AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Amid dancing and sharing, the new pastoral year begins in the Bayaca Pygmy community

Friday, 13 October 2023


Monasao (Fides News Agency) - "For the beginning of the catechesis for catechumens, young people and adults who, accompanied by our catechists, are preparing for the sacraments - in Monasao there are about 200, in the other villages as many - this year we want to offer some moments of formation together: Our Bishop of Berberati, Dennis Kofi Agbenyadzi, has asked us priests to be the catechists of our catechists," says Father Michele Farina, an Italian Fidei donum missionary of the Diocese of Savona, who does his pastoral ministry among the Bayaka Pygmy community with which he has been busy preparing for the start of the new pastoral year.
It has been a good few weeks, beginning with the opening ceremony, which was a celebration. In all, there have been about sixty young teenagers with whom we have met at least twice a week to begin a beautiful journey together of formation, service and friendship," said the priest from the Society for African Missions (SMA). "Their commitment is admirable, and what always strikes me is that despite their young age, they all already know how to work in the fields, in their homes, and in all the material things there are to do with machete, shovel, rake, kitchen, etc.," said the Fidei donum priest.
Among the various activities Father Michael described the long walk taken to Beya, a village 11 km from Monasao. "We walked among songs and games, played with a Bible bingo, had lunch together, played in the grounds next to the Beya church and concluded with two ball games, first the girls, then the boys. It was a joy to walk with these young people who also participated in the organization of the service", said the Farina.
During the Mass, Father Michele Farina also presented a planned marriage preparation group that will include couples who are already married, in order to give space to the theme of the family and marriage. "The family, although already a great value, encounters some difficulties here in Monasao, also because of the cohabitation between the Bayaka and the Bilo (non-Bayaca), which is not easy," he stressed, recalling the practice of polygamy and problems related to poverty and health and the precarious situation of many families.
Another important moment was the start of the school year. "Our first graders are starting their second year and a new group is starting their first year. In Nguenguely and Monasao, our four classes started from the base, cleaning the classrooms and cutting the grass around the school, supported by some parents, the teachers and the cooks. In these days the real classes will begin, while unfortunately the public school has not started yet," reports the missionary. The principal is sick and some teachers haven't shown up, and the kids have already lost a week and who knows how many more they will lose."
The school situation in Central Africa, especially in the provinces, is one of the country's biggest problems, and there is little change on the horizon. In this regard during the Mass celebrated at the opening of the Pastoral Year, I announced the idea of the literacy course for adults."
"Synod concretely means 'walking together', Father Michele concludes. Together with Father Davide Camorani (SMA) we will try to do it this year with everyone in our 5 villages, we wish to increase visits to the communities of our parish, to be closer, to accompany not only with the Mass our people, even if this takes time and ... diesel is a big problem!"
(MF/AP) ( Fides News Agency 13/10/2023)