, 29 January, 2020 / 1:59 AM
Following the cancellation of the peace march by the Catholic Archdiocese of Abidjan in Ivory Coast that had been slated to take place in mid-February over security concerns, a priest from the west African country has described the search for peace in his native country as “far from being a tangible reality.”
“It is unfortunate to see that a simple peaceful march, and moreover praying for peace, has hatched from the bottom of hearts a lot of hatred and prepared minds for unparalleled violence. Fr. Donald Zagore who ministers in neighboring Togo said in a reflection sent to ACI Africa Monday, January 27.
Given this situation, the Ivorian cleric said, “it should be honestly recognized that peace in Côte d'Ivoire is far from being a tangible reality.”
Last week, the Archbishop of Abidjan, Jean Pierre Cardinal Kutwa announced the February 15 peace march under the theme, "Let us go towards peace" aimed at praying for the upcoming presidential elections in October.
However, on Sunday, January 26, the Archbishop, in a communique signed by the Communications Officer of the Archdiocese, Fr. Augustin Obrou, announced the cancellation of the march.
The communique reads in part, “Faced with the dangers of infiltration and concerned about security of his faithful, his Eminence requests that this day of prayer be held exclusively within the Saint Paul Cathedral of the Plateau.”
According to Fr. Zagore, a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA), “It is sad to see our peoples continually being suppressed in the expression of their rights to have their voices heard. This situation is the very expression of the lack of democracy suffered by several African countries like Côte d'Ivoire.”
In his view, the hearts of his compatriots “are still heavy, full of hatred and quick to violence.”
Considering this state, the African missionary cleric cautioned, “as long as we have violence as a means of expression and governance, we will never succeed in building democratic states, states of rights in which the rights of peoples are expressed and respected in complete safety.”
The relationship between the Catholic Church in the West African country and the government is a strained one, with the latter accusing the former of taking sides on national matters.
At the end of their 114th Plenary Assembly held on January 13-19, 2020, the Prelates raised concerns over the socio-political status in the country ahead of the October presidential elections, a move that was not well received by a section of the government.
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