A Call for a just and lasting peace in Angola
Written in response to Angola: Security Forces Kill Protesters in Lunda Norte Province
by Luís Samacumbi of the Evangelical Congregational Church of Angola
What has been happening in Angola in the last few days reminds me of Genesis 4:1-16.
God asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” And Cain replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4: 9-10). This was the answer he gave to God because he had killed his brother out of envy, out of jealousy. Today, God asks this question to our hearts, “Where is your brother?” And I look at my side, at those who live with me, and I am driven to be more present in my relationships so that my answer to God is a statement: “I am my brother’s keeper!”
As a former child soldier from the government side, my heart hurts when I see the Angolan government returning to the old tactics that in the past did not work and contributed negatively to the miserable state of the populations left behind. The authorities’ arrogance must be discouraged. This is not the path to an Angola that our ancestors dreamed of.
For many Angolans including myself, the year 2017 represented a renewal of hope for a better Angola, which would put citizens at the center of their entire governance experience. Such hope that was emerging in our hearts dies back with each passing day, like a plant dying back from lack of water, as we observe the speed with which the country returns to the old habits of crushing its own people with anti-democratic practices. The recent events in Cafunfo in Lunda Norte Province have shocked everyone who wants to see Angola prosper and enjoy the abundant life promised by Christ Jesus in John 10: 10b.
From Reverend André Cangovi Eurico, Secretary-General of IECA: “There are events that reflect badly on the whole country. The moment we live in currently does not justify these acts. We must not forget that the corruption that prevented good governance and the fair distribution of the resources and opportunities that this country offers – gifts from God – is the cause of this suffering and these innocent deaths. Corruption created and cemented profound asymmetries.
What we see happening are only consequences. The causes are more profound, and if they are not solved, there is no poor person so resilient that one day he will not claim his right to be human.
Anticipating these events, seeking with the people to solve their basic needs, using diamonds, water, land, climate, oxygen, gold, silver and the willpower and work that these people have in abundance, is the principle way to resolve this conflict. Good Governance is giving people the opportunity for abundant life.
It is sad when everything we do inspires hatred and a lack of common sense. The law of war commands respect and protection for the opponent after being defeated. God’s law commands that we love and forgive enemies and says that love does not treat people with disdain. If the spirit of revenge in the civil war is not overcome and the power to steal is not transformed into power to preserve the life of the people, Angola will never be what our ancestors dreamed of, nor will it deserve respect among the nations of the world. God remove this satanic spirit from our midst.
The door must open for a national consultation, showing us the viable way of living together, promoting peace and the ideal way to build the country we want for ourselves and for our children.
This country has already shed a lot of innocent blood without palpable justification simply because we feel the taste, the pleasure, of killing and humiliating those we do not want to live and won’t support their right to a decent life.
Let us stop, reflect, and avoid violence. Let us be civilized and protect our people, for whom the real revolution was made. Let us be human, love and defend life.
From Lúcio Marques, IECA Pastor and Sociologist: “When it comes to the good life, we cannot remain silent. In fact, activating the “silence” mode, when one or more lives are lost, is to agree with the violator of an inviolable asset in the light of the Bible and the Constitution in force in the country. Angolan citizens cannot hide when human rights are constantly violated. No civilian or police should ever die without explanation in this time of peace. Angola became independent 45 years ago. We have already experienced and continue to live with past bloody moments, which our history has recorded; blood spilled in hope that there will be no more deaths like these in Cafunfo. We are the majority who long for just and peaceful development.
Bishop Tirso Blanco, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Luena, Province of Moxico, received, with his heart bleeding, the information about the unprecedented violence in Cafunfo on Saturday, January 30, 2021, with all the aggression and death, disrespecting the living and the deceased.
For Dom Tirso, nothing can justify this type of “summary executions without a crime committed.” Those who fought for independence, who sacrificed their lives for this country, what would they say if faced with this macabre scenario? Blanco regretted the fact that there are social media posts that should show the acts committed, but instead mask the facts, “absolving the guilty and condemning the innocent” (cf. Dn.13, 53).
For Dom Tirso, fellow citizens and people of faith do not want to listen to the cry of a people who live in misery and see the ores and the timber leaving the region, without enjoying anything from the resulting revenue. We do not want to see malnutrition among children, the lack of water, roads, inadequate conditions for teachers and doctors, the lack of hospitals, medicines, fuel, transportation, opportunities for quality study, opportunities for work – needs that exist everywhere, but that in Eastern Angola multiply exponentially.
Tirso says that books could be written on everything he has seen in this part of Eastern Angola! The absence of documentation of regional conditions gives the impression that this situation does not interest almost anyone; meanwhile a few get rich without knowing the origin of so much fortune. We have been talking about all this for a long time, until we are exhausted. We are like a cracked bell, whose music is no longer heard. That Catholic Leader from Luena even says that it seems that we are facing a case of moral leprosy; those who should act do not feel, are not moved, and do not react. Ostrich policy is practiced; when one sees the danger, he hides his head in a hole. He doesn’t see. This blindness and insensitivity, however, are learned and taught, are a refined form of violence.
Dom Tirso goes on to say that a few years ago we saw with hope a certain openness in the public media. Today, they have returned to old habits. They should show what is happening so that these people who have been blinded can grow, but they do not.
The cops? The army? It cannot be generalized, but some have forgotten that they are a people; that in their homes, their children experience the same needs as the children of those they beat, of those they kill. They even attacked the dead, discharging their own frustrations. In the name of Jesus: stop killing! We are facing an unencouraging scenario.
Dom Tirso appeals that those in authority need to acknowledge the crimes with humility and the guilty should assume their responsibility. Unfortunately, human life cannot be compensated or repaired or reclaimed.
There needs to be a change in the attitude and practice of the media; that they give the voice to the people, that the media show what must change, to help those who govern and those who are governed. There also needs to be a change in government engagement with citizens. Government must create mechanisms for dialogue. It must be closer to the people, it must feel their needs as its own. Above all, the government must provide effective responses, with all available means at its disposal. With poverty, there is no peace. It is necessary to love the people more than the ruling chair itself, to make engagement and inclusion happen, so that people will again believe in their country, in the institutions, in their rulers.
Finally, Dom Tirso regrets that we know that on January 30, deep wounds opened that will not heal easily, but undertaking a path of violence will not lead anywhere, on the contrary. “For this reason, I pray and I will pray that the Lord will enlighten us so that we can live in peace, a just and lasting peace.”
We have to be careful not to assume an angelic condition of ourselves that puts us in a condition of people facing our own navels, experiencing selfishness without looking and worrying about those who need us. I hope that we will be able to give an account to God of our brothers, that we will even have the courage to make a statement to God and not a question: I am my brother’s guardian!
God bless our firm purpose of being more human and help us to build the necessary just and lasting peace with urgency in Angola. Amen!
References • https://formacao.cancaonova.com/diversos/onde-esta-o-teu-irmao/ acessado aos 07 de Fevereiro de 2021 pelas 19:12 minutos. • Extrato da publicação no WhatsApp de Dom Tirso, Blanco, Bispo Católico da Diocese do Luena, Moxico de 31 de Janeiro de 2021. • Extrato da publicação no WhatsApp do Rev. André Cangovi Eurico – Secretário Geral da Igreja Evangélica Congregacional em Angola – IECA – 02 de Fevereiro de 2021. • Extrato da publicação no WhatsApp do Rev. Lúcio Simão Marques – Pastor Evangélico e Sociólogo – 02 de Fevereiro de 2021.