“Forgive us, grant that the guns be silent, a sweet song may rise”: SECAM President to AU

Poster of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: February 9-10, 2020 under the theme, “Silencing arms to create conditions conducive to the development of Africa.”

At the two-day Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) that concluded Monday, February 10, the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Philippe Cardinal Nakellentuba Ouédraogo highlighted some of the challenges bedeviling the people of God on the continent and, in his prayer, implored God for forgiveness and the renewal of hope.

“God, our Father, we thank you for creating us in your image and likeness, and for creating us to be each other’s keeper. Thank you for the numerous African resources, both human and otherwise,” Cardinal Ouédraogo started his prayer before the Heads of States in Africa and their delegates.

He continued, “We turn to you descendants of Adam, begging for forgiveness for killing one another, either out of sheer hatred, or for ethnic, social, political, or religious reasons. It is precisely for these reasons that there is violence everywhere on the continent.”

Referencing the first murder recorded in the Holy Scriptures when Cain killed his brother Abel, the Burkinabe Prelate mentioned in his prayer, “As the blood of Abel so cried out to you, so is the blood of our brothers and sisters killed innocently crying out to you.”

“Forgive us, the sins we have committed against each other,” the Cardinal implored.


The AU’s 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government opened Sunday, February 9 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa under the theme, “Silencing arms to create conditions conducive to the development of Africa.”

Referencing the theme of the Summit, the 75-year-old Cardinal prayed to God to “grant that the guns be silent so that a sweet song of hope and trust may rise up to you in every corner of our African Land.”

“We further beg that you help us all to turn to Christ, the architect of peace,” the Cardinal entreated, praying for “a peace linked to his (God’s) redeeming work; peace that touches and illuminates every person afflicted by suffering and violence so that all of us without exception will embrace solidarity, selflessness, dialogue, and work towards justice, equity, reconciliation, mutual acceptance, and peace as members of one family.”

“We make our prayer through Christ our Lord, Amen,” the Cardinal concluded.

Addressing the annual gathering of 55 African nations at the Summit on Sunday, February 9, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres described the challenges facing the African continent as “complex, multi-faceted and far-reaching.”

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However, the UN head noted, a “collective, comprehensive and coordinated” approach toward solutions by the global community can go a long way in building on the existent momentum to facilitate success stories on the continent.

In April 2017, the UN Secretary-General and the AU Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat signed a memorandum of understanding, “a new landmark framework” aimed at strengthening the partnership between the two organizations on peace and security matters in view of responding in a coordinated fashion, “the changing dimensions and evolving challenges of peace operations,” UN News reported.  

“Through combined efforts, coordinated approaches and renewed commitment to multilateralism”, the UN Secretary-General has been quoted as saying on Sunday and adding, “we can continue Africa’s undoubted upward momentum. I reiterate my full commitment to continue working closely with you to ensure we achieve the Africa we want as set out by Agenda 2063 and truly silence the guns forever.”  

The Church in Africa has been instrumental in promoting peace and security in various parts of the continent, one of the latest initiatives being the Sahel Peace Initiative, a partnership between Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Church in West Africa.

The initiative has the aim of raising awareness of the Sahel crisis, and to mobilize funding for humanitarian and development programs in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.


Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla is ACI Africa’s founding Editor-in-Chief. He was formed in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), and later incardinated in Rumbek Diocese, South Sudan. He has a PhD in Media Studies from Daystar University in Kenya, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Marist College, New York, USA.