The Church in Africa has been challenged to pursue the ministry of peacemaking and conflict resolution more vigorously.
Retired Anglican Archbishop in Kenya, the Rt Revd David Gitari, recently called upon Christians to embrace a culture of peacemaking and conflict resolution, saying the two were fast becoming "central in the pastoral life of the Church, due to their impact on the life of the faithful."
Archbishop Gitari said this while presenting a paper titled Towards Conflict Resolution, during a three-day theological conference (January 15-17) held in Nairobi, under the auspices of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus).
The conference, whose theme was "Translating Theological Researches into Lived Realities: The Case of Africa", attracted theological scholars and students from various denominations, as well as representatives from the secular community.
The retired Archbishop stressed that "in many aspects, if not all, every one of us in Africa has been affected by the two issues (peacemaking and conflict resolution), hence the need for all of us to get involved in various ways of participating."
He called on Christians to not only be peace lovers, but to aspire to become peacemakers, where both spiritual and physical contributions could effectively be incorporated.
Citing Sudan and Somalia as cases at hand, Archbishop Gitari observed that "many of the cases edged on conflicts, currently doing the rounds on the African continent, were due to lack of commitment to peacemaking among some of us." He stressed that "all of us must get involved in this business."
He also underlined the need for people involved in peacemaking and conflict resolution to incorporate cultural aspects on the issue.
"While each of the African community has been endowed with one or many ways of peacemaking and conflict resolution, some of the people behind peacemaking have neglected [cultural approaches]," he said.
Furthermore, he said that this would supplement the many cases we hear of cease-fire agreements and roundtable meetings, some of which have turned out to be "badly done and unsuccessful businesses."
Archbishop Gitari described the Church as a good avenue through which peace could be built and conflicts resolved effectively. "But for this to be realised, each of us will have to be committed, individually or at community level," he said.