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Nairobi: the EoC is at home here

 The EoC's 5th International Congress started at the Mariapoli Piero (Nairobi, Kenya) this afternoon

by Alberto Sturla and Norma Sànchez

150527 Nairobi Congresso EdC 01 ridNow that more than 400 people, mainly from Africa and Europe (but representing all five continents) have come together here in Nairobi for the opening of the Fifth International Congress of the Economy of Communion, one can see how the two-year preparation and hard work of the International EoC Commission and the Pan-African EoC Commission have borne fruit.  So many things have happened in two years. Some bad things, too. The attack in Garissa has brought the contradictions of Africa to the attention of the world. The young victims of terrorism, with their desire to improve the world through knowledge, are the first participants in the Congress takes on a new meaning just because of the brutality of extremists. Because "fratricide should be answered by fraternity". As it has been said.

Participants of the international congress are mainly entrepreneurs, representing many different areas, but also researchers and students, the latter coming from the very popular EoC School. They were welcomed by dances and songs composed by the young people of the Movement 150527 Nairobi Congresso EdC 04 rid(who also wrote the EoC's hymn). Their contagious joy and their colourful clothes made it clear to the participants that yes, they are precisely in Africa, although on the neutral premises of the Mariapoli you might even forget it.

Time seems to have flown also from the day in January 2011 that saw the birth of the EoC in Africa with the Pan-African Congress. Since then small but significant steps have been taken: 18 EoC companies have emerged and several schools were held. Now, in the words used by Maria Voce in her video address to the participants, the time is ripe for deepening the vocation for communion, so that a new economy may develop in Africa and reach the whole world.

But what can Africa offer to the world today? The answer is given by Kenyan poet and playwright Ngugi wa Thiongo, in his video message where he reiterated that Africa, from which things have always been taken away (without asking) since the eighteenth century, is now ready to give. In order to do so, however, Africa must first understand what she wants to do for herself, after centuries in which others have decided for her.

150527 Nairobi Congresso EdC 03 ridLuigino Bruni gave a response to the doubts raised by Ngugi in his  intervention: The EoC, with its ability to build relationships and to bring out the innovative potential of a people is a road worth travelling. One must not, however, propose models born elsewhere that have occurred over the years in Africa, with the results that we can all see. Africa's task is to show a "not yet" that is possible, even amidst difficulties. How? By making the natural tendency to communion present in every people grow,150527 Nairobi Congresso EdC 07 rid by supporting entrepreneurs, changing institutions and, above all, by making the poor the key partners.  Just as Christopher Columbus reached America with a map drawn by a cartographer who had never seen the ocean, so the EoC does not offer solutions, but indicates a road.

There are 18 African entrepreneurs who have already chosen this path. One of them, Melanie, showed the fruits of this journey sharing her experience as a poultry producer in Cameroon. Allocating part of the production to poor families in her area has helped 32 people overcome some difficult times. Her commitment to the community is rewarded by loyal customers and suppliers, some of whom had actually been helped by Melanie in the past.



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