Let’s not fool ourselves, we haven’t reached the promised land, North or South. There is still segregation in Nigeria, which we are not doing much to subdue. Segregation transcends to religious crisis, although some people have argued that our crisis in Nigeria are more of political than religious, I’m not going to dwell on that argument because I’m not here to argue between two wrongs.
I recently took an online certificate course in the United States Institute of Peace, I chose to study Interfaith Conflict Resolution because that is the basis of most crisis in Nigeria and I was hoping to learn from a global perspective, and in turn, relate it to what we are experiencing in Nigeria. So you can understand my shock when upon opening the first page of my course material I saw; “1.1 Killing in Nigeria”. Apparently, the outside world knew. They knew almost one thousand individuals were killed in one month alone in Yelwa-Nshar, Plateau state, provoking reprisals in both Kano and Southeastern states.
Every person who feels that they are spiritual, or they work within their faith-based community, will always say firmly that “Our religion is about peace and I am a peacemaker”, I think they will affirm that with unambiguous terms. The reality is that each religion has some component of conflicts, has some component of stereotyping the other. The problem is to realize, the theory of what’s been taught, of what individuals have internalized and what’s on ground. What’s the reality of being a faithful Muslim or Christian? What’s the reality in terms of what sort of biases we have on a daily basis of the other? How much of my own identity is based on, exclusively, against someone else?
The traditions will say, in theory, in theology, “We are peaceful” but a honest peacemaker will first assess his or her own understanding of their tradition and ask questions, very hard questions, existential questions, about why is it that as a Muslim or Christian I still view you as so and so? Or a lesser person? Even though I’m a respectable person and I respect other religions, but there’s a sense that the other tradition is still less-than, is still not as important.
I think peacemakers, the true peacemakers, ask those questions and move on to the next step and ask – well, I must work on my biases. I understand I inherited these biases, but I must learn to think about not transferring these biases to other friends and the next generation. A true peacemaker must ask what is the wisdom that other religion offers? And I’m open to learning that without compromising who I am? I think that is the work of a peacemaker, to realize that one can work with different groups and religions without feeling that there is a competition.
So………….are you a peacemaker? Please don’t be quick to answer