The Words of the Gottesman Family
The first Introductory Seminar on the Unification Movement (ISUM) for professors of the Central Africa region was held in Zaire, June 8-11, 1984. Sixty- one Zairian professors attended. The seminar took place at the Presidential Residence at N'Sele, located at a peaceful, scenic spot on the Zaire River 50 kilometers from the capital city of Kinshasa. This residence has excellent conference and hotel facilities and is often used by the Zaire government and other groups for Party congress meetings and various official functions.
Staff members included Gregory Novalis, regional leader of Central Africa, as seminar director, Barubenga Pandamadi and myself as Principle lecturers, Sara Mfuaka, coordinator, and five group discussion leaders. Sara Mfuaka, Lau Khonde and Mpwankaba Maa-Leying, three sisters from the Zaire Association pour Unification du Christianisme Mondial (AUCM), invited professors and made preliminary preparations for several weeks before the seminar took place. Much credit should go to Prof. Nziem Ndaywel, president of the Zaire chapter of the Professors World Peace Academy, who lent his time and help in preparing an invitation list and encouraging many professors to participate.
The people of Zaire have a profound religious heritage. There is a tradition of prophetic revelation in the country and an overwhelming majority of the people believe in God. The professors who attended ISUM were no exception. Throughout the seminar there was a refreshing atmosphere of openness and a desire to learn more about the Unification movement and the Principle. Because the seminar lasted just three days, only an overview of the Principle could be presented. Therefore, a large number of participants expressed a desire to attend the Level II Principle Seminar for academics. A proposal was made to form small study groups which would meet regularly to study the Principle more deeply. Several professors offered to do research on various aspects of the Principle.
Besides Principle lectures, one evening was devoted to a discussion of the Blessing and the lifestyle of the Unification movement members. After showing a film about the Blessing of 2000 couples at Madison Square Garden in July 1982, an interracial couple, Kayembe Kalamba of Zaire and his Norwegian wife, Ragnhild, gave a testimony about their experience of being matched and blessed by True Parents. Together with their seven-month-old beautiful baby daughter Agonju, they offered a truly inspirational example of interracial harmony to everyone present.
On the second day of the seminar, during the time period which had been scheduled for an outing to a wildlife park near N'Sele, President Mobutu of Zaire, accompanied by President Diouf of Senegal, unexpectedly made a visit to the N'Sele Presidential Residence. Instead of going on our planned outing, all the participants of the ISUM were invited to join the welcoming party. Presidents Mobutu and Diouf and members of their families came by presidential yacht on the Zaire River to N'Sele. A large group of N'Sele Residence staff members dressed in colorful national costumes danced and sang to traditional Zairian music, making the afternoon a most happy, festive occasion. The Zairian president, certainly pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the ISUM participants, wished us all a good afternoon and thanked us for the warm reception we gave him.
On the last morning of the seminar Gregory Novalis read a speech prepared by Rev. Kwak for the seminar participants about Father's life. Afterwards, Mr. Novalis gave a speech about Father's court case that moved many professors to tears. One participant, Kalubi Nkola, professor and director of the Law Institute at the University of Kinshasa and leader of a large civil rights organization in Zaire, stood up after the speech and proposed that the participants draft a petition to be circulated and signed throughout Zaire, that would be sent to the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, urging him to pardon Rev. Moon. Citing the historical examples of Jesus and St. Paul, he said that despite the injustice of Father's pending imprisonment, some good would come of it because during this time of persecution Rev. Moon's teachings would certainly flourish.
After this session membership forms were circulated. Six professors opted to become fulltime members, 40 professors signed associate membership, and several others became supporters.
The final banquet was highlighted by a farewell speech by Prof. Ndaywel, president of Central Africa PWPA, and a beautiful performance by the New Hope Singers of Zaire. (The New Hope Singers often sing on national radio and are regularly invited to sing at official state functions.) Everyone was enchanted by their performance and wouldn't allow them to stop until they sang almost an hour's worth of encores!
I would like to share one more remarkable experience that occurred because of ISUM. Several years ago seven students were expelled from the Institut Superieur Pedagogique Kinshasa, a Catholic women's teaching college in Kinshasa, for joining our movement. The director of the institute, a Catholic bishop, had had a particularly unfavorable opinion about the Unification movement at the time. His attitude later gradually began to change, however, especially after his own nephew joined the Unification movement some years ago.
Eight professors from the Institut Superieur Pedagogique attended ISUM at N'Sele and were all deeply moved by their experience. They came to the conclusion that our Zairian sisters had been "unjustly martyred," and they returned to the institute after the seminar with a favorable report. Because of their report, the bishop that had formerly been so unfavorable toward the Unification movement expressed the desire to attend the next ISUM to be held in Zaire!
Before coming to Zaire, to be honest, I could never completely understand how our movement could grow so quickly there. Through my visit I realized there is an exceptionally strong Christian foundation in the country. I was also inspired by Gregory Novalis' leadership. He has been able to convey True Parents' heart to the members, encouraging them to take deep personal responsibility for their nation. The members were able to work together harmoniously and effectively to make the first Introductory Seminar on the Unification Movement for academics a great success.