SOUTHERN AFRICA: Churches bless Mozambique peace monument 16 years after war

December 11, 2008

There is no conflict that dialogue cannot end, the president of the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Rev. Nyansako-ni-Nku, has said in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

Nyansako-ni-Nku was speaking during a break in the December 7-12 meeting of the highest ranking governing body of the All Africa Conference of Churches, its general assembly, at the inauguration of a peace monument constructed by the Mozambican Council of Churches, 16 years after the end of a civil war that tore the southern African nation apart.

Inaugurating and blessing the monument on December 11, which is still some months from completion, Nyansako-ni-Nku said Mozambique has shown the world that political will can help bring conflicts "that are not in short supply in Africa" to an end.

"Mozambique has taught us today that it is the role of the church in Africa and the whole world to be at the forefront in asking and fighting for good governance and to be messengers of peace. This monument will live to preach to generations to come that it is better to use hoes rather than guns," said Nyansako-ni-Nku, who is the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon.

He said there had been euphoria in Africa in the 1960s when most of the continents' countries attained independence. This was, however, short-lived, as greedy politicians amassed for themselves the resources of their countries, failing to share them with the people equitably and that was the cause of the many conflicts, some of which are still continuing.

"Mozambique experienced one of the most brutal wars in Africa but that is history. However we keep on referring to the civil war in this country because of the saying that those who forget past mistakes end up repeating them. Today, Mozambique has become a model of peace in Africa. In addition, through its former president Joaquim Chissano, it has taught Africa in particular "that there is a time to be in power and time to leave power," said Nyansako-ni-Nku.

The monument is being constructed under a Mozambique Council of Churches' program of turning swords into ploughshares, according to its president Bishop Dinis Sengulane, who is also head of the Anglican Diocese of Lebombo in Maputo.

Sengulane said the monument will be constructed using different firearms from a program that has collected 700,000 guns from people who want to give peace a chance.

Speaking later to Ecumenical News International, Sengulane, who was involved in negotiations that brought an end to the 16-year civil war in Mozambique in 1992, said, "This monument is also an invitation to the African continent and the world to give peace a chance to stay and grow with us. We in Mozambique are turning instruments of death into instruments of peace and hope."