AFRICA/NIGER - The suffering of the poor and the transition in Niamey

Friday, 8 September 2023

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "From July 26 until today, the first ten days of September, here in Niger an unannounced and well-defined regime transition is in force". Father Mauro Armanino, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) in Niamey, tells Fides: "Appearances are deceiving, life seems to flow as always and, at least in the city, there is the habit of living thanks to "an ancient craft learned since childhood. It is the subtle art of daily survival in which from nothing you get everything you need to get to the next day."

"The economic and social sanctions approved and hastily applied by some countries neighboring Niger, especially those with access to the sea, aggravate the suffering of the already terrible daily life of the poor population (see Fides, 25/8/2023). 'We are suffering,' said an artisan whose work has suddenly stopped for a month due to the situation created by the aforementioned military coup. 'There's no money for condiments,' he adds, and so one disappears until night so as not to see their children and grandchildren go hungry. 'Until when', asks the same artisan who, before saying goodbye, asks that the churches pray so that things 'get fixed' as soon as possible".

"Something extraordinary is happening in the country – adds Father Mauro – that, looking at it closely, arouses admiration and astonishment. It is the daily resistance of the 'little ones' who, especially in silence, are carrying out an authentic social revolution. They are paying a very high price for the change brought about in Niger's history by the coup d'état, partly unexpected, at the end of July (see Fides, 27/7/2023).
Suffering in silence is not usually news and, however, it is one of the pillars on which the current political transition is based. A silence that should question those who have been in charge, by choice or necessity, of establishing a regime of exception in the country and around it. "It is not acceptable that, without any hesitation, a people is penalized, or rather 'the people', that is, the small and fragile, the poor and young people in particular".

"No one should dare to confiscate the future because, interwoven as it is with dreams, hopes and ideals, it is something sacred. Not stealing the verb to live conjugated to the future with dignity is what should constitute the raison d'être of any authentic policy. From this fruit you can recognize the tree that has decided to plant the transition in the country. May it never happen again that the suffering of the poor is in vain and the hidden utopias germinated in these absent years are sold to the best dream swindler. For this reason, the hidden silence is transformed into a cry directed to those who have the courage and recklessness to accept it. In the complicity of those who have no voice, it is about giving a heartfelt response to suffering, at the local and international level. This will be the name that will be given to the transition that should lead to the National Conference open to all to give a new face to politics. Assuming the suffering of the poor to transform the country's political language will be the basis of the new Constitution of the Republic, founded on silence". (MA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/9/2023)