Archive for the ‘culture’ Category


« Cikuni ca utsi koma kufumula » (Chewa proverb / Zambia)

« The firewood that smokes too much just remove it. » (Chewa proverb / Zambia)

« Le bois de chauffage qui fume trop, il suffit de l’enlever. » (Proverbe Chewa/Zambie)



Morality: « One cannot stay in a room with firewood smoking; all will be inconvenienced. The piece has to be taken out. »  The best way to deal with a problem is to attack its root cause.

Note: This proverb, which we comment on in the following lines, is taken from the collection of a thousand Chewa proverbs by Toon van Kessel, Cf. Toon van Kessel Dzedzere-dzedzere salingana nkugweratu (Lusaka: FENZA Publications, 2015) p. 29.


Commentary on the light of the Bible


     In recent times, bad news has been coming up on American soil to the rhythm of calamities comparable to a replay of scenes taken straight from the book of Job. No sooner do we perceive a faint glimmer of hope in a national context still haunted by the COVID-19 when awful scenes invite themselves, which bleed the hearts of African American communities already weakened by four centuries of unhealed wounds. The most recent case of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died of suffocation during a nightmarish arrest, sent entire crowds of men and women of all races to the streets of major cities in the United States, even the world. Anger is at its peak, and the streets roar. The most pessimistic voices howl. Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate though. They find their legitimacy in the cry of distress of a fringe of society which suffocates under the weight of the machine of racism in its various forms and colors. However, looting, destruction of public property, theft, and various scenes of violence are not justified. Besides, they are condemned, including by the family of the victim. An injustice cannot repair another injustice because, as Henri LACORDAIRE puts it so well, « Injustice calls for injustice; Violence begets violence. » However, beyond the calls for calm and peace from the African American community, sister communities, and the authorities, the crowds are difficult to control. What to do?

The above circumstances justify the use of the following Chewa proverb finds its full meaning: « The firewood that smokes too much just remove it. » Let us first put it in its geographic and social context. The saying refers to a familiar scene in rural Africa where the populations use wood for cooking and heating. Heating a house during the cold season is particularly delicate because fueling the fire in such a context requires art and method. The firewood quality then plays a crucial role because, even when they are dry, some wood types give off an uncomfortable, unbearable, even potentially fatal smoke. In this case, the only solution is to withdraw the piece of wood that could suffocate the occupants of the house, remove it from the hut, and extinguish it. Armed with the principle that emerges from this act, the Chewa people cite this proverb to show members of society the wisdom of attacking the source of the problem or problems that disturb life in society. The importance of dealing with the source of problems reminds us of several cases in the Holy Scriptures. Let us cite two.

The first case that comes to mind is that of Nehemiah, who, in addition to external attacks, was faced with severe internal tensions described in chapter 5 of the book that bears his name. As a wise leader, he quickly understood that internal dissension is the most dangerous threat in a nation. So, he immediately condemned the social injustices that the victims identified. Nevertheless, Nehemiah did not stop there. He immediately set the whole society on the road to reparations. Besides, he set a good example, and his immediate entourage did the same (Neh. 5:10); this created an emulation among the whole population (Neh. 5:13). Peace returned within the community.

The second example is from the New Testament. Chapter 6 of the book of Acts describes a crisis that threatened the young Christian community dangerously: The Hebraic Jews neglected the widows of the Hellenistic Jews in the daily distribution of food. So, there was an injustice that had no place in the assembly. As soon as the apostles learned of what was going on, they acted immediately to put out the fire before it spread: they asked the ecclesial community to choose distributors with excellent moral and spiritual qualities and entrusted them with this responsibility. The positive effect was immediate for the entire community. It led to the restoration of justice, and the church experienced a remarkable growth.

In both cases, people identified the sources of the tensions, took adequate measures, and implemented them without delay. What lessons can we learn from this as we are struggling to find a suitable solution to the current crisis? Let us say it straight away, but without losing sight of the delicacy of a crisis that has persisted since the 17th century: a way out is possible. The presently explosive African American anger is such because many roots causes fuel it. As long as people focus their attention on the symptoms that are easily noticeable and sometimes distorted by malicious people, the community risks sinking into a cycle of violence that is as unpredictable as it is destructive to society as a whole. However, we do not have to go that route. Instead, all the members of the society must take their courage to finally listen attentively to the dying cries of the desperate victims. Such a decision will imply identifying the roots of the current tensions and committing ourselves resolutely to attack the roots of racism and social injustices. All this requires love, peace, justice, and wisdom.  Then, America will emerge from this crisis more robust than ever and would even inspire other nations around the world as many are experiencing similar tensions.

Concretely, prayer is essential before any step because we will need divine wisdom to face better the current situation whose complexity is evident. Then, while maintaining prayer throughout the process, a methodical approach is essential. We modestly propose one in 5 steps:

  1. The foremost leaders of the African American community (recognized as such by the majority of African Americans themselves), beyond socio-political or religious considerations, must meet (even by videoconference) to set up a coordination leadership team.

  2. The coordination team put in place will define a strategy and mechanisms to identify the nature and root causes of each social injustice to which their community is a victim while involving the majority of their brothers and sisters in the collection of reliable data. This phase would benefit from being as strictly internal as possible because no one could describe the depth of African American pain better than the victims themselves.

  3. This team will proceed in the same way for the proposals of concrete solutions, which will make it possible to attack the evil at the root. At this point, it would be wise to start thinking internally but then involve real friends from outside the African American community as they find themselves in all racial groups represented in the United States. This move will strengthen the relevance of the solutions. It will refine the communication style by anticipating the objections of those outside the Afro-American community in order to readjust the arguments accordingly. It will ultimately maximize the chance of adoption of the solutions offered by the majority of society.

  4. The solutions will be presented to the highest competent authorities in the country so that proper decisions can be taken and followed up.

  5. The coordination team and the authorities will then set up, by joint agreement, a monitoring, evaluation, and possible readjustment mechanism so that the measures thus taken are effectively applied today and preserved for future generations. They will also think about strategies for preventing and transforming possible conflicts within the parameters of social justice and non-violence.

In short, we are at a delicate crossroads in history. The path we take will determine the happy or unhappy outcome of future events. Our prayer is that God gives us the wisdom to take the right path of peace and social justice courageously. The United States of America and all the countries have an interest in promoting living together in peace and solidarity.  Acting this way is particularly critical in this context of the pandemic COVID-19 pandemic with uncertain contours and with consequences that are both multidimensional and unpredictable. May God give each of us the wisdom, the courage, and the will to actively contribute to building peace and unity on the foundation of social justice!

Moussa Bongoyok, PhD

Professor of Intercultural Studies and Holistic Development

© Copyright by Moussa Bongoyok, 2020


Le Maraï ou La Fete du Taureau Chez le Peuple Mafa et Houdok

WHO WILL LIVE FOR THOSE WHO NO LONGER HAVE HEADS? A shout in the desert of International Community

You didn’t hear… or did you hide willingly under the bed of abstraction?

Maybe you did hear about Boko Haram and other terrorist movements in action…

But, you see, your geography professor told you as did your musician,

With all the calm and seriousness of an academician,

That Kousseri, Maroua, Mora, Tourou, Moskota, Koza, Ouzal, Mozogo,

And other localities or infrahuman countries must go,

Because their humanity index is so low, and,

They are located on an unknown planet, the land of tomorrow.

Why worry about the future

While one calmly drinks today’s culture?


Maybe you didn’t see what is happening on social media as your soul became a taro…

Because, above all, you must set your economic priorities right to beat the antihero

And accumulate as much power and things as you can carry in your empty barrow.

Your business professor told you so, with his academic sombrero.

Your financial advisor is such a genius so different from the harrow

That you gather things, things and more things, and the great dinero.

You eat power, power and more power over bones without a marrow.

Aren’t they mere keys to your success today and tomorrow?

Your eyes can’t see while you dream to be the next pharaoh

And, after all, your neighbor is just a dried arrow!


Who will cry for those who no longer have heads?

Who will become a shelter for those who no longer have beds?

Who will eat for those who can no longer smell the odor of fresh breads?

Who will bring joyous colors to lives painted in multiple reds?

Who will tell Europe, America, Asia and others, that Boko Haram spreads

Faster and deeper than the swiftest fighters and meds?

Who will act? Who will dig? Who will lovingly address the roots

Instead of relying solely on boots?


Oh! I wish you and I were the recovered triumphant shouts of the voiceless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the beautiful tears of the tearless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the real wealth of the resourceless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the reconstructed ramparts of the powerless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the regained smiles of the hopeless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the lost but found face of the faceless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the living image of the divine rock for the baseless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the real value of lives so priceless!

Regardless of our religious backgrounds, we are all humans;

Would you and I actively navigate against the currents and stop treating others as subhumans?


Moussa Bongoyok, PhD

Professor of Intercultural Studies and Holistic Development

President of Institut Universitaire de Développement International (IUDI)

Poème sur le Maray en pays Mafa et Maray à Sirak

Conférence internationale sur la famille

Affiche  IUDI Conference 2016.jpgProgramme de la conference.jpg


Wĕnnaam nug wogma. (Proverbe moaaga du Burkina Faso)

La main de Dieu est longue. (Proverbe moaaga du Burkina Faso)

God’s hand is long (Moaaga Proverb from Burkina Faso)

Moralité: La générosité divine surpasse de loin la générosité humaine.

 Source : Wendinminté Ouedraogo Proverbes du Moogo Tome I s.d. p. 172.


Commentaire à la lumière de la Bible

Notre sœur Catherine du Burkina Faso a bien voulu nous faire parvenir un trésor de proverbes de son pays qui nous occupe en cette période de vacances de Noël. Wendinminté Ouedraogo, l’auteur des deux tomes de Proverbes du Moogo, a fait un excellent travail et il mérite d’être salué et encouragé. L’Afrique dort sur d’énormes richesses culturelles dont elle a pourtant besoin tant pour son propre développement holistique que pour celui des autres continents.

En parcourant le premier tome du livre qui n’est malheureusement pas daté, nos yeux se sont longuement attardés sur le proverbe susmentionné qui semble bien cadrer avec cette période où les chrétiens célèbrent la venue du Seigneur Jésus-Christ dans ce monde. Dans son commentaire, l’auteur compare la générosité divine avec la générosité humaine et trouve que : « La main de Dieu est celle qui partage et qui ne discrimine pas, c’est la main qui sauve. Le partage de Dieu est juste et équitable. Chaque être humain a sa part. Qu’il s’agisse du pauvre, du riche, de l’infirme, de l’orphelin, de la veuve, de la personne âgée, de la femme ou de l’enfant, etc. » (p. 172).


Ceci illustre bien le don parfait, célébré en cette fête de Noël, en la personne du Christ Jésus. Il est un don de Dieu pour le salut de quiconque croit en lui (Jean 3 :16). Il est venu pour toutes les couches sociales. Sa naissance a été célébrée en haut lieu par les anges (Luc 2 :9-14) et par des personnages de haut rang (Matthieu 2 :10-11). Elle a aussi été acclamée parmi les êtres humains, hommes et femmes, de condition plutôt modeste (Luc 2 :4-7 ; 14-38). Durant son ministère terrestre, le Seigneur a accueilli et servi tout le monde : hommes et femmes, petits et grands, Juifs et non Juifs, religieux et irréligieux, riches et pauvres, bien portants et malades, amis et ennemis. Une simple relecture du Nouveau Testament suffit pour s’en rendre compte.


Fort de cet exemple parfait, nous invitons nos sœurs et frères disciples du Seigneur Jésus-Christ à fêter Noël dans le même esprit. Partageons la joie du Seigneur avec nos prochains sans discrimination aucune. Aimons-les d’un amour sincère. Soyons généreux dans la limite de nos possibilités tout en faisant usage de la sagesse et du discernement dans chaque circonstance. Faisons du bien à nos semblables selon la mesure de la grâce que Dieu nous accorde. Et, par-dessus tout, ne gardons pas pour nous-mêmes le trésor de la Bonne nouvelle du salut gratuit en Jésus-Christ pour le salut de quiconque se repent et croit en lui. Au contraire, partageons-la humblement mais fidèlement (Mt 28 :18-20 ; Actes 1 :8 ; 1 Pierre 3 :15). Cela honorera Dieu, la source du bonheur que nous célébrons en cette saison.

Moussa Bongoyok

© Copyright, 2014.


 “Ngon àw mba tá, gèr mba.” (proverbe sara/Tchad)

« L’enfant va d’abord en voyage et découvre l’étranger. » (proverbe sara/Tchad)

“In order to really discover the foreigner, a child needs to travel first.” (Sara proverb, Chad)

Moralité: Celui [ou celle] qui reste sur place, sans quitter le village, ne connait rien. Pour connaitre les coutumes des personnes étrangères, il faut voyager.


Commentaire à la lumière de la Bible

Nous écrivons ces lignes dans les locaux du séminaire de théologie biblique de Beatenberg (Suisse) où nous séjournons brièvement. Nous avons lu des écrits sur cette école qui forme des missionnaires et des dirigeants d’églises depuis 1945. Nous avons même entendu des témoignages des ressortissants de cette institution. Mais jamais nous n’avons perçu certains détails combien précieux et profonds comme nous le faisons en ce moment. Les Sara ont raison de dire que le voyage permet de découvrir l’étranger.

Toutefois, au-delà du voyage, nous pensons que ce qui marque la différence, c’est l’expérience personnelle. Dans la Bible, la reine de Saba avait entendu parler du roi Salomon. Mais, ce n’est qu’après avoir effectué elle-même le déplacement et rencontré ce roi qu’elle a pu se rendre à l’évidence que la réalité était nettement plus formidable (1 Rois 10 :1-10).   De même, de nombreux personnages bibliques dans les évangiles et dans le livre des Actes avaient entendu parler du Seigneur Jésus, mais ce n’est qu’après l’avoir rencontré personnellement qu’ils ont compris combien il est merveilleux. Le cas de la conversion spectaculaire de l’apôtre Paul sur le chemin de Damas est particulièrement frappant (Cf. Actes 9). Mais, de nos jours, combien de personnes veulent aller au-delà de ce qu’elles entendent au sujet du Seigneur Jésus pour chercher à le rencontrer personnellement, à explorer la profondeur de son amour et à puiser aux sources de ses trésors spirituels incomparables et vivifiantes ? L’on comprend pourquoi le Seigneur pouvait s’exprimer en ces termes en Matthieu 12 :42 (Bible du Semeur): « Au jour du jugement, la reine du Midi se lèvera avec ces gens de notre temps et elle les condamnera, car elle est venue du bout du monde pour écouter l’enseignement plein de sagesse de Salomon. Or, il y a ici plus que Salomon!”.

Ne nous contentons pas de ce que les gens disent au sujet du Seigneur Jésus-Christ car malheureusement il y a tant de faussetés et d’hérésies à son sujet. Cultivons plutôt une relation profonde avec lui. Il est vivant. Il se manifeste en tout lieu et à tout moment. Si vous ne l’avez pas encore fait, allez à lui tel(le) que vous êtes, ouvrez-lui votre cœur là où vous êtes, invitez-le dans votre vie, et vous ferez une expérience beaucoup plus merveilleuse que celle de la reine de Saba.

 © Copyright by Moussa Bongoyok, 2014.

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