Around Africa
October/November 2002 
A Publication of the Africa Faith and Justice Network

AFJN Holds 19th Annual Meeting
AFJN Annual Award Honors Rep. Maxine Waters
Africa Advocacy Days
Love Poured Forth for Life
Johannesburg Summit

On behalf of the board and staff, I want to extend our gratitude to the participants of the 2002 AFJN Annual Meeting and our congratulations to those who helped make it such a success. I want to make special mention of the contributions by Rev. Dr. Leon Spencer, Executive Director of the Washington Office on Africa, and Rev. Luc Coppejans, M.Afr., Executive Secretary of the Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN). This is the first time we enjoyed such high level involvement by their two organizations, and AFJN is eager to continue strengthening its collaboration with them.

We proudly bestowed AFJN's Annual Award on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA35) for her tireless work on behalf of justice for Africa's peoples. She sent us a clear message that AFJN is on the right advocacy track at this time when Africa still remains off the short list of the current administration's priorities. Likewise Ms. Pearl-Alice Marsh, Democratic Professional Staff for the House International Relations Committee, rallied us around the importance of the grassroots advocacy AFJN does, challenging us to be firm in our efforts.

That same message came through in the workshops on HIV/AIDS, resource looting and globalization led by skilled staff from Church World Service, Catholic Relief Services and AEFJN respectively. All of the presentations recognized that Africans and forces outside of Africa share responsibility for these issues. Their gravity is all the more acute because of the continuing vulnerability of the continent, which is why we have to keep pounding on our government's door to see that truly fair policies prevail.

I feel confident that I speak for all who attended our Annual Meeting this year when I say that we left with a renewed sense of the importance, and most of all the urgency, of our advocacy for just USA policies toward Africa. No one knows where the whole globalization phenomenon is leading. But we can be sure that poor people in Africa and throughout the world, including the USA, face the real possibility of being ever more impoverished and marginalized unless systematic controls and safeguards are put in place to guarantee human and environmental rights and distributive justice.

That's where we come in …

Marcel Kitissou, Ph.D.
AFJN Executive Director
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"Speak Hope; Claim Justice"

By Larry J. Goodwin

From 04-05 October 2002 AFJN held one its most successful Annual Meetings ever. Drawing nearly 40-people from 11-states under the theme "Speak Hope; Proclaim Justice," the 19th Annual Meeting presented AFJN members with first-class talks and workshops and conducted important AFJN business as required by the organization's by laws.

Board Elections
One of the most important pieces of business was to elect 4-members to fill seats on the 12-person Board of Directors. Rev. Phil Reed, M.Afr. was reelected to a second term, and Sr. Clarita Hanson, SHCJ, Sr. Ruth Emke, SSND, and Rev. Joseph Lackner, SM were elected to first terms. The full list of current board members is found on page …

AFJN welcomes new and returning board members with gratitude for the important and selfless role they play in advancing AFJN's advocacy. The new board will elect its officers at its 06 December meeting in Washington, DC.

Financial Reports
AFJN's Board Finance Committee detailed the 2001 Annual Report and the most recent financial statement, which members duly approved. AFJN is working within its budgetary parameters, but with a full staff complement its income must increase over the next 2-years in order to match costs.

Operational Plan
Every 2-years, members approve an Operational Plan that frames AFJN's priorities and direction. It corresponds to each 2-year session of Congress so as to help make AFJN's advocacy work more coherent. The Operational Plan (OP) submitted to this year's annual meeting was noteworthy for its recognition of the complex set of issues Africa advocacy faces in the USA right now and for its ambitiousness in trying to address them.

Set in the context of both the Bush administration's anti-terrorism focus and the USA fixation on market policies, and recognizing the growing mobilization of Africa's NGOs, the OP stresses AFJN's commitment to peace & security initiatives, notably the Great Lakes region, Southern Africa, the Mano River states and Sudan. Under the "Dealing with Transition and Coping with Change" initiative, AFJN will advocate, research and promote nonviolent policies and non-weapons management of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the area of economic justice, AFJN will continue its focus on fair trade, debt relief and making the link between HIV/AIDS and structural adjustment policies emanating from the World Bank and IMF.

The Africa Grassroots Response Initiative(GRI)
GRI has successfully generated awareness and support for African farmer and community rights among AFJN partner organizations, African NGOs, social justice groups and a wide-range of international civil society organizations. Its primary focus has been upholding rights to seeds, plants and other indigenous resources as found in the African Model Law against the drive by transnational corporations to patent them, thereby putting smallholder farmers at risk of not being able to access, save or use their seeds and crops materials. Chief among GRI's efforts have been the international "Declaration of Support for African Smallholder Farmers" that has garnered over 600 endorsers to date and the "AFRICA Resolution" (H. Con. Res. 260), introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA35), that urges USA support for the principles of the African Model Law.

The GRI project will continue its focus on community and farmer rights over the next 2-years, but will expand it to include water privatization (taking water out of public sector control), which African NGOs have identified as one of the most alarming trends in the globalization phenomenon. AFJN will work in close collaboration with AEFJN and its DC-based trade coalition partners on this issue.

AFJN Resources
Finally, AFJN will continue efforts to solidify its funding and resource base through a strategy of grant applications, membership expansion and greater outreach to the Catholic social justice community. This will include visits to AFJN supporting organizations and potential partners.

As AFJN looks down the road not many years hence, it is obvious that its resource base will have to expand and become more secure if it hopes to effectively continue its advocacy work. There has been a staff crunch for some time now, and that limitation has become increasingly acute the more the organization is called upon to cover the range of issues facing Africa today.

Recognizing its ambitious goals, the assembly approved the 2003-2004 Operational Plan, mindful of the need to address AFJN's restricted resources.

Staff Report
Closely linked to the Operational Plan was the staff report, presented by AFJN Executive Director Marcel Kitissou, which summarized the main areas of staff activity in the last year. Ranging from the GRI initiative to efforts centered on HIV/AIDS, trade & debt, analysis of NEPAD, attention to the Zimbabwean situation and the new initiative on peace and security transitions on the continent, the report conveyed the tremendous number of issues that staff try competently to address in their service to AFJN members.

Marcel also related news of AFJN's on-going attempts to shore up its resource base. AFJN has broken new ground this year in identifying secular foundations to approach for grant-funded projects.

Note: the Operational Plan and Staff Report were sent to all AFJN members prior to the Annual Meeting. Please look for that mailing if you would like to read them in their entirely, or contact our office for other copies.

Presentations and Workshops
Three presenters anchored the Annual Meeting's theme and agenda --

Rev. Luc Coppejans, M.Afr., the Executive Secretary of Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network (AEFJN), recalled the related origins of the two organizations in his keynote speech entitled "The Road Traveled, The Road Ahead."

AEFJN began, and remains today "the only church group that focuses exclusively on economic injustice as rooted in European policies that affect African countries." AEFJN works within the formal structures of the European Union as well as lobbying through eleven national "antennae" (affiliates or subdivisions) organized in individual EU member countries. AEFJN also has antennae set up in a few African countries.

AFJN and AEFJN have embarked on a close working relationship, building on the momentum of their successful collaboration around the African Model Law and farmer rights. In 2003, the 2-organizations will focus on the issue of the right of African people to water.

Dr. Pearl-Alice Marsh, Democratic Professional Staff for the House International Relations Committee, addressed the assembly on what advocacy by grassroots groups like AFJN looks like from the Capitol Hill perspective. She strongly contended that citizens' voices need to be heard in Congress and insisted on the importance for groups like AFJN to identify and build relationships with Hill staff who can champion their points of view from the inside.

Perhaps most gripping was her exhortation that members of Congress and their staffs need the expertise and experience of people "on the ground" in order to craft good policies. Not all members of Congress are equally open to NGO input, and some may determinedly resist it, but cracking that wall is the crux of grassroots advocacy.

Rev. Dr. Leon Spencer, Executive Director of the Washington Office on Africa (WOA), one of AFJN's closest colleague organizations, spoke on "Partnering for Advocacy." Examining the topic from a theological perspective, he grappled with what underlies why we want and need partnerships. Partnership, he said, expresses a relationship of community. For faith-based groups like AFJN and WOA, it is grounded in Scripture; it is a ministry of justice and reconciliation; and it is done in solidarity with those who suffer. Thus the preferential option for the poor, so central to the identity of mission congregations, can be expressed in terms of partnership.

He stressed that we seek as partners those most affected by the issues on which we work and those who share a vision for justice, especially but not exclusively from a faith perspective. In the multitude of voices that often speak so disparately of today's social and political realities, though, that vision must be discerned. And partnering with Africans across different cultural, political and historical lines must be grounded in mutual listening and in the convictions of our respective social contexts.

Rev. Coppejans treated globalization from a European perspective. He discussed the ACP group (the former African, Caribbean and Pacific colonies), originally comprised of 48 countries, and now including more than 80. The ACP group negotiated the 1975 Lome Convention, a special association with the European Economic Community, which has been revised 4-times since then, most recently in the Cotonou Agreement in 2000.

The aim of the Cotonou Agreement is to replace the 40-year old mechanism of solidarity with the ACP block with agreements focused on the paradigm of market liberalization. The creation of Regional Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) will reduce the negotiating capacity of the ACP block. The advent of EPAs is an important new occurrence for Africa, as they will probably lead to regional economic integration giving preference to neo-liberal trade principles over solidarity principles.

Heather Nolen of Church World Service, who facilitates the Advocacy Network for Africa's HIV/AIDS Working Group, provided a global perspective on AIDS and how it is playing out in the USA. Against the grim backdrop of statistics exposing the ravages of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, she described the problematic USA response to the pandemic, where a U.S. $2.5 billion annual contribution is critically needed but not yet forthcoming.

In explaining the intricacies of the UN Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, congressional maneuvers around the HIV/AIDS issue and the Presidential AIDS Initiative, she helped equip participants to organize for education and advocacy back home. In the face of 28.5 million Africans living with HIV/AIDS (nearly 3 million of them children), she stressed that there is no time for waiting.

Ian Gary, senior Africa policy analyst at Catholic Relief Services and fresh back from a trip to the two Congos, Chad and Cameroon, treated the group to a fascinating tableau on the issue of the vast resource looting taking place in Africa. Starting with some general background information, he delved into the wide array of Africa's natural resources that are being plundered by outsiders and African countries alike, including diamonds, bauxite, gold, coltan and, most importantly these days, oil.

He explained that the USA currently gets 21% of its oil from Africa and that the figure will go up to 25% in the next three years. Important international and domestic interests are at stake in this, with tremendous risk of corruption, military intervention and ecological mismanagement. Given that assessment, his news of organized and concerted transnational church efforts, led by the church in Cameroon, to monitor and to make governments, oil companies and multinational lenders accountable, was particularly encouraging.

AFJN Dinner
In the midst of a tightly packed schedule, participants also found time to enjoy themselves at the Annual Meeting. At the end of the first day, a cheese & wine social was enlivened by the rhythms of the Diabate Family, 4-talented musicians who played traditional instruments and songs from Mali.

The social served as a prelude to a special dinner, at which Rep. Maxine Waters was honored with the AFJN Annual Award. AFJN has been most grateful to Rep. Waters for her solid leadership in upholding African community and farmer rights over the last year, notably by introducing a congressional resolution supporting the principles of African Model Law.

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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AFJN bestowed its 2002 Annual Award on Representative Maxine Waters for her determined, no-nonsense dedication to the people of Africa. Representing California's 35th District, Rep. Waters sits on the House Financial Committee, where she serves on the International Monetary Policy and Trade Sub-Committee; and she sits on the Judiciary Committee, assigned to the sub-committee dealing with intellectual property.

Because of her positions on these two important committees, AFJN and the Africa Trade Policy Working Group approached her in mid-2001 about introducing a resolution urging the U.S. government to support African community and farmer rights as expressed in the African Model Law [AA Nov/Dec 2001, pg. 3]. The impetus for the resolution was an urgent concern that African farmers could lose control of their seeds and crops to transnational corporations because of international patent rules promoted by the World Trade Organization.

Rep. Waters immediately agreed and assigned one of her top aides, Kathleen Sengstock, to oversee the initiative. Rep. Waters introduced H. Con. Res. 260, the Agricultural and Farm Resources for the Indigenous Communities of Africa (AFRICA) Resolution, on 01 November 2001 and has strenuously promoted it since then, including sending several "Dear Colleague" letters to her fellow House members asking for their co-sponsorship.

In recent months, deeply concerned by the famine haunting Africa's southern region, she has called for hearings and special briefings on the situation, tirelessly demanding that the U.S. government respond to the drought victims' plight with understanding, generosity and compassion according to the significant resources it has at its disposal.

Because of the death of a close colleague, Rep. Waters could not attend the Annual Meeting to accept the award in person. Her aide, Kathleen Sengstock, received it on her behalf and energized AFJN participants with a spirited talk reminding them of how important and valued their advocacy efforts are. She made real for AFJN listeners the close connection that must exist between citizens and their representatives in matters of social justice and public policy.

Rep. Waters' name was added to the list of previous award recipients that hangs in AFJN's office. The plaque reads: "Recipients of this award are persons of faith, collaboration and instruments of education and advocacy on behalf of justice for Africa."

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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October 2002 - October 2003

Pasquino Panato, Comboni Fathers
Philip Armstrong, Congregation of Holy Cross
Tony Gittins, Holy Ghost Fathers
Jo'Ann De Quattro, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus & Mary
Ann Oestreich, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters
Ted Hayden, Society of African Missions
Mike Snyder, Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers
Anne Louise Von Hoene, Medical Mission Sisters
Phil Reed, Society of Missionaries of Africa
Clarita Hanson, Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus
Joseph H. Lackner, Marist Fathers
Ruth Emke, School Sisters of Notre Dame
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The Mission of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Liberia

2002 marks the tenth anniversary of the deaths of five Adorers of the Blood of Christ whom Pope John Paul II called "Martyrs of Charity." In October, 1992 they were killed in the civil war that had raged in Liberia since 1989. Allegedly, Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra and Mary Joel Kolmer were caught in the crossfire of an ambush as they drove one of their workers from Gardnersville to Barnersville on October 20. Three days later soldiers of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) fatally shot Sisters Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller, and Shirley Kolmer outside their convent in Gardnersville.

Until the civil war forced missionaries to flee Liberia, the presence of Adorers in Liberia was uninterrupted for almost 20 years as 19 Adorers engaged in health care, education, and pastoral work among the people of Grand Cess, Gardnersville, Kle, and surrounding towns and villages. Although no Adorers have worked in Liberia since 1992, the people of Liberia have remained close to their hearts. The congregation has supported the education of several Liberian women in the United States and in Liberia and has worked for the cause of peace and justice in that country still torn by civil war.

The five Martyrs continue to live in the hearts of the Liberian people. In 1993, the Sister Barbara Ann Muttra Memorial Health Center and the Sister Agnes Mueller Memorial Maternity Center were dedicated in Gardnersville. St. Mulumba's parish in a small town between Gardnersville and Robertsfield Airport named its school after Sister Kathleen. The Catholic parish in Barnersville is dedicated to the Sisters and named Holy Martyrs Church. Five Liberian Marist brothers teach at the Sister Shirley Kolmer School in Barnersville. A Liberian woman who received religious formation from Sister Joel is now a novice with the Adorers in Tanzania. And the Liberian people continue many ASC works in health care, education, and pastoral works.

The bond between the Adorers and the Liberian people goes still deeper. The blood of five U.S. Adorers has mingled with that of the thousands of Liberians killed during civil strife, and the Adorers have shared with the Liberian people the grief of losing loved ones through violence. This bond has irrevocably joined the Liberian people and the Adorers in a way that no one could possibly have imagined when the first Adorers were welcomed to Liberia over three decades ago.

For more information about the Martyrs of Charity and the mission of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Liberia, visit
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Africa Advocacy Days
February 23-26, 2003

An Educational and Advocacy Event for People of Faith
Committed to Working for Just U.S. Policies toward Africa

You are invited to participate in an ecumenical gathering in Washington, DC, that begins Sunday evening, February 23, and ends Wednesday afternoon, February 26, 2003.

Africa Faith and Justice Network, the Washington Office on Africa and the Lutheran Stand with Africa Campaign are joining with Church World Service and Churches for Middle East Peace in a gathering that offers two distinct learning and advocacy tracks, one focused on Africa, the other on the Middle East. Recognizing that advocacy approaches share much in common across regions, Africa and Middle East advocates have joined together in planning this conference.

At a time when Africa faces enormous challenges and crises, many rooted in decisions made by powerful outside forces and institutions, U.S. priorities toward the continent are glaringly inadequate. The Africa Track will provide challenging speakers, briefings on issues like HIV/AIDS, debt, African conflicts (and related items like landmines and child soldiers), economic justice vs. the U.S. trade agenda, and advocacy training workshops to help you understand and address U.S./Africa policies. The event will culminate in the opportunity to lobby your members of Congress directly on HIV/AIDS and economic justice for Africa.

For registration and other information, go directly to the event website at

You can also contact Anna Rhee directly at 301-384-3615 or for further information
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AFJN sincerely apologizes to the Holy Ghost Fathers for having inadvertently left their congregation off the list of AFJN organizational supporters in the 2001 Annual Report.

The Holy Ghost Fathers were one of AFJN's founding members and they have remained extremely loyal to AFJN in the years since then. Our gratitude to them for their wonderful support and we are very sorry for our mistake.
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We have revamped our web site and given it a whole new look! We hope you will find it more attractive and user-friendly.

However, we're not finished yet! Even though you will find the material there now to be helpful, we are in the process of reviewing and reorganizing it to make it more up-to-date and as relevant to our work as possible. Our aim is to make the AFJN web site an effective information and advocacy tool for you and our partner organizations.

Visit us at Send us your comments. Tell your friends to check us out!

Our continued grateful appreciation goes to Catholic University of America for hosting our web site as part of their mission to support groups that promote Catholic social justice principles.
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The Aug/Sept World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, was meant to asses progress since the Environmental Summit 10-years earlier in Rio de Janeiro. To most NGOs present, the original "Rio" vision got lost in the glare of the new realities of globalization.

The UN promised that civil society voices would be heard at the summit. In the end, social justice and environmental NGOs were left disillusioned by feeling excluded from any meaningful involvement.

The WSSD marked a pronounced shift from Rio's essentially environmental agenda to "development" defined largely in market liberalization terms. One of the most significant features of the summit was its inclusion of corporations and its commitment to public/private partnerships as the principal way to address global poverty and environmental issues. Proponents argue that this "multi-stakeholder" approach offers effective development by engaging governments, business and civil society together. Many social justice and environmental groups contend that the partnerships mask the private-sector take-over of public-sector responsibilities.

To whom will public/private partnerships be accountable? JoAnne DeSano, Director of the UN Division of Sustainable Development, says that tracking the more than 300 partnerships will fall to the Commission on Sustainable Development. But she admits it cannot hold the initiatives accountable the way government action is monitored. In other words, accountability remains largely undefined.

While the official UN summit was taking place in a suburb north of Jo'burg, NGO groups were situated 20-miles away. This arrangement made interaction with summit delegates difficult, intentionally so by some accounts.

The People's Earth Summit (PES), organized by South African and UK NGOs who had lost faith in the WSSD process, provided a completely alternative venue for debate and action.

One of the most riveting parallel events was the Smallholder Farmer Convocation, held at a former mining site called "Shaft 17." Over 300-farmers from several African countries as well as from South America, India and France, gathered to affirm their passionate love for the land and their way of life. They made clear that their practices of ecological agriculture were the solution to hunger in Africa, not part of the problem. They rejected any corporate take-over of their agricultural and water resources

The real decisions about the global economy are made at the World Trade Organization and not at UN summits, as evidenced by the USA push to make WTO policies the operative framework for WSSD outcomes. The summit's exclusion of civil society and its unqualified endorsement of market liberalization approaches to poverty and the environment led to much soul-searching by NGOs about whether and how they can effectively work within the UN system from this point onward.

Our December 2002 issue will examine the Plan of Action that emerged from the WSSD.

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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