VATICAN CITY, Rome — “Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be exploited, or a land to be plundered. May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny!” These impassioned words from Pope Francis during his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year have echoed across the world, sparking a renewed conversation about Africa’s autonomy and the respect it deserves.
The Vatican Publishing House announced on Monday, May 22, 2023, the release of a new book, titled “Hands off Africa!”
It contains all of the Pope’s speeches during his visits to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, both countries marred by severe conflict.
The Pope embarked on what he referred to as a ‘Pilgrimage of Peace’ from January 31st to February 5th, to promote reconciliation and independence from foreign interference.
However, the book is not merely a compilation of the Pope’s speeches. It also includes testimonies from war victims he met during his visit, capturing their struggles, resilience, and hope.
Renowned Nigerian feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes the preface. She commended the book, saying it “brings me a small sliver of hope for Congo, and for the beloved and broken-hearted continent that I call home.”
Pope Francis met with government officials, bishops, and youth during his trip, advocating for Africa’s independence. He underscored the transition from “political colonialism” to “economic colonialism”, calling it “equally enslaving.”
In South Sudan, the Pope confronted politicians whose bitter conflicts have crippled the nation, stating emphatically, “Now is the time to say: No more of this!”
In her preface, Adichie emphasized the significance of the Pope’s visit to the DRC, a nation burdened by years of exploitation and conflict. She decried the world’s indifference to the plight of African nations, a silence she deemed as “devaluing African humanity.” The visit, she believes, serves as a “necessary rebuke” to wealthier nations.
Adichie appreciates the Pope’s message, one that reiterates that Africa’s worth lies not in its resources or its potential as a battlefield for Western conflicts, but in its people. As the Pope stated, “Africa matters because Africans matter.”