My task today is to facilitate the reflection on the evolution of the network of the parishes operating in the informal settlements or slums in the Archdiocese of Nairobi. Many initiatives mark the history of this movement from February 2002 when the first meeting occurred until today, when we are assembled for a moment of evaluation to set the stage for a new phase. Your four groups have shared on:
- Spirituality -
- Themes discussed during the passed 17 encounters -
- Actions taken to counteract emerging issues -
- Logistics support structures.
My talk doesn't make reference to the outcome of the sharing since we haven't yet scrutinized the reports. Hopefully my reflection might help to move forward. Continuity with the past should be there, but also innovation and creativity. Our time, as Redemptoris Missio points out, is characterised by rapid changes; KUTOKA should not be afraid of evolution and transformation.
1. From 2002 to 2005: a journey towards a more participatory methodology
We pastoral agents from the 14 parishes involved in the slums have developed insights ands methodology throughout the three years of our cooperation. A journey of 3 years with 17 meetings for reflection, sharing and planning common initiaves has affirmed us in our commitment to slums ministry. We have experienced that together transformation can occur and we might have an impact on the local church, on the society and on the state of Kenya. Initiatives such as the campaign against "shangaa", the presentation of memorandum to the Archbishop to forestall the forcible eviction, efforts of civic education, social and cultural analysis, elections are but a few of the major events occurred over the years. The people have grown through the process of democratization in the country. 2002 marked the end of a regime; we are grappling with a more democratic type of government. People are more sensitive to and capable of speaking by themselves. Involvement and participation are key words for the future. If KUTOKA is to come up with a plan of action, that Plan should not be only for the people but by the people as well.
2. From Land Caucus to KUTOKA: the importance of internal cohesion.
As mentioned by Mss. Christine Bowers in the brief the history of the network, KUTOKA chronologically came after the experience of Land Caucus, an initiative which lasted for four years focusing on the burning issue of land ownership. At certain moment, the tensions between NGO's and the Churches brought about the downfall of the Caucus. From this experience something should be learnt by all of us.
For a Christian movement which aims at a lasting impact it is not enough neither to have a common problem to solve, for example the land as it was in the case of the Caucus, nor a common enemy to fight against. It is of paramount importance to share common vision, goal, methodology and spirituality, inspired by our common Christian Faith, grounded on serious social and cultural analysis, with ministers equipped with solid competence and readiness for collaboration and networking within and without the church.
For a movement like KUTOKA spread out over 14 parishes it is of vital important to pursue strongly shared commonalities; differences will always be there. Otherwise in the long run it will break off either, because of internal tensions which will always arise or because the motivations to work together may have grown rusty or because other urgencies and emergencies may have diverted the attention to other issues. The foundational interest and enthusiasm may grow weary and vanish. KUTOKA should not forget the causes of the disintegration of the Land Caucus, lest it might occur again.
3. KUTOKA: pastoral and missionary situations in the Archdiocese of Nairobi.
One of complains which often surfaces at the meetings of KUTOKA is that the diocesan priests hardly attend any initiatives, though invited. Yet the archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana' a Nzeki has more than once blessed and encouraged KUTOKA. Are diocesan priests not interested? Let me try to give an explanation. When in 1995-97 I was teaching at St. Thomas Seminary, the seminarians of the fourth year I was lecturing to, had a very clear point in their mind, that is the difference between pastoral and missionary activity. With Pastoral Activity they meant the accompaniment of a parish properly established with a good number of Christians through a series of initiatives based on the liturgical calendar and the celebration/administration of sacraments. As we can see the social dimension in the pastoral ministry hardly finds any room; religious initiatives take the lion share! Missionary activity is located in situations whereby either there are no Christians or the social conditions are so poor and disorganised that pastoral activity would not be possible without strong social slant. Missionary activity according to those seminarians would aim at creating proper pastoral conditions and activities befitting diocesan the priests. In the slums normal pastoral ministry is not possible hence slum ministry is not, according to those seminarians, for diocesan priests.
In the encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio (33-34) John Paul II clearly states the difference between missionary activity and pastoral activity. In that same document (RM 37) the Pope states that the slum ministry is one of the new phenomenons of the modern era and falls under missionary activity. Drawing from the above mentioned points we might assume the one of the reasons why the diocesan priests might not be responding to the invitation to take part in KUTOKA is that they might feel that slum ministry is not of their own business. Is this attitude a right one? In KUTOKA' s Plan for Action the issue of relationships with other parishes has to be seriously considered. Which relationship between missionary situations and pastoral situations in the archdiocese of Nairobi? Missionary situations often mean poverty, misery and undignified situations of life. May better off Christian Parishes ignore such situations in the Archdiocese? If the Archdiocese is to be a communion of communities the two worlds are to meet somewhere otherwise social sin may rot the whole Church.
4. The slow rise of slums' awareness in the Church
As far as the Magisterium of the Church, we find the first hint at slum situations in Mater Magistra (1961) where John the XXIII portrays the swelling immigration from the countryside to towns. He strongly recommends that governments provides rural areas with basic facilities such as : communication, education, health, electricity, water and so forth to help people remain in their own rural set up. An ample and passionate attention is found in Medellin Conference of Bishops of Latin America in 1968 attended by Paul VI. It was a shocking experience for the Pope an exposure to a type of inhuman conditions of life he had never dreamed of. We can understand why the same Paul VI in Octagesima Adveniens (May 1971) under the heading of: new social problems (8-12) elaborated at length on Urbanization, Slums and Christians in the City. In the same year (October 19971) the Synod of Bishops on Justice in the World (10) touched upon the issue of informal settlements in several passages of the final document. Some of the Bishops, such as Helder Camara, had personal first hand experience of the life in the slums. Four years later in Evangelii Nuntiandi (December 1975) insists on liberation from inhuman conditions of life and recommends Small Christina Communities which find the slums fertile ground in Latin America and in Africa. The Conference of Latin America Bishops of Puebla (1979) eleven years after Medellin, went back on it in the context of the preferential option for the poor. As far as Africa is concerned, the African Synod in 1994 is rather generic, though the presence of the Catholic Church in the slums had already scored interesting positive experience, outstanding for courage, passion and insertion. All in all the awareness of the Church as far as slums is concerned has grown rather slowly and is till , I might dare say, at it primal stage. This is the very reason why is called a missionary phenomenon not yet fully absorbed by the Church; a systematic and organized slum ministry is still looked for. Is a serious duty of the missionaries to keep sensitising the local churches and providing them with and appropriate slum ministry is a matter of grave obligation and urgency.
Let us now enrich these historical hints with a piece of history concerning Kenya. When in 1986 the issue of insertion in the slums was brought to the attention of that great and compassionate pastor who was Cardinal Otunga, he was hesitant about allowing a stable presence, hence full insertion. He considered the slums as outstations of Parishes located in saver places. He was afraid for the physical and psychological soundness of the missionaries and other pastoral agents. After two years he grew convinced of the importance of opening up a new chapter in the slums and he allowed an inserted missionary presence in the slums of Korogocho. In 1998 the first Catholic Parish fully inserted in the slum was inaugurated in Kibera, Laini Saba, by the title of Christ the King
It is also worth mentioning the contribution given by the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Tonucci Giovanni during his term of office from 1996 until 2004. He greatly contributed to the growing awareness in the Catholic Church by making himself available for celebrations in the slums be they religious or social. The apex of that attention was reached when Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice an Peace came to Kenya in February 2004 to address the first Pan African Congress on Social Apostolate on the occasion of the ten anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of Social Ministry at Tangaza College of the Catholic University of Easter Africa. The Nuncio personally accompanied the Cardinal to visit the slum of Kibera where forcible evictions were already planned and partially executed. The visit was followed by a courtesy call at State House for an encounter with President Mwai Kibaki; the issue of the eviction was brought to the attention of the President followed by a change of the policy of the government concerning the eviction. KUTOKA with its three years of operations is an important chapter in the history of slum apostolate by the Catholic Church in Kenya.
5. World wide sense of shame: project approach
In the process of working out a Plan of Action, KUTOKA should strongly consider another factor: the growing world wide attention to the inhuman conditions of life in the slums. Among the stakeholders we may mention: Law Society of Kenya, other numerous NGOs, State of Kenya, United Nations/UNEP, Foundations such as Ford Foundations, the MILLENNIUM Golden Goals driven programmes and so forth. The Churches and Religions are not alone; many stakeholders are directly involved. In the title of this paragraph I have used the word shame, not concern. Shame means uneasiness, nervousness which beget urgency to do something not very much for the sake of the people of the slums, but to do way with the shame. For MPs and other politicians, it might mean the loss of the seat in parliament in the next election if nothing is done.
Yes! The world suffers the shame and the guilty feeling of the slums! Therefore something will be done over the next few years! Hence we might witness a flurry of attempts, proposals ands efforts for the 'upgrading' of the slums. Let me put up-grading into inverted commas, and you guess the reasons!. When there is shame, people are in a hurry! They want to get rid of the painful feelings not for the sake of the slum dwellers but because is uncomfortable to live with those pangs inside. It is to be foreseen that over the next few years different proposals will be offered to the government for initiatives to be taken. The methodology will be top down approach, decisions will be taken somewhere without the involvement of the people. Money will be set apart to be spent within a year or two. It will be a project approach, worked out in governments' offices or in the NGO headquarters. The Church as a main stakeholder should come up with a ministry approach to correct the limitations and inadequacies of the project approach; ministry approach means putting the people first as agents of the transformation and betterment of their own life and being inspired by the vision of human dignity grounded in the Bible. The Catholic Church will not do anything .without the creative and qualified contribution of KUTOKA The issue cannot by put off. To be late means to be out. Late complains wouldn't change anything.
6. Christian Social Ministry Approach
Before breaking the component of what we call the Christian ministry approach, let us elaborate about two important assumptions: one from the Bible and the other from History of Labour Movement.
The dynamism of the Biblical Exodus.
The name KUTOKA was chosen on purpose to link the slums movement with the great event which is at the core of God's action in the life of the people of Israel: Exodus, that is liberation and gradual building of the people of God. Liberation from slavery was the prerequisite for the final product: the people of God. What Saint Peter writes in his first letter: who once were not a people, now are a people of God (1 Pt 2:10), applies first and foremost to the ex-slaves who fled from Egypt some time in the century between 1300 and 1200 before Christ, Those who had fled from Egypt were a mass, a mob, a throng (translation Bible of Jerusalem) that is all but not a unified group. The glue which was unifying them was just the chance of shaking off the Egyptian yoke; nothing very deep, neither al the level of common vision nor of positive motivations and shared faith. The years in the desert showed it very clearly: 40 years of tensions, rebellions, nostalgic sighs to go back to Egypt. All that put to the test the leadership qualities of Moses first and Joshua after. Moses' most difficult task was to promote internal cohesion, to provide identity, sense of belonging, common hope for the future based on a faith shared and celebrated by the all people as qah'al (assembly) of YHWH. Exodus had two very clear dimensions: the religious and the social. The separation of the two would tantamount to disintegrating Exodus. What does Exodus tell KUTOKA?
The Slums cradle of labour movement: a major new social actor
In the encyclical Redemptoris Missio no. 37b, John Paul II speaks of new social phenomena which are modifying the history of the world and consequently the missionary activity: The rapid and profound transformations which characterize today's world, especially in the southern hemisphere, are having a powerful effect on the overall missionary picture. Where before there were stable human and social situations, today everything is in flux. One thinks, for example of urbanisation and of the massive growth of cities, especially where demographic pressure is greatest. In not a few countries, over half of the population already live in a few 'megalopolis', where human problems are often aggravated by the feeling of anonymity experienced by masses of people…Today the image of mission Ad Gentes is perhaps changing: efforts should be concentrated on the big cities, where new costumes and styles of living raise together with new forms of culture and communication, which influence the wider population. It is true that the 'option for the neediest' means that we should not overlook the most abandoned and isolated human groups, but it is also true that individuals or small groups cannot be evangelized if we neglect the centres where a new humanity, so to speck is emerging ands where new models of development are taking shape. The future of younger nations is being shaped in the cities (RM 37b). John Paul II, himself a worker/miner for a while, should have remembered of the industrial revolution in Europe, revolution which gave rise to slums near factories and farms where working possibility where at hand. The same as in Africa today, though in 2005 the situation is more complex and difficult. Population growth and unemployment are far higher then ever before in the Europe of the XIX century and of the first half of the XX. Yes! In the slums grew up the labour movement of Europe the new class which gradually got organized in Labour Trade Unions major stakeholder in the Europe of the third millennium together with the Government/Politicians and Association of Entrepreneurs. The Pope, hence, has sound reasons to foretell a new humanity in the context of the slums. The working class in Europe grew up not without the Church, though fiercely contrasted by the communist and socialist movements. New type of apostolate were invented, let us mention the Young Christian Workers in Belgium, the Associations of Christian Labourers in Italy and the so-called Working Priests in France.
The slums hence have tremendous potential to condition for better or for worse the future the future of Kenya and of Africa. The slums are an unparalleled text for the credibility of the Church as far as the perception of the signs of the times and of the Church response to it, Let us no forget the John XXIII in 1963 heralded the rise of the workers movement as one of the three major signs of the times together with the end of colonialism and the access of women to public life (Pacem in Terris, 48). The millions of Kibarua of today should found a way of becoming a class, the labourers' class for their own sake, for the sake of their families and ultimately for the sake of their own countries and of Africa as a whole. The new class should find in the Social Teaching of the Church inspiration, vision and methodology for a sound updated organization befitting the civil society and the state of today. KUTOKA should seriously consider this aspect lest it become a sacristy movement.
Now let us proceed to a tentative description of the components of Christian Ministry. What follows is a tentative list of major elements of what can be termed ministry approach to slums.
From reaction to proaction: Plan of Action
Reaction is good in the sense that it assures survival vis a vis unforeseeable circumstances and rough social and natural environment, but will never assure that holist fullness proaction aims at. Reaction is based primarily on meeting needs, dangers, fears, proaction more on values, goals, and objectives. Reaction is motivated by perception ands intuition, proaction more by analysis and research as to have a global picture of the situation; reaction deals with effects, proaction pays more attention to the causes. Reaction is immediate emergency response, proaction is Plan of Action oriented, worked out with a scientific mentality.
Slums dwellers: from objects of attention to subjects of transformation
Involvement and participatory process are very difficult in the slums where people are harassed by the daily survival to get few shillings for food, water or shelter. When people are uncertain about how to make ends meet for themselves and their children, it becomes almost impossible to find concentration and time for research, reflection and planning. On top of that it is almost impossible to find sufficient room to assemble people for discussion and training. Thus the temptation of taking decisions for the slums dwellers as the Kenyan government did when it started the forced evictions in 2003 (now fortunately halted) and many NGO do. The people of the slum run the risk of being the objects of attention for top down imposed on decisions and not the subjects of the working out and them implementing a plan of transformation of their persons and of the life conditions. The Ministry Approach focuses primarily on peoples and then on infrastructures with the understanding of human dignity and the vision of the society offered by the Christian Social Teaching. Some wrote not without a pinch of salt of wisdom: is far easier to take the people out of the slums than to remove the slums out of the people.
KOTOKA therefore should be at forefront of involving the people in the process: this is the first condition to build a people or the labour class; KUTOKA is far more than helping the poor. Are the people of the slums objects of the pastoral agents' compassion or we are we helping them to become real protagonist of their own life. How much behind our own initiatives, for example the memorandum presented to the Archbishop and then to the President was owned by the people Initiatives of civic education and the experience of the general elections 2002 have remarkably contributed to enhance self affirmation spirit and creativity. The experience of the social cultural and theological analysis in the Parish of Christ the King in Kibera has shown that an initiative of this kind is almost a must for conscientization first step towards taking the reins in one's hand. The people started speaking loudly and openly only on the 2nd round of the analysis when what they had said in the 1st round was returned to them in Kiswahili. Only them the people grew convinced that what they had say was of importance for the planning of the parish. We should not take for granted that we are consulting people. It is far easier to speech on behave of the people than to empowerment them to stand by themselves. Only this way the rise of the working class will be favoured in the slums dormitories. Of late even the Kenyan government through the mapping and numbering of the house of Kibera is developing a more participatory methodology.
Two pronged ministry: Religious and Social Action and Social Capital
The experience of the pasts three years have clearly shown , amply reaffirmed by the Plan of Action of Christ the King gradually build through the process in the Pastoral Circle/cycle, that the slum ministry should be both deeply Religious and deeply Social, according, as we mentioned above the paradigm of Exodus. The challenge is what type of Religious Ministry and what type of Social Ministry. The sects approach is highly religious; though it answers the high hunger for religious experiences in the slums, cannot be the KUTOKA approach because seems to alienate the faithful from a faith motivate involvement for the social transformation of the slums according to the tenets of the Christian social Teaching. The Small Christian Communities according to the original understanding, that is not prayer groups, seems to be by far the best way of
Linking faith and social action. The social cohesion of the SCC is commanding respect so much that is considered in the many circles a social capital to complement and counterbalance the unilateral and capitalist focus on financial capital only; the financial focus is typical of the project approach, the social capital is closer to Ministry approach. Obviously the should no the seen as alternatives. Religious and Social initiatives should promote the spirit of initiative of the people as to become more and more subject of their history. It means that for the SCC the focus of their religious life should be the Bible, biblical apostolate. As far as the social action initiatives which promote entrepreneurship and spirit of initiatives such as micro-credit and among the workers (many of them Kibarua) a spirit of associationism which brings them together to operate as a class and not simply as individuals selling the daily work.
Which Spirituality for pastoral agents and for the slums dwellers?
This topic which would deserves closer attention. Often the spirituality for slum ministry is unilaterally identified with the spirituality of insertion ands incarnation; though essential for it should develop other components. The spirituality of EXODUS is more than that; moreover the slum ministry call for spirituality not only for ministers but also the people slums dwellers. The mystery of evil find in the slums unique types of expressions in social and personal sins. How the mystery of Redemption and the presence of Christ the Redeemer can be proclaimed and experienced. .
Collaborative ministry: within the church - civil society - state - international contacts: UN-HAHITA
The slums are a very complex phenomenon the solution cannot be found in the hands of one stakeholders only but only in the partnership and collaboration of all actors. NGO often seem to be reluctant to open up to broad type of collaboration and yet without collaboration nothing is going to be achieved. The ministerial approach of Kutoka should consider collaboration and the promotion of it within the Catholic Church, with other churches, religions, NGO and international actors a major objective to be constantly pursued.
Pastoral Cycle: an already experienced methodology
The Pastoral Circle launched by Fr. Peter Henriot SJ around 1980 and gradually enriched and elaborated in the African context by the Institute of Social Ministry in Tangaza College from 1994 onward offers a powerful methodology which joins together faith and science, social/cultural analysis and theological/ministerial analysis and reflection, theory and action, the specific contribution of the Church in collaboration with the civil society, state, international actors.
7. Support Structures for and beyond Kutoka
The support structures of KUTOKA were at minimum level and on voluntary basis. Financial help was provided by Maryknoll Missionaries; Christine Bowers acted as secretary both for minutes taking, for invitations and organization o meetings and keeping the records. . Parishes in turns offered logistics facilities for meeting and catered for meals. In Korogocho, written material is kept in the local popular library.
In devising a Plan for the Future the issue of support structures should be seriously considered if what said so far is to be taking into consideration. Relationship with the Local Church, Advocacy, Collaboration with other stakeholders, Internet will not materialized in a systematic and far reaching way without a clear and well organized support structure. The period 2002-2005 can be called the Charismatic moment of KUTOKA; the charism should be embodied in a institution, lest the charism itself vaporize.
8. Conclusion: a call to a joint venture
Le me conclude with a quotation from an article of mine in the book: The Slums A Challenge to Evangelization, (Tangaza Occasional Paper 7 No 14, Paulines Publications Africa 2002): Indeed, the slums are, as often repeated here, a complex phenomenon; non can therefore meet the challenge in isolation. A person or and institution alone and without a strong cooperation with partners involved in the slums, will achieve very little. Who are theses persons?
The slums dwellers themselves are to be the first protagonists of their liberation; nobody can do it for them, hence the paramount importance that they be adequately mobilized and sustained by an efficient network, particularly among different slums. In this way, a tremendous human, social, political ands economic potential will be brought to fruition.
The Churches and others religious groups have a unique weight due to their all-pervading presence through the Small Christian Communities, projects of human development, associations and other entities. Their fragmentation, competition, and relatively weak ecumenical spirit and interfaith dialogue are a great liability.
The state and the civil society at large: the slums dwellers are citizens with all rights and duties, and they pay taxes. Why should the state so shamefully ignore them that hardly any social facilities are available to them? Traditional authorities also have a great role to play, which can only be ignored with serious consequences.
NGO are present in the slums with a variety of initiatives. Cooperation is not their main asset, but we think that collaboration can improve even with them as well.
Cooperation among all these actors is difficult by all means, yet the slums offer a unique opportunity for it to become a reality. Even though many may fall short of joining hands with others, our experience assures us that without collaborative ministry hardly anything will be achieved. Globalization adds further motivations to the call to open up the fences of our small garden. Tuko Pamoja will transform human challenges, no matter the hurdles, into the pregnant ground from which a more human, and therefore more divine life will spring up for many" (Slums A Challenge to Evangelization)140 - 141) .