I begin with the Words of John Mbithi that ‘I am because we are’. This clearly shows that, any person who does not belong to a certain culture is considered to be lacking a sense of belonging in the community in the African cultural context.
Origin, Language and Location
The Kamba people are Bantu ethnic group who live in the semi-arid; they are stretching east from Nairobi towards the Coast and northern part of Kenya. Considering the new form of governance, Kamba land covers three counties that are; Makueni County, Kitui County and Machako’s county.
The Kamba people speak Kikamba (Mother tongue) which is a Bantu language and they are considered to be the fifth largest group. They are closely related in language and culture with other ethnic groups that are concentrated in the lowlands of Southeast Kenya from the vicinity of Mount Kenya to the Coast. The first group of Kamba people is said to have settled in Machakos county in a place called Mbooni Hills around the 17th Century before spreading to the other counties. The Akamba share borders with the Maasai people and they are literally separated by the Kenya-Uganda railway from Athi to Kibwezi.
Culture and Beliefs
Like all other Bantu communities, the Akamba have a story of origin that differs greatly from that of the Kikuyu. It goes like: “In the beginning, Mulungu created a man and a woman. This was the couple from heaven and he proceeded to place them on a rock at Nzaui where their foot prints, including those of their livestock can be seen to this day. Mulungu then caused a great rainfall. From the many anthills around, a man and a woman came out. These were the initiators of the ‘spirits clan’- the Aimo. It so happened that the couple from heaven had only sons while the couple from the anthill had only daughters. Naturally, the couple from heaven paid dowry for the daughters of the couple from the anthill. The family and their cattle greatly increased in numbers. With this prosperity, they forgot to give thanks to their creator. Mulungu punished them with a great famine. This led to dispersal as the family scattered in search of food. Some became the Kikuyu, others the Meru while some remained as the original people, the Akamba.” The Akamba are not specific about the number of children that each couple had initially born. The Akamba believe in a monotheistic, invisible and transcendental God, Ngai or Mulungu, who lives in the sky (ituni). Another venerable name for God is Asa meaning the Father. He is also known as Ngai Mumbi (God the Creator) and Mwatuangi (God the finger-divider). He is perceived as the omnipotent creator of life on earth and as a merciful Father. The traditional Akamba perceive the spirits of their departed ones, the Aimu or Maimu, as the intercessors between themselves and Ngai Mulungu. They are remembered in family rituals and offerings / libations at individual altars.
The Akamba Family
Like any other culture, for the Akamba people; the family (Musyi) plays a central role in the community. The Akamba extended family or clan is called mbai. The man, who is the head of the family, is usually engaged in an economic activity popular among the community like trading, hunting, cattle-herding or farming. He is known as Nau, Tata, or Asa. The woman, whatever her husband’s occupation, works on her plot of land, which she is given upon joining her husband’s household. She supplies the bulk of the food consumed by her family.
She grows maize, millet, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beans, pigeon peas, greens, arrow root, cassava, and yam in cooler regions like Kangundo, Kilungu and Mbooni. It is the mother’s role to bring up the children. Even children that have grown up into adults are expected to never contradict the mother’s wishes. The mother is known as Mwaitu (‘our One’). Very little distinction is made between one’s children, nieces and nephews. They address their maternal uncle as inaimiwa and maternal aunts as mwendya and for their paternal uncle and aunt as mwendw’au. They address their paternal cousins as wa-asa or wa’ia (for men is mwanaasa or mwanaa’ia, and for women is mwiitu wa’asa or mwiitu wa’ia), and the maternal cousins (mother’s side) as wa mwendya (for men mwanaa mwendya; for women mwiitu wa mwendya). Children often move from one household to another with ease, and are made to feel at home by their aunts and uncles who, while in charge of their nephews/nieces, are their de facto parents. Grandparents Susu (grandmother), Umau or Umaa (grandfather) help with the less strenuous chores around the home, such as rope-making, tanning leather, carving of beehives, three-legged wooden stools, cleaning and decorating calabashes, making bows and arrows, etc. Older women continue to work the land, as this is seen as a source of independence and economic security. They also carry out trade in the local markets, though not exclusively. In the modern Akamba family, the women, especially in the urban regions, practice professions such as teaching, law, medicine, nursing, secretarial work, management, tailoring and other duties in accordance with Kenya’s social economic evolution. The Kamba clans are: Anzauni, Aombe, Akitondo, Amwei (Angwina), Atwii, Amumui, Aethanga, Atangwa, Amutei, Aewani, Akitutu, Ambua, Aiini, Asii and Akiimi.
Naming of Children in Akamba Culture
Naming of children is an important aspect of the Akamba people. In most but not all cases, the first four children, two boys and two girls, are named after the grandparents on both sides of the family. The first boy is named after the paternal grandfather and the second after the maternal grandfather. Girls are similarly named. Because of the respect that the Kamba people observe between the varied relationships, there are people with whom they cannot speak in “first name” terms. The father and the mother in-law on the husband’s side, for instance, can never address their daughter in-law by her first name. Neither can she address them by their first names.
Yet she has to name her children after them. To solve this problem, a system of naming was adopted that gave names which were descriptive of the quality or career of the grandparents. Therefore, when a woman is married into a family, she is given a family name (some sort of baptismal name), such as “Syomunyithya/ng’a Mutunga,” that is, “she who is to be the mother of Munyithya/Mutunga.” Her first son is to be called by this name. This name Munyithya was descriptive of certain qualities of the paternal grandfather or of his career. Thus, when she is calling her son, she would indeed be calling her father in-law, but at the same time strictly observing the cultural law of never addressing her in-laws by their first names. After these four children are named, whose names were more or less predetermined, other children could be given any other names, sometimes after other relatives and / or family friends on both sides of the family. Occasionally, children were given names that were descriptive of the circumstances under which they were born. Of course, some of these names could be simply expressive of the qualities displayed by the man or woman after whom they were named. Very rarely, a boy may be given the name “Musumbi” (meaning “king”). I say very rarely because the Kamba people did not speak much in terms of royalty; they did not have a definite monarchical system. They were ruled by a council of elders called kingole. Sometimes the names were used to preserve the good names for later children.
Like many Bantus, the Akamba were originally hunters and gatherers. They later became long distance traders because of their knowledge of the expansive area they inhabited and good relations with neighbouring communities as well as excellent communication skills. They later adopted subsistence farming and pastoralism due to the availability of the new land that they came to occupy. Today, the Akamba are often found engaged in different professions: some are agriculturalists; others are traders, while others have taken up formal jobs. The Akamba traded in locally produced goods such as sugar cane wine, ivory, brass amulets, tools and weapons, millet, and cattle. The food obtained from trading helped offset shortages caused by droughts and famines experienced in their Kamba land. They also traded in medicinal products known as ‘Miti’ (plants), made from various parts of the numerous medicinal plants found on the Southeast African plains. The Akamba are still known for their fine work in wood carving, basketry, pottery and the products.
Their artistic inclination is evidenced in the sculpture work that is on display in many craft shops and galleries in the major cities and towns of Kenya. Much of documented pre colonial history about the Kamba people revolves around Kivoi Mwendwa famously known as ‘Chief Kivoi’ (born in the 1780s). He was a Kamba long Distance trader who lived in the present day Kitui. He is best known for guiding first Europeans to reach the interior of the area of present day Kenya where the German missionaries Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann of the Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS), in 1849, discovered Mount Kenya. At that time, Kitui was the home of Kivoi and he had several other possessions along his caravan route. Kivoi commanded a large following, and it was he who met the missionaries in Mombasa, and guided them to Kitui where – on December 3, 1849 – they became the first Europeans to set eyes on Mount Kenya. Back in Europe, their reports of snow on the equatorial mountain were met with disbelief and ridicule for many years after.
Today there is a lot of change among the Kamba people due to exposure, education and technological advancement. Most of the cultural practices have been abandoned though some are still highly practised. MAY GOD BLESS KAMBA PEOPLE.
Scholastic Mbithi Clement Mutie MCCJ
RENEWAL OF VOWS, A RENEWAL OF SELFLESS LOVE AND SERVICE.
I have heard many talks about what are the vows that we take. Certainly, those talks have been very interesting, they have contributed to learn many new things that have helped me to extend my understanding about what they imply. But at the end I come to only one conclusion: I need to incarnate them, to make them part and parcel of my life through selfless love and service of my brothers and sisters. We are able to say many things about them, explaining all the history behind them, its implications, and why they are so important to the Church, thanks to the grace of God.
For me, the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience have a deeper meaning than they seem to suggest by merely mentioning them; they keep a great mystery inside them, the mystery of love: Jesus, the Son of God who came to dwell and live among us. He taught us to love through his life, a life of poverty, chastity and obedience to the Father. It was not something imposed, he was not forced to do it; he does it as a free choice and love for the Father. Obedience is not directed to someone who can punish or someone for whom I feel fear, but for someone whom I love and understand, from my heart, that he wants the best for me. Chastity is not to close my heart or limit my feelings, but to open my heart to the great love, and thus, to learn how to love from the Love who is God. Poverty is more than only material things, it is to know and understand that the only way to be rich is by continuously acknowledging and responding to the presence of God in my life.
Jesus showed us all this with his life, a life not far from the people, but being close to them. I live the vows in community, with my brothers and sisters, with the challenges and the blessings. Vows mean community. I am within a certain group of people, but also being aware that through a free choice, I belong to God.
On the other hand, I am aware about the difficulties that are entailed in living these vows in the community, that several times will challenge us, but I know that I will not face the problems alone. There will be people who will help me, but above all, the presence of God will always be the source of strength and courage. The only way we can feel this presence is through prayer. Prayer is that moment in which one enters into oneself in order to be able to listen, in and through silence, to the voice of God directing the person in the way of true love, true service and true happiness. Prayer will assist me to discern what I am living in order to realize how to proceed according to the will of God. As Christians, we are invited to have prayer moments to listen in the silence of our hearts to the voice of Him who is constantly calling us to be with Himself and sends us to bring His message of Love to others through the witness of the Christian life and vocation.
Having lived for one year in temporary religious vows, I give thanks to God, together with my brothers in the scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg, for having given me the opportunity to renew my Yes to His will. As a community, on the 29th of April this year 2019 we renewed our Yes, and I can only say, thank you Lord; thank you for all the experiences that we have lived: thank you for the crises, and the happiness that we have faced because it has helped us to understand that if we are here it is because of your grace. Dear brothers and sisters, all those living the Christian consecration in many and different ways of commitment, let us throw ourselves in childlike humility, obedience and trust to Jesus, who continually is calling us to be with Him: nothing else is required, only to be with him and leave all ourselves in his hands, ready and willing to cooperate with Him in his mission of love and service to all. This is an everyday commitment. Thus we should offer ourselves each day to Him saying: today, Lord, help me to be closer to you.
Thanks be to God and to the Comboni Family for everything, but above all, thanks to each one of us for having accepted this call. I ask the intercession of Saint Daniel Comboni and the Blessed Virgin Mary in our journey that continues in the everyday encounter with God, manifested in and through the people we meet.
Scholastic Fernando Uribe Mendoza MCCJ
As known, this year is dedicated to the theme of interculturality in the Institute. From different backgrounds, our being together becomes the expression of communion of which the Holy Trinity is the model. Through these words, I want to look at my background and see how it can be a way for me to respond to the call of God with all my cultural background. In this sense, my attention will be focused on Yira or Nande culture to which I belong.
The Nande or Yira tribe is part of the Bantu group. According to history, this tribe came from Uganda via Semuliki River.
Legend has it that the ancestors passed on top of a dragon which was in this river. This tribe from Uganda is situated in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo especially in the province of North Kivu. According to research, the Nande people constitute 60 percent of the population in this province. Another group is in Uganda called Bakonzo in KASESE. This tribe is scattered on a space of 25,580 km2. A part from this specific place, the Nande are everywhere in the DRC and other countries due to their commercial and agricultural business.
In the Nande tribe, we have 12 small groups: the Baswaga, the Basukali, the Bamate, the Bahira, the Bakira, the Bahambo, the Bito, the Batangi, the Bahumbe, the Bakumbule, the Batike and the Babinga.
In general, Yira or Nande people have three names: the Christian name or a name linked to the divinity (here before Christianity), the order that you follow as child after birth, and the name of the family (father’s name). In this sense, for the males we have this subdivision: 1st.Mumbere, Paluku, Nzanzu, Kanyere; 2nd.Kambale, Mbale; 3rd.Kasereka, Kasero, Seré; 4th.Kakule, Kule; 5th.Katembo, Tembo; 6th. Mbusa, Kavusa; 7th. Ndungo, Katungo. And for the females, we have this subdivision: 1st. Masika, Kanyere, Nzanzu, Kambere; 2nd.Kavira, Vira, Katsiravwenge; 3rd.Kaswera, Kavugho; 4th. Kahambu, Kambambu, Mbambu; 5th. Tungu, Katungu; 6th. Kyakimwa; 7th. Katya, Kalivanda.
When a boy is born after a girl, he is called Muhindo; and when a girl is born after a boy, she is called Kahindo. Twins are named in this way: Nguru (who comes first) and Ndovya (the one who comes after). Those who are born in the roads are called Safari or Kanzira, and those who are born during the time of sorrow are called Mateso.
The initiation is done around the age of 14 for the male and 12 for the female. The purpose is to introduce these youth to the realities of the culture and give them some skills for life. By going through all the steps proposed by the master of initiation, the youth is able to look at life with a positive mindset. As the content of initiation remains secret, it ends with circumcision for males and experience of how to deal with a man in the house for the females. This experience is done very far from people in the bush, especially near the ancestor’s grave (better the tree of the ancestor).
After the initiation, these youth receive the mandate to get married and form a family. This process of marriage follows certain steps. The first step is the knowledge of each other; the second the male presents his intention to the female; thirdly, the man goes to see the biological father with the uncle of the lady to present his intention; if they agree to get married to each other, the man asks to go and prepare the dot. This dot for everybody is 10 goats plus 2 goats for the uncles. These two goats are symbolic of the blood that the lady will be losing by giving birth. One of these two goats is slaughtered and eaten during the celebration of dot which is the traditional marriage. The blood of this goat is mixed with the traditional beer, “kasikisi”, which they pour down. By mixing this blood and the traditional beer, they symbolise the union of these two families. By pouring this mixture down, they are calling the ancestors to witness this union and to bless it by giving them children. Before Christianity came in, at this point the new couple was allowed to touch each other. This first day, the aunt of the lady is there at night in the room to witness the union and confirm if her daughter is virgin. The uncle of the man remains outside sitting close to the fire all the night waiting for the result the next morning. If the man goes out from the room with a white garment it means he is satisfied and ready for the conclusion of the marriage the next morning. If one of them is not satisfied, he or she takes a red garment and the man goes to give to the uncle and the woman goes to give to her aunt. From there before the conclusion of the marriage, the aunt and the uncle together with the elders sit and see the possibility of helping this new couple.
In being together in the community, there is always this possibility of offending each other. In Nande culture, four kinds of offenses are defined: 1. Sin of hypocrite people (hidden sins) or <<kalayi>>. 2. Sin of those who are going against the requirements of the culture (interdits in french): «nyakavule», 3. Sin against the law of the state: «musingo», 4. Serious sins: abortion, Suicide, killing someone, abuse, etc.; «mukumbira» (paria).
These offenses push people to sit together and look at how people can be reconciled. This reconciliation, also called mbanulo, is done in five steps: 1. Acknowledgement of the mistake (L’aveu de la faute): Erivikula-oluvikulo; 2. Meeting in secret of the elders of the village and price of the mistake; 3. Giving of the requirement for the sinner: chicken, goat, drink, etc. 4. Sacrifice of expiation; 5. The sinner is put in the middle of the community and invocation of the ancestors to receive again the brother or sister in the community. The ceremony is concluded with a meal of the community which is called erisuva omovuhuma: Back to a relationship of peace.
The cult of the ancestors is also common in my culture. The foundation of this cult is that death doesn’t have the last word on human life: omundu syehola. That is why a dead person receives a dignified funeral by invocation of the ancestors, asking them to receive the one who has died. This worship is the expression of the belief that after the physical life, there is the spiritual life with the ancestors. It is a continuation of the life on earth; that is why in the tomb of the dead person we put all the things which the person preferred to use.
There is an intrinsic link between this spiritual life and the life on earth. That is why the ancestors intervene in the life on earth in different ways: protection, blessings, harvest, offspring, etc. That is why the worship of the ancestors becomes relevant in the daily life. Once a year after the big harvest by each village, the cult of the ancestors is done seriously. The rite has three parts: the prayer of thanksgiving to the ancestors for the harvest and their protection; the immolation or killing of a goat; community meal by serving first God, then the ancestors, and after, the whole community. After eating there is the expression of joy through the songs called ekila.
During the prayer, the children are given the meat of white chicken which never give eggs, to symbolise the purity of the ancestors’ intention towards the community. During the meal, the children are served before everybody because children are the direct incarnation of the ancestors.
About food in my culture, without going into details, the common ones are: banana in its variety, beans, cassava, yellow yam, blue yam, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, potato in its variety, grasshoppers, cat, rat, etc.
In the social aspect of being together as family or community, there are some beliefs, aimed at teaching wisdom: Don’t throw water out at night and don’t clean your house at night: ancestors are present; Don’t go to bed angry, otherwise you won’t receive protection and blessing from the ancestors; Don’t accuse someone unjustly, his guardian may revenge; Speak in public about a problem after all the investigation- in order to value the virtue of silence because in silence we are communicating with the ancestors; Don’t go to your work before the burial of the dead person takes place; Always pour out a bit of water or drink to the soil before drinking; Don’t show or point your finger to the elder and the cemetery, etc.
Scholastic Muyisa Mumbere Kapitula MCCJ
Our scholasticate, which is always open to visiting confreres, was once again graced with the visit of the Provincial Superior of South Africa, from Monday the 01st of April to Friday the 5th of April 2019.
Although it was a busy period, especially for the students, who were in the middle of their first term of the academic year, and consequently loaded with assignments and class presentations to prepare for, we still managed to find time to share with the Provincial. He had a fraternal encounter with each scholastic individually, and with the formators, aimed at strengthening each other on the journey of vocation, which is at once personal and community-oriented.
On the evening before departure, the Provincial shared with the community about the reality of the Province, its history and Comboni Presence.
As those who have been to South Africa may know, it’s a country that has come through painful moments of the apartheid regime, and even many years after freedom was attained, the impact of the pain can still be felt among the people, especially in their relationship with those who are seen to be ‘outsiders’, that is, those coming from outside countries, missionaries of which make part of this group. In fact, just about four days before the Provincial’s visit, on Tuesday night, the 27th of March, Xenophobic attacks had occurred in our neighbouring city of Durban, about 77 km from Pietermaritzburg, where we live. In these attacks, some people, so called ‘foreigners’, mainly from the neighbouring countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, were killed, and others driven out of the only shelter they had to rest their heads on.
Our community, composed of fifteen members, all international, felt the pain with those brothers and sisters who fell victim to these attacks, more so because some of the scholastics do apostolate directly with members of groups of people coming from those neighbouring countries who pray in the parishes where we do apostolate. Sadly, according to the witness of the locals, the people in the area in which our scholasticate is located, Kwazulu Natal, are said to have experienced the deepest effects of the apartheid regime, which not only explains their strong resistance to outsiders, but also the slowness to embrace the message of the Christian faith.
In fact, I personally have met missionaries from the Congregations that were among the first to arrive in the area (they are with us in our theological Institute), who tell in their history that the first missionaries, when they arrived in the area, and after meeting the resistance, could not but go to other areas of the country and neighbouring countries, especially the Sotho speaking areas, where they found the locals more welcoming, and any Christian who has travelled across the country and stayed in the different areas can somehow tell the difference.
Touching on this reality, the Provincial presented to us a brief history of the Province. The Comboni Missionaries have been doing mission in South Africa since their arrival in the Country in 1924. The first Comboni Missionaries to arrive in South Africa came from Sudan. After 25 years the prefecture where the Comboni Missionaries worked was elevated to a Vicariate Apostolic and in 1951 it became the Lydenburg-Witbank Diocese. One of the first activities done by the Missionaries was to open a hostel in Pretoria for Catholic students from the Diocese of Lydenburg-Witbank who attended school there. However, the hostel closed in 1969 and the Comboni Missionaries took up the Parish in Silverton, a suburb in the same city. In 1982, Bishop Mogale Nkhumishe was appointed as the first local Bishop of the Diocese, succeeding Bishop Anton Reiterer, who was a missionary. In 1988, due to the need to start full-time vocation promotion, a postulancy was opened in the Archdiocese of Pretoria. Similarly, in order to do intense missionary animation, the Worldwide Magazine was started towards the end of 1990.
The apartheid policy, since 1948, had enormous impact on the social, political, and religious history of the country. The Catholic Church in particular was considered a threat because it denounced any form of racism and discrimination, which is identifiable with apartheid. Although the government tolerated the activities of the Catholic Church among the African people, sometimes it either refused to cooperate or even suspended them, and sadly, a majority of the white Catholics accepted the unjust dispensation, with very few opposing it. Nevertheless the Catholic Church worked for a political change and social change, and happily endorsed the 1994 elections, which was the first time free elections were held in South Africa.
In the midst of these challenging situation, the Comboni Missionaries worked tirelessly, being present and sharing the experiences of the people in parishes, hospitals, schools, pastoral centres; providing bursaries for poor students, giving support to family members of political prisoners, and being participants in demonstrations and marches tailored at fighting against injustice. Comboni Missionaries extended their presence to Eastern Cape in the parishes of Mount Frere (1990) and Mount Ayliff (1995), but later these parishes, along with some commitments in the Diocese of Witbank, were handed over to the local diocesan priests, Fidei Donum priests and other religious Institutes.
The International scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg started in 2002, with six Comboni Missionary students. In 2008 the Comboni Missionaries started teaching at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute, where our scholastics do their theological studies with students of ten other religious Institutes, and now with some lay students as well. In the same year, pastoral ministry was assumed by the Comboni Missionaries in three Parishes in Soweto in the Diocese of Johannesburg.
Although in this entire history, especially due to the strong cultural rootedness of the people and other factors already mentioned above, the missionary promotion work has born fruits of only about six Comboni Missionaries from South Africa, still we are grateful to God for the great work he has done and continues to do in this country through the dedication of the missionaries, and we are hopeful that his mercy will continue touching and healing the wounds of our brothers and sisters. We also pray that he may touch the hearts of many young men and women to embrace the urgent call to proclaim the Good News to others through the vocation of the priesthood and religious life.
We thank the provincial superior for his fatherly visit, which left us not only with greater knowledge of the history of the country and Comboni Missionaries’ presence in South Africa, but also with renewed strength for the journey and greater hope for the future of the Province. May Our Lady of Assumption, patroness of South Africa, be with us on this journey.
Information taken from: https://comboni.org.za/who-we-are/history-of-the-mccj-in-sa
Augustine Epieru MCCJ.
My dream for Africa is far away!
With a thousand arms raised up to heaven
The dream of taking one song, the Song of Liberty
Africa is a great heart that someone can conquer with love
Two black hands and the blue heaven
That represents yourself and myself… together.
Let’s save Africa with Africans
Someone to take out the hand from the fire, Oh, oh we are already burnt
Oh, oh, oh God are you still listening to our cries of pain?
Or you abandoned us as we abandoned our traditions and cultures.
We still know each other as we know the address of each dance club (disco)
And we don’t know the Library for studies
We close the book and open the tap of beer.
As well as we go to the gym and we abandon the Church.
The world of today teaches us that faith is to be deposited in a bank account like money which can be kept for future use without any negative impact on the life of a person in the present.
No, oh no! Faith without actions, not in the future but now, now, now;
That faith is dead!
My heart shouts: Africa or death! Someone to answer…
From within my heart there comes a lot of anger
If the world is taking this way of living, then it is better to renounce this world so loved!
Concerned in giving solutions for material wealth!
And never intellectual progress, worried with material things and never spiritual richness
Finally all the people are lazy to work because the so called ‘good news’ has come
That there is a promotion of beer; 5 bottles for 40 rand.
From where do these things come that my people live on?
Things that only appear as good but there is no good
Things that put our body’s health in danger; things that cannot help the land
Because these things, instead of creating peace, provoke war…
Things that put our hope to die in hospital
Things that depreciate our dignity! Things that dehumanize our African values and identity
This aspect shows us that the nature of beauty is lost from aesthetics
Things that put us to depreciate the vegetables, pondu, cassava, beans etc.
These things lead us to forget our traditional dances and link us to other ‘modernist’ cultures
Sometimes we shout in our television rooms identifying ourselves with unAfrican identity
Starting from things we wear: shoes, t-shirts, hairstyles, everything, everything, everything, oh! Oh! Ooh! My Africa, where are we going!
We have lost the value of face to face dialogue with friends and our neighbours because of the media…
Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, messenger, imo, to chat with people who are outside of Africa, to know them, and after to share with others that you have friends outside of Africa, with few or no friends in the immediate neighbourhood…. Oh my loving God!
Many women have children but few of them have the heart of being a mother; many have boyfriends or girlfriends but few of them are serious. Oh my African land! … Many Christians but few of them are committed.
I’m walking on the street like a blind person… I left my house, my mother, my father, my brothers to find the desert without history; for love without glory.
Africa! Africa! Africa! Call me back… I can see a lot of people with me in the same journey of liberty but not connected with what God calls us to be.
Scholastic MANUEL QUEMBO.
It is one year now since the institute of the Comboni Missionaries celebrated the 150th anniversary of its existence. This year 2018, the community of St. Daniel Comboni scholasticate, together with the parishioners of St. Joan of Arc, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, held another feast, commemorating their founder and Saint, Daniel Comboni on 7th October (anticipated due to unavoidable circumstances); a celebration that was very grand physically and spiritually enriching. Having celebrated the feast this year, a new experience encountered gives us something to reflect upon.
Faithful to the institute’s mission, which is Ad Gentes, this year’s celebration saw an occasion for honouring and promoting the prophetic vision of our founder: Save Africa with Africa by building a common cause with the group of Comboni friends as well as parishioners of St Joan of Arc parish. This was done through various activities and initiatives, such as visiting the small Christian communities with the aim of promoting our mission, promoting vocation by encouraging young people as well as helping the parishioners to better understand who the Comboni Missionaries are. In addition, the feast was also anticipated with the moment of prayer for three days in which the main focus was about deepening our spirituality as Comboni consecrated religious. Evaluating this new approach of reaching out to the small Christian communities, our experiences tell us that this approach has enhanced active participation in the church and solidarity among the parishioners within their small Christian communities. Additionally, this commitment of reaching out to parishioners in their respective small Christian communities has enabled us to know better our parishioners. Moreover, this has helped us to appreciate the importance of learning the local language and other cultural values of our parishioners.
The feast, which coincided with the Zulu cultural heritage day, attracted a good number of people as well as a colourful celebration. In his opening remarks during the mass celebration, Father Manuel Casillas emphasised the need to appreciate our cultural identity as well as to thank the Lord for the gift of St Daniel Comboni, his life and his mission for the poor and most abandoned brothers and sisters. Emphasising on our need for the prophetic passion for the mission pioneered by St. Daniel Comboni 150 years ago, Father Ibercio (the Parish Priest) encouraged the congregation to respond positively with missionary zeal to the Church’s mission by works of Christian charity, promoting vocations in their respective families as well as supporting the church through various initiatives. The celebration, which began with mass in the morning, ended with a warm get together reception in the afternoon in which, following the spirit of the early church, we shared the meal in common.
Thus, as a way of appreciating, we want to use this medium to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who identified with us during the celebration by their presence, prayers, material and financial assistance. What a grand success it was! God bless you all.
Scholastic Mathew Kutsaile MCCJ
The sense of welcoming others is one of the simplest virtues that a human being can offer free of charge. Everyone has the capacity to welcome. But what kind of welcoming? Far from any theoretical considerations, the welcome here stated is the one that springs from the heart and not a welcome masked by a smiling figure and not rooted in the heart. How can we say that the welcome of our new brothers in the community was a moment of encountering them, a moment of joy and dance? or how has this welcoming of our confreres plunged us into these three essential dimensions for a successful reception: meeting, listening and celebrating?
Meeting others is getting into the reality of the person. We could say it is communion with the life of this person. This can be done in different ways. Among the different ways, there is an attentive listening and patience. This has been well verified in the community by the fact that newcomers have shown a commendable charity to introduce themselves to the community, and the community in turn was patient to listen to each one of them. At a personal level, I have summarized their presentations into these words: God acts beyond our expectations. Perhaps the stories need to be re-told to get a little better understanding.
Listening: First, Sc. Fernando coming from Mexico opened the door of presentations and said: “Even though my Father has gone to the Celestial Kingdom, God has opened to me a new family”. He said that in the noviciate he had the idea of going to Kenya or to Congo but “Divine Providence sent me to South Africa”. The second to share was Sc. Madalitso from Mozambique. He said that all his family is protestant. So, how can his missionary vocation in a protestant family be explained if not perceived as divine providence?. In his turn, Ben Joseph Carlos from the Philippines said that he has taken a long time of his life working in a company. By an act that he does not know how to explain, he bumped into the World Mission magazine, produced by the Comboni Missionaries in the Philippines, and through this magazine his desire to make a covenant with God through Comboni began. Fr Ibercio, the new parish priest of our parish, thanked God who has always accompanied him and in a particular way during his life as a missionary in South Africa, to which he first arrived in 1991. All these life stories provide a reason to be ceaselessly thankful to God.
Thus, there is no need to separate such an enriching welcome from the joy which the community has experienced. This joy could well be seen in the faces of all the confreres. And that opens a series of heartfelt yearnings to say simply: you are all most welcome, feel at home. In simpler terms, it is a joy that not only exalts the goodness of the confrere but also and above all, accepts and respects the confrere in his difference. One could even say, a joy that renews again the quality of fraternal life in the community. In this way the confrere, old and new, becomes a gift to and for the community.
This joy was partly manifested through dance. With an attentive and curious mind, I came to the conclusion that this music was missionary. To say that it went beyond local, national and intercontinental boundaries. It was a true cultural diversity of our community. As a result, the new confreres in the community and all the old confreres, each found his share and showed a cultural openness, and an openness to the missionary spirit.
To close, we thank God who allowed the success of this day. A welcome marked by the meeting of the other in his difference, a moment of joy as an expression of an enriching fraternity, moment of dance to intercultural music as an expression of our openness to the missionary spirit. May this joy continue inflaming our hearts and uniting us in the service God through St Daniel Comboni.
BY SCH. MUMBERE MUYISA KAPITULA MCCJ
On a more theoretical level, the expectation of the Catholic Church is that theology students’ interaction with these varied resources should promote constant theological reflection and critical thinking whereby students are analysing, evaluating, questioning and interpreting their content.
The aim of this study was to explore the nature of the information that theology studen
ts seek and how it influences their management of personal theological knowledge. This study used a research framework based on self-directed learning (SDL) in line with the personal responsibility orientation model (PRO), rhizomatic approaches to knowledge hierarchies, and affordance theory. The research design for this study was an exploratory case study of St. Josephs Theological Institute, using qualitative research methods. Thirty-nine theology students were selected purposively among theology students from the second, third and fourth years to meet the intentions of this case study. Focus groups, semi-structured interviews and observations were used as data collection methods.
The themes which were identified and discussed included: self-directed decision-making in the face of multiplicity; integration between the arborescent and rhizomatic knowledge structures; selection and mapping of theological knowledge; attitudes towards electronic resources; and perception of affordances and barriers to SDL using electronic resources. The findings have practical implications for the teaching and learning of Catholic theology in the digital age.
Significance of the study
This study is about theology students’ experiences with regard to the use of the internet and acquiring of theological knowledge. The choice of this study is influenced by the fact that, in this information and digital age, theology students are immersed in the experience of using the internet in their studies. This is mainly due to the proliferation of online theological libraries, as well as the fact that, theology students ought to resist the easy path of uncritical passivity and select reliable data from other resources, welcome it without merely imposing their critical theological opinions and views. Recent literature indicates that students, in particular theology students are becoming more and more self-directed learners. However, those students somehow are constrained by the hierarchical nature of the Catholic doctrine which affects the support of many aspects of their learning activities. In the 21st century, the use of the internet to access electronic resources (ER) is gaining momentum as a tool for obtaining needed information. Therefore, the hierarchical nature of Catholic doctrine need not exclude openness to the more rhizomatic approaches to knowledge structures that students’ independent accessing of online (ER) represents. The openness to more rhizomatic approaches to knowledge for the learning of theology might create opportunities or affordances, with the implications of the utilisation of ER. This intersection in learning theology requires a theoretical paradigm shift for adult theology students which can contribute greatly to enlargement of the theology students’ academic horizon and enriches their minds for an open theological dialogue and discussion with different theological opinions and views.
BY REV. FR. JOSEPH NGUMBA LELO MCCJ
As it has traditionally been done, when circumstances favour, this year, on the 01/May/ 2018, the feast of St Joseph the Worker, so dear to the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, who, like St Joseph, see themselves being called to speak less and preach the gospel by the example of their lives in the concrete situations through the various services they carry out among their brothers and sisters, among whom they live as brothers, companions and servants in a world that is becoming more consumeristic with an ever increasing degradation of moral and anthropological values defended with a wrong understanding of freedom; in such an environment, the scholastics here at St Daniel Comboni scholasticate, in a joyful and gratuitous mood renewed their commitment to witness to the gospel of Jesus, Poor, Chaste and Obedient, in the footsteps of St Daniel Comboni.
One needs only to live in the geographical space surrounding this scholasticate, and to encounter the people in their day to day lives to understand the radicality of the choice to live poor, chaste and obedient in such an environment.
Quite a respectable number of invited guests turned up for the celebration, although, perhaps due to other duties, many arrived when the mass had already started. But even among those who attended the mass, it was easy to see that a majority seemed not to understand exactly what was happening as the language, particularly at the very moment of the renewal of the vows, was unlike the language of the contemporary world. This paused a challenge to us, and perhaps to all religious out there, to try as much as possible to explain our identity to the people we minister to.
It is possible that in the name of living a simple life, we religious and missionaries do not make our identity intelligible to the people, and yet, in my view, this is important particularly in vocation promotion, in which many young people ask questions that need answers, not just by seeing the life of priests and religious, but by having this life explained to them in dialogue. St Francis would say, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words’. I think the sign of our time demands that we not only live a Josephite example of preaching by our life while doing little to use words to explain who we are to people. In our time, this only leaves people wondering at how able-bodied young men and women, capable of being ‘productive’ to the world, can choose to live all their lives without children of their own (chastity/celibacy), choosing poverty rather than riches, and worse still, giving their will to the ‘direction’ of other people (obedience) when in fact they are free to do whatever they wish with their lives.
Making the vocation to the priesthood and religious life intelligible to people is even more important in explaining the inevitability of the scandals that priests and religious sometimes are involved in because of human weakness. Such a thing cannot be explained in any way except in words, and this, today, is one of the frequently asked questions by young people in the vocation promotion ministry, just as much as it is a common question asked by people generally.
Coming back to the celebration, the gratuity of our ceremony was even increased by the fact that the community participated in giving thanks to God for a gift that he bestowed on one of our elder brothers, Fr Joseph Ngumba Lelo, who, in the previous week, had graduated as Doctor of Philosophy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This was yet another example of intellectual witness necessary for a religious proclaiming the Good News in the 21st Century.
We are grateful to God for having continuously shown us his love and mercy by making us undeservedly sharers in his mission of bringing the Good News to the world. And as we thank all our brothers and sisters who joined us as witnesses to this, our conscious and demanding choice, we pray that this witness may be a potent invitation to the Christians to participate in vocation promotion and a moment of inspiration to the young people among whom we live, to come out in the midst of the external resistance of the world to say Yes to the inner call to this noble mission, for which God unceasingly raises labourers irrespective of the attitude of the world; ‘And remember, I am with you always, yes, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
By Scholastic Augustine Epieru MCCJ.