DAMIETTA PEACE INITIATIVE
ND NASSARAWA INTER- COMMUNITY SENSITISATION MEETING
VENUE: CONGO RUSSIA COMMUNITY MARKET SQUARE
DATE: 3/ 07/ 2010
Congo/ Russia is a predominantly Christian community, while Nassarawa is predominately Muslim community. The two communities are among the most affected by the January 2010 crisis in Jos and since the crisis they don’t interact anymore; neither community goes to the other due to the fears, mistrust, hurts, disappoints, anxieties.
The meeting commenced at 9:30am. Sr. Helena appreciated everyone present at the meeting for their willingness to come and share their experience, and their desires for better ways of living together. There was a general introduction made by everyone present in the meeting. 87 people were in attendance 35 Muslim and 52 Christians and 4 PACT Enablers Austin, Garba, Musa and Gaius.
Maji explained the reason of the meeting referring back to the meeting in the State Library Hall as a neutral place for both communities. Is Youth from each of these two communities met and agreed to host the next meeting in their community. This was because of the trust and confidence that was built during that meeting. He expressed his delight that we are now ready to meet in the community and the turn out of people today shows they have done their home work. He encouraged them to initiate more activities that will foster integration of the two communities. He then posed a question; “What are those things that we used to do in the past together but we don’t do now?”
In responding to the question, they identified rumour mongering as one of the major causes of crisis in their communities. They expressed their sadness as to how they could not live together in peace with their friends or neighbours with whom they attended the same school, and with whom they have been living together as neighbour for a long time, some since childhood.
They went further to share what they understood by being your neighbour’s keeper which is found in the Bible and in the Qur’an. They accepted the fact that all human beings, both Christians and Muslims, were created by One God, therefore anyone close to you is your neighbour and anyone who kills is fighting God who created all human beings and allowed all to live together on earth.
One of the participants asked a question; If you have benefitted from the crisis, you should raise your hand? No one raises his hand. Another question was asked; If you know you were affected by the crisis raise your hand? Everyone raised their hands. They all agreed everyone is a victim and there is no winner in the crisis for everyone is a loser.
Another person asked another question; what legacy are we leaving for our children or the up coming generation? This question posed a moment of sober reflection in the minds of the participants. He also encouraged everyone present in the meeting to avoid being a religious fanatic or being an extremist; such attitudes do not help build good relationships in our communities. He added, when we start seeing people from other religions as if they are not human, it means we are not practicing the true religions.
In the course of discussion, one of the participants that was inspired by the encounter of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan
-Malik in the first meeting at the State Library Hall requested for a brief presentation of the encounter to the participants of this very meeting. Sr. Helena said DPI felt it was more important for the community to express their experience at this meeting and that we will do that in the next inter community meeting. (This is scheduled for 24/07/2010 at Nassarawa)
They all encouraged one another not to allow themselves t
e used by those selfish politicians to achieve their aims. They said we have never fought a religious fight in Jos but those selfish politicians always took advantage of our religion, ignorance and poverty to cause us to kill another other.
Someone asked the question. Where were we (those who have voice in the communities) when the crisis was happening? If we had done something to prevent the youth from taking arms it would have gone a long way to prevent the crisis. Because of the openness and freedom in sharing, they emphasised the continuation and sustainability of the meeting. Everyone was happy, saying respect and patience with one another can go a long way in sustaining peace in our community and also seeing the person next to you as your brother or sister.
While, others shared on the need for employment so as to empower the youth who are the “foot soldiers” and the most prone to violence believing that empowering the youth can go a long way in reducing the number of vulnerable youth.
Sr. Helena asked the participants to suggest practical things they can do as community to sustain this relationships that they have started building today.
Suggestion included the following:-
Ø They agreed to come together and mobilise resources to help rebuild one burnt Muslim house and one Christian burnt house, which will show their commitment to peace.
Ø They selected 12 representatives as the Committee, 6 from each community to ensure the success of the rebuilding who will report progress at next meeting in Nassaraws.
Ø They suggested involving both the political and religious leaders in the next meeting it is the community responsibility to invite them.
Ø They suggested organising a feast as that will show how they have accepted each other. This was developed to suggest that the hosting community provide food at our meetings as a way of showing our seriousness.
Ø Another person suggested skills acquisition centres for the communities, so as to keep them busy doing something reasonable. Sr. Helena suggested they contact APURIMAC to see if they negotiate something in the community.
Ø While someone suggested a joint rally in the two communities in other to convince people for the next meeting, because when people see them together, both Muslims and Christians, that will give them confident on the process, someone suggested that each person should come with 3 people for the next meeting and when they come he will stand up and introduce them. DPI suggested we move slowly and each one is to bring one person to the next meeting.
Ø They also suggested a novelty football match among the 20 wards in the Jos North. DPI informed them of “harmonious Kicks” coming up in October.
Ø They also suggested an inter- religious teaching session; that a Muslim will come and teach Christians and a Christian will then teach the Muslims about their different faiths.
Ø Someone suggested that the “Thugs” should be present in the next meeting. DPI said they should invite them because they live in the same community, therefore they know them and they are members of their communities.
The meeting finished end with a general silent prayer.
They fixed 24/07/2010 for the next meeting at Primary Health Care (PHC) Nassarawa at 9am.
Names of the rebuilding Committee members.
Muhammed Ibrahim Babangida
Umar B. K. Hassan