Centre for peace in Jos opens

A centre to young Christians and Muslims in the State of Plateau to avoid taking the path of violence to resolve problems

nigeria-mapJos (Agenzia Fides) – A formation centre for young Christians and Muslims was officially opened on 27 January in Hai-Hong, Bokkos, 70 km from Jos, capital of the Nigerian State of Plateau, where in recent times various clashes have broken out between various communities. In the latest clashes about 15 people lost their lives. The centre was founded by the Archdiocese of Jos with the support of Misereor, the German Episcopal Conference’s humanitarian organisation.
“The inauguration ceremony was appreciated and applauded by numerous members of the public,” Archbisop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos told Fides. “whose presence is indicative of the desire of many in the State of Plateau to help young people take the positive path of development rather than that of violence to resolve socio-economic, political, ethnic and religious problems.”

Archbishop Kaigama continued: “It is a humble effort by the Catholic Church, which could be replicated by other districts, by local groups, and by State and Federal associations. This clearly indicates that much can be done for young people if there is the political will. In a theatrical performance organised by Muslim and Christian students at the centre, we see how young people can be manipulated by selfish political and religious leaders, and how young people should resist such manipulation by those who incite them to violence by giving them small amounts of money.”
For now, the centre has commenced a single formation course for 35 young male carpenters. Subsequently, the school intends to also conduct course for girls. In addition to vocational training, students are helped to deepen their faith and to follow paths of dialogue. In fact there are two teachers of religion, one for Islam and one for Christianity. The teacher for Islam teaches Muslim students while the teacher of Christianity instructs Christian students. Classes are organized so that Muslim students are given basic education on Christianity and, conversely, the Muslim teacher gives lessons on Islam to Christian students. Students then have common lessons to learn the art of dialogue, reconciliation and tolerance, instead of resorting to violence at the slightest disagreement.
“Certainly, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” concludes Archbishop Kaigama. “So much has been said about youth violence resulting from laziness, from poor education or from poverty, and how little has been done to fix the situation. We hope that this small effort will open the eyes of the Government, non-governmental voluntary bodies and all people of good will.” (LM) (Agenzia Fides 31/1/2011)