The monument to Giussani in Mutuati (Kenya)

Kenya: "A new horizon in my life"

Cyprian, a teacher nearing retirement, recounts his encounter with Fr. Giussani more than 30 years ago. And all that came out of it, right down to a monument in his village north of Nairobi.

I am a teacher and have taught for the last 34 years in the village of Mutuati, 200 kilometres north of Nairobi, in Kenya. This June I will retire, having reached the compulsory age of retirement that is sixty years. I am married with a family of twelve children, half of which are adults and work, while the rest are in school.

I met the movement in 1988, as I was finishing my studies at the Thogoto Teachers College, where I trained as a teacher. It happened by great chance. I was invited by my girlfriend to go on an outing in the outskirts of Nairobi. We watched a movie, played some funny games, ate some sugary biscuits, and finally we recorded our names and address on a sheet of paper and went home.

Towards Christmas that year, I received a letter inviting me on a vacation for adults. It was like the star of Magi in the Gospel: I went and for the three days it was blow after blow. It was the beginning of a new horizon in my life. What I met completely corresponded to the yearning within me. From then on, taking my existence seriously – as the people who I had met during those days did – has gone on determining my way of facing reality and building life from family, work, relationships and commitments.

The presentation to the parents

In 2021, during the assembly of the responsibles of CL that I followed online, Davide Prosperi announced that 2022 would be the Centenary year of the birth of Fr. Giussani, and asked for a contribution from everyone: “Who is the Fr. Giussani for you?” Day after day, this question made me restless because no words are enough to explain what this man has done to my life. I shared this question with my friends in Mutuati and Nairobi.

Everyone, looking at their own experience, has heard within the expression of the Angelus – "the Word became flesh and dwells among us" – the most corresponding thing: what man has always sought throughout history became flesh and has become part of history. And it can be encountered today on the streets of this world as happened to John and Andrew two thousand years ago along the River Jordan.

Starting precisely from this, we decided to erect a monument dedicated to Fr. Giusani in Mutuati, representing that famous drawing of the arrows towards an X and the arrow descending downwards: a diagram that the founder of CL used with his students to explain the person’s search for God, while in Christianity it is God Himself who makes Himself known to man.

Cyprian (marked by a blue ''x'') on his ''first day with Communion and Liberation friends in Lagata, near Nairobi''

The monument, which was finished in September, is located at the entrance gate of our school called “San Riccardo Pampuri Primary School”, which opened in 2007 dedicated to his educational method, with 350 children to date. In December we presented the monument to the parents of the school, during which the children explained the meaning of the monument. From then on, every day has been an occasion to speak about Fr. Giussani and of our life to whoever.

Besides the monument we have begun constructing a small hall-library (named the “Icarus” project after the painting by Matisse) as a place of human encounter, where you can read the books loved by Fr. Giussani and proposed by the movement. This space will also be used for small meetings by the school community, and by people from outside the school.

Desiring to share in the needs of our people, a while ago we began a credit and saving co-operative society. It now has membership of 600 people that give a portion of their savings on a monthly basis, and borrow small loans according to their needs. Another work is a dairy co-operative society that allows dairy farmers to produce and market milk products. The only reason for generating these works is to build places and possibilities of encountering others with the experience we have received from Fr. Giussani.

Cyprian, Mutuati, Kenya