Τετάρτη, 23 Μαΐου 2018

Jesus taught us to love all races

For Orthodox Christians, this Sunday's Gospel is about a Samaritan woman who goes to a well for some water. There she encounters Christ, who offers her the Living Water of the Spirit.
This passage is read during the paschal season -- the 40 days from Pascha (Easter) to Ascension -- because Pascha was historically the time when baptisms were done, so new converts had just had their own, personal encounter with Christ in the healing waters of that mystery.
In addition to this theme, however, I'll be thinking of another when it comes to the Sunday of the Samaritan: that of racial animosity and reconciliation.
For Jews such as Christ was, the Samaritans were in many ways worse than heathen (the feeling was surely mutual). Other, surrounding peoples were different enough to be deemed incapable of knowing better, but Samaritans and their claims to be the only, authentic keepers of the law cut a little too close to home.
Nothing so annoys and disturbs us as those so similar that their differences reflect on our own identity. When we're separate, what you do is your concern. But replace separation with integration, and suddenly I see myself reflected in you, which can be uncomfortable.
The Samaritan's conversion, and that of her village, is thus about more than the conversion of some random "outsiders." It offers insight into reconciliation -- a process where differences are not abolished, but the divisions that can result are overcome. 

This is a powerful, and sometimes lost, message of the Gospel. I was recently renewed in appreciating it by a retreat I attended by the Rev. Moses Berry, an African-American priest of the Orthodox Church in America.
A dynamic speaker with an amazing conversion story, Berry serves a parish he founded on the Missouri farmland his family has owned since 1871, shortly after being freed from slavery. There, he's also established the Ozarks Afro-American History Museum, consisting largely of family heirlooms, many of which he shared.
Most stunning to me were the iron neck shackle, with balls and chains, that his great-grandfather was forced to wear as a slave in transit. To my astonishment, while speaking about this artifact Berry actually put it on, to demonstrate how it was worn.
Never in my life did the impact of America's slave-owning past become so real for me as when I watched an African-American Orthodox priest, dressed in clerical garb, put on the slave irons of his ancestor. And never did my thirst for reconciliation in Christ feel so strong.
What also made Berry's presentation impactful was the lack of condemnation or any guilt-tripping of people with my skin tone. This was one brother speaking to his other brothers in Christ.
I pray for Berry and his ministry, and that God raises up others from his community to become clergy in His church. And I pray that in Christ, we become one. 



Salvation and Slavery

St. Nicholas Cabasilas writing in the 14th Century turns to the imagery of slavery to explain what it is to become a Christian. Building upon the images and metaphors of St. Paul’s epistles, St. Nicholas explains both how becoming a Christian is like becoming a slave, and simultaneously how this activity is totally different than the idea of slave and master which was known in the world.
“The blessed Paul makes all things clear in a brief saying, ‘you are not your own, you were bought with a price’ ( 1 Cor 6:19-20). He who has been purchased does not regard himself but Him who has purchased him, and lives according to His will.
A slave is purchased by a master to accomplish the master’s will. The slave’s purpose for existence is to serve the will, and even the whims of the master. Slaves are property, chattel, not human beings.
In the case of men, the slave is bound to the wish of the his master, but only in body; in his mind and reason he is free and can use them as he pleases. But in the case of him whom Christ has bought it is impossible for him to be his own. Since no man has ever bought a complete man, and there is no price for which it is possible to purchase a human soul, so no one has ever set a man free or enslaved him save with respect to his body.
St. Nicholas says slavery is about enslaving the body, for no one can enslave the soul – the person’s inner self and thoughts. The slave may not be free to express those inner thoughts, but the master can never completely control them. Christ pays a price for others that includes their souls. Those for whom Christ pays the price are owned body and soul by Christ, for Christ is not interested only in getting bodily work from someone. Christ in love wishes to share His wealth, His life with those He buys. And the price Christ pays is not a finite sum of money, but rather He pays with His own blood, He spends His entire being in order to take possession of those who would be His slaves.
The Savior, however, has bought the whole of man. While men merely spend money to buy a slave, He spent Himself. For our freedom He surrendered body and soul by causing the one to die and by depriving the other of its own body.
Not only does Christ the Master, pay in His own blood, He dies to give freedom to His slaves – freedom from sin and death. Christ liberates those held captive by Satan and Death. He does this by His own sacrificial death. He gives His entire being to purchase His slaves in order to set them free!
His body suffered pains by being wounded; His soul was troubled, and that not merely when the body was slain, but even before it was wounded, as He said, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death’ (Mt 28:38). . . . Because of the fact that it was our will which He was seeking, He did not violence to it nor took it captive, but He bought it.

Christ does not forcibly impose His slavery on us. He pays the full price for our redemption, in order to allow us the freedom to accept or reject the salvation He offers. He dies to liberate us from death, but makes it an offering, that we are free to accept or reject. We have to use our wills to chose to embrace what Christ offers for us and to us.
. . . He who spent money for a slave did not spend it with the aim of conferring benefits on him who he has bought, but rather that he himself might derive benefit by exploiting his labors. The slave is, as it were, being spent for the profit of those who have acquired him and through whom he suffers misery, and gathers pleasures for them while he himself is subject to constant sorrows.
Slavery in the world is not done for the benefit of the slaves, but purely for the benefit of the masters. The slave himself or herself is then spent, exhausted for the good of the master. The slave benefits nothing and is tasked with always benefiting the master who owns him or her. Not so with the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the case of the slaves of Christ the opposite is true, for everything has been accomplished for their benefit. He paid the ransom, not in order to enjoy anything from those who have been ransomed, but in order that what is His might belong to them, and that the Master and His labors might profit the slaves, and that he who has been purchased might himself wholly possess Him who has purchased him.
Slavery to Christ means possessing Christ! Christ pays the price of our redemption with His own blood in order that we might possess Him! After paying for us with His own blood, He then gives us His Kingdom. He holds nothing back from us but gives us everything, even eternal possession of His Kingdom.
. . . Among men the law makes the masters lords over their slaves and possessions unless they renounce their domination or release them from servitude. In this case, however, the slaves possess their own Master and inherit that which is His when they love His yoke and regard themselves as bound by His act of purchase. This is why Paul commanded, ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ (Phil 4:4), meaning by ‘the Lord’ Him who has purchased them.” (THE LIFE IN CHRIST, pp 220-222)



Jésus nous enseigne à aimer toutes les races (et un prêtre afro-américain orthodoxe)

"...Jamais dans ma vie l'impact du passé d'esclavagiste de l'Amérique n'est devenu aussi réel pour moi que lorsque j'ai vu un prêtre afro-américain orthodoxe, vêtu d'une tenue cléricale, enfiler les fers d'esclave de son ancêtre. Et jamais ma soif de réconciliation en Christ n'a été aussi forte..."

Père Barnabas Powell
Pour les chrétiens orthodoxes, l'Évangile de [...] dimanche [dernier] parle d'une Samaritaine qui va chercher de l'eau dans un puits. Là, elle rencontre le Christ, Qui lui offre l'Eau Vivante de l'Esprit.

Ce passage est lu pendant la saison pascale -- les 40 jours de Pâques à l'Ascension -- parce que Pâques était historiquement l'époque où les baptêmes étaient faits, de sorte que les nouveaux convertis venaient d'avoir leur propre rencontre personnelle avec le Christ dans les eaux curatives de ce mystère.

En plus de ce thème, je penserai à un autre quand il s'agit du dimanche de la Samaritaine : celui de l'animosité raciale et de la réconciliation.

Pour les Juifs tels que le Christ, les Samaritains étaient à bien des égards pires que les païens (le sentiment était certainement réciproque). Les autres peuples environnants étaient suffisamment différents pour être considérés comme incapables de mieux connaître la Loi, mais les Samaritains et leurs prétentions d'être les seuls et authentiques gardiens de la loi touchaient de très près les Juifs.

Rien ne nous ennuie et nous dérange autant que ceux qui sont si semblables à nous que leurs différences reflètent notre propre identité. Quand on est séparés, ce que vous faites vous concerne. Mais remplacez la séparation par l'intégration, et soudain je me vois reflété en vous, ce qui peut être inconfortable.

La conversion de la Samaritaine, et celle de son village, est donc plus que la conversion de quelques "étrangers" aléatoires. Elle offre un aperçu de la réconciliation - un processus où les différences ne sont pas abolies, mais où les divisions qui peuvent en résulter sont surmontées.

Révérend Moses Berry,
Photo : monomakhos.com
C'est un message puissant et parfois perdu de l'Evangile. J'ai été récemment renouvelé en l'appréciant par une retraite à laquelle j'ai assisté présidée par le Révérend Moses Berry, un prêtre afro-américain de l'Église orthodoxe en Amérique.

Conférencier dynamique avec une incroyable histoire de conversion, Père Moses sert une paroisse qu'il a fondée sur les terres agricoles du Missouri que sa famille possède depuis 1871, peu de temps après avoir été libéré de l'esclavage. C'est là qu'il a également créé le Musée d'histoire afro-américaine d'Ozarks, composé en grande partie d'objets de famille, dont beaucoup lui appartiennent.

Le plus étonnant pour moi était la manille en fer, avec des boules et des chaînes, que son arrière-grand-père a été forcé de porter en tant qu'esclave en transit. À mon grand étonnement, en parlant de cet artefact, Père Moses l'a mis pour montrer comment il était porté.

Jamais dans ma vie l'impact du passé d'esclavagiste de l'Amérique n'est devenu aussi réel pour moi que lorsque j'ai vu un prêtre afro-américain orthodoxe, vêtu d'une tenue cléricale, enfiler les fers d'esclave de son ancêtre. Et jamais ma soif de réconciliation en Christ n'a été aussi forte.

Ce qui a aussi rendu la présentation de Père Moses percutante, c'est l'absence de condamnation ou de culpabilisation des gens de ma "couleur". C'était un frère qui parlait à ses autres frères en Christ.

Je prie pour Père Moses et son ministère, pour que Dieu élève les autres de sa communauté pour qu'ils deviennent membres du clergé dans son église. Et je prie qu'en Christ, nous ne fassions qu'un.

Version française Claude Lopez-Ginisty


Voir aussi 

The realities of slavery, hopes and dreams for the African-American community for a Black Orthodox Priest in America (Père Moses Berry)
Sunday of the Samaritan woman (5th Sunday of Pascha): "Close to God is he who in his daily life becomes the light of Christ who enlightens his neighbours..."


Distant Cameroon - Le Cameroun lointain

More here.
Απομακρυσμένο Καμερούν. Η Θεία Λειτουργία σε Εκκλησίες πρόχειρες, κάτω από τα δένδρα, από άχυρο και υπό κατασκευή.
Distant Cameroon. The Divine Liturgy in draft accommodation, under the big trees or made of chuff.
Le Cameroun lointain. La Divine Liturgie dans le logement de trait, sous les grands arbres ou faits de chuff.
Отдаленный Камерун. Божественная литургия в черновике, под большими деревьями или сделанная из чан.

Δευτέρα, 21 Μαΐου 2018

Saint Thalassios le Libyen

Les images saintes sont d'ici et ici.

Thalassios le Libyen (ou l'Africain) est un moine chrétien du VIIe siècle, écrivain religieux de langue grecque dont quatre Centuries (recueil de cent sentences) figurent dans la Philocalie des Pères neptiques. C'est un saint, fêté par l'Église grecque le 2 Juin (le 20 Mai).
Les seules informations sur sa personne découlent de ses relations avec Maxime le Confesseur. Les deux hommes semblent avoir fait connaissance après l'arrivée de Maxime dans la province d'Afrique vers 628/630. Thalassios est le destinataire de l'un des principaux ouvrages de Maxime : les Questions à Thalassios sur des passages difficiles de l'Écriture Sainte, recueil de soixante-cinq questions-réponses composé dans les années 630/634 ; contrairement à ce que peut laisser penser le titre traditionnel, il s'agit d'un questionnaire transmis par Thalassios à Maxime et des réponses de ce dernier. D'autre part, les deux hommes ont échangé une correspondance : le patriarche Photius connaissait cinq lettres de Maxime à Thalassios1 ; actuellement trois sont identifiées, qui sont la lettre 92, où Thalassios est appelé « prêtre et higoumène », la lettre 263, où il est dit seulement « presbytre », et d'autre part une lettre connue uniquement en traduction latine et postérieure à la promulgation de l'Ecthèse en septembre ou octobre 6384. La lettre 9, elle, est antérieure aux Questions5. Aucune lettre de Thalassios à Maxime n'a été conservée.
On peut en conclure que Thalassios était l'higoumène d'un monastère de la province d'Afrique dans les années 630. On n'a conservé de lui que quatre centuries sur la vie spirituelle intitulées De la charité, de la tempérance et du genre de vie selon l'intellect (Περὶ ἀγάπης καὶ ἐγκρατείας καὶ τῆς κατὰ νοῦν διαίτης). Elles sont inspirées notamment par Évagre le Pontique. Le texte grec en a été pour la première fois imprimé dans la Bibliothèque d'Andrea Gallandi, à la suite des œuvres de Maxime le Confesseur, avec une traduction latine d'Œcolampade. Il a été intégré ensuite dans le volume II de la Philocalie des Pères neptiques. Le petit écrit qui figure après les centuries dans la Patrologie de Migne n'est pas de lui, mais d'un autre moine Thalassios, contemporain de Théodose le Jeune, à qui, maltraité par Nestorius, il adresse une requête.

  • Marie-Théophane Disdier, « Le témoignage spirituel de Thalassius le Libyen », Revue des études byzantines 2, 1944, p. 79-118.
  • Michel Van Parys, « Un maître spirituel oublié : Thalassios de Libye », Irenikon, vol. 52, n° 2, 1979, p. 214-240.
  • Aimé Solignac, article « Thalassius, moine libyen », Dictionnaire de spiritualité, t. 15, col. 323.
Notes et références
  1. Codex 192B de la Bibliothèque.
  2. PG 91, col. 445-449.
  3. PG 91, col. 616-617.
  4. Mansi, Conciles, t. X, col. 677-678.
  5. Maxime le Confesseur, Questions à Thalassios, coll. Sources chrétiennes (n° 529), t. 1, introduction de Jean-Claude Larcher, p. 9 à 11.
Voir aussi  

Holy Martyr Asclas of Egypt & St Thalassios the Libyan (May 20)

Orthodox Church in America

The Holy Martyr Asclas was a Christian, born in the city of Great Hermopolis (Middle Egypt). The saint suffered under Diocletian (284-305). Brought before the governor Arrian, Saint Asclas boldly confessed his faith and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The saint predicted to Arrian that there would come a time when he himself would be forced to call on Jesus Christ as the one true God.
By Arrian’s order, they began to torture the saint cruelly, they suspended him and raked him with iron instruments, so that pieces of his flesh fell to the ground. Saint Asclas quietly endured the torments. When one of those present said, “Look, he is already unconscious and near to death,” the holy martyr answered, “I have not lost consciousness, and unceasingly do I glorify my God and Savior.”
The governor Arrian gave orders to to resume the martyr’s tortures in the city of Antinoe, on the opposite bank of the Nile, where he himself soon intended to go. But the martyr prayed to God, beseeching Him to hold back Arrian’s boat until he confessed the Lord Jesus Christ before all the people.
The boat suddenly halted in the middle of the river, and not even oars could move it from the spot. Arrian ascribed the miracle to sorcery. In drawing up the sentence of the saint, the governor happened to say something about the one true God, and then the boat sailed on to shore. Going into the city, Arrian again gave orders to suspend Saint Asclas and scorch him with fire.
Finally, the saint was sentenced to be drowned in the river. The martyr said to the Christians accompanying him, “Strive, brethren, to receive the rewards of the Lord God. My children, come to the north part of the city in three days and find my body. Bury it with the stone that will be tied to it.”
The martyrdom of Saint Asclas occurred around the year 287, not far from the city of Antinoe. On the third day, Christians found the body of the martyr and buried it with the stone.

St. Thalassios the Libyan

Inner Light Productions (icon from here)
St. Thalassios the Libyan was abbot of a monastery in Libya in the late sixth and early seventy centuries. There is little information in his biography beyond saying that he was a contemporary and friend of St. Maximos the Confessor (580 - 662). St. Maximos wrote his largest work as a theological treatise addressed to St. Thalassios.

- by St. Thalassios the Libyan

-- The truly physician-like intellect is one that first heals itself and then heals others of the diseases of which it has been cured.

-- Our Lord Jesus has given light to all men, but those who do not trust in Him bring darkness upon themselves.

-- Do not think that the loss of virtue is a minor matter, for it was through such a loss that death came into the world.

-- He who has put his passions to death and overcome ignorance goes from life to life.

-- Search the Scriptures and you will find the commandments; do what they say and you will be freed from your passions.

-- Obedience to a commandment purifies the soul, and purification of the soul leads to its participation in light.

-- The tree of life is the knowledge of God; when, being purified, you share in that knowledge you attain immortality.

-- The first step in the practice of the virtues is faith in Christ; its consummation, the love of Christ.

-- Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and our God, who grants us faith in Him so that we may live.

-- Let us acquire faith so that we may attain love; for love gives birth to the illumination of spiritual knowledge.

-- The acquisition of faith leads successively to fear of God, restraint from sensual pleasure, the patient endurance of suffering, hope in God, dispassion and love.

-- Genuine love gives birth to the spiritual knowledge of the created world. This is succeeded by the desire of all desires: the grace of theology.

-- When you have been given faith, self-control is demanded from you; when self-control has become habitual, it gives birth to patient endurance, a disposition that gladly accepts suffering.

-- The sign of patient endurance is delight in suffering; and the intellect, trusting in this patient endurance, hopes to attain what is promised and to escape what is threatened.

-- He who has tasted the things for which he hopes will spurn the things of this world: all his longing will be spent on what he hopes for.

-- It is God who has promised the blessings held in store; and the self-disciplined person who has faith in God longs for what is held in store as though it were present.

-- The sign that the intellect dwells among the blessings for which it hopes is its total oblivion to worldly things and the growth in its knowledge of what is held in store.

-- The dispassion taught by the God of truth is a noble quality; through it He fulfils the aspirations of the devout soul.

-- According to the degree to which the intellect is stripped of the passions, the Holy Spirit initiates the intellect into the mysteries of the age to be.

-- The more the intellect is purified, the more the soul is granted spiritual knowledge of divine principles.

-- He who has disciplined his body and dwells in a state of spiritual knowledge finds that through this knowledge he is purified still further.

-- Initially our search for wisdom is prompted by fear; but as we attain our goal we are led forward by love.

-- The intellect that begins its search for divine wisdom with simple faith will eventually attain a theology that transcends the intellect and that is characterized by unremitting faith of the highest type and the contemplation of the invisible. END

from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, trans., The Philokalia -- vol. II, (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), pp. 328 - 330.

A PRAYER -- St. Thalassios

Christ, Master of all, free us from all these destructive passions and the thoughts born of them.

For Thy sake we came into being, so that we might delight in the paradise which Thou hast planted and in which Thou hast placed us.

We brought our present disgrace upon ourselves, preferring destruction to the delights of blessedness.

We have paid for this, for we have exchanged eternal life for death.

O Master, as once Thou hast looked on us, look on us now; as Thou becamest man, save all of us.

For Thou camest to save us who were lost. Do not exclude us from the company of those who are being saved.

Raise up our souls and save our bodies, cleansing us from all impurity.

Break the fetters of the passions that constrain us, as once Thou hast broken the ranks of the impure demons.

Free us from their tyranny, so that we may worship Thee alone, the eternal light,

Having risen from the dead and dancing with the angels in the blessed, eternal and indissoluble dance. Amen.

More about st Thalassios here.

Other Saints on May 20
Apprivoiser les passions

Κυριακή, 20 Μαΐου 2018

Xenophobia, xenomisia, and the failure of transformation

Khanya (Orthodox Christians from South Africa)
27 April 2015
Seven years ago there were outbreaks of xenophobic violence in various parts of South Africa, and this year (2015) we have seen more of them.
There has been some discussion about the accuracy of the term “xenophobia” to describe this, but it seems quite accurate to me, though I agree that we should perhaps add xenomisia. Xenophobia and xenomisia taken together mean “the fear and loathing of foreigners”, and that fear and loathing undoubtedly exists in some circles. This morning I saw a comment on Facebook, apparently intended in all seriousness, that the part of the Freedom Charter that reads “South Africa belongs to all who live in it” should be amended to read, “South Africa belongs to South Africans”.
South Africa is not the only country to experience xenophobia. It is found in most countries, and in some places it also leads to violence. See, for example, Neo-nazis are threatening an Orthodox community in Berlin / OrthoChristian.Com. In South Africa, the news media are generally against xenophobia, whereas in Australia and the UK the news media sometimes  actively promote xenophobia by using terms like “suspected asylum seekers”, thus implying that seeking asylum is a criminal activity rather than a human right.


Quite a lot has been written about the causes of xenophobic violence, though usually in terms of rather vague and abstract things like unemployment, poverty, or capitalism. This may be true, but it would be useful to have more specific studies of what prompted particular attacks.
In February 2008, for example, there were xenophobic attacks in Mamelodi in the City of Tshwane. These were not much noticed by the media, because they did not take place in Johannesburg. There was anecdotal evidence that the attacks were instigated by businessmen seeking to get rid of rivals who happened to be foreigners. A few weeks later there were similar attacks in Atteridgebille, and especially in the informal settlement of Brazzaville, on the other side of town. Some claimed to have seen combi-loads of people being brought in from Mamelodi who instigated the violence, in which some local people then joined. If these riots were started by businessmen seeking to get rid of rivals, then the cause could be said to be “capitalism”, but capitalism working in a particular way, and it is that way that needs to be examined more closely.
Perhaps such research has been done, but if it has, I would be interested in knowing the results — how many incidents of xenophobic violence were sparked off by this, how many by that? Other anecdotal explanations have been that someone was shortchanged in a shop run by a foreigner, an argument ensued, and it escalated from there. Or some crime takes place, and the perpetrators are heard speaking a foreign language. There is a hue and cry against “foreign criminals”, but how do you distinguish between criminals an non-criminals in such circumstances? And I don’t think hashtags or bumper stickers saying “Say No To Xenophobia” will do much to prevent it.
Some have asked why most of the xenophobia and xenomisia are directed at black immigrants from elsewhere in Africa, and not at whites in South Africa, who are themselves descended from immigrants, and have historically exploited black people in South Africa. I think this article, well worth reading, gives a clue to the answer If you come from another African country, you can never become fully South African | Africa is a Country:
The violence strikes at what is at the heart of post-apartheid South African identity. For all the talk of hospitality and “ubuntu,” xenophobic violence is a reflection of how the ruling ANC and most South Africans understand the boundaries of “South African-ness.” As commentator Sisonke Msimang suggests, what binds black and white South Africans together is a kinship based on their shared experience of colonialism and apartheid.

I discovered that for myself when I went to study overrseas in 1966 at the height of the apartheid era. I met a black South African friend who had arrived a few weeks after me, and we compared notes about our culture shock on arriving in Britain, which were very similar, and we both found it hard to get used to not having to look up when entering a post office or railway station or other public building to make sure that we were using the ethnically-correct entrance.
But a shared sense of South-Africanness does not necessarily lead to xenophobia and xenomisia, nor does it necessarily lead to violence, though it does lead to prejudice, which I am sometimes shocked to find in myself. I’m introduced to a Nigerian and the thought “drug dealer” surfaces. I’m introducted to a Bulgarian and the thought “car thief” surfaces. My rational mind intervenes and says “Don’t prejudge people by their nationality. You know it’s stupid.” But the thought is there, and comes, unbidden.
But if we are looking for the big abstract causes of xenophobia, then I think one that stands out is the failure of transformation. There’s a lot of talk of transformation, but little has actually changed. And when I speak of transformation I’m not talking about cosmetic changes like defacing or removing statues.
Take education.
Zimbabweans are a lot better educated than many South Africans, and as a result they tend to get better jobs. Because they are better educated, they often make better teachers, and we ought to welcome them with open arms, because they might be able to help us to transform education.
Why are Zimbabweans (and Congolese) better educated?
Because they never had Bantu Education, and the theory of Christian National Education, and the theory of Fundamental Pedagogics that underlay that.
I have been told that the one responsible for the transformation of education in Zimbabwe was Sir Garfield Todd, and his obituary seems to confirm that: Obituary: Sir Garfield Todd | Politics | The Guardian:
In 1946, Todd won the Shabani seat for the United Rhodesia Party, the most liberal of the groupings in the field. After rising through three ministerial postings, in 1953 he became prime minister and party president. He proceeded to introduce various progressive measures, including, in 1955, a five-year plan to give elementary education to every African of school age.
It seems that he left a legacy that not even Smith or Mugabe could destroy.
But at the very time that that was being introduced in Zimbabwe, South Africa was introducing Bantu Education. Yet in the last 21 years since the birth of our democracy, I am not aware of any serious attempts to undo the damage caused by Bantu Education and Christian National Education, which might bring about real transformation, rather than cosmetic changes. The people who might be able to initiate transformation in education, like John Samuel, were sidelined. See The disaster that is education in South Africa | Khanya
The other place where there ought to have been more transformation is policing.
We complain about xenophobia but we now see the police harassing foreigners as if they were conducting a 1950s pass raid.
And with armed mobs beating up foreigners, with comparatively few arrests, perhaps the xenophobic gangs get the idea that the police are conniving at what they do.
And then the police do the same to South Africans at Marikana.
Not much transformation there.

See also
The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place  
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?

The Orthodox Church in the Republic of South Africa 

Orthodox Christian Clergy Against Racism
Racism: An Orthodox Perspective
Christians and the immigration issue (& Orthodox Church of St Nicholas of Japan in Johannesburg)
Racial Identities and Racism by Mother Katherine
Grace and “the Inverted Pyramid”
The Heresy of Racism
Racism (tag)

Παρασκευή, 18 Μαΐου 2018

Drug Trafficking in West Africa

Sustainable Development Under Threat From Drug Trafficking in West Africa

Drug trafficking is fast becoming the most serious problem in West Africa. The sub- region has seen an increase in drug trafficking, production and consumption which continues to ruin many lives.
There has also been an exponential increase in corruption and impunity which mainly favours drug barons in the region. This also has an adverse effect on citizens who possess or consume very little quantities of drugs.
As a whole, the proliferation of the drug trade in West Africa significantly undermines people's well being and possess a major road block to development efforts.
The yearly value of cocaine transiting through West Africa is estimated by the United Nations to be US$ 1.25 billion, which is higher than the national budgets of many West African countries including Liberia, Cape Verde , Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. This humongous amount which are direct proceeds of drug trafficking, production and consumption within the sub-region has a deadly effect on governance and sustainable development .
According to West Africa Commission Drugs (WACD) 2014 report, West Africa is not only a transit zone of drugs from Latin America to Europe. Also, local production of synthetic drugs such as, methamphetamine is increasingly being produced in West Africa for the Asian market. Furthermore, in some countries a strong protection economy for drug kingpins has emerged, allowing them to operate with impunity.
Organised crime syndicates exist at all levels of society in West Africa and pose a threat to good governance, peace and stability, economic growth and public health in West Africa, a region that has only recently emerged from decades of violent conflict. Drug trafficking is becoming a new threat for the "development" of West Africa.
Narcotics narratives are often portrayed as a security issue with a focus more on law enforcement through the criminal justice system without a deliberate link to development. The response to drug issues is similar in West Africa focusing on punishment with the aim of eradicating the supply of illegal drugs and having a "drugs free world" which can best be described as an illusion. The criminal justice response has failed.
According to statistics, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in trying to eradicate illicit drugs, the industry is growing bigger than ever with a continuous growing number of drug users each day. From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2015, it is estimated that a total of 246 million people, or 1 out of 20 people between the ages of 15 and 64 years, used an illicit drug in 2013. That represents an increase of 3 million over the previous year.
The current drug policy control approaches being practiced in West Africa and beyond is negatively affecting public health, economy, the rule of law, human rights, gender and social development.

Drugs and Public health

The primary objective of the international conventions is to protect the health and welfare of mankind. Unfortunately, in practice, the drug free illusion has led to so much focus on criminal justice, law enforcement, instead of public health and the protection of human rights.
In West Africa, the situation is becoming worst with public health being compromised with an increase prevalence of HIV among people who use drugs and lack of essential medicines for palliative care primarily for pain relief and the treatment of cancer patients. Statistics from UNODC's 2013 report on the world drug problem, states that the prevalence rate of cannabis use in West and Central Africa combined (12.4%) is higher than Africa and the global average, 7.5% and 3.9% respectively.
According to the Ghana's Minister of Foreign affairs during her statement at 2016 United General Assembly Specially Session (UNGASS) on drugs, " it is estimated that nearly 90% of cancer and AIDS patients in Ghana cannot be treated adequately on the current level of morphine supply". The current shortage of morphine in the Ghana hospitals has affected treatment given to the majority of cancer and AIDS patients.
The World Health Organization, UNODC, and UNAIDS have developed a 'comprehensive package' of harm reduction to reduce the risk of drug consumption related diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, overdose among others. These policy guidelines and programmes have been proven to be cost effective and have been endorsed by the African Union in its Common Africa Position (CAP) where AU called for the commitment to harm reduction programmes, including facilitating access to health care in prisons and promoting alternative non-custodial sentencing mechanisms for minor non-violent drug-related offences.
Unfortunately, in West Africa and Africa at large due to the repressive laws and related law enforcement policies and practices these programmes are yet to take full force. Currently, Senegal is the only country in West Africa implementing a harm reduction programme even though the laws are still very punitive. As a results less than 1% of people who inject drugs in Africa have little access to needle and syringe programmes or opioid substitution therapy
Unlike the visible presence of HIV retro-viral treatment available in the sub-region, hepatitis C remains a great threat in West Africa. The danger of hepatitis C can be seen in potentially serious health problems for those infected, with the possibility of liver failure, liver cancer, and premature death.
In West Africa when a drug user (who may be a problematic drug user (Addiction), as described by WHO as a chronic disease) is arrested, per the current regime, such a person has to be incarcerated if found guilty without given the opportunity to seek help for his or her problematic drug use. Over the years this approach of sending drug users to prison has only exacerbated their problem because the prisons settings are often characterized by overcrowding, inadequate ventilation and limited medical facilities for treatment, all of which contribute to the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis among prisoners. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2015 the incidence rates of tuberculosis in prisons could be 8-35 times higher than among the general population for some countries. Combined infections of HIV and tuberculosis are particularly serious, with each infection speeding up the progress of the other.

Drugs and the Economy

West African countries like their counterparts in the world tend to focus on eradicating the supply with little attention to the demand side. Policy makers have failed to appreciate that, demand drives supply. No matter the stringent methods adopted, drug users will always discover new ways of satisfying their cravings for drugs . An illustration of that is the balloon effect which was the cause of stringent measures put in place by the United States to impede drugs from Latina America to reach their coast. This led to the opening of new routes through West Africa.
West Africa is now a major hub in global drug trafficking. According to the UN, the yearly value of cocaine transiting through West Africa is estimated by the UN to be US$ 1.25 billion. For a region with a high rate of youth unemployment, this could lead to the implosion of social cohesion and an increase in crime.
In addition, this huge money can easily mount rebellion or terrorism to overthrow democratic elected government. For example, many analyses have been able to establish an interconnection between terrorist threat in the sub-region (precisely Mali) and drug trafficking.
Furthermore drug market encourages money laundering affecting the formal economy, and in turn discouraging investment in affected regions.
According to United Nations Development Programme Report June 2015, on 'Addressing the Development Dimensions of Drug Policy. "The existence of a large illicit sector in the economy can also distort economic data and, in turn, macroeconomic and structural analysis and policy making.

Drugs, Human Rights and Gender

Societal stigma makes drug users vulnerable to abuse either from law enforcement or related family and society as a whole. These violations include rape, arbitrary detention, unfair trial, torture, ill-treatment, lack of access to basic health care among others. Due to the harsh sentencing policy and fear of being arrested or reported, drug users are discouraged from seeking treatment and this exacerbates their situation.
Women, in particular, appear to face barriers to treatment. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2015 while one out of three drug users globally is a woman, only one out of five drug users in treatment is a woman. Women who inject drugs are often more vulnerable to HIV than their male counterparts. In Senegal HIV among Female Who Inject Drugs (21.1 percent) is three times higher than among Male Who Inject Drugs (7.5 per cent). In Nigeria HIV among Female Who Inject Drugs (21.0 per cent) is seven times higher than among Male Who Inject Drugs (3.1 per cent).
In addition, women who use drugs often fail to access harm reduction services - even when those are available - because of the high stigma associated with their use, and the lack of gender-sensitive services available to address their specific needs.

Links to Sustainable Development

Drug issues cannot be considered separately from a development paradigm.
The international drug control bodies, as well as West African countries, should shift their drug control approach and try as much as possible to embrace a holistic perspective of the issue in light of the debates that took place at and around the UNGASS on drugs in 2016, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon in September 2015.
The measurement of success should not be about the number of people arrested or kilogram of drugs seized. The huge amount of money invested in law enforcement by West African government to operate prisons could be realigned to strengthen the health sector and fund development projects and programmes to address the drug problem.
There is a need to shift the objectives of drug policy away from process measures such as crop eradication statistics, arrest rates, seizures and imprisonment statistics. Governments need to explore and focus on solutions that promote public health, human rights and citizen engagement and participation. West African governments should integrate drug policy and human development in their development programs.

Leandre Banon is Capacity Development Programme Officer of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).