Greetings from the Mariapolis Piero (Nairobi, Kenya) where we are celebrating the 2014 United World Week. 200 Youth for a United World have come together from all over Africa and beyond for this week where we are marking a significant new step in the "Sharing with Africa" project.
In some ways this project goes back to the 1960s Operation Africa, which supported the people of Fontem (Cameroun). This project was relaunched at the last Genfest, and draws inspiration from the desire expressed at a Panafrican meeting of young people in 2011 that we should now concentrate on building relationships of reciprocity between the Africa and the rest of the world, where Africans participate not just as receivers, but also as givers. In particular, they wished to share those cultural values that have sometimes been lost in other parts of the world, the moral and cultural wealth which is not only a heritage for the African future generations but for all the youth spread all over the world. This unifying vision of the world, typical of African cultures is a gift that the African Continent can give to the rest of the world in order to understand the value of being human.
The general objective of Sharing with Africa is to contribute towards the formation of a new culture that is capable of building a united world, promoting the values that have sustained and moulded societies in the African Continent. The project aims at creating a space for mutual fellowship among young people, not only in Africa but around the world, through the exchange of cultures, talents, testimonies and challenges, accompanied by practical actions.
Among the most important themes to be explored during this week in Nairobi there is "Ubuntu" which refers to a particular understanding of Humanity where relational dimensions are constitutive of the in individual. It gives a unifying vision of the world, expressed in the Zulu proverb: “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” (“A person is only a person through his or her relationship to others”). In this way, the concept of personhood is understood as a process and the product of interconnectedness experienced or achieved in the community. Ubuntu is a traditional philosophy that gives us an understanding of the person in relation to the world, in harmony with others and with all creation, believing in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.
During this week, we will share our experiences, celebrate the unity and fraternity that already binds us, reflect on the importance of interculturality and building bridges between peoples and cultures, and plan our next steps. We will have the opportunity to visit a mental hospital in a disadvantaged area of Nairobi. There will be a worldwide linkup on the 1st May with young people from around the world.
“Project Africa” was launched by Chiara Lubich in 1960’s. It started off immediately with a very strong commitment: youth from all over the world contributed towards the construction of a “little town” at Fontem, in the heart of Cameroun, and cooperated towards the development of the African Continent through numerous projects which they themselves devised.