Clad in ivory bracelets, brightly designed clothes and extravagant hats, 40 members from the Fontem tribe in Cameroon, Africa, made a special pilgrimage to Rome. They celebrated 50 years of change through the presence of the Focolare Movement among their people.
There are now four generations of Bangwa people who have lived through changes brought about by the founder of the movement, Italian-born Chiara Lubich, who came to Cameroon to help in the 1960s.
Queen of Fontem
"My tribe is all surrounded around women. It is the women who cook; it is the woman who goes to the farms and brings food; it is the woman who takes care of the babies. Now, they were doing all these things all by themselves, through the teachings of Chiara, reciprocal love, love one another as Jesus has loved us. We know, men have to come to know, that they should also love the women because the women are also human beings.”
She says through Chiara visiting their country, the roles in the tribe have changed from men sitting and waiting for food to eat, to helping the women and co-existing as life partners and equals.
The rulers of the tribe are now participating in this pilgrimage to Rome, remembering Chiara's legacy in the city where her funeral was held in 2008.
Queen of Fontem
"All over, in Fontem, in Africa, we are preparing how we are going to say thank you to Jesus for having sent Chiara, and thank you to mamma Chiara for having come to help my people.”
The newfound brotherhood and love, which the tribe adopted 50 years ago, are topics they have in common with Pope Francis. They even had the opportunity to discuss these themes with the pope in a delegation.
FON OF FONJUMETAW
President of the "Fon-Friends” of the Focolare Movement
"For me to be near the Holy Father, and to hear him talk of honor, forgiveness, and to give. This reminded me of the spirituality of the Focolare Movement. I'm going back home with hope. Hope that I will better promote the love and peace and unity of my people. I will tell them what I heard from the pope: to forgive and then to give”.
While their ivory staffs, filled with white horse tails, hung off the table, the leaders of Fontem spoke about not only the interior changes the Focolare Movement have brought about, but also the changes that have externally taken place throughout their tribe due to increased patience and love for everyone.