Kigali

Testimonies from Young People

Africa hope

Nicolas Noudjiadji, a young man from Chad, shares his experience and his reflection on the need to create again and again new links between the continents, whereas the different societies and the international situation do not stop evolving and the temptation to fall back can spring up again on different sides. The baptised share the awareness of a fraternity that transcends all the frontiers and particularities. This confers on them a capacity but also a responsibility to render visible the unity of the human family. If they were to forget this hope “under the bushel”, this would leave the way open to the sole spirit of competition that can go as far as violence. The pilgrimage of trust on earth and its stage in Kigali wish to contribute to supporting this awareness and hope among the young.

Most people who know Africa through the media know only the wars, the repeated famines, the sickness and the corruption, in short “negative Africa”. We young Africans must recognise that this, although sometimes very exaggerated, does describe a part of the reality. For it is a secret for nobody that Africa has lived and continues to live in war: in Sudan (Darfour, Kordofan), in South Sudan (between tribes and ethnic groups), in Somalia, in Niger (armed conflicts and successive coups d’état), in Mali, Chad, Mauritania, to name only these. Added to these is the post electoral violence… With several hundred millions of square kilometres of cultivable land, Africa is still struggling to feed decently its population, a population wounded by generations of sickness. To crown everything, Africa holds the record in terms of corruption. Seven of the ten most corrupt countries are in Africa. All this unfortunately gives the impression to the outside world that Africa has sunk for good into chaos and desolation.

All this certainly does not make Africa and Africans proud. But I am not sceptical about the future of Africa. I am one of those who see Africa profound, alive, acting and even happy. Yes there is war, famine, sickness, but there are also things that are more beautiful and stronger. Joy, patience, welcome, hope and faith; Africa is these too. We must render all these riches more visible, more accessible, and more tangible. To do this we have to – not enumerate our problems, seek to escape from them, or ignore them – but interiorise them and still more face them with courage and with trust.

It is true that we live in a world where everything goes quickly and the Western world fascinates us to such a point that we want Africa to resemble Europe or the USA right away. In itself, this is not a bad thing, for it shows how much we wish to see Africa prosperous. However, let us not forget that our countries only exist as free states on an average of fifty years. So we must arm ourselves with patience.

When I came home after spending a year in France, among the young people I know very few gave me words of trust and hope. For many, it was this kind of words: “Why did you come back? Don’t you see that everybody is trying to get away from this country?” Or “You should go away again for here it’s a real pain, misery and no hope for us…” What hurt me most of all was when one of them said to me “This is the twelfth station; the people are nailed. Do you want to get yourself nailed along with them?” He was referring to the twelfth station of the way of the Cross. I was completely overwhelmed in my own country. Thankfully, everything is not over even when we think we have lost everything. A friend gave me courage again and trust in my country and in life when he told me, “To live is to hope, and to hope is to act. As long as you live and wherever you live, you have to live in the hope of a tomorrow that you do not know, and act with joy and a good heart.” So, let us act, we who hope and trust in the people of Africa so that our brothers who despair may find once more trust in themselves, in Africa and live.

But how do we act? With 54 states, Africa is a big continent. The economic, social, and political contexts of our respective countries are not the same, yet the young people are confronted with the same realities. I am convinced that each young African, wherever he or she is, is seeking to improve their situation and advance towards a future which they wish to conceive of themselves. However, we will certainly be stronger in the face of our common difficulties, if we act in common with others. Common actions certainly require unity. This is certainly not at all impossible, but to attain unity it is important to talk to one another; to speak to one another in a language that is frank and fraternal. There will be no question of accusing one another, of judging or condemning, but, finding support in the past and being clear about the present, projecting ourselves with assurance towards a future that will be a common dream. It is true that this is like walking on a thorny path. But as we go forward with faith, this path will lead us to life, the life of our brothers, and the life of God.

Africa is without any doubt a land of faith. We must live all things, happy or unhappy, in hope; a hope that is alive and that acts. For this, trust in Africa and in ourselves is necessary.

I was questioned personally by the Taizé Community’s choice of Rwanda. I see a message in this choice. A message addressed to young Africans. Eighteen years ago, Rwanda was in a very painful situation. At the time no one could have imagined that Rwanda would become what it is today where it is quoted as one of the examples of the process of sustainable development. In coming to Kigali in Rwanda, we come with joy, and we want also to share this joy with the others, be they Africans or not. We are preparing to welcome the joy of others which perhaps will manifest itself not in the same way as ours, but it is always the same joy.

The message of this meeting is to bring back hope to young Africans. We have to understand that the sun that shines above us is the sun of God and it is under this same sun that people have committed errors. And it is likewise under this same sun that we can repair these errors.

From now on, the West is changing its discourse on Africa; that Africa is the hope of the world. I think that it is for Africa to hope. And the hope of Africa is the hope of its youth.

And may our prayers accompany our hope.

Nicolas


An opportunity for unity and to meet others

As well as praying that all goes well with the preparations for the meeting in Kigali, I’m also trying to encourage our young people here in Bukavu to take part in big numbers, not just two or three, but lots - because Rwanda is not far away and some of them also have relatives in Rwanda.

Lets pray, too, that this meeting can be an occasion for unity and for getting to know each other better in the Great Lakes region because, as you know, the brothers and sisters of this region continue to kill each other (e.g. the massacre of 40 people by a militia in South Kivu in January), hate each other and show hypocrisy when speaking about reconciliation. That’s really the great illness that is killing our region. I think that once these tensions are resolved everyone will be happy because Rwandan corn will be eaten in Congo and the wealth of the Congo will be shared with its neighbours. From there - there will no longer be traumas or relationship breakdown, the family will be respected and we will discover the joy of living for others.

At the moment I am in Bukavu for my studies and I’m also doing research.

yours, united in prayer,

Pierrot CHAMBU, Democratic Republic of Congo

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