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January 25 2015 | NIGERIA

Sant'Egidio, a bridge for peace in Nigeria. Marco Impagliazzo’s visit to the Nigerian communities

In the large African country, the three “P’s” - prayer, poor, peace - are the way to achieve the society of living-together.The meetings in Jos, Lagos, Abuja. The visit to the Dream Centre.

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Today ends the visit of Marco Impagliazzo in Nigeria, with a meeting in the federal capital Abuja with the communities of the capital and of the Nassarawa, Niger and Enugu States. Afterwards, a visit to the Dream Centre of the Vincentian nuns of St. Vincent de Paul in Kubwa (see photos), where AIDS patients are taken care of, and a meeting with Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja.

At the centre of the three-day visit, there was the call to a peaceful co-existence of a large, multiethnic and multireligious state such as Nigeria, and the call by the Community to live the three “P’s” identified by Pope Francis during his visit to Sant 'Egidio of 15 June last year: Prayer – Poor - Peace.

 On Friday Impagliazzo went to Jos, the martyr capital of the State of the Plateau, frequent scene of bloody clashes of  an ethnic, political and religious kind in the last decade. He met there the communities of the Plateau and Kaduna. There were touching testimonies of the representatives of the community on bloodshed, the culture of hatred, but also the concrete answers offered by the Community to live with respect for the faith of others.

It was significant in this sense the answer offered by the Schools of Peace of the Community of Sant'Egidio, real places of education for living-together and respect in a country where, to the northeast, the violent sect Boko Haram - literally: Western education is forbidden - strikes precisely the idea of education, with frequent attacks on schools.

During a friendly meeting with Mons. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, various scenarios were evoked to end the crisis. They also recalled Msgr. James Daman, bishop of Shendam in Plateau, friend of the Community that unexpectedly disappeared two weeks ago due to a sudden illness.

Then on Saturday the visit to Lagos, a great megacity of more than twenty million inhabitants, built on lagoons or lakes, “lagos” in the language of the first Portuguese settlers. In the official meetings, for example with the Oba - traditional king of great influence in the Nigerian culture - and with Archbishop Mons. Afewale Martins, we talked about how a civilization of living-together may be built in the large megacities of the 21st century.

In the district of Makoko, a vast shantytown built on water, Marco Impagliazzo met the street children that are looked after by the Community, and the elderly, around whom the community builds a network of friendship and solidarity.
At the next meeting with the communities of Lagos and Ibadan, Marco Impagliazzo then added another “P” to the vocation of the community of Lagos, built on islands and peninsulas, that of being a “Ponte” (bridge) between many different worlds.

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