New Evangelisation, Globalisation and African Cultures

Bagamoyo groupThe Gathering

The African Members and Consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture met from July 23-26, 2008 with the aim of providing a new impulse to the pastoral approach to culture. The theme of the meeting was Pastoral Prospects for the New Evangelization in the Context of Globalization and its Effects on African Cultures. Prelates of different Episcopal Conferences who have a responsibility for the pastoral approach to culture also attended the meeting held at Bagamoyo in Tanzania.

Close attention was paid to the evangelization of cultures, with a special emphasis on matters related to secularization. In the current context, with the cultural environment and lifestyles intensely affected by the effects of  globalization, the Church strives to promote the inculturation of the faith along with a new Christian humanism which allows men and women in Africa to be fully African and fully Christian. The Church is conscious of the fundamental cultural dimension of sustained development, indispensable for the future of the African continent. Therefore, particular weight was given to the cultural values present in Africa which are at the service of the dignity of the human person. His Eminence Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and President of SECAM delivered the Concluding Talk on the theme: The Church, Family of God, Responding to the Challenges posed by Globalization's Diffusion of Cultural Models Foreign to African Cultures.

The Catholic Cultural Centre “Bagamoyo” run by the Spiritan Fathers was the venue for the meeting. Bagamoyo, which in Swahili means “lay down your heart”, was one of the major ports of slave trade, from where slaves were taken from Central and East Africa, to be sent to the markets of Zanzibar. Hundreds of thousands of persons would be captured in the inner zones of the continent and then embarked from this port. A mission was opened in 1868 for those who had escaped from the slave traders or had been ransomed by the missionaries. While choosing the theme, the organisers did not overlook the fact that secularization involves a modern form of slavery, neither less oppressive nor less damaging to the dignity of the human person.