Nigeria, on the west coast of central Africa, is the most populous nation on the continent. The country is approximately half Muslim, half Christian, with a minority practicing earlier traditions. Across the regions, Nigerians also identify with historic roots in over 300 tribal ethnicities; each maintaining pride in its culture and distinct language.Nigeria’s wealth is in her abundant natural resources, extraordinary human resilience and hospitality, and rich diversity of traditions. Paradoxically her greatest challenges are rooted largely in human disconnection. The resultant ignorance and fear of the “other” perpetuates her citizen’s inability to embrace one another, cooperate, and share resources and wealth. The resultant poverty, competition, and disunity fuels violent –sometimes- brutal acts against one another that cry out for a new culture of peace that promotes nonviolent human engagement across the land.Rampant violent crimes, armed robbery, hired assassinations and thousands of internally displaced refugees compound inequality and hopelessness. Everyone wants to be heard; few have the will or skills to listen and learn. Desperately needed are skilled artisans of communication and informed innovators.
New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation is a Nigeria-based registered NGO, of dedicated diverse young men, women and community leaders, ushering in a new way of thinking that demands inclusiveness in the form of sustained human relationships and that dignifies all individuals as equals. We are replacing the old top-down order that separates and fuels the flames of unnecessary separation and exaggerated fear. We understand that “you cannot want misery for someone else without being in misery yourself.”
Consequently, forgiveness is imperative to transcend Nigeria’s conflicts and co-existence. For us, the entry point is listening-to-learn –one of the great acts of Love. As part of our Public Peace Process, since 2007 we have invited and hosted religiously diverse young women and men of excellence to begin long-term dialogue together. Through this, former adversaries are experiencing that nothing replaces face-to-face relationships; we are each other’s best advocates.
These innovative Nigerians are beginning to seek a standard of excellence and culture of peace not only for themselves but more importantly for the perceived “other;” they are beginning to see the “other” as equally deserving.
DIALOGUE IN NIGERIA: Muslims & Christians Creating Their Future