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first workshop on land grabbing and minorities issues

Participants of the workshop (photo: UEM Africa).

From July 4th to 9th 2018, a very first workshop on land grabbing and minorities issues is being held in Goma Democratic Republic of Congo, gathering 25 delegates of African UEM member churches  including: CBCA; EPR; EAR; ELCT/KAD; ELCT/NWD; ELCT/ECD; ELCT/ NED and ECC attended this think tank. Organized by UEM Africa region and hosted by the Baptist Church in the Centre of Africa (CBCA) at Rudolf Center guest houses belonging to the church, participants are discussing on a theme “Think tank on conflict related to land management, land grabbing and protection of minorities”, with an opened participatory method that allows all participants to share about specific experiences from their own context. Different presentations are scheduled as follow: 

  • Land issues in the theology of land,
  • sharing experiences exchange on DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania Churches, 
  • Minorities and land issue,
  • State, land, economy, population, church and minorities: a permanent conflict of interest (a particular topic that will be facilitated by His Excellence Nzanzu Kasivita the North Kivu Provincial land affairs minister.)

All the discussions aims at answering to a couple of questions such as:

How did churches obtain land during missionaries’ time till today? How do the churches assure its land ownership (process, different authorities involved, legal documents and cost? What does law or land regulation states about these issues and the description of problems and challenges faced by the church in these particular cases. 

From the discussion and sharing experience of each church, participants realized many challenges that are faced by churches and point out the role that could be played by the churches in solving issues related on land conflict. Furthermore, it was realized that churches can be seen both as an oppressor and a victim in cases of land management. The example is found in the churches in DRC where, church members have owned church lands as far as they were granted to them by missionaries as a hospitality action. On the other hand, churches have ignore the obligation of using and valuing their lands according to the state law, relaying on kingship certificates and the result turn to the loss. This case created some of problems and great conflicts within churches and communities.

The question is how will both churches and communities build a bridge of understanding for these specific land grabbing issues and manage conflict related to it? 

Dr. Nagaju Muke, the Deputy Executive Secretary of UEM for Africa Region reminded the participants that the aim of this think tank is to build strong awareness, put down recommendations and objectives thinking in resolving land problems as far as Church is considered to be a place where people could find solace and rescue and not a place to be oppressed. Recommendations from this workshop will help the UEM member churches to advocate and grant fruitful resolutions resolving problems stated during the 4 days’ workshop period.

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