AFRICA/NIGER - Christians on the Niger-Burkina Faso border: “A life in the face of the cross”

Thursday, 14 July 2022


Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "The Italian-Argentinian priest Carlos Bazzara of the Society for African Missions (SMA) once placed the cross on the top of the hill. The cross, thus marking the border between Niger and Burkina Faso, could be seen from afar. It seemed to be part of the hilly landscape of the savannah", says Father Mauro Armanino (SMA), who lives and works in Niamey, about the village not far from the cross that Father Carlos, in memory of the evangelization mission he shared with other Christians carried out, where a 21-year-old girl has now been abducted. Fr. Bazzarra had also worked in Ivory Coast for many years, later lived and worked in Niger and currently in Bangui (see Fides, 3/8/2021).
"The girl's family", continued Father Armanino, "had already lost a son due to the explosion of a petrol keg and then faced discrimination and abuse related to their Christian denomination. So-called 'jihadists' threatened the family with death, if they didn't let their daughter go with them. They arrived, as usual, with motorcycles and guns, and managed to 'convince' the family to let them have the young woman".
The missionary reports that the incident happened about a month ago but has only now come to light because of the culture of silence and fear. "Not only Christian communities are the target of this orientation of the Islamic religion. And most Muslim believers, who recently celebrated the Tabaski festival in the region to commemorate Abraham's sacrifice, are dismayed by what is happening in the Sahel area. In fact, the highest number of deaths are even recorded among the Muslim community. "It is not surprising that the kidnapping happened not far from the cross that Father Carlos had put up as a special sign of scandal and mercy," concludes Father Mauro. "The Crucified was himself sold in his day and had to die for a handful of lies. Maimouna, was kidnapped to become a man's new wife. She lives, like so many in this area, in the face of the cross". (MA/AP) (Agenzia Fides 14/7/2022)