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Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, provincial of the East African Jesuit Province
"No matter how sophisticated and efficient the measures applied to engage Africa in a process of development, the truth remains: development is about people — their dignity, their humanity, their rights, their values, their gifts." — Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator
Africa's Future Is All of Our Future, Says African Jesuit Provincial
October 24, 2013 — A leading African Jesuit has called for a “holistic” approach to development, saying aid must become closer to the ideals of Catholic social teaching as espoused by Pope Paul VI. 

Speaking at the 2013 Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture in London, Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, provincial of the East African Jesuit Province, took Coca Cola’s African advertising campaign “A billion reasons to believe in Africa” and used it to explore signs of hope on the continent.

"The future of Christianity rests on Africa," Fr. Orobator told the audience, referring to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's description of the continent as the "lung" of the church. "But religion cannot be universally seen as a force for good" in Africa, he said, citing the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi last month as an example of religious extremism. Nonetheless, Fr. Orobator stressed that traditional religions in Africa act as a defense against such extremism.

In his lecture, he said that women are among Africa's greatest untapped resources and bemoaned the lack of leadership across the continent. He also said that while aid has helped Africa fight diseases, the world should move away "from treating Africa as an object of charity addicted to aid, towards engaging the continent as a partner."

Fr. Orobator frequently referred in his lecture to the 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio — “the development of peoples" — in which Pope Paul VI said that the economy of the world should serve mankind and not just the few.  

"No matter how sophisticated and efficient the measures applied to engage Africa in a process of development, the truth remains: development is about people — their dignity, their humanity, their rights, their values, their gifts," Fr. Orobator said.

While recognizing that Coca Cola's description of Africa was commercially motivated, he also praised the company for promoting a more positive image of the continent than the commonly-cited stereotypes. Fr. Orobator concluded the Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture, stating, "The future of Africa is the future of the human race!"

In addition to being provincial of the East African Province, Fr. Orobator is also an author, theologian and lecturer. [Jesuits in Britain, The Tablet]


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