February 22, 2014. An idea that is growing day by day: “if, with the passing of weeks, the study experience we are living at the Sophia University Institute, increasingly corresponds to the questions we are asking about our future, about the future of our people, why can we not imagine that this experience could find a home on the African continent as well?”
Today’s date marks a step. Today, students who come from the sub-Saharan area of Africa, enrolled in degree and doctoral programs at the IUS, have given themselves an appointment to not only share reflections, but to share a project as well.
Martine Ndaya from the Congo thus describes the road taken: “To come and study at Sophia was not an easy choice to make… And yet, just a few months since entering the classroom, I can say that this interdisciplinary experience and the multicultural co-habitation is meeting with and answering my deepest expectations.” Pulcherie Prao from the Ivory Coast adds: “We are often confronting one another, exchanging impressions and difficulties, and we often meet again together to talk about the challenges we all face ahead. For this reason, someone asked the question: Is there a way for Sophia to come to Africa?”
There have been numerous higher formation initiatives taken in recent years in the various regions of the continent, but they are not all able to give a response to the actual problems dictated by demands for peace, development, and participation in the various areas. In Africa, as well as all other places on this planet, society is not spared from violent processes in which consumerism and materialism lacerate the moral and cultural fabric. A program of formation inspired by Sophia’s experience could represent, both on the level of research, and as a cultural and ethical commitment, not only a space of communion between African peoples, with all of their diversities and beauties, but also a place open to young people of other cultures to be enriched by the sense of community of which Africa is a testimony, by its models of widespread participation, its courageous paths of redemption.
“We put ourselves on the line first… – continues Melchior Nsavyimana from Burundi -. Sure, we are talking about a project that does not materialize from one day to the next, but as many leaders such as Nelson Mandela, have said, education is the most powerful motor for development, it is the most useful instrument to answer the suffering that is devastating the lives of many people.”
Sophia in Africa: a dream, yet at the same time, a process that is beginning. While dialoguing, various opportunities have come to the fore that could be used to open the way without under-estimating difficulties and objective obstacles. An all out exploration of the different possibilities is needed, and it would be useful to engage many in gathering willingness, availability, means, and resources so as to weave synergy. For now, the promoting group at the IUS has decided to meet periodically to keep interest alive and to bring the program forward. Other steps should follow this first one: “We will let the providence of God guide us, as we have full trust in Him”; for this reason too, at the end of the evening, the celebration of the Mass was one of the most meaningfully charged, moments. A festive dinner followed, coloured by numerous ethnic platters, and immersed in a joyful, communicative atmosphere.
The African continent, under many aspects, has been defined as a prophecy for the third millennium. “If here at Sophia – concludes Pierre Kabeza from the Congo – today, it is us who live such an experience as this, of discovery and of sharing, it is up to us then to take the initiative to give it to many others.”