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Recent Publications by Jesuits in Africa

JHIA encourages Jesuit authors (especially those in or from Africa and Madagascar) to donate a copy of their publications to the Institute for preservation. The following books reached JHIA recently:

Le pardon

LepardoncoverpictureLe pardon: une folie liberatrice, by Wilfrid Kolorunko Okambawa SJ (Dakar: Publications Lux Africae, 2014), 253 pages. ISBN 979-10-93302-003.

Forgiveness is first and foremost a folly, argues the author of this book, but it is a folly that liberates both the offender and the offended. Moreover, forgiveness presupposes sin, yet “if sin is a bad folly, forgiveness is, on the contrary, a good folly, which exceeds and repairs the unreasonableness of sin.” The author argues that his theme goes beyond mere scholarly gymnastics, since he bases his conclusions on concrete experiences of men and women who struggle with the problem of forgiveness. It is a theme of critical importance to Africa where society is constantly confronted with a variety of personal, familial and ethnic conflicts. The author insists that it is necessary to develop strategies for the exercise of the difficult art of forgiveness. He offers his book as a life manual for those who wish to practice forgiveness, whether experts or just simple people. Published in its current format as a third, reviewed and corrected edition, this is certainly an important book that is probably calling for translation into other languages.

Catholic Church Leadership in Peace Building in Africa


Catholic Church Leadership in Peace Building in AfricaCatholic Church Leadership in Peace Building in Africa, 
edited by Elias Omondi Opongo SJ and David Kaulemu (Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2014), 240 pages. ISBN 9966-08-817-2.

This book is a collection of articles from different voices in Africa, expressing the role of the many Christian leaders who have transformed the society through their lives and commitment to justice and reconciliation. The authors have particularly been interested in identifying diverse categories of leaders, of both high and of low profile. In some cases, they have conducted direct interviews with the various leaders, while in others they have relied on documented material. The individuals in this book demonstrate that change can never simply happen without commitment to faith and human engagement with the reality that confronts them. They further indicate that it takes courage, commitment and faith to bring change to society. This book is certain to provoke debate on important issues facing the African continent today.

Seven Words with a Woman of Samaria

chukwuemekasevenwordsSeven Words with a Woman of Samaria: Dialogical and Dramatic Development of Christology in John 4, by Chukwuemeka Orji, SJ (Nairobi: African Jesuit Publications, 2014), xv + 135 pages. ISBN 9966-7043-2-9.

In the course of attracting and engaging with possible disciples, Jesus came in dialogue in chapter 4 of John's Gospel with one who described herself as "a woman of Samaria" (John 4, 9). This work studies this meeting at Jacob's well (John 4, 6) in Sychar, which is portrayed as providential, and, later, as precedence to the coming of some Greeks to "see Jesus" (John 12). The author suggests that the passage is set by the Evangelist as both starting point and turning point for the mission of the early Christians in Samaria (John 4; Acts 8). He thus recommends that this long text be read as a major step outside of Orthodox Judaism, an opening and proffering of the Good News to the Gentiles, to the nations or the rest of the world (cf. John 4, 42). As he shows, the conversation develops through the basic human thirst: water and love; yet, these are characteristic gifts of the Spirit in the Johannine concept. Water and love are thus life-giving, liberating, refreshing and issuing from a limitless spring-source, as the reader of this book is gradually led to discover.

Jesuits to the Frontiers

jesuitstothefrontiersJesuits to the Frontiers: Reflections on Vocation and Mission, by multiple authors (Nairobi: Jesuits of Eastern Africa Province, 2013). 38 pages, with images in color.

This is a collection of short reflections by twenty-three Jesuits on their personal vocations to the Society of Jesus, each between one paragraph and two pages long. It contains a preface by Fr A. E. Orobator SJ, the Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Eastern Africa, who summarizes its content thus: "The stories in this book narrate the journey that we have taken as individuals and as Jesuits of the Eastern Africa Province of the Society of Jesus to achieve the magis [an Ignatian term meaning more]. They highlight the challenges we have faced and how we continuously strive to overcome them. They remind me that we are as human as everyone else, while confirming Confucius' insight that 'by three methods we may learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is noblest; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.'" The authors themselves tell their stories, say what they enjoy doing, and propose crispy reflections at the end of their texts. The book will speak particularly beautifully to those seeking to know the Jesuits more and those who might be considering to join their Society and mission, who may not have time for weightier and less personal academic tomes.

The Principle of Integral Reconciliation

intergralreconsiliationThe Principle of Integral Reconciliation: Beyond Political Arrangements in Rwanda, by Jean Baptiste Ganza, SJ (Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing, 2013), 110 pages. ISBN 978-3-659-50486-0.

In 2002, The Rwandan government initiated a process of reconciliation among its citizens who were deeply divided by the 1994 genocide. This took place through the locally-inspired Gacaca courts, whose purpose was to give justice to victims and to reconcile the offended and the offender. From the point of view of the formal, western-inspired judicial processes, the Gacaca courts appeared strange and were riddled with procedural impediments. While acknowledging their shortcomings, Jean Baptiste Ganza deliberately emphasizes their positive contribution to rebuilding a peaceful and reconciled Rwanda. Through the Gacaca courts, he shows, more details about the genocide became public, new mass graves were discovered and the dead were accorded appropriate burial, and perpetrators and victims encountered each other so that the former had a chance to apologize and the latter to forgive. The author goes further to articulate what is still missing in the reconciliation process, recommending steps towards its completion: focus on economic justice, cultural conversion, ecological rehabilitation and practical spirituality. The book is not without difficult and, perhaps, controversial points, but readers will be greatly informed about developments in post-genocide Rwanda and about the country's future possibilities.

The Body is for the Lord

thebodyisforthelordThe Body is for the Lord: Reflections on Celibacy, by David Harold-Barry SJ (Harare: Jesuit Communications, 2013), 21 pages. ISBN 978-0-7974-5606-8.

The author prefers to call this a "booklet", and, indeed, one can read it over a cup of tea. Covering a vast field of information about such a critical subject, the book's brevity redounds to the author's capacity to synthesize and focus. Relying heavily on Peter R. L. Brown's 1988 book, The Body and Society, he gives an exceptionally informative overview of the history of clerical celibacy in the Catholic tradition. In the second half of the book, he turns to contemporary issues regarding his topic, boldly touching on loneliness and solitude, married priests, sexual abuse and the virtue of chastity for all, including the married. Like marriage, and without presuming superiority over it, celibacy is a way of bearing witness to the values of the gospel: "Celibacy makes no sense unless it is seen as a sign of God's presence in our world. The world we see and touch and do business with is not the complete picture," he says. Many will freshly feel that, even in such brevity, David Harold-Barry has boldly said what has been treated as the unsayable for far too long.

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