Reading Jeremiah in Africa

Photo courtesy of Bungishabaku Katho

Although Christianity’s growth has shifted from North to South and West to East, many key Majority World voices are overlooked because they lack a major publishing platform. One fresh voice today is Dr. Bungishabaku Katho from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) in East Africa. In his new book, Reading Jeremiah in Africa: Biblical Essays in Sociopolitical Imagination, Dr. Katho talks about how studying Jeremiah changed his life, sending him back to his home to engage challenges of war, violence, and ethnic conflict in both church and society. MCC United Nations Office director Chris Rice interviewed Dr. Katho in February.

Chris Rice: You were recently detained by the Congolese military. And you told me that in your country it is more dangerous to work for peace than to work for insecurity. What do you mean?

Read an excerpt from Reading Jeremiah in Africa, “When nations decay, the church cannot be a passive observer”

Katho Bungishabaku: Since 2019, a dangerous new group of rebels formed by people from my ethnic group has killed hundreds of soldiers. I realized I have to do something. In fact, this evening I went to meet a rebel leader because people were killed recently. I told the leader this is your responsibility and pleaded with him to stop. I’ve not been doing this by myself, I am working with the governor and the military because something with more power is needed to stop it. They respect me, but not everybody likes conflict to end because many military officers are accused of receiving a lot of money from the government and use it for their benefit, instead of using it to fight against rebels. We also have a saying, “No militia, no job!” Why would anybody end this war? I fight for peace thinking I am with them, but then realize that most of them are not with you!

It is terrible to live in this context where people talk about peace but don’t really want peace. We read this in Jeremiah, about those who say “Peace, peace where there is no peace.” When I was arrested by the government …

Read full interview

Note: this interview originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of Global Briefing published by the MCC United Nations Office.

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