When communities go to war with each other, how do you stop the fighting and start the healing? To mark International Day of Peace, we highlight how a Tearfund partner has helped turn back the tide of hatred in one Nigerian community.
Tell us about the conflict
In 2011, hundreds of people were killed in clashes between Sayawa Christians and Hausa Muslims in the community of Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi state, Nigeria.
The root cause of the conflict was a chieftaincy tussle and control of land for farming and grazing.
So what have you been doing about it?
Staff at Tearfund’s church partner, People Oriented Development of Evangelical Church Winning All (POD-ECWA), have been training 10 influential Muslim leaders and 10 prominent pastors in peace-building and resolving conflict.
Initially workshops were conducted separately but then became joint events, leading to the following agreements:
- Advocate for peace always.
- Understand the stages of conflict, analyse past troubles and their root causes.
- Be careful and aware of early warning signals that can trigger a crisis.
- Forgive and send messages of forgiveness to their people.
- Come to the negotiation table and invite others to do so.
- Work together, be open minded, love each other, eat together, continue with this dialogue from the bottom up.
Peace has been restored to our community, because I see Christians protecting the Muslims and I also see the Muslims protecting the Christians
Alhaji Danjuma Maigida, Muslim leader
how have things changed?
Muslims now go to the markets in Tafawa Balewa which was not the case before, while Christian and Muslim youths have resumed playing football together.
When someone loses property to thieves, both Muslims and Christians assist each other in the recovery of the stolen goods.
The sense of solidarity is summed up by Christian and Muslim leaders from Tafawa Balewa now travelling together to attend meetings.
Alhaji Danjuma Maigida, one of the Muslim leaders who took part in the training, said, ‘Peace has been restored to our community, because I see Christians protecting the Muslims and I also see the Muslims protecting the Christians; what a development.
‘We’re grateful to God and to POD-ECWA for making us come together, to love one another and embrace each other. We must tell those who think we cannot stay together to have a rethink.’