City of Ubuntu - a story of journeys and encounters
What does a fulfilling human life consist of? How does the history of great institutions? These and many other questions are very present in the minds of those who like to read read biographies and history books. City of Ubuntu is a civil society organization that builds its history before our eyes. This story is woven from journeys and encounters that revolve around a certain Jean de Dieu Tagne, the promoter of the project. Since it is a story, we will illustrate our explanations with some significant dates, places, people and actions. and actions.
2010 - Yaoundé, Cameroon
Abdoul, a street child, approaches Jean de Dieu and asks him for something to eat. to eat. Jean de Dieu decides to better understand the phenomenon of street children, and starts researching the problems of education for street children in the city of Yaoundé in Cameroon.
In the course of this research, he meets Angèle Kengne, who is already working on the situation of children's rights. From this meeting comes the decision to involve other people and create an association. Angèle tells her husband, Alexis Ndzuenkeu, who is a judge, Jean de Dieu tells Herrick Mouafo Djontu, an association leader at the university, and Patience Ombick, who is trained in business management. So the small team forms to write the statutes of an association.
2011 - Yaoundé, Cameroon
On April 11, the Association for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Education is founded with the name BLAS in Africa (Bring Light and Smile in Africa). The acronym BLAS was chosen to honor the memory of the Piarist priest Mariano Blas, whose meeting with Jean de Dieu in 2005 focused on the educational situation in Cameroon.
BLAS in Africa is a civil society organization governed by Cameroonian legislation in light of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international legal instruments. BLAS in Africa is inspired by the thoughts and charism of Saint Joseph Calasanz, who in 1597, seeing the misery of children and youth in the streets of Rome, founded the first Christian elementary school in Europe to free these children from the slavery of ignorance and sin. For this reason, the Superior General of the Piarist Fathers recognized BLAS in Africa as a Piarist work.
2012 - Yaoundé, Cameroon
Jean de Dieu meets Dr. Narcisse Talla and Dr. Bernard Fotsing and invites them to join the BLAS team. Both are computer scientists. Their presence gives new strength to the fledgling project. In the basement of the Piarist Fathers' training house in Yaoundé, the small team meets several times a week in the evening and works late into the night. In this climate of total dedication, they prepare and offer various trainings for civil society actors on educational issues. In the course of this, they have set up several programs for street children:
- the "Shared Bread" program, which aims to feed and care for street children
- the "Dopo Scuola" program in collaboration with The Grace Enna Association, which provides school support for children from disadvantaged families
- the "BLAS-YEC" (Youth Empowerment Center) program to train young entrepreneurs
- the "Success Equation" program to help young people with their school and academic orientation
Stéphane Lontsi joins the team in 2014 and holds the position of Secretary General.
2015 - UNESCO, Paris, France
On June 3, Jean de Dieu will be invited to the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris as General Coordinator of BLAS in Africa. The occasion is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimus Educationis and the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's document for Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae. On this occasion, Jean de Dieu will give a lecture entitled: What is the contribution of the BLAS Association in Africa to the current challenges in education?
Several meetings take place during the World Forum. The meeting with Christine Roche, President of the International Catholic Center for Cooperation with UNESCO, leads to the membership of BLAS in Africa in this international network of civil society associations.
2015 - Esztergom, Hungary
Throughout July, Jean de Dieu participates as a guest in the General Chapter of the Piarist Fathers. He actively participates in the Chapter's discussions on the new challenges in the field of education.
Based on his experience at the World Education Forum, he presents to the Chapter Assembly the idea of introducing a master's degree program in education law. Indeed, the participants of the World Forum in UNESCO had been the first to receive the Incheon Declaration, which set the educational goals for the year 2030. After Jean de Dieu recognized that the new challenges in education concerned quality and that the means to to meet these challenges were leadership, advocacy and lobbying. consisted, he argues that the Piarist Fathers should lead the way in education in these areas. The idea meets with the approval of the General Chapter.
2016 - Rom, Italien
On September 15, the Superior General of the Piarist Fathers, Fr. Pedro Aguado Cuesta, establishes the Institut Calasanz du Droit à l'Éducation (ICALDE) with the decree Prot.S.198.2016. The association BLAS in Africa is entrusted with the elaboration of the training content. Academic supervision will be provided by the University Cristobal Colon in Veracruz, Mexico, owned by the Piarist Fathers. The meetings with the Rector, Fr. José Manuel Asun and Jorge Campa, allowed ICALDE to establish a good relationship with the UCC.
The ICALDE began under the direction of Professor Pierre Étienne Kenfack and is currently currently developing under the direction of Dr. Herrick Mouafo Djountu. The first ICALDE students will defend their master's thesis in 2022.
From the beginning, ICALDE is faced with funding issues. The Piarist Fathers provide the start-up funding, but it is not possible to finance the operating costs. In order to adequately pay faculty, students must be charged high tuition fees, which goes against our core value of educating people from poverty backgrounds to meet the educational challenges of their communities. Therefore, we decide to engage in income-generating activities to offer scholarships to poor and deserving students.
2019 - Tonga, Cameroon
Abbé Éric Kuate establishes contact with the village head of Sanki, who makes a 12-hectare plot of land available to us.
2020 - Sanki, Cameroon
The agreement with the village of Sanki is finalized and the implementation of the project, called City of Ubuntu: City of True Humanity, is started.
As time goes by, it becomes clear that the mission in this locality cannot be limited to agricultural production. We want to create a city of encounter, a place where everyone can express their talent and realize their dream.
The first project to be launched is the installation of 25 beehives with a double objective: an educational objective, where we learn from the bees how collaborative work can produce a result that goes beyond separate individual skills; and a socio-economic objective, where we provide pure honey to the population at a reasonable price.
2020 - Sanki, Cameroon
On April 8, Jean de Dieu visits the City of Ubuntu for the first time, accompanied by Stéphanne Lontsi and by Vivian and Regina, a family that moved to Tonga from Buea. A rain so heavy surprises them at the place that they get abundantly wet, since there was no shelter. Jean de Dieu promises to do everything possible to build a house on the site as soon as possible.
2021 - Sanki, Cameroon
Corn cultivation is started and Mr. Ousmanou is hired as guardian of City of Ubuntu. He is the first resident of our city. His job is to protect the crops of City Ubuntu from monkeys and herds of cows that want to eat the corn, and especially to ensure a human presence in the city.
2022 - Buea, Cameroon
On the recommendation of the Carmelite Sisters of Sasse, Chiambah Basil Fulmai is hired as project manager in City of Ubuntu. His task is to follow everything that is done in City of Ubuntu and to send us a regular report on what is happening on the site. Before him, Jean Baptiste Poukam had followed the initial work with plants such as cassava, maize, ginger and others.
2022 - Sanki, Cameroon
The first house with three rooms is built in City of Ubuntu. This house is the result of the generosity of the friends of Jean de Dieu in the parish of Maria Treu in Vienna on the occasion of his 15th anniversary as a priest.
2022 - Vienna, Austria
On May 1, Barbara Tober calls Jean de Dieu to the hospital in his capacity as pastor of Maria Treu because of an emergency. On this day, the first meeting between Jean de Dieu and Philipp Broinger, Barbara's husband, takes place.
When he talks to Philipp later about the City of Ubuntu project, he is interested and talks about it with his colleague Herwig Ferch: Both are architects. Soon after, a meeting was organized between Jean de Dieu, Philipp and Herwig.
2022 - Sanki, Cameroon
From July 26 to August 6, a group of 14 Austrian, 6 Cameroonian youth and one Mexican will be hosted by Jean de Dieu, Angèle and Stéphane in Cameroon for an intercultural experience. During this encounter experience, the youth plant trees in the Ubuntu settlement and participate in cultural activities with other youth in Yaoundé, Tonga, Bafoussam, Buea and Kribi. Two members of this group, Bernadette Besci and Veronika Pawel, are particularly interested in the project.
2022 - Vienna, Austria
From the beginning of September, the Ubuntu team in Vienna is constituted with the following members: Jean de Dieu, Philipp, Barbara, Ilka, Martina, Herwig, Michael, Bernadette and Veronika. The team has set itself the task of founding an association called City of Ubuntu Austria, in order to work at the Austrian level in a similar way to the project in Cameroon.
2023 - Vienna, Austria
On June 30, the work on drafting the Statutes of the Association was completed and the documents were submitted to the relevant Ministry. We received valuable help in proofreading from two lawyers: Barbara Bauer and Peter Csoklich.
The team is gradually consolidating and is open to welcoming new members who want to share the Ubuntu dream of harmonious coexistence of all people and with nature.
The travels continue and the encounters become more and more numerous. Jean de Dieu is now writing his doctoral thesis on the City of Ubuntu project in social ethics at Laval University in Quebec, Canada. Who knows what tomorrow will be about?