Fraternal Visit to West Africa and to Nigeria and Ghana

(July 13 – August 17, 2012)

From 13th of July to the 17th of August 2012 I visited the Vice-Province of St. Augustine of West Africa and the Province of St. Joseph the Worker of Nigeria and Ghana.

In general the brothers are doing well. They were happy with my visit which they found comforting and encouraging in their mission. Everywhere I was warmly and fraternally received. It was a joy to discover the realities of the country or region where the brothers live and work, to be aware of the realities of the life and apostolate of the friars and the Dominican Family; but especially, to pray together, to preach and share the communal meal.

The Order is growing in Africa, as evidenced by the many professions and ordinations. Collaboration in formation and mission between entities of Inter-Africa is effective. Afridoms Flash develops and strengthens the bonds between brothers through regular sharing of information, an initiative much appreciated by the brothers.

The Vice-Province of St. Augustine, West Africa (13-31/07/2012)

The purpose of my visit was also twofold:  first to meet the brothers, and secondly to participate in the celebrations of the closing of the golden jubilee of the Dominican presence in Côte d'Ivoire.

Dakar, Senegal (13-18/07/2012)

The community is made up of six brothers. Their main apostolates are: chaplaincy and St. Dominic university parish, Centre Lebret, the radio program "Life and Faith," Ecumenism and other pastoral demands. The parish continues to grow, with a Mass early Saturday evening and 3 on Sunday, including one in English. During the week, the church is always full for morning Mass. The Apostolic Nuncio appreciates the brothers and works with them in the apostolate of the diplomats. The community is building some meeting rooms and needs some help.

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (19-25/07/2012)

After the post-electoral crisis that rocked the Ivory Coast, life is back to normal again in Abidjan. About thirty brothers live in the priory which is an Inter-African  house of formation. With the Master of the Order, we took part in the closing of the Golden Jubilee of the Dominican presence in Ivory Coast, as I indicated in Afridoms Flash No. 007. There was also a fraternal meeting between the Master of the Order and the community.

Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire (23/07/2012)

We visited the Dominican Centre for Theology and Development (DCTD), SANKOFA, and St. Thomas Aquinas Institute of Yamoussoukro (STAIY). In addition to the foundation course for the first-year (propedeutic), STAIY prepares one for the Canonical License or Master in Theology, in the theology of development. Actually the Institute is being reorganized with a new director to make it much more efficient.

As for the agro-pastoral project SANKOFA, it is growing with several production units already operational: a pigsty of over 300 pigs and piglets, three henhouses of 3000 hens and 2000 cockerels, a sheepfold, an orchard and a vegetable garden. But the project needs funding to develop further.

The brothers took us to see the village market: a metal shed, they offered to villagers in recognition for their donation of 50 acres of land for the SONKOFA project. Finally, the Master of the Order had a brief meeting with the pre-novices.

La nouvelle communauté de OugadougouOuagadougou, Burkina Faso (26-28/07/2012)

This is a new community of 3 brothers who live in a suburb, a dozen miles from the center of the capital city of Burkina Faso. The brothers are currently living without clean water or electricity, the generator has been broken down for more than five months. The community is in charge of the university chaplaincy. Currently, the superior of the community is working as a computer engineer with the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) for the operations of biometric enrollment of voters. This very demanding work disrupts community life. The daily celebration of Mass attracts many devotees of the neighborhood who can no longer fit in the small room used as a chapel. The community project is to raise a floor above the existing building to increase its capacity. Later the bothers plan to construct a second building. The larger project of this 5 hectare site involves the construction of a church and a college.

Cotonou and Porto Novo, Benin (29-31/07/2012)

I ended my visit of the Vice-Province in Benin. I had a fraternal meeting with the community of Cotonou where the novitiate is. We visited the Songhai Centre in Porto Novo where brother Godfrey Nzamujo gave us a very warm welcome. He took us around himself and showed us all the sectors of activity of the center which continues to grow. Brother Nzamujo invites the Order to get actively involved in the management of the center. He said that he is getting old and he cannot continue to lead that great center for long.

The Province of St. Joseph the Worker of Nigeria and Ghana (1-13/08/2012)

I spent two weeks in Nigeria. On August 8, the Solemnity of St. Dominic, there was solemn profession of four brothers at the Ibadan priory. It was a celebration of the whole Dominican Family: brothers, sisters, laity and Dominican youth celebrated together. Despite the large capacity of the Priory with more than one hundred brothers actually living in it, the Priory has become too small for the all the structures concentrated in and around it.  The present structure contains both the novitiate and the Dominican Institute for the formation of the brothers in philosophy and theology. Currently the brothers are enlarging the priory by constructing a new building for housing the brothers. It should be noted that the brothers have all their formation in Ibadan , spending  7-8 years in the same place.

With the Provincial, Brother Charles Ukwe, we went to the eastern part of the country to take part in the National Congress of Dominican Youth of Nigeria which took place from the 9th  to 12th of August. I was honored to preside over the opening Mass of the congress, to deliver the homily and to address the youth during the congress. In Oyigbo we visited the primary school of the brothers. This community of six brothers are in charge of a parish and may soon become the fourth priory of the province.

Besides the priories of Mafuluko and Yaba in Lagos, we also visited other communities of the brothers and Dominican sisters. But for security reasons we were not able to go to the north where the Islamist armed group Boko Haram deals ruthlessly.

Ghana (14-16/08/2012)

I ended my fraternal visit to the province by being in Ghana, from the 14th to the 16th of August 2012. Brother Martin Aitsebaomo, Socius and Vicar of the Provincial accompanied me to Kumasi where the brothers are in charge of a parish and opened a school on their 50 hectares of land in Namong-Offinso, about forty kilometers from Kumasi. We also visited our brothers who are in a parish in Onwe Besease, Konongo-Mampong Diocese, a few kilometers from Kumasi, the second largest city in the country.    G. Samba