JHC is a research, formation and social action institute in Eastern Africa that works to promote the study and action on issues linking faith, justice and peace in the Jesuit Eastern Africa Province. It was started in 2001 as a programme of the Jesuit Eastern Africa Province as a more visible expression of the social justice dimension of the Jesuits’ identity and mission. It is owned and run by the Jesuit Fathers Registered Trustees of the Eastern Africa Province of the Society of Jesus.
The idea of establishing a centre for social justice was first crystallized in 1988 in the Apostolic Plan of the Eastern Africa Province. The then Provincial, Fr. Paul Besanceney, SJ, commissioned Fr. Rodrigo Méjia, SJ (now retired Titular Bishop Vulturia and Vicar Apostolic of Soddo-Hosanna, Ethiopia) to conduct a survey and feasibility study on the establishment of a ‘social Centre’ in the Province.
This was followed by the appointment of a number of Jesuits in 1991 to form the ‘Faith and Justice Network’. The Network’s main task was to gather information and share it with other members of the Province. This information was later published in the bulletin “Points of View”.
In 1994 the establishment of a ‘Centre for Concern’ was voted as a Province Priority and included once again in the New Apostolic Plan. The expectation was that the Network would progressively develop a Documentation Centre. This process culminated in the establishment of a Centre for Faith and Justice in Kangemi, Nairobi, with a full-time coordinator. In October 2001, Fr. Ludwig Van Heucke, SJ was appointed full-time Director of ‘Hakimani Centre’. At the time, the Centre operated from Shalom House on Ngong Road, Nairobi. This is when the first structures and programmes were established and marked the formation of JHC. It was later housed at Riara Road, on the same complex as the Hekima College Institute for Peace Studies and International Relations for a period before moving to its current home at Loyola House.
JHC is a multifaceted organization that aims at the transformation of structures that shape society through in-depth social analysis and education.
The name HAKIMANI conﬂates three Kiswahili concepts: HAKI meaning justice, IMANI meaning faith, and AMANI which means peace. The distinct identity of Hakimani combines religious, public and African values. The strategic intent in combining these is to celebrate diversity and to create a positive identity in a divided society by promoting the values of human dignity, equality, tolerance and multiculturalism. This identity makes JHC the voice of sanity and provides a fulcrum from which people can consider current issues and make informed choices.
The inspiration and responsibility for JHC comes from the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the spirituality of its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was the first to outline a way of making far-reaching decisions within complex currents of good and evil that influence public life. The compass for its ministry is set by the social teaching of the Catholic Church, and the passion stems from the Jesuit mission of faith that does justice. This is also in line with the decrees of the Jesuits General Congregations 32, 34 and 35 which placed emphasis on ‘the Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice’ and focuses on fighting poverty, with priority for Africa. </p.
JHC was established by the Jesuit Eastern Africa Province as a ‘Centre for Social Concern’ that would influence national governance agenda on factors that combine to undermine human dignity, especially poverty and violence. It provides support to the Church and other partner organizations in its endeavor to meet its mission. As a center for evidence based advocacy and the voice of sanity, JHC provides a fulcrum from which people can consider current issues and make informed choices that offer hope to the marginalized in society. It carries out its work through research, advocacy and other appropriate interventions.