Leading by Example Away From Cultural Violence
Bitter rivals who later teamed in a peacebuilding effort and a soccer star who was able to put aside personal trauma to forgive and lead his national team are among the stories being shared by a group dedicated to building a peaceful future culture in Nigeria.
The Fetzer Institute is working with Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) to produce documentary films highlighting the powerful love and forgiveness shown by the area’s exemplars, and soliciting more stories from online visitors to drive the message further. Two powerful stories have been highlighted and about 10 other exemplars have been nominated, which suggests the concept is resonating with the Nigerian public.
“Our conviction lies in the ever-increasing transformative impact that love and forgiveness can have on conflict situations ranging between two individuals, communities, and the nation as a whole,” project organizers wrote on their website. “Our hope, through this project, is to highlight such works and the lessons of their strategies to grow an enduring awareness around love and forgiveness in action among individuals and in society.”
The stories featured in the group’s presentation are profound. Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye were local leaders and former deadly rivals during the Zango-Kataf vicious riots in Kaduna in 1992 who later reconciled and founded the Interfaith Mediation Centre.
“My hate for the Muslims then had no limits,” states Pastor Wuye, whose militia killed Imam Ashafa’s spiritual leader and two cousins. Ashafa spent three years planning revenge, until one day a sermon on forgiveness changed his life.
Overwhelmed by the true power and meaning of their faith, the Imam and the Pastor both understood they could fight no longer. They set up the Interfaith Mediation Centre in Kaduna together in 1995 and became its directors. Since then the Centre has mediated in dozens of local conflicts, and the Imam and Pastor are the best of friends.
Victor Moses’ story is both deeply personal and broadly impactful. From a traumatic childhood in which a sectarian mob invaded his home and killed his parents, Moses grew up in foster care in England and became a star soccer player. For years, he represented England in international events, declining any opportunity to return to Nigeria.
In 2012, though, he showed love and forgiveness by returning to play for Nigeria, scoring key goals and winning the fair player award in helping win the Africa’s Cup of Nations that had eluded Nigeria for 16 years.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Non-Governmental Organizations.