At least 15 people have died in Burkina Faso in recent weeks in different attacks on Christian churches in the West African country. A situation of anguish and despair that Sister Anne-Marie Kabore, religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Ouagadougou, tries to overcome in the best way: singing for peace. Burkina Faso, a model of tolerance until few years ago, faces now unprecedented violence. Anne-Marie Kabore has been a religious sister since 2007 and she is also a doctor in Pharmacy since 2016. Her third vocation is in music. All these put the sister at the service of evangelization and reconciliation within Burkina Faso.
To work for the evangelization of the peoples – this is the charism of the congregation of Sister Anne-Marie, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, a pontifical congregation founded in 1924 by a bishop from the Savoie region of France and which today numbers 450 nuns around the world – in Benin, Mali, Algeria, Italy and, of course, France, particularly in Chambéry. Their vocation is to be available “for any work deemed useful by the local Church,” she explains during her visit to the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). And so catechesis, the support of women who have become outcasts or accused of witchcraft, teaching in schools, health care, pastoral care through music… these are all part of the mission entrusted to the sisters.
Already a pharmacist, Sister Anne-Marie is currently pursuing a specialization in bio-pharmacology at the University of Ouagadougou, training aimed at improving the formulation of the various pharmaceutical products that the congregation provides for the population in Ouagadougou.
But Sister Anne-Marie has especially received the gift of composing and singing, ever since her childhood, she recalls in her conversation to ACN. The eldest of 5 children, born to artistic parents in a Christian family, she was attracted to the religious life at the age of 9. Today Sister Anne-Marie believes that music is a great instrument of evangelization. A gifted musician, she founded a band in 2011 and since then has composed and performed her own songs, both in the local language Moré and in French – be it reggae, zouk or slow. Her albums are available on YouTube and have had hundreds of thousands of views.
“I have three albums on the record market,” she says: “Magnificat”, released in 2011, eight songs about mutual forgiveness and charity; ‘Shalom – Peace’ (“Shalom-la paix”), released in 2014, on interreligious tolerance, acceptance of other religions and living in harmony despite our differences; and ‘Always try’ (“Essaie toujours”), in 2017, in which she invites people to trust in God despite difficulties and failures.”
With the support of her congregation and of Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo, Metropolitan Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Sister Anne-Marie travels to all 15 dioceses of the country, engaging in the evangelization of young people. A backing-group, made up of six nuns, and a group of instrumentalists – who are not necessarily Christians – accompany Sister Anne-Marie.
“I speak to young people,” she says, “because they need to be guided, but my audience is diverse, I adapt my approach to my particular audience. For example, I go into the prisons and may perhaps meet a brother or sister who is undergoing a particular trial and needs to feel loved, and I invite him or her to a change of life.” In another song, entitled Ra le yab ye, Sister Anne-Marie endeavours to comfort those women who have been rejected by today’s Burkinabé society, especially childless women, and women accused of witchcraft…
Among the difficulties facing Burkina’s society today, Sister Anne-Marie does not hesitate to address the terrorist attacks that are being perpetrated within the country and the areas that are suffering from the insecurity. “The Church is called to accompany, to work for the reconciliation of the sons of the nation,” she says. “Last February, I composed a song for reconciliation and peace in Burkina Faso. The difficult situation that the country is going through has inspired me. In this single, I cry out to God, that he may grant us peace, stability and reconciliation of hearts. I also sing of the need to remain united. [It is] a single [the video of which] was shot in late April and will be available soon. It’s a single to listen to, to meditate on, and one that that speaks of 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.”
The International Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) has been providing constant support to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Burkina Faso for years, mainly through aid for pastoral transport and construction. Sister Anne-Marie Kabore came recently to the international headquarters of ACN to present a new project relating to her singing apostolate and music ministry – specifically to ask financial support to acquire a sound system and related equipment.