Burkina Faso is in turmoil. In May alone, jihadists killed 14 lay Catholics and a priest in three attacks. In late April, a Protestant minister and six members of his congregation were shot to death.
For many years, the country was known for the peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims, who have been practicing a tolerant form of Islam. In recent years, however, jihadist extremism, exported by neighboring Mali and encouraged by radicalized local preachers, has changed the situation dramatically.
It is against this backdrop of terror and hatred that Sister Anne-Marie Kabore of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception practices her music ministry. For her, song is a powerful tool to bring about peace and reconciliation.
A pharmacist by training, Sister Anne-Marie, based in the capital of Ouagadougou, regularly travels throughout the country to bring a musical message of hope, particularly to young people. She is accompanied by six nuns who are back-up singers and a number of musicians, including both Christians and Muslims.
Sister Anne-Marie—who is pursuing a specialization in bio-pharmacology at the University of Ouagadougou—has three albums to her name. Her albums are available on YouTube and have had hundreds of thousands of views.
One recent composition—Ra le yab ye—carries a message of encouragement for women who have become outcasts in society, for example because they are childless or because they have been accused of witchcraft. See the video below.
Sister Anne-Marie—whose order teaches in schools and is active in healthcare—is outspoken in addressing the terrorist attacks and the people’s feeling of insecurity, particularly in the country’s north.
“The Church is called to accompany the people,” she says, and “to work for the reconciliation of the sons of the country,” even in the face of growing danger. In a forthcoming song, says the Sister, “I cry out to God, that he may grant us peace, stability and reconciliation of hearts.”
She adds that the new song stresses “the need to remain united,” while the lyrics also emphasize the “necessity of training priests and nuns, so that they can be the leaders of a population capable of creating a climate of peace—and so ensure that Burkina Faso can reconnect with its history of peace and tolerance.”
Aid to the Church in Need supports the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in a variety of ways, including by helping Sister Anne-Marie’s music ministry. Other ACN projects in Burkina Faso involve transportation for priests and nuns and the construction of churches and chapels. To learn more visit www.churchinneed.org.