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Prefecture Apostolic of Ghardaia



Prefecture Apostolic in the French Sahara, separated in 1901 from the Vicariate Apostolic of Sahara and the Soudan. It includes the region between the Prefecture Apostolic of Morocco, the Dioceses of Algeria and Tunis, the Mission of Tripoli, and 20° N. lat. The inhabitants number about 300,000, all Mussulmans, but of different races, such as Arabs and Berbers. In this vast region are nomadic Arab tribes, such as the Larba, the Chaambas, and the Said Otba; there are sedentary populations in the oases, as those of the oases of Wargla (Uargla), Gurara, Tuat (Twat), Tedikelt, various tribes of the Tuaregs, and lastly the strong and important group of Mozabites in the district of Mzab.

At present the mission comprises three stations, Ghardaia, Wargla and Elgolea. Twelve missionaries and three lay brothers of the Congregation des Missionaires d' Afrique (White Fathers) are employed at the different tasks pertaining to a mission in a Mussulman country. Evangelization properly so-called cannot be at once begun in such countries. The task of the missionaries is wholly one of preparation, requiring long and obscure toil of which statistics convey no adequate appreciation. It consists in overcoming by degrees, through benevolent intercourse, the exercise of charity, and instruction, the ancient prejudices which the Mussulmans harbour towards Christians, prejudices that are rooted deeply in the very religion of Mohammed. Only insensibly, therefore, and through appreciation of the benefits conferred by the missionaries and through customary respect for the latter as men of God, do these peoples become detached from Islam, and a new generation grow up in which it is possible to make numerous and permanent conversions, permanent precisely because more numerous, for occasional conversions amid Mussulman surroundings are almost impossible.

Charles Guerin.








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