, 11 December, 2019 / 10:33 PM
As Catholics around the world entered into the second week of the new liturgical year, preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and for his second coming, a Bishop in Gabon has, in a message of the Advent Season, made a distress call expressing concerns about the political and economic situation of the West African nation and urged citizens including the political leaders not to sell their motherland for selfish interests.
“Never mortgage "our common home", our motherland; do not skin it, do not sell it, but protect our motherland. Selling the entire motherland and/or skinning it for the sale of its parts is a seriously reprehensible act of high treason, it is the most abject of decisions, the most unfortunate of all businesses,” Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan of Gabon’s Mouila diocese who is at the helm of Bishops’ Conference said in a statement read in all parishes Sunday, December 8.
“The sale or mortgage of the motherland is worse than slavery. We can only skin and/or sell the Mother if and only if we are not a true child of the Mother, or if we are a very unworthy child of this Mother,” Bishop Madega remarked in his statement and urged all in his diocese to “be true and very worthy children of Gabon, ''our common home'', our only Motherland, our Country.”
According to the Prelate, "It is urgent to secure both the territory and the population, and the institutionalized power. This is the beautiful and imperative role of the institutionalized power itself. For if at least one of these three elements is neglected or distorted, or if it undergoes a degradation, then a state decay becomes predictable, even inevitable."
Gabon has been the scene of political uncertainty in recent times after President Ali Bongo suffered a stroke in October 2018 while in Saudi Arabia.
During his extended absence, the army quashed an apparent attempted coup by a small group of renegade soldiers to topple his regime.
In May 2019, Ali Bongo sacked his vice president and minister of forests after a scandal erupted over the smuggling of precious timber in the country, three-quarters of which is forested.
Ten members of Gabon's political opposition, civil society and trade union movement also filed a suit requesting that President Bongo be assessed for medical fitness to continue holding office.
In a latest development, President Bongo Monday, December 9, controversially appointed his eldest son Noureddin Bongo, as "coordinator of presidential affairs" a move that has made critics and opposition parties to accuse the Bongo family of “wanting to turn the presidency into an 'inheritance' and prepping Noureddin Bongo to take over power from his ailing father.
Ali Bongo took over power in 2009 from his father, Omar Bongo who had ruled the West African country for 42 years.
Against this backdrop, Bishop Madega has, in a 12-point statement based on Sacred Scripture and employing a probing approach, called on his compatriots to “reject the blindness of the heart and intelligence that seeks profit in the immediate future without thinking about tomorrow.”
“Where would you be today if your forefathers had consciously sold your land?” The Gabonese Prelate probed and added, “You have only one true Motherland, Gabon, ‘our common home.’”
According to the Church leader, “those who give in to the temptation to sell and those who give in to the temptation to buy the golden goose that is our country Gabon, know that the illustrious ancestors of this country, who were not nomads but sedentary, are jealous of their land of rest: they will not accept this bad transaction, this extreme treason.”
“Respect these ancestors who left you a beautiful country. And if necessary, ask their forgiveness; then you will be blessed by Jesus Christ,” he stated.
“If Gabon still wants to be a sovereign state, let its sons and daughters exercise its sovereignty according to the Royalty and Lordship of Jesus Christ,” he said, and continued referencing the political class, “they must neither mortgage its land and maritime space that constitute its territory delimited by borders, nor share it as a birthday cake or a celebration of a funeral.”
The Local ordinary of Gabon’s Mouila diocese also urged the institutional power “not be a wind vane driven by the wind, nor a "clerk" of invisible hands nor a set of adventurers constituting a kind of spontaneous capricious generation.”
In his view, “Power should be credible and accepted first by the populations it is supposed to represent and serve, then by both internal and external observers and by brotherly powers.”
“The population of Gabon must not be bullied, brutalized, dispossessed of its land, manipulated, despised or sold, but a population firmly constituted by the cement of brotherly love, by the bond of peace in truth and turned towards the future with realistic hope,” Bishop Madega emphasized in his 12-point statement.
“A population that is struggling to see the tangible results of its state's debt, while the same state is asking it to make Herculean efforts,” he wondered and further probed, “Indeed, would it be normal to constantly ask people who are already suffering, fragile, to donate blood and at the same time demand that they work more? Isn't that a way to schedule their deaths?”
He continued, “How can we multiply and increase taxes while maintaining or reducing fixed wages, without any visible concrete impact on the daily lives of rural and urban populations? Is this not a mathematical way of programming the misery of the population, and making them mass slave to a "new type of oligarchy"?
“May the empty slogans, false advertisements and fleeting distractions give way to an awareness of what Gabon really is today, with a view to an effective start in sovereignty and patriotism and a good commitment for the real happiness of the entire population,” the Gabonese Prelate concluded.
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