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The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) was born out of the will of young African Bishops during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The establishment of SECAM is the result of the bishops resolution to build a continental structure in order to bring forth the African vision to the whole Church.

Seeing the importance of such an Association for Africa, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples invited the Presidents of the Regional Episcopal Conferences for consultation in 1968. A year later, the first-ever visit of a Pope to Africa was seen as very opportune to launch the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar As a matter of fact, His Holiness Pope Paul VI was welcomed to Kampala (Uganda in July 1969) for the official launching of SECAM.
By choosing the word Symposium, instead of that of Conference, the Founding Fathers of SECAM wanted to emphasise their desire of communion and fellowship.The word Symposium in Greek, signifies meal, banquet. In his opening speech, the late, Paul Cardinal ZOUNGRANA gave an explanation of the concept of symposium by using the image of the Eucharistic table, which gathers together the community of brothers. There was already in that explanation the seeds of the Church as Family of God which was declared in 1995 as an "expression of the Church's nature particularly appropriate for Africa", Ecclesia
in Africa, n. 63.