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Abidjan – An African saying goes: “It is on the old mat that we sit down to weave the new one”. To say that at the center of our stories, our African cultures sometimes find adequate answers to the major problems we face. Based on this reflection, the Ivorian missionary Father Donald Zagore, priest of the Society of African Missions , commented with Fides on the latest events of the 2021 United Nations Conference on climate change underway in Glasgow . “For example, one of the riches of African culture was its education in preserving the forest by clothing it with sacredness. The history of the sacred forests was not just a myth but a true cultural art with educational and moral purposes for their protection – explains the missionary from Abidjan. The idea of the forest as sacred referred to the idea of the forest as a sanctuary, that is to say an inviolable place, to be treated with deference, veneration and love”. “A value also shared with European culture through its philosophical art. Authors like Spinoza, with his pantheism, saw in the order of nature an effective presence of God. Chateaubriand defined the forest as the first temples of Divinity. These days, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, who chairs the Conference until November 12, 2021, has not hesitated to describe the forests as cathedrals of nature”.
For Fr. Zagore, at a time when more than a hundred countries are committed to fighting against global warming by fighting to stop deforestation by 2030, “we must not deify the forest, but give birth to it in the heart of men and women this desire for the sacred with respect for nature in general and the forest in particular, by moderating its material exploitation for the benefit of economic interests”. Placing the sacred at the center of creation would allow man to remember his true place in creation: that of administrator and not of master and owner of nature”.