He had always wanted to be a ‘techie’, but the surprise was round the corner. He met with philosophy and fell in love with it, to the point of becoming a philosopher. Bro. Jean-Marie Mwamba tells us his story.
I was born in 1974, in Kolwezi, the capital city of Lualaba Province, in the south-eastern part of the DR Congo, in a Catholic family of eight children. From my childhood, my mother made me get used to going to morning mass with her. I have no doubt that this is where my desire to serve the Lord was born, first as an altar boy, then as a reader of God’s word, and eventually, as a young man, to consecrate myself to God for mission as a Comboni Brother.
Even today, I value the ministry of reading the Holy Scriptures during liturgical ceremonies. So much so, that I continue to be a ‘lector’ in my home parish. Whenever I go home for my holidays, I exercise with deep joy this apostolate as a member of the liturgical group.
I did my primary and secondary education in Catholic schools. It was during secondary school that the desire to consecrate myself to religious life matured in me. It was a perspective that was constantly before my eyes during the years I spent at Mutoshi Technical Institute in Kolwezi, where I studied industrial electronics. The school was managed by the Salesians of Don Bosco, and it was the Salesian Brothers who inspired me to become like them.
After secondary school exams, I moved to Kinshasa to continue my university studies. In the capital city, I got to know the Comboni missionaries through the friendship I developed with one of them, a native of the Central African Republic, who had come to Kinshasa to finish his theology courses. He is now a Priest. I will eternally be grateful to him, because it was through the many conversations, I had with him that I began to know and savour the Comboni charism and style of life.
Through reading the life of Comboni and the testimonies of some Combonian missionaries, I was more and more motivated to become a Comboni missionary.
Although my friend was studying to become a priest, the vocation of the religious Brother was still clear to me, but now it became an impellent call and commitment to human advancement.
After some time of discernment, I began my training as a Comboni Brother. And here I must reveal an almost inexplicable ‘conversion’. I had always dreamed of continuing with my technical studies and acquiring a trade or technical profession.
However, during the first years of Postulancy, I came across a science that fascinated me: philosophy. Its beauty bewitched me irreparably. A beauty that increased with the passage of time, mostly spent devouring books and philosophy texts. Today I am happy and proud to be a philosopher.
After my undergraduate studies at the Edith Stein Philosophy School in Kisangani, in 2003, I was admitted to the novitiate at Kimwenza, in Kinshasa, where I spent two years. In 2005, after my first religious vows, I was sent to the International Centre of the Brothers, in Nairobi, to continue my formation.
In agreement with the superiors, I was able to enrol in a graduate programme in philosophy at the Catholic University of the Eastern Africa (CUEA). Obtained the master’s degree, in 2008, I was assigned to the Comboni Province of Togo-Ghana-Benin, as a member of the formation team of the institute’s Postulancy, at Adidogomé (western suburb of Lomé) and teacher of philosophy in the School of Philosophy.
I have never limited myself to teaching philosophy. I always wanted to carve out time to devote to pastoral ministry. In Adidogomé, I worked with the parish youth group. In 2011 I went back to Kinshasa where I did my perpetual religious profession.
Immediately after, I returned to Nairobi for my doctoral studies in philosophy at CUEA, which I finished by defending my thesis in November 2015. My superior appointed me as a teacher of philosophy at the Edith Stein Philosophy School in Kisangani. The following year, I was appointed Rector of that institution, a position that I hold to this day. And here I am now, a Comboni missionary Brother, engaged mostly in the field of teaching.