Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa (JHIA) - An institute dedicated to preserving memory and promoting historical knowledge in Africa and its adjacent islands

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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:

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.

Mission for Everyone

missionforeveryoneMission for Everyone: A Story of the Jesuits in Eastern Africa (1555-2012), by Festo Mkenda SJ (Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2013), 311 pages, with several illustrations in black and white.

A comprehensive, if condensed, account of the Jesuit presence in Eastern Africa from 1555 to the present. The author narrates the fascinating attempts to establish the Society of Jesus in this region, which eventually led to a flourishing Jesuit presence in Ethiopia and the rest of East Africa and culminated in the creation of the Region of Eastern Africa in 1976. Ten years later, on 31st July 1986, the Province of Eastern Africa was born. Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ, Provincial of Eastern Africa, says: "This story shows that as a province we are old and we are young. Our venerable history endows us with maturity, wisdom and experience, but our present composition confers on us youth, vigour and promise." The book roots current Jesuit works in this region in the Order's long history and in the traditions and the spirituality that have shaped it over the centuries.

Reconciliatory Aesthetics and Doctrinal View of Rwanda, 1994

reconciliatoryaestheticsanddoctrinalviewofrwandaReconciliatory Aesthetics and Doctrinal View of Rwanda, 1994, by Emmanuel Foro SJ (Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing, 2013), 678 pages. ISBN 978-3-659-48504-4.

The 1994 experience of genocide in Rwanda—a country that was over eighty percent Christian—continues to generate many questions. "How can we give a theological account of genocide in a Christian country?" wonders the author of this volume. Taking a long historical view, he notes that Rwanda is just one case among many that have all left the question answered. He proposes a response based on the Second Letter to the Corinthians: "God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding people's faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled" (5:19). This text "can serve as foundation for a true aesthetic analysis of this 'negative social experience'," the author argues, indicating how his proposed "pragmatic and aesthetic method" could appeal not only to those trained in matters of doctrine, but also to artists, missionaries, peace lovers and friends of Rwanda.

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