Posted by: Andries Louw | 12 June 2009

Amahoro Africa: family reunion of change agents

The Amahoro Africa gathering has surpassed my wildest expectations. I was moved, challenged and encouraged. I was networked, connected, inspired and lifted up to a new viewpoint of hope and vision for this beautiful, tragic, struggling, bleeding, pulsating, dancing, dynamic, big-heart continent which I have the privilege of calling home. This was not a conference. It really was a family-reunion of visionary, thinking and praying doers who welcomed me as a new member. I now have a responsibility towards my new family to follow conversations up with action and prayer. I can’t wait to get started.

This is what I wrote last night as a comment on the Amahoro Africa website. Amahoro means peace, harmony, holism, much like the Hebrew shalom. My previous post was entitled Amahoro Africa conference: The African Reformation. Now I understand why the organisers haven’t called it a conference, but a gathering. Monday night they said it was a family reunion. It sounded cliche to me.

One of my roommates was Steven Kurikunkiko. He told me his story of growing up as an orphan in Uganda. His parents were killed in the war when he was six. In 1996 he went to Rwanda, where his parents had originally fled from, also because of a war. He was greeted by the sight of dead bodies in the streets and people walking around with chopped off hands and feet.

Steven started caring for widows, orphans and HIV positive women who had been raped during the genocide that broke out in 1994. He and his wife are renting a building where 160 widows are making crafts and are being trained as tailors. They have 15 sewing machines but Steven says if they can get another 65 machines they will be able to train some while others are selling clothes on the market.

Last night I discovered that Sean, a South African now living in London, is already supporting Steven. Sean told me about Friends-of-Steven and about the charity he is setting up that will allow people to donate towards Steven’s project and other similar ones. Then I understood why I saw Steven and Sean sitting together so often during breaks. They are friends. They belong to the Amahoro family. It’s not a cliche.

Yesterday a man from the Batwa tribe (“Pygmee”) in the DRC spoke about his village and their challenges. A church in Texas are friends with them. Before they started talking about money, friendships were built. Batwa people are visiting Texas and Texans are visiting the Batwa village.

Philbert Kalisa, founder of Reach Rwanda (see also here) told me about their work in reconciling warring tribes with each other who then build houses together in “villages of hope”. How many more stories, projects and friendships are there among the hundreds of participants who were here from West, East, Central and Southern Africa, from North America, Europe, Australia and Nieu Zeeland?

I found new hope for Africa and my African identity took on new meaning. Time to get our hands dirty!



  1. It’s good to see the different Amahoro blog posts beginning to pop up. Blogging about it enables us to some extent to share each other’s experiences, which were all different, as there were so many people there we couldn’t meet them all!

  2. Thanks for the work you are doing. I am willing to help train the participants on self help food raising methods using locally available resources.

    Joshua Machinga

  3. Steve, thanks for the links to other Amahoro posts on your blog.

    Joshua, it sounds interesting. Could you provide more details please?

  4. Andries
    I am enjoying your blog.

    I fully agree, friendship seems to be underwriting most of what is happening in the amahoro space. Family seems to be a dominant metaphor.

    It was great to talk to you, and I feel the conversation is just getting going.

  5. Hey Nic, welcome to my blog! Good to see your face here. Thanks for popping in and commenting. I also enjoyed our chat at Amahoro and absolutely agree that the conversation is just getting going.

    I am still trying to process what happened to me at Amahoro. It makes sense that the next gathering should only be in a year from now 🙂

  6. Andries, it was great getting a chance to chat at Amahoro. Thanks for your thoughts here which captured a lot of my own experiences – the informal sharing of our stories which perhaps meant more than any of the formal talks and activities.

  7. […] Andries Louw (Christian) of nextchurch on Amahoro Africa Family reunion of change agents […]

  8. Andries, having helped organise the gathering my hope is that folks won’t wait till next year in Kenya before connecting again face-to-face, but that the friendships birthed will spontaneously grow into partnerships (the way it did with Sean and Steven and so many others) and that the amahoro space will become a living, breathing organism that is self-propogating.

    But I do look forward to seeing you in Kenya next year!

  9. Marius, I am also hoping for many face-to-face connections before Kenya next year. What I meant in my comment above is that there is so much to process and to do now after the Amahoro gathering that we need a full year until we all meet again as a large(r) group.

    For example I am still working through all my Amahoro contacts, writing emails, connecting on Facebook, commenting on blogs etc. In the process I have to work out which friendships to pursue further and which project(s) to get involved with.

    I would like to go to Kenya next year having grown in these relationships and partnerships.

  10. Well now you bring it up, dare we re-consider an SA gathering about 6-9 months from now?

    Perhaps we should just swoosh – JDI – without waiting too long for a quorum.

    But even before a national one, I suggest we try get the local meets underway soon. Call them cohorts, gatherings, whatever, we should really try do one or 2 before a national.

    Here I go again, making life difficult for myself…

  11. Nic, without a doubt we need local gatherings. The Pta cohort seemed to gather some momentum this year although I haven’t been able to attend any. What’s happening in the Western Cape?

  12. […] Andries Louw (Christian) of nextchurch on Amahoro Africa Family reunion of change agents […]

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