“Kaduna used to be among the most peaceful cities in Nigeria,” GPF Nigeria Country Director Rev. John Joseph Hayab told a town meeting of traditional rulers, faith leaders, women leaders and youth leaders on May 31, 2021.
“Muslims and Christian resided together. We celebrated the talent of our youth, such as our footballers, and extending hospitality to one another. Now the state has been divided into north for the Muslims and south for the Christians. We are here today to work on restoring our lost glory in the state.”
Kaduna State has been wracked by extremist violence in recent years; attacks and reprisals targeting faith and ethnic communities have severely undermined relations among former friends and neighbors. GPF Nigeria has been supporting peacebuilding efforts in Kaduna State through community meetings where vital issues are addressed and intensively discussed, guided by the bonds and shared values of diverse community members.
“We are all one family ancestrally; Muslims, Christians, Igbo, Hausa, Ham and so forth—tribes are all the children of Adam and Eve according to the Holy Qur’an.”
Participants from Kawo, Kurmin Mashi, Hayin Banki, Unguwan Shanu, Unguwan Rimi, Tudun Wada and Abakpa communities warmly welcomed the initiative to provide an open and peaceful environment, particularly for fellow Christians who have been displaced in the past.
Sheikh Halliru Abdullahi Maraya, the Northern Coordinator for GPF Nigeria, reminded participants “that we are all one family ancestrally; Muslims, Christians, Igbo, Hausa, Ham and so forth—tribes are all the children of Adam and Eve according to the Holy Qur’an.” He emphasized that being one family is the fundamental lesson to inculcate among the people of Kaduna no matter what.
Sheikh Maraya said the crises in Kaduna state and Nigeria has worsened joblessness. “Currently we have about 23 million jobless young people in the country and with this number of unemployed youth how do we run away from violence?”
One participant, Mallam Sunusi Surajo, observed that most people participating in the gatherings are either Muslims or Christians, “but there are youths who are mostly drug addicts and they don’t belong to any religious group; such youths should be invited to this kind of program.”
Another speaker, Rahila Luka, adviced participants to monitor their words carefully, especially on social media, which plays a vital role in our children’s thoughts and perspecive.
They agreed to work together with partners, especially the organizers, to discuss issues that will strengthen unity and address the polarization among communities by promoting a culture of peace. Specifically, embracing forgiveness, maintaining contact with co-participants, and taking the message to youth in their communities are the steps each person can take to break the cycle of violence and build a climate of peace.
Learn more about GPF’s peacebuilding work in Nigeria.