The First Day
After Mass and words of welcome from Agbonkianmeghe Orobator andJim James, five presenters followed. Elias Omondi Opongo showed how any company needs the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation but that after the second African Synod, he stressed the need to take into account the traditional practices and rites whose purpose was to restore justice and reconciliation. Richard Rwita reaffirmed that peace is not just the absence of war and that all cultural resources must be harnessed to achieve genuine reconciliation. For Kifle Wansamo there are certainly several kinds of violence, but any reconciliation requires dialogue and collaboration; there is no real reconciliation with justice only, without the dimension of forgiveness. For his part, Elisha Rutagambwa recalled that the proclamation of the Gospel in Africa must go hand in hand with the promotion of justice and reconciliation; he noted also that justice restores order, but does not heal the wounds of the victims. After referring to the ongoing conflicts in Africa, Anozie Onyema showed the importance for Christians to both the sacrament of reconciliation, which helps to restore harmony with Christ, and the issue of compensation: what was stolen, needs to be rendered. He concluded that we must address the root causes of sin and conflict.
These interventions were followed by exchanges between participants. There was the testimony of Archbishop John Baptist Odama. Based on his contacts with the Lord’s Resistance Army, (LRA) in his country, Uganda, he has shown that the Church should not merely support those in power, it must also speak to the opposition and the rebels; far from simply denouncing the evil, it must engage wholeheartedly in the process of reconciliation.
In the afternoon, Pete Henriot has shown the necessary link between the charity that pays attention to the poor and justice which involves the establishment of social, economic and political right. David Kaulemu recalled that the Church whose role is to promote moral values must also become a source of hope. Anne Arabome particularly drew attention to the participation of women in the reconciliation process and argued to promote the presence of women in all sectors of life. Philomena Mwaura stressed the need for the Church to train people to denounce injustice and violence. Peter-John Pearson returned to the need to combine efforts to promote justice, which is a common task. Finally, after some discussion, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala ended the day by providing evidence on the practice of justice in his country, South Sudan.
Overall, this was my first participation in an international conference outside my country (I could not attend Trento). With the assistance of CTEWC, Nairobi has been for me a source of great joy. I thank the organizers for allowing us the opportunity to meet them all together and to attend this conference with its high theological quality. Everything happened in solidarity and respect. The testimonies were very rewarding. Having the conference in French and English set the norm for future meetings.