Mother of Peace: Episode 56
Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 10: The Challenge Of Realizing A Heavenly World, pg 275-280
CHAPTER 10 The Challenge Of Realizing A Heavenly World
The Bright Continent
When you go to Africa, you will see it is rich in red and yellow hues. Some areas are covered in fertile, red soil, and others with ocher-colored sand. I have been told that Africa means “mother” or “sunlight” in different languages.
Unfortunately, multitudes of Africans still struggle to acquire the basic daily necessities. European colonizers exploited Africa’s riches and did not invest effectively in its development. Even some who strongly believed in God enslaved and enchained their fellow human beings, considering them bereft of a soul. Too few lent a comforting hand or helped them find a way to live. And still fewer gave them words of Christ’s love and hope of salvation.
The sense of profound grief I felt when I first stepped onto African soil in the 1970s remains in my heart. Over the years, my husband and I sent missionaries to Africa. Rather than invest in building our own churches, these missionaries worked to assist the local population by erecting schools, opening clinics and building factories. Their gallant efforts were humble contributions in helping to better the lives of others. Nonetheless, their altruistic endeavors did not answer the questions on everyone’s minds. Africans would seek out Unification Church missionaries and pastors and ask:
“Why do we have to live in such misery?”
“When are True Parents coming to see us?”
“Do True Parents truly love us?
What do True Parents think about Africa?”
When these heartfelt words crossed oceans and reached my ears, I felt called, and I answered by going to Africa. However, despite my best efforts, it was difficult to meet and speak with everyone I wanted to see, and address the myriad complex circumstances afflicting each nation or tribe. Africa’s complexity is evident in the multiplicity of faiths, ethnicities and languages throughout the continent—French-speaking Africa, English-speaking Africa, Islamic Africa, Catholic Africa, and more and more, overlaying the histories of conflicts among tribes. I prayed: How can I help heal this continent’s wounds and bring harmony and oneness of heart? As the decades passed, we built the foundation to bring together public-sector and private-sector leaders of several nations, including traditional chiefs and religious leaders, to discuss interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.
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I cannot forget the date, January 18, 2018, the day we held the inaugural 2018 Africa Summit at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center (CICAD) in Dakar, Senegal. The theme and our hopes were ambitious: Building a Heavenly Africa through Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values. His Excellency Macky Sall, president of the Republic of Senegal, and several former heads of state and prime ministers, as well as current cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, religious leaders and leading figures from every sphere of society, attended the Summit. From Algeria in the north to South Africa in the south, 1,200 representatives from 55 nations gathered. The Universal Peace Federation was hosting its largest ever summit in Africa.
While Koreans back home battled freezing winds and heavy snow, West Africa was blessed with warm breezes and the equatorial sun. When I stepped off the plane in Dakar, the sons and daughters of Africa welcomed me with great enthusiasm, holding my hands with tears of joy.
Following my keynote address at the Summit, many of our non-profit organizations’ transformative initiatives that were actively underway in Africa were introduced, including the Sae-ma-eul (New Village) Movement, the International Peace Highway Project, and the Sunhak Peace Prize. Furthermore, through our sponsorship, the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development, and the International Association of Traditional Rulers (Chiefs) for Peace and Prosperity were launched.
On the evening of the Summit’s plenary, the Little Angels of Korea held a special congratulatory performance. Mesmerized by the songs and dances, the audience cheered and applauded throughout the performances of the Drum Dance, the Fan Dance, the Folk Wedding Dance and Arirang. People were moved to tears when the Little Angels sang the Senegalese National Anthem in their language and Senegal superstar Ismaël Lô’s hit song “Dibi Dibi Rek.” Everyone was uplifted, and a profound sense of brotherhood and sisterhood permeated the hall. Loud shouts and laughter heightened the sense of hope and joy felt by everyone.
It was just the next day that I took the ferry to Gorée Island, which lies off the coast of Dakar, to offer a prayer for the liberation of Africa from the historical pain and suffering caused by the scourge of slavery.
God’s embrace ends all tears
Before 2018, I had never heard of Gorée, as it is located thousands of miles from Korea. However, as our World Summit Africa 2018 approached, I forged a profound relationship with the island and its history.
The bean-shaped island of Gorée is now a tourist attraction drawing visitors from all over the world. As the ferry sailed from Dakar Harbor across the azure sea, tourists from various countries, enthralled by the scenery and atmosphere, were chattering in wonder and taking photos. However, an intense pain arose in my heart. I already was feeling that the bitter tears of grief shed by thousands of captives in transit through that island could fill the world’s oceans. The beautiful site that we were approaching must be the most sorrowful island in the world.
Dakar is located along a continental protrusion on the west coast of Africa. It is the closest point of transit from West Africa to North America and Europe. This geographical location may be used for good today, but for nearly 500 years it was a linchpin of the transatlantic slave trade, one of history’s cruelest and most inhumane episodes.
When European missionaries came to Africa in the name of Christ, the great majority were righteous, but there were also people who failed to remain true to Christ’s essence, who prioritized the monetary interests of their respective nations over Jesus’ teachings. As European colonizers and their local collaborators exploited the God-given natural resources of Africa, they invested little in educating the people. Instead, they dehumanized and enslaved many of the indigenous people. From the fifteenth century on, European colonial powers flocked to Africa, plundering the continent’s resources and enslaving the local populations. Men, women and children were placed in chains, forcibly taken to Gorée Island and shipped off to slavery in Europe and the Americas. While at Gorée Island, captives were chained so heavily that it was nearly impossible for them to walk. They were starved until just before being sold at auction, when they were force-fed a diet of beans so they would gain weight. If they became seriously ill aboard the slave ship, they were thrown overboard into the ocean. The once-peaceful island of Gorée was a slave camp filled with screams, tears and grief.
The slave trade continued for hundreds of years, and it is estimated that more than 20 million Africans were sold into slavery, many passing through the House of Slaves on Gorée Island. No one knows how many innocent lives were lost at sea during the voyages. As the True Mother, it broke my heart to know that such atrocities were committed by many who prayed in the name of Jesus Christ. Knowing these things, I wanted to visit Gorée Island and liberate the historical agony and heartbreak of all the Africans who suffered due to the scourge of slavery.