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On International Day of Human Fraternity, Cleric in Zimbabwe Reflects on Friendship Value

Logo of the International Day of Human Fraternity

On the occasion of the first International Day of Human Fraternity marked Thursday, February 4, a Cleric in Zimbabwe has underscored the worthiness of friendship amid “pandemic and psycho-spiritual dryness.”

In his reflection, Fr. Limukani Ndlovu says that friends are important at all times and that “having a true friend makes our lives easier and full of happiness even in the face of the pandemic.”

Laying emphasis on the need for friendships, Fr. Ndlovu adds that it helps “us find purpose and meaning, stay healthy, and live longer.”

In his reflection obtained by ACI Africa, the Cleric describes friendship as “the most beautiful gift you can present to anyone.”

“Good companions will know when life is rosy and be by one’s side through difficulties,” he says, adding that friends “provide shoulders to cry on, to lean on and kindness that does not need to be repaid.”

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He continues, “Your real friends will stay by your side through thick and thin.”

Instituted by the UN on 21 December 2020, the International Day of Human Fraternity aims at underlining the importance of raising awareness about different religions, beliefs, cultures and the promotion of tolerance. 

The designation of the Day was inspired by the 2019 signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Comparing true friendship to sound health whose value is rarely appreciated until it is lost, Fr. Ndlovu explains, “We tend to neglect our friendships when we get busy. We spoil our friendship when we tend to be manipulative and too much expectant.”

“We defile our friendship when we do not offer our friends in prayer. Strong friendships are as important for yourself as diet and exercise are to your well-being, and so it is something you need to prioritize,” the Cleric of Zimbabwe’s Bulawayo Archdiocese says in his message published by the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA).

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He goes on to caution against being “too busy for a friend.”

“If you care, you will make time because the bond of all companionship in friendship is conversation or dialogue,” Fr. Ndlovu says.

He adds, “Friendship should not remain at the level of words, but we need gradual cultivation of friendships among ourselves. It is a gift which we should always celebrate and a flower that we should always offer at the altar.”

The Director of Emthonjeni Pastoral Centre in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo adds that genuine friendship is “a lifelong endeavor and people should always pay attention to it at all points in life.” 

He further advises parents to talk to their children about the value of friendship and model their children to be good companions. 

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“Parents and guardians should not be full of messages about achievement, success, prosperity and not as many messages about what it means to be a good friend,” the Cleric says and remarks, “The importance of friendship has been hiding in plain sight.”

Making reference to Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Fr. Ndlovu says, “Universal fraternity and social friendship are two inseparable and equally vital poles in every society. To separate them would be to disfigure each and to create a dangerous polarization.”