Sr. Praxides Nafula. Credit: Paulines Publications Africa
Published on March 14, a day after Pope Francis celebrated the 10th anniversary of his Pontificate, the book is a special memoir for the people of God in Africa to go back to and remember the encounters between the Holy Father and the people of God in DRC and South Sudan.
“We want to keep the history of the richness of the Holy Father’s messages. The book adds to our Papal documents,” Sr. Praxides said, adding, “There are times when people wish to quote Papal messages but lack the materials to quote. This is where we come in, to make the materials available”.
This is not the first time that Paulines Publications Africa has kept a record of Papal messages in Africa. When Pope Francis visited Uganda, Kenya, and Central African Republic (CAR) in 2015, the Daughters of St. Paul published a book which, Sr. Praxides says, went viral.
“It was a time that Kenya was just coming out of elections, and Pope Francis’ message on corruption touched so many people,” she said, and added, “We sold so many copies around that time. And that gave us a reason to know that Pope Francis’ messages are very much appreciated. It is not just something that comes and goes. People keep it at heart and always go back to recall the messages.”
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Making reference to the caution against the “slippery road to anarchy” in Kenya that members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) made in their March 18 collective statement, She further said, “Even now, we see Bishops in Kenya making reference to the messages of Pope Francis in DRC and South Sudan when they talk about social issues in the country.”
The book is an initiative of several people, including Bishop Christian Carlassare of the Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan, Daughters of St. Paul Novices from DRC, and Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla of the Association for Catholic Information in Africa (ACI Africa).
“Bishop Carlassare and Fr. Don Bosco helped us to get the materials and French versions of the testimonies, which were later translated by our novices from DRC,” she said, adding that the FSP members started compiling the book immediately after the Holy Father concluded his third pastoral visit to Sub-Saharan Africa.
The book is a good resource for leaders in all circles, be they political or religious. It can also be used by ordinary people, Sr. Praxides said, adding, “The book gives testimonies of people affected by war, floods, and by various calamities. It can be used as a tool for reflection when praying for these people.”
The book, she went on to say, is a handbook for dialogue for countries such as Kenya where there is political turbulence.
Sr. Praxides explained, “Pope Francis talks extensively about the importance of dialogue in solving disputes. Kenyans can read the messages the Holy Father had for DRC and South Sudan and see that they don't need to get to where these troubled countries are now.”
The Directress of the Paulines Publications Africa said that while working on the book, Pope Francis’ message on peace and reconciliation, as well as his message to those exploiting Africa, stood out for her.
“Pope Francis says that nobody can work for our peace. We are the ones to work for our own peace,” she told ACI Africa during the March 23 interview.
Credit: Paulines Publications Africa
To underscore the Holy Father’s message about peace in Africa, the Kenyan-born FSP member recalled the 11 April 2019 dramatic gesture when Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the country’s opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, among others.
She explained, “The Holy Father follows the South Sudanese leaders to their country, hoping that things have worked for peace. He finds that the country is still troubled. His gesture of kissing their feet doesn't move them. Whatever he does, without the leaders putting in the effort, amounts to nothing. That is why he says that it is only we who can work for our peace.”
Pope Francis’ message about foreign expatriates who come to exploit the continent of Africa also stands out for the Catholic Nun who recalled the Holy Father’s first speech in DRC when he addressed DRC’s authorities, representatives of the civil society and members of the diplomatic corps.
Credit: Paulines Publications Africa
“Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” Sr. Praxides recalled the Holy Father’s message of January 31, noting that this is a very powerful message.
“He uses very strong terms,” she says, and adds, “Unfortunately, it is not just foreigners, but our own citizens as well who collaborate with foreigners out of their own selfish interests. This kind of exploitation is the source of all kinds of problems that Africa experiences.”
The book can be found in all Paulines Publications Africa bookshops in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, South Sudan, and Sudan; and can also be purchased digitally.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.