Genfest in Burkina Faso “Au-delà des frontières”
On Sunday, May 12, another terrorist attack on a Christian community has shaken Burkina Faso. A group of about 20 armed men burst into the Catholic church dedicated to Blessed Isidore Bakanja in the village of Dablo in the north of the country, killing 34-year-old Burkinabé priest Abbé Siméon Yampa and five other people. In the same days, in Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city in Burkina Faso, in the South-West, a Genfest was held entitled, “Au-delà des frontières” (Beyond Borders), attended by 800 young people from Burkina Faso, but also from Benin, Niger, Ivory Coast, and Mali. A two-day in-depth meeting in which they discussed topics such as inter-religious dialogue and interculturality, and they shared experiences, workshops, music, and prayer. This is what some young participants have written us.i.
«After two very intense days of Genfest, we were all very satisfied. The approximately 800 participants were happy to be part of one family, despite their different religious affiliations (Muslims, Christians, and faithful of traditional religions).
The great closing ceremony lasted more than three hours, when it was originally meant to be two hours. It was clear that the people did not want to leave. Many participants from neighboring countries (Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Congo…), in fact, had to leave because of their university classes.
It was very contrasting to find, in the same nation, on the one hand, an event organized and carried out by young people of different cultures and nations who successfully involved their civil and religious leaders into a dialogue on brotherhood and peace, dreaming of a future without borders. On the other hand, the first pages of the main newspapers of the world and the openings of TV news that reported about the second massacre of Christians in less than fifteen days, in the Northern part of the country!
It is disconcerting that this city (Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city in Burkina Faso, in the South-West, editor’s note) that is so rich in diversity and harmony, where there are no divisions among its different cultures, is not made known by the mass media around the world!
Fayçal did not lose his smile and excitement. He is the young Muslim man who, together with his Christian friends of various denominations, animists, and others from different nations, carried out this initiative despite the great challenges. The high cost of the meeting room and the facilities; a power supply black out at the very time when the program was about to begin; the air conditioner, so necessary in this city, which did not work; the delays in food delivery and transportation… Despite all this, they were always smiling, full of enthusiasm and momentum!
In short, these young people made them experience the most beautiful gift of Africa: the family, joy, and a welcoming attitude!»
Amanda, Luca e Ramiro.