The Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network celebrated its yearly Antennae Meeting from 16-18 May in Brussels. Nine Antennae were represented and Gervase Taratara (AEFJN President) and Denise Bang’na came on behalf of the Executive in Rome. Under the guidance of the Secretariat, led by Begoña Iñarra, the meeting was notable for its spirit of participation and dialogue. This AEFJN spirit aspires to transform unfair economic structures and to come up with new economic models based on solidarity and sustainable development, models that honour humankind’s interrelation with creation. This is how AEFJN works for the economically excluded and poor in Africa.


The antennae representatives shared alternative models that are currently operating in their countries in reaction to the recent economic crises. We want to see the risen Christ in our World. The alternatives to the current economic system are seeds of resurrection.


During the meeting we had an opportunity to reflect on the work of the Network and the challenges that face us. The different antennae spoke about their main activities of the past twelve months and their priorities for the coming year, indicating how they fit in with the AEFJN Plan of Action 2014-2018. There was also time to pool ideas for how the Antennae could expand their work with other African groups in Europe and integrate lay people into Antenna life.


There were 3 presentations during the meeting:   

Wolfgang Schönecke (AEFJN Germany) presented Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ which links the Gospel with social problems, pointing out three basic attitudes that we, as Christians, have to incorporate into our lives: joyful witness, unwavering hope and loving concern for the poor.


Gino Brunswijck, of the Secretariat, spoke about the call for a Moratorium that aims to stop the Land Grabbing that is taking place in Africa. The main goals of the moratorium are (i) that African countries have time to reform land ownership laws and (ii) that the FAO Guidelines that respect Human Rights and protect the rights of family farmers are made legally binding. This was followed by an interesting discussion that clarified the part the Antennae could play and ways of involving civil society in the Moratorium campaign.

The third presentation by Begoña Iñarra was about the ‘commons’ as an alternative paradigm of solidarity. These are basic to many African cultures where families and people live collaboratively. In the past, the commons, based on community ownership, existed in almost every country in the world and they still exist in Africa and elsewhere. Most African farmers cultivate communal lands and this system of land tenure expresses an egalitarian social model. If communal land tenure were guaranteed by law, family farmers would invest in improving the 'traditional methods', thus improving their income while preserving biodiversity and soils.


The Meeting concluded with words from the Executive who thanked Begoña Iñarra for the number of years she had served AEFJN. The Executive also expressed the hope of seeing more Antennae emerging in Africa and the desire to continue working in Africa, to raise awareness about economic justice and to remain in touch with the reality of life in Africa.


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