Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria worked in collaboration with Nigerian Fellows of the King Abdulla bin Abdul-Aziz Centre for Cultural and Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace, The Interfaith Mediation Centre, and O-Trauma Victims Initiative to organize a one day conference on “Trauma Care, Social Cohesion, and the Role of Religious Leaders as Agents of Nation Building.” The event was held at the Catholic Resource Centre Durumi in Abuja on June 22, 2023.
Country Director for GPF Nigeria, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, welcomed prominent Nigerians, reputable Civil Society Organizations, members of the press, and the general public to the forum, saying, “The need for interfaith collaboration cannot be overemphasized in our quest for social cohesion and nation building.” He pointed out that the country has faced tremendous trauma like the presence of terrorism and kidnapping of whom all people are victims no matter their background. He specifically urged religious leaders to encourage their congregations to extend their humanity beyond the barriers of religion. “Peacebuilding engagements should go beyond town hall meetings to the grassroots and local communities to promote love, peace, tolerance, respect, and civic responsibilities even among rural dwellers,” said Rev. Hayab. “We must, as a matter of necessity, consider ourselves as critical stakeholders in nation-building and work as such.”
The unique duo, Imam Muhammad Nurah Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, presented together at the conference, inspiring participants with a brotherhood that extended beyond their religious identities. They shared their collective experiences on the brutal effects of religious violence, trauma, and similar encounters of healing through forgiveness. “We can be blinded by pains which can consume us,” said the Imam. “But we can turn our worst enemies into our best friends and have peace.” Pastor Wuye chimed in, “We will not be strong until we are able to forgive.”
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