NOTEBOOKS INSTEAD OF RIFLES
Thanks to Polish soldiers it was possible to save many human beings in my country – says archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga to ‘Sunday’, the chair of the Episcopal in the Central-African Republic
The Central-African Republic lies in the very heart of Africa. This country twice bigger than Poland has been oppressed by wars and coups for sixty years. After the last turnover in 2013 the situation of the Christians looks dramatic. However, the Church is the place where they find mutual support in faith and help from priests. – In the cathedral over 1 thousand people sleep, in other churches – up to 5 thousand. People are scared because they are between two fires. We hear that the Christians are at the target. I am scared of night of long knives – says Fr. The prior Beni Mbanga from the capital archdiocese of Bangua.
A fight for the power, not for religion
Although in the Central-African Republic there were more coups than presidential elections form the time of independence, it is the first time the country has had such a weak power. The country with the population of 4.5 million inhabitants is involved in crimes and revenge. The first cause of the conflict has its source in the interference of foreigners. – Once there were not any problems between the Muslims and the Christians – says archbishop Nzapalainga. – These are, first of all, foreign tenants and gangs of thieves who bear responsibility for rapes, tortures, thefts, looting and destructions.
Because the government does not react to the crimes committed by Seleka (an African Muslim organization), the Christians are, in fact, treated as ‘illegal’. The former dictator of the Republic – Djotodia says that there is no control over rebels but it was with the help of Seleka that he gained the power in the country, whose population is only 15 per cent of the Muslims. What is more, 80 per cent of them are foreigners.
In August 2013 the Central-African Republic was acknowledged by the UNO as a collapsed country. At present there is a civil war between Muslim militias (Seleka) and the Christian militias (Antybalaka). – It is not a conflict on the religious background. None of the parties is fighting either for the Bible, or the Koran. They want the power and profits connected with it – archbishop Nzapalainga emphasizes.
Stopping the revenge
Much concern is caused by the fact of appearing of the militia, called Anti-balaka. Bishops condemn violence from both parties, Archbishop Nzapalainga also stands in defence of the Muslim society. – I condemn the attack on the parish of Our Lady of Africa but also the massacre and the profanation of the mosque – emphasizes the chair of the episcopate, who arrived in Poland to the invitation of the Polish section of the organization Help to the Church in Need. The archbishop has been opting for a dialogue and peaceful solving of the conflict from its beginning. He knows very well that further escalation of the conflict leads to a dead end.
– I took my pastoral stick and I went to ask at the forum of the UNO for military intervention in my country – archbishop Nzapalainga emphasizes. And, indeed, after the last year’s resolution of the UNO and appearing of ‘blue helmets’ the situation changed radically. Therefore, the archbishop thanks the authorities of Poland that they sent a military peaceful quota to his homeland. – Thanks to Polish soldiers it was possible to save many human beings – he emphasizes.
Now a great mission of archbishop Nzapalainga is proclaiming reconciliation. Every month he makes journeys across the country with a priest-leader of the Muslims (even on foot, when his car was stolen), in order to encourage believers and start an inter-religious dialogue.
– Diamonds extracted in the Republic are exported by Sudan to Saudi Arabia and at least these two countries are not interested in ending the conflict However, for my homeland the war and hatred are the biggest catastrophe – said the archbishop.
The Organization Help to the Church in Need have been helping materially to the Central-African Republic for a long time, last year the value of this help was 400 thousand euro. – At present this country needs medications the most – says the director of the organization Fr. Prof. Waldemar Cislo. – Also help in education is important, so that children could learn, change rifles into notebooks – archbishop Nzapalainga adds.
Also families which lost their homes need financial support. For about 1.4 thousand zlotys it is possible to rebuild one of such houses. At present the time of harvest is coming. – 10 euro will be enough for one family, so that it could gain a grain and sow its fields, thanks to which it will be self-sufficient – appeals archbishop of Bangua.
– However, prayer for disarming hearts and souls in my country is the most important – he emphasizes.