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JHIA Financial Appeal

As a faith-based charitable institute seeking to preserve memory and promote historical knowledge, the Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa appeals to the support of friends, benefactors and well-wishers for the financing of its operations. It is with such support that it pursues its four-fold mission and ultimately realizes its vision of creating in Africa an environment that is conducive for primary research in Jesuit studies and in the histories, cultures and religions of the people of Africa and Madagascar. The JHIA solicits funds for four specific purposes: recurrent expenses, research projects, acquisitions, and long-term construction plans.

I. Annual recurrent expenses

The total cost of sustaining the current operations of the JHIA for one year is US $ 150,000.00. Most of this amount goes to shipping freely-donated books and documents from Europe and elsewhere in the world to Nairobi, Kenya (about 29.8%); paying salaries for four full-time staff and fees for professional consultation (about 21.4%); maintaining temporary premises together with covering general overheads (about 13.65%); initiating and promoting targeted research (about 13.3%); organizing, restoring and preserving acquired material, including accessibility services to readers (about 10.7%).

II. Research projects

Besides making records available to individual researchers, the JHIA actively engages in targeted research. In this way, the institute deepens the study of those areas that are of particular interest to its vision and mission. Such specific projects do not come directly under the JHIA's recurrent budget and thus are implemented only after separate funding has been secured for them. To view some projects that are currently underway, please click here.

III. Acquisitions

The JHIA's main target is to obtain through free donations old books and documents that touch on Jesuit studies and on histories, cultures and religions of Africa, including Islam. There is, however, material of great interest to the institute that cannot be obtained for free. For example, we would wish to purchase the copy of Antonio do Coucto's catechism, Gentilis Angollæ in fidei mysteriis eruditus: Opusculum Reginæ Fidelissimæ Mariæ I jussu denuo excussum (Lisboa: Typographia Regia, 1784) which is currently on sale in the United States, but the price of $ 1,680.00 is beyond the institute's means. We seek funds specifically to acquire such material. Moreover, to turn the JHIA into the compelling Africa research destination that its vision implies, we need to acquire an enormous amount of new books and subscribe to journals that cover our subject areas. We are currently completing a comprehensive wish list of such material, for which we are also making a special appeal for funding. Please click here to see our current wish list.

IV. Long-term plans and permanent premises for JHIA

Currently the JHIA operates in a small space that was initially designed as classrooms. In the long run, the space is insufficient and unsuitable for a research institute that holds a significant amount of rare books and archival records in need of professional storage and care. Additionally, the very success of the JHIA shows that, in about five more years, there will be need for more office space, more professionally designed storage facilities, and a bigger reading area. There has also been suggestion that, in the future, a museum of African religious art be attached to the JHIA, together with other facilities that might generate an income for the institute's sustenance. We intend to use the JHIA's first five-year experience to design appropriate long-term structures, for which we shall also seek funding from friends, benefactors and well-wishers.

We appreciate and value any financial donation made for the pursuit of the JHIA's mission and for the ultimate realization of its vision. To make a donation to the JHIA, kindly make a donation via PayPal.

Or you may also seek further details from the Director of JHIA (email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). We say SHUKRAN-ASANTE-MERCI-DANKE-OBRIGADO-GRACIAS-THANK YOU in advance!

The Way, the Truth and the Life: A Confluence of Asia, Europe and Africa in Jesus of Nazareth

The declaration by Jesus of Nazareth that he is at once "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6) is a rich statement. This, according to some, is "a ringing affirmation of his own role as the one access to the life-giving truth of God" (Harper's Bible Commentary). According to others, the statement "combines in one sentence the most fundamental ideas that have been brought out in the Gospel," that "[t]hrough Christ one comes to the possession of the Father, which means the possession of truth and life" (The Jerome Biblical Commentary). At the heart of this matter is, therefore, the necessity of the way, the truth and the life for our salvific union with the Father, all of which converge in the person of Jesus. But what is the way, the truth or the life? To simply utter "Jesus" as a response to this critical question would hardly satisfy an inquirer.

In various traditions, humanity's quest for God has been characterized by a sustained search for the right way, the complete truth and the fullest life. Furthermore, quite inadvertently, different traditions have focused more, although not exclusively, on one or another of these three values that converge in Jesus. For example, probably more readily than can be seen elsewhere, in various Asian traditions one can observe a particular accent on the "right way" of going about things. Thus, a recent (2006) rendering of the Dhammapada—a collection of sayings from Siddhartha Gautama, the great founder of Buddhism—has been titled The Way of the Buddha. Another recent (2009) illustrated translation of the Tao Te Ching—originally the basis of Taoist philosophy and in many ways a practical guide for daily living—has also been published as The Path of Virtue. Indeed the Jesuit spiritual guru, Anthony de Mello SJ, laid bare the richness of Asia to the rest of the world when he proposed "Sadhana"—a set of exercises drawn from eastern spirituality—as "a way to God". Insisting on getting "away from the head and from thinking", de Mello taught people a method of prayer as opposed to the content of prayer.

If Asia placed an accent on "the way", Europe—or, more generally, the West—seems to have emphasized "the truth". In a way, the long western philosophical tradition has been shaped by a singular search for an objective "truth" that would be accessible to all those endowed with reason and could quench human quest for ultimate meaning. From Plato to Augustine of Hippo, and from Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas, the truth, argued for by reason, dominated western intellectual production. In recent times, popes have leaned on this tradition, finding it necessary to link the enduring scientific search for the truth with the practice of religious faith. In the opening sentence of his encyclical letter Fides et Ratio, John Paul II used the word "truth" three times: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation truth," he said, "and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves." In the same vein, Benedict XVI declared: "To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity" (Caritas in Veritate, no. 1).

Unlike Asia and Europe, Africa seems to have put significant emphasis on "the life". Scholars have repeatedly discerned a central place for life in nearly all religious traditions of Africa and her adjacent islands. When, in the early part of the twentieth century, Placide Tempels said for the Bantu the supreme value and central purpose is "life, force, to live strongly, or vital force" he attracted a barrage of criticisms. Yet, the "life" theme has remained central to the thought of many Africanists to this very day. Arguing that African Religion affirms and celebrates life, John Mbiti says that Africans "dance life, ...sing life, ...ritualize life, ...drum life, ...shout life, ...ceremonize life, ...festivize life, for the individual and the community." In a book that he aptly titled African Religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life, Laurenti Magesa says "the foundation and purpose of the ethical perspective of African Religion is life, life in its fullness." The life theme is so ubiquitous in Africa that any visitor can observe it nearly everywhere. In an interview held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fr Adolfo Nicholás, S.J., the General Superior of the Jesuits, affirmed the continent's accent on life and said: "These are the most profound human values which the West, the East and the world in general are greatly in need of."

Fr. Nicolás' observation about "life" in Africa could also be applied to "way" in Asia and "truth" in the Europe or, more generally, the West: What Asia has in abundance, Africa, Europe and the world in general are greatly in need of; what Europe has in abundance, Africa, Asia and the world in general are greatly in need of. "A Confluence of Asia, Europe and Africa in Jesus of Nazareth" is bringing together three competent scholars to discuss how these three traditions can enrich one another and contribute to a more complete understanding of the one Jesus who is at the same time the way, the truth and the life.

The Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa (JHIA) counts itself lucky to have gotten three outstanding scholars for this purpose:


Gerard-HughesDr Gerard J. Hughes, S.J., author Fidelity Without Fundamentalism: A Dialogue With Tradition (Paulist Press, New York, 2010) and for many years tutor in philosophy at the University of Oxford; 

Michael-AmaladossDr Michael Amaladoss, S.J., author of The Asian Jesus (Orbis Books, New York, 2006) and currently director of the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions which based in Chennai, India; and

Laurenti MagesaProf. Laurenti Magesa, author of What Is Not Sacred? African Spirituality (Orbis Books, New York, 2013) and lecturer in African theology at Hekima University College in Nairobi, Kenya.

Each of the three scholars has written an extensive essay for publication and will make a 45-minutes presentation at the conference that is scheduled for Saturday 21 November 2015 at the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations, Riara Road (off Ngong Road), Nairobi, Kenya. The presentations will be followed by lively discussions. It is necessary to pre-register for this event, and registration is currently going on (please click here to access the online registration form).

The three papers will eventually be published by the JHIA for broader circulation. This will be done in honor of Fr Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., who will be retiring from office towards the end of 2016. It was Fr Nicolás's inspiration to establish the JHIA as a commitment of the Society of Jesus to the preservation of memory and the promotion of historical knowledge in Africa and Madagascar (please click here to view the vision and mission of the JHIA).

Download the Conference Poster and Brochure ...

Appeal for Books and Journals

Please view the JHIA wish list of books and journals according to the six categories/headings indicated below. In most of the cases you will be able to view a specific book's publisher or seller together with its price by clicking on its title. Kindly contact us to make an offer, to recommend a title that does not appear on our wish list, or for any other business.

Art and Writings of Engelbert Mveng SJ (1930-1995)

Fr Engelbert Mveng SJ (1930-1995)Fr. Engelbert Mveng SJ (May 9, 1930—April 22, 1995) was a Cameroonian Jesuit priest, artist and scholar, who researched and published in theology, history and anthropology. His scholarly ideas found aesthetic expression in his numerous paintings. Arising from the heart of Africa's traditional aesthetics, Mveng's art pieces found their way to different parts of the world and became a real patrimony to humanity. For example, his Stations of the Cross and Resurrection adorn the chapel of Hekima College in Nairobi (Kenya), his Our Lady of Africa is found in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth (Israel), and his mural depicting angelic activity through history is in the Holy Angels Church in Chicago (USA). Thus, in a manner that was hitherto unprecedented, Mveng used art to express Africa's deepest spiritual insights into universal Christian phenomena.

This great artist-scholar was brutally murdered by an unknown assailant in the night of 22 April 1995 in Younde, Cameroon.

At the beginning of the 20th anniversary of his passing, the JHIA wishes to inaugurate two projects in his memory:

Turning the_Water_into_WineI. The JHIA intends to obtain copies of all existing documents, published or unpublished, that are authored by Mveng about any topic or by others about Mveng. This collection will then be preserved at the JHIA for posterity and, at the same time, made available to those who might wish to study Mveng's intellectual legacy.

II. The JHIA intends to acquire high quality photographs of Mveng's paintings for the purpose of publishing them in a single volume, each with a succinct description and a professional commentary. In this format, the JHIA aims to make Mveng's aesthetic patrimony available to more people throughout the world. Moreover, it is hoped that such a publication will stimulate and encourage similar attempts at expressing scholarly insights through African visual art.

From what has been said above, it is clear that Mveng's artistic and textual material are scattered in different places. The JHIA is appealing for broad collaboration—indeed, coalition—that will make this project a success. We believe that any interested party could help with this project in one or more ways. Please consider the following:


I. Help us to identify any book, article or document (published or unpublished) that is authored by Mveng on any topic or authored by another on Mveng. Also, help us to identify any painting that was done by Mveng.

II. Help us to located the texts or paintings of the material identified (cf. No. I above).

III. Help us acquire originals or high quality copies of the identified and located material (cf. NN. I & II above).

IV. Help us to fund or to identify sources of funding for this project. Assuming that we do not find local help to actually collect information on the ground and relay it to us in good quality, and assuming that we will therefore have to travel to at least three international destinations for the purposes of gathering information, the JHIA will need an estimated US $ 42,476.70 in order to fully realize this project within a period of two years (please see separate text on the breakdown of this amount). We value and appreciate any donation towards raising this amount.

You may use the following contact to find out more about the project or to take part in it:

The Director, Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

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