Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
As the New Year 2021 begins, President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has called on all people to develop the spirit of unity and togetherness so as to be committed to care for one another.
In a statement circulated to the regional conferences on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, the SECAM President Philippe Nakellentuba Cardinal Ouédraogo said, “In this New Year 2021, let each one of us commit himself/herself to true brotherhood/sisterhood, fraternity, solidarity and care for one another everywhere on the continent and Islands; after all these are values common in every African traditional society.”
He acknowledged that health and other challenges experienced in 2020 led to a “traumatic year for numerous people across the continent with effects such as “Violent conflicts, terrorist attacks and other intolerable adversities which were experienced in a couple of African countries.”
“Throughout the Year 2020, the people of Africa, the surrounding Islands and beyond battled with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its devastating and tragic effects,” Cardinal Ouédraogo who is the Local Ordinary of Burkina Faso’s Ouagadougou Archdiocese disclosed adding that this “resulted to the untimely deaths of several family members or loved ones.”
Giving reference to Pope Francis’ message in his latest Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti published last year in the month of October, the Cardinal told the people of the African continent and the Islands, that the global health emergency experienced during the Year 2020, has demonstrated that “no one can face life in isolation” and that the time has truly come to dream as a single human family” in which we are all “brothers and sisters.”
Cardinal Ouédraogo also called on political leaders to commit themselves to “a better kind of politics” towards peace and development in Africa and the Islands which he acknowledges to be a valuable form of charity and which at the service of the common good, recognizes the importance of people and protects jobs as highlighted in Fratelli Tutti.
“We call on them to build better health systems and infrastructure, including the introduction of insurance health care coverage for all the people, and to ensure that the Covid-19 vaccines coming to Africa and the Islands are safe and effective,” the Cardinal said while addressing politicians in his New Year message.
He also appealed to all perpetrators of violent conflicts and terrorist attacks everywhere on the continent and beyond to “lay down their arms and seek to resolve all conflicts through mutual dialogue (since) the Year 2021 should be one of peace.”
In conclusion, the Cardinal expressed solidarity with all those infected by Covid-19 and offer condolences to families who have lost their loved ones.
“To those suffering from one kind of depravity or the other, we say again ‘courage’ brothers and sisters; do not give in to despair; continue to pray and wait for God’s time. Be assured that the Church – Family of God in Africa – accompanies you in her daily prayers and addresses supplications to Jesus, the Incarnate Word for you to live in peace and in good health,” he said.