Can Anything Good Come from Benin?

By Fr. Romeo Cagatin, SVD
Rep. de Benin

A Book or a Page
Somebody told me once, Romy, said he, when your in a place only for some months, you can easily write a book with that you see. When you are there for many years, you can but write a page. The longer you stay the only thing you know is that you know very little. I think it is very true.” If I have to write my impressions of Benin during the first few months, I think hundred ages wouldn’t be enough. But…

If Abraham could make it.
I arrived in Benin on November 11, 1989 It was Saturday around 13 hours. To find myself in a foreign country is not easy at all. The first few months I had some apprehensions. I tried to console myself by saying “If Abraham made it, why can’t I?” “But Abraham went to a country flowing with milk and honey.

Solum = Tuba
Can anything come from Benin? Certainly! Benin is a country of 4.5 million. Of this, 65 are animists, 16% are Christian and 11% are Muslims. The society of Divine Word as well as the other missionary congregation are involved primarily on “primary evangelization’. More often than not we find ourselves in a difficult situation vis-sa- vis the different groups. There are a dozen of them in the area where we are working. “It is the Tower of Babel”, they said. Each one of us, though tries to learn the language of a particular ethnic group. I’m learning ‘Bariba’.

Simultaneous Translation
The catechists and animators play a very important role in the parish. We depend heavily on them as we are handicapped in speaking the language. Every village has two or three catechists. Aside from teaching catechism classes, they also give simultaneous translation to our sermons - from French to their mother tongue on Sunday. They are the ones who can interpret better the message of the Christian faith. So we can give them ongoing formation throughout the year. With them, we do have great hopes that Christ be truly incarnated in their culture.

“Tower of Babel”:
Dozen of different languages