“If evangelization has been successful in West Africa, it is because there were dedicated Catechists there,” Fr. Soyoye says in the January 25 report.
Recalling the opposition that a section of Catechists went through in the hands of indigenous people, Fr. Soyoye says, “They were not always accepted by the followers of indigenous religions. Some of them lost their lives because of this opposition.”
Other countries that the SMA member has served as a missionary include Egypt, Benin, and then Lyon in France where he founded the “Meeting point of African cultures” with other confreres, as well as directing the SMA African Museum.
Agenzia Fides reports that it was in Lyon that Fr. Soyoye realized that in Africa the task of collecting and preserving the memories of the life of the African church is not taken seriously enough as the missionaries did during the colonial era.
Making reference to archives in Europe in which Church history is documented, the Catholic Priest says, “Without this instrument, African scholars can hardly do well-documented historical and theological work.”
He says that he has come across the work of some African researchers, which was not appealing because they could not access the archives for more information to include in their final work.
“I have attended conferences and colloquia and seen the poverty of some work by African researchers who did not have access to archives,” the 58-year-old Catholic missionary says in the January 25 report.
He further says that he was compelled by the work of the researchers to launch the project that provides an archive mainly in digital form focusing on the post-colonial period.
Fr. Soyoye says that the archive project, which he started in 2021 on his return to Benin stores church materials, which he says include collecting, through video-interviews, stories of the African faith, written or oral information on monuments, religious institutes, and significant events of the Catholic Church in Africa.”
Fr. Soyoye has already started working on collecting testimonies of the life of Catholic Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, Catechists, lay people, who have seen the African Church flourish in these 40-50 years and whose generation is now beginning to disappear.