By Scholastica Barimah, Coordinator of IYNIGO (Accra) & Gustav Kpeyibor SJ (Nairobi)

The Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA) of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) and Lead Magis Africa in collaboration with Ignatian Youth Networks Initiating Generational Outcomes (IYNIGO) of the Arrupe Jesuit Institute (AJI) launched the Silencing the Guns campaign at St. Maria Hall of Christ the King Parish in Accra on March 4, 2020. Ghana’s Minister of Information, Honorable Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, was the guest of honor at the event.

The launch is a pan-African effort for the promotion of peace by the Jesuits in Africa. Through this effort, the Jesuits are tagging along with the African Union’s call to silence the guns on the continent by 2020.

In his keynote address, the Director of JENA, Fr. Charles Chilufya, SJ, noted that progress has been achieved in the quest for peace by African institutions and frameworks in previous hotspots such as Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as well as significant outcomes in protracted conflicts in Somalia and South Sudan.

Fr. Chilufya, however, lamented that recurring conflicts that roll back gains already made in achieving lasting peace are a great challenge. ‘Guns are still active in Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Lake Chad Basin, which includes Chad and parts of Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon. Violent extremism in the Sahel and parts of the Horn and Eastern Africa is also a challenge,’ said Fr. Chilufya.

Concluding his address, the JENA Director called for trust in making sense of any peacebuilding work on the continent. He invited state officials of African governments to collaborate with civil society organizations such as the Catholic Church in peacebuilding efforts. Silencing guns 1

Fr. Chilufya and Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah flanked by Sr. Gabriella and Ms. Scholastica during the launch (Photo by Denis Quarshie, Accra)

In his speech, Honorable Kojo Oppong Nkrumah emphasized the role of politics in any peacebuilding work that improves the quality of life of citizens. While cautioning against the passive attitude of citizens who sit around and expect AU objectives to be achieved without contributing to them, Mr. Nkrumah encouraged Africans to be active participants in peacebuilding efforts as a collective responsibility. He commended the Jesuits and the Catholic Church for showing leadership in this regard and pledged his support for the campaign.

There were goodwill messages from the West African Centre for Peace Foundation, the Ghana National Catholic Laity Council, the Knights of St. John International & Ladies Auxiliary and other civil society organizations in promoting the AU Agenda of silencing the guns by 2020.

The launch was held under the auspices of the Arrupe Jesuit Institute, the Jesuit social centre of the North-West Africa Province located in Accra, Ghana.

Silencing guns Group photo at the Silencing the Guns campaign launch