Hekima Research Week Day Four: Book Launches
A quote says, “In a world full of noise, book authors amplify the voices that need to be heard!” As the Research Week reaches its climax, it is gratifying to welcome new books published by both the faculty as well as associates of HUC, for as it is known, research and publications are what distinguish a university from a high school. The following books were presented:
by Marcel Uwineza, S.J., Elisee Rutagambwa, S.J. and Michel Kamanzi, S.J.:
According to HUC Deputy Principal Academic Affairs Dr. Emmanuel Foro, SJ, who reviewed the book, it is a must-read piece, especially for those who are studying theology as well as Peace Studies and International Relations because it begins with a meticulously written history of Rwanda which details how the events leading to the genocide began from 1885 when the Berlin Conference divided Africa into pieces like a cake giving, where Rwanda was a portion belonging to German.
Dr. Foro goes on to elaborate that in Rwanda until today, Christianity is the dominant religion, more so the Catholic faith. “The history goes on and at some point when independence was claimed by all African countries Rwanda was not left behind and the missionaries present in the country also started changing their minds on who to and who not to support and this contributed to the division that we know too well,” Dr. Foro expressed adding that it is important therefore for those studying theology to know that evangelization might have pitfalls as well, and for those studying peace studies that religion has its role in peacebuilding. “At the heart of our current apostolic preferences for the mission of Society of Jesus is the mission of reconciliation and so this was another inspiration for the publication of this book,” Dr. Uwineza explained adding that they also felt compelled to pay tribute to the three Rwandan Jesuits who were among the first individuals to be killed when the genocide started in Rwanda. This is in addition to the need to contribute to the mission of reconciliation and to leave something as a point of reference for future generations.
While thanking other people who were involved in the production of the book, Dr. Elisee Rutagambwa said that the book is an industry, not a one-person endeavor. “It has made us meet many people we never expected and even though we are happy about the publication of this book, the reality of the genocide is not an easy thing to deal with.”
This is because “the sin of genocide is not like any other sin because it is the sin that denies the very reason of our faith, it denies the dignity of the human person who is created in the image and likeness of God. Genocide denies the work of creation itself and in the process denies God,” Dr. Rutagambwa explained adding that there is always a tendency either to equate genocide with other sins or to somehow water it down and deny actual human responsibility for it.
Dr. Dominic Tomuseni, SJ the session’s moderator noted that the book has a long history and will remain longer as a book of reference for future generation.
20 years ago, Prof Lawrence Njoroge published A Century of the Catholic Endeavour, which was the result of his PhD research at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The variables of research in that book were, on the one hand, the Holy Ghost and the Consolata Missionaries in Kenya and their activities, and on the other hand their impact on education and development in Kenya. The publication was inspired by a number of factors including Roland Oliver’s book The Missionary Factor in East Africa (1952).
According to Prof Njoroge, the thesis of Roland Oliver was very clear, that missionaries have made a difference in the African conditions, a difference for better or for worse. “When it comes to Roland Oliver, the difference he made in his evaluation is that it was a beneficial impact, that missionaries have had a beneficial impact on the African condition,” Njoroge noted adding that other persons such as Ngugi wa Thiongo in his book Home Coming took a very different view because Ngugi depicts the missionaries and the colonizers as hand and gloves and uses the Kikuyu proverb, that there is no difference between a missionary and the colonizer, therefore sees missionary activities not only as having been negative but destructive in the African condition.
In his earlier book, what he did in terms of methodology was to look at Church archives including that of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, Consolata, and the Holy Ghost Missionaries both in Kenya and in Rome and in Ireland. Secondly, he looked at the dissertations of both the Catholics and the protestant missions especially the Anglican Church, Presbyterian Church, and the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM). Thirdly he looked at the missionary journals and was very lucky to access the St. Austin journals which began in the year 1899 and also the Mombasa journal and the journal of Fr. Philip Okelo of Consolata Missionaries Via di Missione. Finally, he looked at the Kenya National Archives as well as library research including the library of the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University as well as Hekima Library.
The book A Century of Catholic Endeavors was therefore basically historical and archival, bearing materials from the archives and the libraries. The difference between the previous book A Century of Catholic Endeavour and Beyond Century of Endeavour: A History of the Catholic Church in Kenya is that Prof. Njoroge removed some material from the first book, retained and rewrote some material, and added totally new material, especially focusing on the last 20 years as the previous book had covered a century from 1899 to 1999 when it was published and issues in the year 2001.
Beyond the Century therefore looks at the last 20 years of the Catholic Church in Kenya. Prof. Njoroge concluded the research work in 2022 and put together an updated version of the previous book which he extended to capture interviews with 32 pastoral agents including catechists, educationists, doctors, and theologians, among whom was the Late Prof Laurenti Magesa. He also interviewed heads of religious organizations and congregations in the country including the Association of Sisterhood in Kenya AOSK and Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops KCCB among others.
The book is dedicated to two great American Jesuits John Padberg, SJ, and John O’Malley, SJ to whom the author (Director of the Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa, JHIA) dedicated the work in appreciation for their significant contributions to Jesuit History. According to Dr. Emmanuel Foro, SJ, who reviewed the book, Ignatius, the limping Saint, is the new school of history! Foro expressed that the complaisance underscores the fact that the history of infirmity is concerned with the socially marginalized and historically ignored category. ” Enyegue is writing a spiritual history that he believes is a better bridge for appropriation by the Global South” he said.
The book has an introduction, five chapters, and a conclusion. For Africans who are fundamentally spiritual and religious, kings speak as loudly as beings therefore it is essential to read the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and the Institute of the Jesuits through the African social, spiritual approach. “Enyegue is inventing a new historical method so to speak, where social history and spiritual history meet and embrace each other at the frontier.” He provided that the thesis seems to be, history finds its meaning in the relationship and dialogue of human beings with the earth that bears and nourishes them, therefore history is about their destiny. Foro commented that the author seems to be writing an existential history of the Society of Jesus basing his arguments on the five points enlisted in the chapters: The Story of the Limping Saint, The Formation of a Global Order, The New Mission, The Suppression and Restoration, and finally Habemus Papam.
According to the author who is also a lecturer in Church History at Hekima Jesuit School of Theology, the book took him a year to write, was motivated by the need to offer not just the institutional history of the Society of Jesus which is what he did in his first book but to offer the spiritual dimension of that same history.
“When we speak of Jesuit ethos, it is basically what we can call our way of proceeding for instance, whenever the Jesuits say anything about who they are, what they do, and why they do it, there is always a spiritual motivation behind it; in fact, their very religious order is religious in essence,” Dr. Enyegue explained adding that the question he has been grappling with is that, “when we write the history of the church or a religious organization like the Jesuits, following the modern paradigm of history with strong rationalisms for example, are we really giving an accurate and objective account of the history of that institution if because of modernism and its rationalism we overlook the spiritual?”
Dr. Enyegue further explained that the very concept of the Jesuit Ethos has a history which is what he is trying to tell in his new book whereby the most objective account of the history of a religious institution has to include not only the institutional dimensions but also a social and spiritual dimension which is what is innovative.
The three books launched on the fourth day of Hekima research week and the conversations that went on beyond the auditorium exhibited the richness of knowledge that can only come from research and publications to which Hekima University College gives precedence.
By Pamela Adinda, Coordinator HUC Communications Department and International Office