Father Léandre Mbaydeyo, a priest from the diocese of N’Djaména in Chad, is currently studying in the parish of Saint Ambrose in Paris, with the help of a scholarship from the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International). In the interview below, he talks about the situation in his home country, which this year commemorates the 60th anniversary of its independence.
ACN: Chad finds itself in a complicated and conflict-ridden situation, in the midst of the Sahel region. Does this fact impact on the daily life of the Chadian people?
Father Léandre Mbaydeyo: Most certainly it does! Just look around at our neighboring countries – Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Niger… They are all going through turbulent times! I myself was born far from my parents’ home village since they had to flee on account of the war. And so I am a child of the war, and it may well be a war that eventually kills me. Chad is a country rich in diversity; it has over 200 different ethnic groups and languages. And there is also an ancestral and immemorial conflict between the Muslim pastoralists of the North and the Christian and animist peasant farmers of the South. These are recurrent conflicts that the Chadian people have generally succeeded in resolving in the majority of cases. But when politics comes into the picture, everything becomes much more complicated and these disputes degenerate into bloody clashes. Approximately half the country is Muslim, one third is Christian and the remainder are adherents of traditional animist religions.