Time has flown so quickly! It feels like only yesterday CEYC went to Kenya. On the 8th -14th April, Shakeel (Chair of CEYC) and Ed (Intern) were in Kenya to attend the first CAPA Youth Congress. It was an amazing week looking at Releasing Youth Potential. We arrived at a lush and vibrant Nairobi. The sun radiated throughout the city and a gentle breeze kept the temperature at a gentle level. It was a welcome change from the snow and ice we had received in Britain earlier in the month!
We stayed on the Multimedia University Campus. There were warthog and monkeys on site, quite a stark change from the Campuses in the UK. The welcome we received was of absolute hospitality. Every need was cared for and we were made to feel treasured and important. The CAPA team and the hosts from the host country made themselves known to us.
The week was full of a variety of speakers and workshops, all relating to issues that affect the Youth of Africa. In Africa, 60% of the population is under the age of 25. There is a need for a booming population that is incredibly young, so there is a unique situation which is requiring a fresh and unique perspective and theology. Each day we had a Bible Study in the morning, which was led by The Rt. Rev. Dr. Zac Niringiye. He is the former Assistant Bishop of Kampala, Uganda. He spoke on the Sermon the mount, focusing on the beatitudes. He spoke excellently, and each morning he spoke for over an hour. Not one person looked to check the time or their watches whilst he was speaking.
One of the key moments of the Bible studies was when Bishop Zac informed us that he didn’t each lunch. This is because 75% of primary students in Uganda don’t have lunch. This exemplary behaviour was met with awe and amazement. Bishop Zac’s exemplary behaviour inspired many people in the room. It felt that nobody left the room unchanged, each and every time Bishop Zac spoke.
Each morning the worship band led us in sung worship, and with each spare section or transition, the whole room burst into impromptu singing and dancing. There was a level of joy in the worship and in the room that really opened our eyes to a different side of God. It was such a joy to be able to share in worship with people from all over Africa and beyond. There were representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, Seychelles, Egypt, Ghana, DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, Hong Kong and Malaysia. There were people who had come from areas of severe deprivation, conflict, division and economic disadvantage. To see everyone rejoicing in worship, in spite of the difficulties was a real challenge.
Representing the UK at an African conference was really interesting. There were some cultural differences and the history of colonialism still clearly has an impact on Africa. The impact is economic, mental, cultural and political. To see these impacts in the workshops and the speakers was eye-opening. There was a sense of understanding and acknowledgement amongst the representatives that really brought it home. It was such a stark comparison with the relative privilege and comfort that we have in the UK. The CofE has a lot to learn from our siblings in Christ in Africa. There is a theology and an understanding of God that we can and do miss out on.
The relationships built during that time were ones that will last for a long time. We were blessed by the opportunity to represent the UK at an International event and to be able to speak of CEYC during our time. We are incredibly grateful to USPG who supported us and took us there and back. We will be feeding back to USPG in London on the 18th May. We will also be running a workshop at the USPG Conference on the 2nd-4th July. If you would like to book on, you can sign up here. We will also hopefully be doing a talk at July General Synod and at Greenbelt.
We had an amazing time in Africa and we will never forget this opportunity. If you have any comment or questions on our time in Africa, please do contact us. We would love to hear from you. And remember, together, #weareCEYC.