Tired of communal conflicts in northern Nigeria, women-led peace networks take action

59b01f971400002800fa8470“We need peace. We are tired of conflicts. So many innocent people have died and we have to stop the violence. That is why I contribute to peace-making”, says Hadiza Adam, a 38-year-old woman from Angwan Rogo community in Jos North, located in the northern Nigerian state of Plateau.

At least 4,000 people have been killed in the recurring communal violence in the Plateau State since 2001. The predominantly Muslim community of Angwan Rogo, 2.1km (1.3 miles) from the state capital, Jos, was one of the hardest hit areas. The ethno-religious crisis was precipitated by political and economic rivalry, and disputes among indigenous and non-indigenous groups. Tensions continue to simmer over land rights, allocation of state resources, as well as politics and religious differences, among other issues.

Ms. Adam is one of the 400 members of the women-led peace network in Plateau State, created with the support of UN Women under the European Union-funded rogramme, Promoting Women’s Engagement in Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria. The four-year programme (2014-2018) supports the Nigerian Government in three northern states (Plateau, Adamawa and Gombe) in strengthening women’s leadership, advancing gender equality and improving protection for women and children in conflict settings. It is being implemented in partnership with the federal and state ministries of women affairs, UNICEF and grassroots leaders and organizations.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

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Nigerian Christians and Muslims open historic peace centre

christian-and-muslim-leaders-in-nigeriaNigerian Christians and Muslims gathered on 19 August to open the International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH).

The centre is located in Kaduna, where more than 20,000 people have died in various conflicts over the last three decades. Amid a growing number of interfaith initiatives in Nigeria, the new centre has a unique goal: to systematically document interfaith relations to inform national and international policy-making.

Key local Nigerian organisations, the Christian Council of Nigeria and Jama’atu Nasril Islam, led the effort to open the centre, which was preceded in 2014 by a consultative forum held in Abuja that drew about 40 Muslim and Christian leaders.

Many supporters were recognised at the grand opening, among them Dr Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, primate of the African Church and president of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’adu Abubakar, and Dr Khalid Aliyu, Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam.

Prince Ghazi of Jordan and Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja were also among those who envisioned the centre’s goals and outcomes.

Malam Nasir EL-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, formerly opened the centre. He shared his experience of the way that religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, sometimes speak and act in ways that hinder interreligious peace, so he was very pleased to support the centre as a physical symbol helping Muslims and Christians work together more effectively.

Abubakar also voiced his support for the centre, and spoke about how God wants there to be religious diversity in Nigeria. Onaiyekan said he believed the centre could potentially become a model for conflict resolution in other parts of the world.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EKKLESIA.UK 

Nigeria’s Subversive Love Stories

Nigeria Subversive Love Stories

In this photo taken Sunday, April 3, 2016, Suleiman Maharazu, centre, the owner of Maharazu Bookshop, sells books to young girls in his shop in Kano, Nigeria. In the local market, stalls are signs of a feminist revolution with piles of poorly printed books by women, as part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, that advocate against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorces. Dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels, many hand-written in the Hausa language, and the romances now run into thousands of titles. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

KANO, Nigeria — Nestled among vegetables, plastic kettles and hand-dyed fabric in market stalls are the signs of a feminist revolution: Piles of poorly printed books by women that advocate forcefully against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorce.

They are part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, in northern Nigeria, where dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels. Hand-written in the Hausa language, the romances now run into thousands of titles. Many rail against a strict interpretation of Islam propagated in Nigeria by the extremist group Boko Haram, which on Sunday posted video showing dozens of the 218 girls militants abducted from a remote school in April 2014.

“We write to educate people, to be popular, to touch others’ lives, to touch on things that are happening in our society,” says author Hadiza Nuhu Gudaji, whose views have gained a recognition unusual for women in her society.

Gudaji’s novellas are so popular that she is invited to give advice on radio talk shows. She describes how she was able to influence the future of a 15-year-old who called in, begging the novelist to persuade her father not to force her into marriage.

“We said: ‘The father of this girl, you are listening to us, you hear what your girl is saying,” Gudaji recounts. “‘If you force her, maybe the marriage will not end so well, maybe the girl will run away and come to a bad end.'”

A few weeks later, the girl called to say thank you, and that she was back in school — a striking example of the kind of power the author wields.

The novellas are derogatorily called “littattafan soyayya, meaning “love literature,” Kano market literature or, more kindly, modern Hausa literature. Daily readings on about 20 radio stations make them accessible to the illiterate.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Rise of the Muslim Bishop

2015_9$largeimg04_Sep_2015_000746270It was not for nothing that detractors called Archbishop Josiah Idowu Fearon of the Anglican Communion a Muslim Bishop: he is a bishop, no doubt; but obviously, he is not a Muslim, even though he knows the religion better than many Muslims.
Once His Grace was invited to one of those many unending Northern meetings to give a talk appropriate for the occasion. Given the choice of theme and topic, he chose what in the circumstance he considered was the most important one facing the peoples of the North – the disappearing unity, equality and essential oneness of its people. He chose to reunite them under God.

As he rose to begin his lecture in Transcorp Hilton’s Congress Hall, he raised his hands as if in prayer – and at that moment you could see it all: here was this unassuming, unpretentious and self-effacing tender of the vineyard who possessed nothing besides his ecclesiastical collar exuding such moral presence as dominated all that was before him.
He chose to give an exposition of the meaning of Surat at-Ikhlas, the 112th chapter of the Holy Quran.
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim    

Qul huwallahu ahad

Allahus samad ….

Beginning as every Surah does – in the Name of God, and in anticipation of His mercy and grace, Bishop Fearon articulated the Quranic concepts of the unity and the uniqueness of God; and drew the attention of the audience especially to the implications of this for them. It was a long and meaningful talk; and here Fearon was the restorer of the Christian ethic and raison d’etre of love even in pain, and he was acting as a reminder to Muslims and enforcer of their forgotten duty of pan-Abrahamaic brotherhood and fellowship.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY TRUST 

Nigeria: 200 young Muslims protect Christians from attack

nigeria-churchMore than 200 Muslim youths were among those who protected Christians from attacks in the Nigerian city of Kaduna over Christmas, a local church official has confirmed.

According to Pastor Yohanna Buru of the Christ Evangelical Church in Kaduna, the interfaith initiative was the first of its kind in the city. He said that Muslims volunteered to protect his church in response to a series of suicide bombings and attacks on Christian places of worship by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

 “I really appreciate their love and care,” he said of the young Muslims, adding that it showed the possibility of lasting peace and harmony between those of different faiths.
Situated in the centre of the country, Kaduna State has been the site of increasing inter-religious tension in recent months. On Saturday, gunmen attacked and killed 10 residents who were having a post-Christmas celebration in Tattaura Village, Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Umar Shehu, has confirmed.

Buru also expressed a hope that the initiative would be taken up in other areas of Nigeria.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

Don’t Blame Islam for Boko Haram

Abubakar ShekauWhen the news broke that over 200 girls had been abducted by Boko Haram, I was prepared for some Islamophobic rhetoric from the Spencer/Gellar ilk. What I was not expecting were Pulitzer prize winners like Leonard Pitts, even for once, falling for the sensational “extremist Islam is scared of little girls” narrative.

It’s not Islam but savage bearded men who are scared of little girls. Inserting “Islam” into the equation is a distraction; it augments the agenda of Boko Haram, who are craving religious legitimacy. Deny them that.

I am a father of two girls. What anguish the parents of over 200 abducted girls must be experiencing is beyond me. I cannot comprehend why the world is not acting swiftly to unite 276 innocent girls with their families, or why a “coalition of the willing” is not removing the localized tumor of Boko Haram before it metastasizes into a pan-African cancer.

What I do comprehend, however, is the common thread of ignorance and hatred between Boko Haram and Islamophobes. Both know zilch about the true Islamic teachings; their ignorance is directly proportional to the number of words they utter. Both hold blanket hatred for the other: Boko Haram hates all Western ideas (hence their name, which translates roughly to “Western education is a sin”), and Islamophobes like Pat Robertson compare Islam to Nazism. And both resort to a “buy one, get one” sales strategy: Buy into this narrative of ignorance or hatred and you get to use or bash Islam — depending upon your location — for free.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Nigeria: Christians, Muslims Mark the Birth of Prophet Muhammad Together

christian-and-muslim-leaders-in-nigeriaKaduna — Christians in Kaduna State yesterday joined their Muslim neighbours in a feast to mark the Eid-el-Maulud as hundreds of adherents of both religions gathered at the Conference Hall of the Arewa House.

The event brought together, men, women, the young, old, community leaders, Islamic scholars, community youth leaders and pastors.

There were interactions, eating and drinking in the spirit of oneness. President of the Peace, Revival and Reconciliation Foundation, Pastor Yohanna Buru, who organised the gathering, said the essence was to bring Muslims and Christians together in unity, love and mutual understanding in order to promote peaceful co-existence.

“During the Christmas celebration, I invited my brothers, friends, neighbours and my fellow Muslims, and they came to Sabon Tasha which is considered by most people as a no-go area for Muslims but they came in hundreds, in fact almost a thousand people were present for the celebration. So, I thought it wise to also celebrate the Eid-el- Maulud with my fellow Muslims to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). They showed me love, they believe in Jesus Christ as I believe in Him and as it is said that you do unto others as you want them do unto you, so I decided to celebrate Maulud with the Muslims as a friend and brother,” Buru explained.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ALLAFRICA.COM