy Nation.  No. 019 March 14, 2017. p8.

 

By Robert Kinena Ndung’u, MCCJ

 

 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

THE GODS OF PLASTIC

The Green Corner article (Networking Cedara Vol. 28 No. 2, 20-26 Feb 2017) could not have come at a better time. Though this survey was done in the USA, it speaks volumes and resonates well with what is happening here in Kenya.  It is now about three months since I came back to Kenya from South Africa. Many things have changed and I noted that the population in my town, Kitale, has rapidly increased. The once small agricultural town has become a boiling pot of so many activities.  Businesses have grown, and unlike the past, the narrow streets are congested with people and tall buildings all over the place. Moreover, motorbikes have invested the town causing chaos and gridlocks.  While some, especially the old timers romanticise and want back their old little peaceful town, others feel that it is catching up with the rest of the cities like Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. Yet this has come with its own nemesis.

I have seen that the once little peaceful beautiful green agricultural town has been denuded of its heritage and beauty. The level of deforestation and encroachment on water reserves is going on unabated. Forests and farm land have been taken over by real estates to cater for the rapid population growth. Most of the fertile lands previously used for production of maize on large scale are being sold in small portions to property developers. In place of maize and beans, now we have ‘plots for sale and houses to let.’ No wonder the precious commodity, maize, has become scarce and unaffordable to the majority poor.  In the 90’s we had plenty of water catchment areas and streams. These helped us a lot when the municipality could not provide residents with water for months. It is sad that most of the streams have dried and the catchment areas encroached.

There is filth all over the place from the market to the townships/estates. Solid waste, especially plastic bags have become an eye sore. It is all over the place and it appears that the authorities have no waste management policy or structures. Residents dispose garbage all over since there are no designated collection points. The environment is inundated with plastics bags that have taken the place of green grass and flowers.  The level of air pollution is high as people burn plastics in their backyards and on the roadsides. It appears that people have become inured to this pollution.

The narrative is the same in other towns and cities in Kenya. Here in Nairobi where I am currently, the rate of plastic pollution is very high. There are plenty of illegal small garbage collection points beside narrow roads in the townships. People dump daily, and sometimes roads become unpassable due to the mountain of garbage, ninety percent of which are plastics. Drainage systems are full of plastic bags and bottles. It is very irritating that each time there is a road construction or maintenance, much of what comes underneath are plastic bags and bottles that show no sign of decomposition.

For some time, I have tried to understand this phenomenon on plastic waste. I have come to a conclusion that it will not be an easy way to win. It is a fact that most Kenyans find plastics indispensable. They carry them from home to work and work to home. They get them easily from the stores and the streets. Indeed, notwithstanding their effects to the environment,   plastics appear a friend more than a foe to Kenyans from all walks of life.

Consider the lifestyle of most households in slums or townships.  They buy items packed in plastic bags daily. For instance, small quantities of sugar, tea leaves, milk, chapati, mandazi, cooked beans or githeri, rice, chopped cabbages or Sukuma wiki, fruits, cooking fat, meat, chips ( French Fries), samosas, roasted/boiled maize, roasted/boiled sweet potatoes or yams, etc . On average we can estimate that each household receives about 10 plastic bags per day.In a month is 300 and in a year it is about 3600. All these waste either end up being dumped besides roads, walls, under trees, in nearby rivers or streams or drainage systems that serve the residential areas. For areas that garbage is collected once in a while, in case of delays, fire becomes the best option. A physical visit to one of the slums is enough evidence of this.

By Robert Kinena Ndung’u, MCCJ

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SELF GIVING THAT ALL MAY LIVE


Each year, the Passover meal in the biblical narration becomes edifying and manifests God’s self giving love in a pragmatic way for the Comboni community of Pietermaritzburg. Each time it reminds us of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection above all a self giving for the salvation of all. A memorial feast lived in our daily Eucharistic celebration. The community members during this time do all it takes to find meaning of what it means to celebrate the Passover meal. What is so interesting is that they find meaning of all the Jews did in their own context. Moreover, it invites all to transcend the Jews context and contextualize it in the celebration of the Eucharist.It is marked by a dramatic celebration where each item they used gives meaning to our life. For this year and last year the community took an extra step to involve the youths of St. John of Arc Parish. The fundamental reason is to create awareness in them, what it means to celebrate the Passover meal; to cultivate in them that love and interaction with God through His word which sources union with Him, letting God speak here and now in a new way. In addition, to know that indeed Christ is God’s self communication who gives us Himself everyday in our Eucharistic celebration.

Gathered in this celebration the aspect of breaking and sharing prevails, this is significant of Christ who breaks himself for us so that we may break ourselves to others; what does this mean? To break here, what is imperative is that sacrifice attached to it; it is not just a meal, break of the part if the body; but it is that sacrifice that God Himself willed through his son Jesus Christ. In his divinity and humanity, he became like us, to share with us and to appreciate each one of us. The climax of the Passover meal that we share is symbolic of what we freely receive from Christ. This we do through imitation of Christ in this reflective, spiritual nourishing drama. He gives us his love freely, and so calls us  to give it freely to others. The other aspect during this commemoration,  is that of a family, where each is given a role to play, we have a father, mother and children. It is not a mere performance but a really manifestation of how we must practice the self giving for the other. Self-giving, here connotes, time given to the other, a minute of attention given to a person, friend, relative or parents like serving water among others. Sacrificing ones best time and sharing it with the brothers and sisters for the glory of God.

This Passover meal transcends the mere actions to a meditation and reflection of Christ’s revelation  and a willing to unite us with the Father. It creates memories and question especially to the youths who go home different than they came. This becomes the really encounter with God and makes all witnesses of Christ to others. It becomes the lived faith after hearing and internalizing it with action and explanations of what each item used means.  During this event we read the scripture centered on the last meal to let Christ  manifest Himself in a new way, through reflection and explanations given by the commentator.  This year the event was marked with a good number of youths, who like last year were involved in the actions. After the celebration they were challenged to take initiative to organize one such event where the priests and scholastics take part.
The challenge was to let them know that they are part and parcel of this important event, to let it communicate and make sense among them. Indeed it was marked with words of gratitude to the parish priest from the in charge of the youths, Mr. Trevor Stole who taught that the occasion helped  and contributed to the youths’ gain as members of the Church who have celebrated and will continue to celebrate  sacraments.

 

By scholastic Justus Oseko 

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JOY OF BEING A LAY MISSIONARY

This year on 21st March 2017 South Africans gathered to celebrate human rights day, it also marked a come together event for Comboni friends in St. Daniel Comboni Scholasticate, Pietermaritzburg. Human Rights Day is a national holiday in South Africa that is always celebrated on 21 March. The holiday commemorates the establishment of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). ‘The aim of the SAHRC is to promote respect for human rights, promote the protection, development and attainment of human rights, and to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in SA.’  In a nutshell what happened before the launch of SAHRC was dehumanizing and segregating in terms of race. Black South Africans found themselves victims of the circumstances. The SAHRC was launched on 21 March 1996, marking exactly 35 years after the events of 21 March 1960 when anti-apartheid demonstrators in Sharpeville were gunned down by police. The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 controlled the movement of Africans to urban areas and required all Africans to carry a reference book on them at all times.

Failure to produce the reference book on demand by the police was a punishable offence. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed ananti-Pass campaign to start on 21 March 1960. All African men were to take part in the campaign without their passes and present themselves for arrest. Campaigners gathered at police stations in townships near Johannesburg where they were dispersed by police. At the Sharpeville police station a scuffle broke out. The police opened fire, apparently without having been given a prior order to do so. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded. In apartheid South Africa this day became known as Sharpeville Day.

For us Comboni missionaries this was a day that we saw it necessary to gather around with Comboni friends here in South Africa; first, to celebrate this day together and secondly, to strengthen our relationships. The day started with Eucharistic celebration at around 10:30 am. After the celebration the vocation animation team, Fr. Manuel, and Scholastics, Charlemagne and Achile shared about our missions in the world. Fr. Manuel centred his presentation in western countries whereas the scholastics centred theirs in the African context especially, in South Africa.The questions and gratitude from the Comboni Friends clearly manifested willingness and curiosity to know more about the Comboni missionaries. They also manifested a belonging to the Comboni family as lay missionaries. It was crystal clear that the joy of being a lay missionary is to share and to collaborate in the ministry of Christ; that is serving, this was vivid through their words of encouragement.

Fr. Manuel posed a reflective question to them, saying; don’t you think your sons can become missionaries just like these brothers from different parts of the continent? It was the hope of the community through this gathering that they would go spreading what they saw and what they heard. At the same time it was the pleasure of the community and happiness for their positive response to the invitation. After, the community reflectively pointed that a good structure of leadership should be created in this group as to really involve all and make them active in discerning the mutual support spiritually and materially purposely to express God’s love among the group by animating each other as they are called to serve in their own capacities as Christians.

By scholastic  Justus Oseko 

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WHERE IS OUR TATA MADIBA?

It appears superfluous to ask such a question when we know very well that on 5th December 2013 activities in the world almost came to a standstill when Tata Madiba breathed his last. Indeed Tata Madiba was a South African no more than Jesus was a Jew and Adolf Hitler a German. The death of this great figure seems to have washed away the many evils that South Africa had been grappling with. Indeed Madiba in no uncertain terms fought apartheid,one of the greatest evil that was eating the flesh of South Africa like a cancerous tissue. But it still remains to be ascertained whether he managed to nip in the bud the offshoots of apartheid and its mutation, for instance, the high rate of violence basically manifested in constant protests where scores of people are killed, the rising trend in crime, and the upsurge of xenophobic and afrophobic attacks. I may appear as the devil’s advocate but my intention is simply to take a hard look at facts that we overlook with the dawn of each day.
It is indubitable that South Africa is one of the economic giants in Africa, competing with Egypt and Nigeria. The exponential rise in the number of mines attests to this, not forgetting her extensive and magnanimous road infrastructure that is hailed to be better than some in Europe. It is very easy to conclude based on these facts that South Africans are among the happiest people in Africa. If happiness index can be determined by infrastructures and high levels of consumption, then such might be the case. But wait a minute! How possible can one be said to be happy when he or she lives in a country that has the highest death rate in the world? Research findings by South Africa Police Service (SAPS) published by The Witness in KZN in September 2013 revealed that the level of crime had increased. The findings made it unequivocal that South Africa has the highest death rate in the world. Such a high death rate was attributed to murder, car accidents, and health complications.
Furthermore the US – based CIA Fact book has it that South Africa has the highest death rate globally , beating war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Central African Republic. In addition the WHO has placed South Africa in the top ten for road traffic deaths at 31.5 people per 100000 population. The UN office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) Homicide Statistics for 2013 places South Africa as the 18th highest for death by murder. Other indicators on the CIA Fact book place South Africa as number one for HIV/Aids related deaths.These statistics disturb and ought to spur the nation into positive action.It is ironic that the globally celebrated road networks have turned into death traps. Could it be that people do not know how to drive? Is somebody not doing their job? Corruption is always our refuge in this. Three years ago in Kwazulu Natal (KZN), one of the local papers, The Witness, reported of corruption involving issuance of driving licences. It is sad that many motorists pass the driving test not based on competency but on their ability to bribe the traffic officers. The consequence of this is more deaths on the roads.

We are not yet sure whether there is a desire and will to understand the reason for the rise in the culture of violence, for instance, the high death rates due to rape and murder? Mary de Haas, from KZN Violence monitor, affirms that the high death rate is due to South Africa’s violent society. She opines that violence has been used for a long time not only to solve problems but as a means to an end. On the other hand the KZN Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant- General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, maintains that there is no single explanation for the rise in crimes. For him “some of the causes of crime are deeply rooted and related to the history and socioeconomic realities of our society”.

In his book When Mandela Goes, Venter avers that ‘apartheid has been the major progenitor of the abnormally high level of crime in south Africa. This means that the further the new south Africa moves away from its apartheid past, the fainter its effect will be – and the greater hope there is for a decrease in crime…the unhappy conclusion is that only a future generation, with new values, can bring about a reversal in the crime patterns in South Africa. Until then, they must continue on the path they have taken …and get worse before they get better.’ Venter could not be truer based on what is currently happening. His sentiments reverberates with plain truth. This is the truth that the whole nation should be ready to make sacrifices to own. A truth that will usher a South Africa that is healed, reconciled to herself and her neighbours, and committed to annihilate the culture of violence.

 

 

BY ROBERT KINENA NDUNG’U MCCJ. 

 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

DISCOURAGING EARLY MARRIAGE FOR A BETTER FUTURE

youths-for-webs28th December 2016, marked an imperative step for the youths of Kanyanga as they reflected on how to focus on a better future. It was a seminar, enlightening them to lead a dignified life. It was a day to awaken them from the resilient consequences of early marriage which always circulates around the saying ‘we want to see grandchildren.’ Not denying this reality, the youths were left to reflect on reasons for early marriage. In a spirit of participation many reasons come up. The vivid ones were; Poverty, Ignorance, Illiteracy, Peer pressure and group influence due to one’s intimate relationship with the opposite sex.y-wed

The second part of the seminar helped the youths know signs of transition to adulthood. This part was highly appreciated, with curiosity the youths yearned and longed to know them. They asked questions that confirmed their ignorance and promised to practice abstinence, be goal oriented, be career oriented and in addition be sagacious in life. They were reminded that an “ Proverbs 16:29 Wickedness loves company—and leads others into sin, or “An evil man deceives his neighbor and leads him into loss.”   It was an edifying experience aiming at embracing changes for a better future.

webs-17 A question and pragmatic example became relevant on the ground. Can there be a person destined to live poorly? The facilitator went an extra mile to give the practical example saying, my wife is from the poor family, in fact, one of you here in Kanyanga, from a poor background but she is driving. It was simply because he decided to live differently and now she is somebody valued and cherished. Moreover, the presence of the female facilitator who frankly spoke about the impacts of the early marriage was challenging to all to shun from early marriage.for-webs

The third, part tackled the way forward, to the problems, their patron; Mr. Moses drew distinctions between a boy and a girl, a man and woman, and the age limit for marriage to help the youths find their place in the society. Marriage as legal relationship between a man and a woman was given intensive meaning to help them understand who they are. They were encouraged to give priorities to studies and know how to identify their future careers while in school; to participate in co-curricular activities and be practical at home and finally, have mentors in life. It was interesting to see youths open up to share. At the same time it was a moment to know how ignorance, illiteracy and peer pressure becomes obstacles for the bright future.y-wed

To make a difference in life does not need just to sit and look at things happen/being done, it is to take part, is to plan well, to resist all that draws our energy to useless activities, to accommodate people who challenge us to grow and the activities that empower us, to accept to change from our prejudiced minds, enslaving traditions and avoiding the status quo of life, with vision setting goals to be realized. In addition, discerning together we abrogate the authoritative power of community leaders and family members that enslave us,  we become open to many choices in life, consequently, avoid making decisions from unrealistic grounds, based on everyday experience.

By sch. Obwaya  Justus Oseko 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home