The Second Day
The seminar was very interactive, relevant and significant to the Church in Africa as various African ethicists engaged themselves in a continued conversation with the Second African Synod on Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. The first day of the seminar reflected on the meaning of reconciliation to the Church in Africa. This led us to the second day, Wednesday 22 August 2012, on which the presenters and panelists engaged the participants on the topic of Peace. Victor Adangba served as the first presenter while Alison Munro, Nathaniel Soede absent but represented by Ngah Solange, and Anne Oyier served as responders. The moving conversation with Archbishop John Onaiyekan, the archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, Nigeria, moderated by Teresia Hinga reminded us that the sources of our conflict in Africa may not be religious as such; rather it is a conflict over resources and overlapping interests. It is worth noting that the seven African women under the CTEWC scholarship actively contributed to the lively discussions.
What became apparent in this day is the need to find a workable mode that would guide us towards achievable and lasting peace amidst our diverse concerns in the region. A theology of peace that characterized the Early Christian Community seem inevitable if peace is to become a reality in Africa. This then calls for a deeper evangelization of the African culture as well as an inculturation of the Gospel and a new understanding of church as the family of God that embodies the peace brought about by our elder brother and Master Jesus Christ.
A reflection on the state of peace in the continent calls into question how we live out our African virtue of hospitality. Hospitality is understood as welcoming the other known to be different; receiving someone from outside to enrich the one welcoming is but a necessity in our pursuit of peace. Peace understood as tranquility in good order as presented by Archbishop Onaiyekan has been and still is the cry and the subject of our many discussions and seminars in Africa and indeed in the world church. This perspective of peace bears fruit when it translates into listening, hearing, and allowing the other to be received and vice versa. Since peace transcends age, gender, ethnicity and religion, the need to protect the vulnerable such as the women, children and people with disabilities or those living with HIV/AIDS is for the common good. Critical analysis showed that there is need to break the silence on violence and to work for peace without hiding behind our culture.
Our quest for peace calls for serious dialogue that involves various persons at the Small Christian community to diverse groups. It was encouraging to note that the Church in Africa is aware that she is the family of God with internal conflicts yet full of hope. This was beautifully brought out by a moving conversation with Archbishop Onaiyekan about his work with our Islam brothers and sisters in Nigeria.
An update about CTEWC scholarship by Linda Hogan, A. E. Orobator and Jim Keenan highlighted the need for African women ethicists and moral theologians in the region. The second day ended with an encouraging meeting between the CTEWC Planning Committee and recipients the of CTEWC scholarship. The insightful and open sharing from the planning committee members created a conducive atmosphere for the African women under scholarship to share their own experiences about their lives and their studies.