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‘Africa: An Alternative Voice’

At the seat of the Comboniani Missionaries in Cavallino, Father G.B. Moroni reviewed his life in Africa, especially in Zambia. The first thing we learned was that the so-called ‘Dark Continent’ was full of cheerful people. Contrary to European belief, it was also very different from one country to another and, on the whole, remarkably uncrowded. Its inhabitants have much more space around them than, in proportion, we have. At the same time, their birthrate is robust while ours has declined to the point where our total numbers are decreasing yearly. This will help us adjust our views on immigration.

Another misapprehension about the African continent is that it cannot feed its population. We were told that the contrary was true. It was war that in displacing people kept them from tending their fruitful fields. Father Moroni recalled his first work in Africa on the Mozambique border when an overwhelming wave of humanity in flight from war had to be succored. Zambia, the only African country never torn by war, has a lesser problem that could be solved by technology. Food from bumper harvests cannot at present be conserved for leaner years.

Africans apparently share with Europeans the conviction that their political class is failing to make national potential real. Money makes the Dark Continent go round just as it keeps our own turning. Father Moroni’s spiritual mission did not prevent him from recognising hard material facts. He couldn’t hide his astonishment at what we in the prosperous West think important: our pampered pets, our latest gadgets, our spats over trifles. He reminded us that the priority of three-quarters of the globe is still to get enough to eat. Not that this darkened his good nature, and after viewing photos of his friends in the villages of Zambia we understand where he found his sunny smile.



Peter Byrne

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