, 17 October, 2020 / 5:30 PM
A member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Cameroon who has embarked on a 200-kilometre pilgrimage says he has dedicated the spiritual initiative to efforts toward dialogue, peace and reconciliation in the Anglophone regions of the Central African nation, which have experienced violent conflict since 2016.
In a message shared with ACI Africa Monday, October 12, Fr. Ludovic Lado said that in walking from the nation’s economic capital, Douala, to the political capital, Yaoundé, he will be praying for a return to peace in the troubled regions in Cameroon during the 200-kilometre journey.
“I am walking to pray and plead on the one hand for dialogue, justice, peace and reconciliation in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon and on the other hand to do penance for the reparation of crimes against human dignity committed in these regions,” Fr. Ludovic says.
He adds, “I walk so that human blood stops flowing in our country. I walk in solidarity with internally displaced and the refugees of this useless war. I walk to exorcise in me and in us the demon of indifference.”
According to a Catholic media report, in August, Fr. Ludovic promised to conduct a pilgrimage for peace in October if the deadlock in the two Anglophone regions remains unbroken.
“As the Anglophone crisis goes wild, dialogue, justice, reconciliation and peace remain the keywords for a lasting solution,” the Jesuit Cleric has been quoted as saying.
He added in reference to the protracted conflict, “This is what we have been saying since the beginning of this tragedy which sinks deeper every day into the horror that crucifies women and children before our very eyes. My faith as a Christian, priest, prophet and king forbids me to be indifferent. Our indifference has become a collective sin.”
In his October 12 statement, the Cameroonian Cleric says that he has embarked on the pilgrimage so that citizens of the Central African nation “may again freely exercise their constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate.”
The Anglophone crisis started in 2016 after a demonstration by lawyers and teachers turned violent. Since then, over 679,000 people have been displaced, more than 600,000 children have not been able to go to school in the two regions, and more than 3,000 lives have been lost.
A national dialogue called by the government in 2019 failed to put an end to the crisis. Several demonstrators have also been arrested in different parts of the country.
Referring to the September 22 protests against the 38-year leadership of President Paul Biya and where several demonstrators including journalists and members of the opposition party in Cameroon were arrested, Fr. Ludovic says upon arriving in Yaoundé, he will pay a “brotherly visit to M. Bibou Nissack detained in the infamous cells of police.”
“All arrested should be freed,” the Jesuit Priest says and clarifies, “Even though I am a staunch defender of power change as an indicator of any healthy democracy, I am not walking to chase anybody from power. It is not my role but that of politicians.”
In the October 12 statement, Fr. Ludovic further says that his pilgrimage, which is inspired by the Christian values of peace, dialogue, justice, reconciliation, brotherhood is guided by a verse in the Biblical of Genesis ‘Where is your brother?’ – a question that God put to Cain who had just killed his brother Abel.
“Yes, where are our north-west and south-west brothers and sisters?” the Priest probes queries.
He attempts to respond to his query saying, “Some died, often in atrocious conditions; others remained in the country but are dispersed in our towns and countryside, often at our doors; still others have taken refuge outside the country. Most are in the North-west and South-west where their dignity is tested daily by precariousness.”
In the face of all of the crisis, Fr. Ludovic says that as a pastor, he is unable to rest, therefore, undertaking the pilgrimage which “I offer to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, justice, reconciliation and mercy, like the five loaves and two fishes of the apostles in the Holy Scriptures (Lc 9, 16). He will do with it whatever he wants.”
The climax of the pilgrimage that kicked off October 10 will be to fundraise towards the education of internally displaced children in the warring regions of Cameroon, he says.
“By sponsoring a step of my pilgrimage, you offer an exercise book or a book to an internally displaced child,” says the Cleric.
He seeks solidarity saying, “I beg you to pray for me that my offering may be pleasing to God like that of Abel and that this fratricidal war which is violating human dignity can finally come to an end and give way to peace negotiations and reconciliation work.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa