Bahai News -- Worldwide Faith News - Homosexuality Will Not Divide Us, Say African Primates

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All Africa News Agency Sept 29 2003 (a)


From Worldwide Faith News <wfn@igc.org>
Date Wed, 01 Oct 2003 12:00:56 -0700
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AANA Bulletin				Bulletin APTA
  Editor -Elly Wamari			Editor - Silvie Alemba

AANA BULLETIN No. 38/03 September 29, 2003 (a)

NEWS  SECTION

Homosexuality Will Not Divide Us, Say African Primates

NAIROBI (AANA) September 29 - Controversy surrounding the Anglican Church over homosexuality issues will not divide the Anglican community in Africa, according to Anglican bishops meeting here last week.

The just-elected chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), Most Rev Peter Akinola, said on September 25 that "on the contrary, it will strengthen us."

The Nigerian archbishop, who was addressing a press conference here at the end of the Ninth Conference of CAPA (September 23-25), however cautioned that "discussions on the issue should be God-driven"

. "We should try to avoid humanness to prevail, while calling upon God's guidance to lead us," he stressed.

Delegates to the Nairobi conference, numbering more than 50 and including primates, bishops, pastors and the laity from Great Britain, USA and Canada, also elected Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje of Rwanda as CAPA's vice-chairman, and Kenyan John Muhoho Kimani as treasurer.

The Nairobi conference reaffirmed that the stand of the African Anglican bishops on human sexuality was guided by the teaching of scripture.

"The whole subject of morality, faith and order has been taken up by the primates who have expressed concern that it should be addressed according to the will of God," stressed a press statement.

It added that the point of reference has been the 1998 Lambeth resolution concerning human sexuality, in particular, the blessing of the same sex unions, and the ordination of those involved in the activity. The resolutions are opposed such activity.

Meanwhile, the Anglican bishops in Africa will be holding an All Africa Conference on the theme, Africa Comes Of Age: An Anglican Self-Evaluation, in Lagos, Nigeria next year (October 26-31).

Reported by Osman Njuguna

Kaunda To Deliver Key Address At LWF Peace Summit

JOHANNESBURG (AANA) September 29 - The first regional follow-up meeting of the Inter-Faith Peace Summit in Africa, facilitated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), takes place here from September 30 to October 1, under the theme, Promoting Peace and Harmony.i

Dr Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia, will deliver the keynote address at the two-day Southern Africa Inter-Faith Conference, which will be officially opened by South African Deputy President, Jacob Zuma.

The conference is a follow-up to the October 2002 Inter-Faith Peace Summit in Africa, which produced The Johannesburg Inter-Faith Declaration - Embracing the Gift of Peace, a joint affirmation of inter-faith responsibility in safeguarding peace in Africa.

Many of the major conflicts on the African continent are fuelled by religious differences.

The essence of the declaration dealt with ways of promoting co-existence and mutual understanding, as well as strengthening co-operation for collective intervention in violence-affected areas.

Similar regional meetings are planned for western, eastern, and central Africa regions. The southern Africa follow-up conference will feature around 60 delegates from eleven southern Africa countries.

Those represented include Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

All delegations attending the conference will be giving a report on the state of peace or lack of it, and inter-faith dialogue and co-operation for peace in their respective countries.

Participants will include religious leaders from Christian, Muslim, Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish faiths, and African Traditional Religions.

Reported by Pauline Mumia
Lutheran World Information

Botswana Hangs Convicts Amid Protests By Rightists

GABORONE (AANA) September 29 - Botswana has defended its latest execution of death sentences, saying President Festus Mogae found no justifiable basis upon which to interfere with the courts over death penalties of three people who were hanged this month.

This comes at a time Botswana government has been accused of carrying out secret executions, following the hanging of a South African citizen in July.

The government is under pressure to scrap the death penalty. Human rights organisations are calling for a referendum to determine whether or not the idea appeals to Batswana.

According to a statement from Doctor Jeff Ramsay, Deputy Senior Private Secretary and Press Secretary to the President, Mogae could find no circumstances to save Joseph Mokobo, Gounwane Tsae and Douglas Simon from the noose.

Ramsay said the advisory committee on the prerogative of mercy met five days before the executions.

It is the task of this committee to assist the president to consider the circumstances surrounding death sentences, and to advise him on whether to exercise any of his powers of granting mercy.

"All three of these men had been convicted of premeditated murder without any extenuating circumstance," said Ramsay.

"The President could find no circumstance in any of the above three cases that would cause him to exercise his executive prerogative to commute the death sentences," he continued.

Mokobo, Tsae and Simon were hanged on September 19. The Court of Appeal upheld Mokobo's death sentence for killing an acquaintance by dousing him with petrol and setting him alight.

Mokobo was also convicted of the subsequent rape and attempted murder by hanging the dead man's girlfriend in a bid to remove evidence of his first crime.

Tsae was executed for murdering an eight-year-old child. According to Ramsay, the Court of Appeal had described his crime as premeditated, planned and brutal murder of an innocent girl, to take revenge against her mother, who had turned down his advances.

Tsae is said to have lure the girl from school on the pretext that her mother had died. He also told the girl's teachers the same story. He later sexually assaulted the girl before murdering her.

Simon killed his employee by forcing him to drink a toxic chemical called malachite green. The court also found this premeditated and planned.

Since independence in 1966, there have been 39 executions in Botswana, four of them in 2003 alone.

Reported by Rodrick Mukumbira

Church Groups Confront Archaic Marital Traditions

BLANTYRE (AANA) September 29 - Church groups in Malawi have protested that despite many programmes to sensitise people on child rights as provided for in the Republican Constitution, there is still rampant abuse of the rights of the girl child and women.

The Roman Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), have mounted campaigns to rid traditions that enslave young girls and women into unwanted sexual and marriage relationships.

A social audit report conducted by the CCJP of the Mzuzu diocese in northern Malawi, gathered from parish committees, indicated that despite the fact that many Malawians were now relatively aware of their constitutional, human and civil rights, rights activists had not reached most remote corners of the country due to limited resources.

"We have therefore lined up projects to penetrate the far away places because abusers were taking advantage of the ignorance of their victims," says Fr Charles Chinula, chairman of the Mzuzu diocese of CCJP.

In some northern districts of Malawi, like Chitipa and Karonga, it was discovered through surveys conducted by the churches that a traditional practice called kupimbira, where parents force their daughters as young as 12 years to marry well-to-do older men, had resurfaced after it was abandoned decades ago.

Some parents give away their daughters after failing to repay loans, which saw one rich man in his late sixties, in Karonga, acquiring 14 young girls through the practice. Girls who resist such traditional marriages are threatened with death or magical curse referred to as chighune.

Another practice is elopement, locally known as kusomphola. It is accepted among the Nyakyusa and Ngonde tribes of northern Malawi. Here, parents of the boy eagerly repay, with cattle or money, the offended parents of the seduced girl.

There is also Kuhara (called chokolo in other regions), where a man can inherit the wife of a deceased brother to take care of her and her children. Church activists say this cannot be tolerated in the present democratic dispensation.

Northern Malawi CCJP parish committees are pressing their secretariat to lobby government to include in the constitution, a section that provides for security of marriages.

"We cannot watch people continue enslaving young girls in the rural settings for monetary gains through these bad cultures," asserted George Chizeka, a local CCJP member.

Traditionalists say kupimbira resurrected because of rising poverty, especially the famine crisis that inflicted Malawi in the past few years due to erratic weather conditions.

Loaning off of daughters was first brought to light by women of the Livingstonia CCAP Church women's guild, who provoked action by the congregation.

Livingstonia synod is the seat of the CCAP Church in northern Malawi. The synod's Church and Society Programme director, Moses Mkandawire, said his organisation had already started conducting civic education in the affected areas.

"We are also putting up posters depicting the dangers of the practices in the face of HIV/AIDS pandemic," he said.

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), a body mandated by the constitution to protect and investigate human rights violations, which carried out its own survey, have thrown weight behind the churches' campaign.

MHRC Executive Secretary, Emiliana Tembo, said although the areas concerned were the remotest parts of the country, where few people read newspapers or owned radios to access rights issues, they were determined to reach them and save the innocent young girls and women who could be suffering in silence.

"After our civic education strategy, we will start taking legal action against any perpetrators," said Tembo.

Reported by Hobbs Gama

Number Of Single Mothers In Africa On The Increase - Don

NAIROBI (AANA) September 29 - The single motherhood phenomenon in Africa has been arising at a rate of 10 percent annually in the last decade, Kenyan scholar, Professor Robert Obudho of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Nairobi, has disclosed.

Delivering a keynote speech here on September 14 during the launching of a book on single motherhood titled, African Single Mothers and Mother Widows: Ethno-Religio-Philosophical Touch, by Catholic theologian, Rev Fr Dr Patrick Wachegge, Professor Obudho attributed the worrying social phenomenon to a fast urbanisation rate the African continent is witnessing today.

"As we move to the new life, we tend to abdicate some of the African cultural norms that have for time immemorial bound us together. In the current situation where the issue of single motherhood and widowhood is no longer centralised in our social daily life, those who fall into this social category have experienced a wide range of negligence," he explained.

African communities, he stressed, should re-establish a way to accommodate both the single motherhood and widowhood issues, adding that in a normal and clear situation, "there has been no time that either the mother or the child did not have somewhere or somebody to lean to within the family or community set-up".

His recommendation was that African people must re-visit some of their cultural norms to effectively accommodate both single mothers and mother widows in the society.

Mr Peter Kiarie, a doctoral candidate at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi, caused laughter when he expressed concern that "while the author has based his work on the single mothers and mother widows, there is need to research and write on single fathers and father widowers".

"It would be bad if we stopped there. We should move yet another step up by exposing the same issue, but this time on fathers. It calls for attention," he stressed.

The author has, among other things, concluded in his 388-page volume that apart from those women who are already caught up by single motherhood or widowhood, "all of us are potential single mothers and mother widows, hence the need for the community to take charge of this social issue".

Reported by Osman Njuguna

Malawi Journalists Reject Ministers Call For HIV Testing

BLANTYRE (AANA) September 29 - Malawian journalists have snubbed a call by Minister for Information, for them to patronise HIV voluntary testing centres, in order to effectively lead the way in influencing behaviour change, especially among the youth.

Outspoken information minister, Benard Chisale, has urged members of the media to act as role models and take the lead for HIV testing, as this would make people have trust in them and take their HIV/AIDS messages seriously.

He was speaking at the launching of a media and government partnership programme funded by the National AIDS Commission (NAC), to train journalists on the required skills in reporting AIDS issues.

"Jesus lived by example as he would not sin. If journalists can be role models, people will follow them with keen interest. In this way, the media will be seen to practise what they write and hence encourage voluntary counselling and testing (VCT)," said Chisale.

But most of the journalists interviewed showed open reluctance to go for testing, let alone disclose their HIV status.

Charles Vintula, a reporter for the state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) said, while he supported the idea, he would not be paraded as a role model.

"Some NGOs take advantage of people who declare their status, making money through parading them in the villages," asserted Vintula.

Another journalist, Anthony Kasunda, a senior reporter for the Daily Times, said he feared going for VCT because of the stigma suffered by people who disclose their status.

"People will be saying, there goes the HIV positive journalist. I would not want to be subjected to such ridicule," he said.

The most important thing, according to Milly Kafuka of Capital Radio FM, was to report accurately and positively about the HIV pandemic.

Said she: "I would not go for testing just because I'm a journalist. If I am tested that would not change anything. I would rather concentrate on reporting effectively about the scourge."

Earlier, Chisale asked journalists to fight stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV, so that they (HIV/AIDS sufferers) are not ostracised by society. Proper choice of terminology, phases and language, he said, would offer hope and assurance and help people live positively despite carrying the HIV virus.

"HIV patients are referred to as AIDS victims, while people suffering from malaria are not called victims," Chisale pointed out.

Reported by Hobbs Gama

Uganda Now Feels The Pinch Of Supporting US War On Iraq

KAMPALA (AANA) September 29 - A confidential Ministry of Foreign Affairs report wants all the 23 Ugandan foreign missions' security boosted, fearing a backlash over the country's support for the US-led war on Iraq.

The report says terrorist threat is real on Ugandan missions because of the Iraq issue. "The need for increased security is relevant and immediate, following Ugandan overt support for US war on Iraq," says the report, adding, "Our missions abroad need to be secured urgently, notwithstanding the fact that doing that is a costly venture."

The increased resources in the intelligence gathering bodies, which the report says is crucial in building intelligence, underlines this concern.

Internal Security Organisation and the External Security Organisation budgets overshot by 103 percent as the bodies upgraded their technical capabilities.

The Iraqi issue has thus presented an additional burden on Uganda, which, according to the report, is already overwhelmed with financial bills.

The country has defaulted in fulfilling its financial commitments to international bodies. A 2003/2004 budget statement of the foreign affairs ministry says such arrears stand at US$ 7.5 million.

Uganda is a member of international bodies like Africa Union (AU), East Africa Community (EAC), Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and Kagera Basin Organisation (KBO).

As a result of this strain it is speculated that Uganda could ultimately withdraw from COMESA, KBO, and IGAD, once EAC takes root.

Reported by Crespo Sebunya

AACC Gets Participatory Slot In Africa Action Group Meeting

NAIROBI (AANA) September 29 - The All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) is taking part in the 50th Anniversary of the Africa Action Group, which started yesterday (September 28) in the United States of America, and continues to October 10.

Dubbed "The Baranza", the conference, which comprises individuals and organisations with keen interest in the lives and people of Africa, invited the AACC General Secretary Rev Dr Mvume Dandala as one of the speakers.

The current and former leaders of the action group are well known names, according to Rev Dandala, some of who have been associated with civil rights movements in the United States, like Rev wyatt T. Walker.

Speaking to AANA before his departure to the US to attend the conference, Dandala said: "Since they are celebrating the 50th Anniversary, they saw it fit to choose this time to dialogue with African organisations, among which is the AACC, to reflect together on the challenges facing the African continent."

Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) General Secretary, Rev Mutava Musyimi, last Wednesday formally introduced Rev Dandala to Kenyan church leaders.

This was the first time the new AACC boss was meeting religious heads in the country, since he took office early in the month. Rev Dandala expressed his desire for a dynamic working relationship between AACC and NCCK.

The AACC General Secretary, together with the World Council of Churches General Secretary (elect) Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, also held talks with Anglican prelates from across Africa, who were meeting in Nairobi.

He is optimistic that the result of this encounter will be a more active and committed participation by the Anglican Community in Africa, at the forthcoming AACC 8th General Assembly in Yaunde, Cameroon, from November 22 to 27.

Reported by Herman Kasili

Eritreans Quest For Freedom Betrayed By Govt, Says HWR

ASMARA (AANA) September 29 - The Human Rights Watch has called on the Eritrean government to release all political prisoners and allow freedom of the press.

In a statement released to mark the second anniversary of a major crackdown against civil society, Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, said on September 17 that Eritreans, who struggled valiantly to become free and independent deserved to have their human rights respected.

"Unfortunately, the government continues to deny them that opportunity," he noted, stating that Eritrea's practice of arbitrary arrests and detentions continues to this day.

On September 18, 2001, the Eritrean government arrested eleven leaders of the ruling party after they sent a letter to President Issayas Afewerki, calling for democratic reforms, including the implementation of a constitution passed in 1997.

Arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention without trial, has not been limited to politicians and journalists.

In late 2002, the government detained 250 refugees who attempted to flee Eritrea after being involuntarily repatriated from Malta. The refugees have been held incommunicado ever since.

In the roundup that followed, publishers, editors, and reporters were arrested, and all non-government newspapers and magazines closed down.

In the two years since, the government has arrested scores more, either because of their ties to the dissidents or their perceived political views.

President Afewerki has referred to the detainees as "traitors" and "spies", but formal charges have not been preferred. To detain people for more than thirty days without charges is a violation of Eritrean law.

Religious minorities are also subjected to persecution. Members of Pentecostal Christian churches and Jehovah's Witnesses are frequently arrested for practising their faiths.

There have been so many arrests that some prisoners are being incarcerated in empty cargo containers.

Eritrea is a one-party state. National elections have not been held since Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993.

Elections were cancelled in 1997 because of a border war with Ethiopia. They were cancelled again in 2001, two years after the war ended, and remain unscheduled.

"In a year in which Eritrea is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its independence, it is highly unfortunate that it is also commemorating the second anniversary of government repression," said Takirambudde.

Reported by Henry Neondo

Students Deaths Highlight Increasing Abuse Of Alcohol

KANG, Botswana (AANA) September 29 - Nine schoolboys died here on September 13 and 20 more are in critical condition in Gaborone, after drinking a synthetic methanol alcoholic concoction that was almost 100 percent proof.

Five students at Matsha Community College, a boarding junior secondary school in Kang in north-western Botswana, died two days after taking the liquid. Four others died on admission to hospital.

The boys were from Themote, a village deep in the Kalahari Desert. They apparently drunk the concoction after mixing it in the school's science laboratory.

Survivors were flown to a hospital in the capital, Gaborone, for urgent treatment. All are listed as "critical" but doctors say that a number should be off the danger list soon.

Dr Johnson David of Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone, confirmed that some of the students risk becoming permanently blind.

A total of 50 other students took themselves to a clinic next to the school after confessing that they had drank the deadly concoction.

The tragedy begun on September 13, when some students broke into the school laboratory and stole the chemical that is said to be 100 percent alcohol.

On September 16, five of the surviving students admitted to school authorities and police that they had stolen the chemicals from the laboratories.

The event highlights worrying increase in abuse of alcohol in Botswana. The country is said to be leading in southern Africa, in terms of consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The state of alcohol abuse in the country has resulted in the Alcoholic Anonymous International holding their meeting in the country for the first time, this year.

Reported by Rodrick Mukumbira

Illicit Arms Still Proliferating, Peacemaker Reminds Africans

NAIROBI (AANA) September 29 - African governments have been called upon to redouble efforts towards combating proliferation of small arms on the continent.

"The fact that the issue is on the rise is good enough for the nations on the continent to redouble their efforts towards combating it," Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, the Executive Director of the Africa Peace Forum (APF), has said.

The Kenyan diplomat made the remarks here on September 23, during the launch of a report on global survey on small arms, titled, Small Arms Survey 2003: Development Denied. The survey was conducted by the Graduate Institute of International Studies, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr Kiplagat, currently mediating the Somali National Reconciliation Conference in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, said that his organisation looked forward to working closely with both the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), in tackling proliferation of small arms on the continent.

"We are currently working closely with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on both the Sudan and Somalia peace issues, and hope to widen our scope," he added.

The report reveals that proliferation of small arms causes more than 300,000 deaths globally every year. The world's poorest countries are more affected.

In his address, Project Director of the Small Arms Survey, Mr Peter Batchelor, reiterated that Africa today had an estimated 30 million small arms.

"The majority of those guns are in the hands of civilians and insurgents," he regretted, and added: "The availability and misuse of small arms in Africa have undermined the continent's development prospects."

According to the survey, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have each an estimated national stockpile of between 500,000 and one million small arms.

The survey has further found that there are about 77,000 small arms in the hands of major West African insurgent groups. The total number of illicit military-style guns is unlikely to surpass one million for all of sub-Saharan Africa.

At least 10 countries in the region, including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, have some domestic capacity to produce small arms and/or ammunition, the survey has also established. "Illicit production of small arms occurs in a number of countries in sub-Sahara Africa, including Ghana and South Africa," says the report.

Meanwhile, representatives of the warring Sudan government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) finally signed an elusive agreement on security arrangements, following three weeks of talks between SPLM/A leader, John Garang, and Sudan's First Vice-President, Ali Osman Taha.

The pact was signed last Thursday in Naivasha town, some 85 km from Kenya's capital, Nairobi. This paves way for continuation of peace negotiations, which had temporarily stalled when parties failed to agree on the sticking security issue.

Reported by Osman Njuguna

©Copyright 2003, All Africa News Agency (Africa)

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