A Prayer for Peace took place on the 16th of October, 2014, in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. At the event there were around 500 person representatives and leaders of different religious present in the country, as well as local and national representatives and dignitaries belonging to several civil and political institutions.
With the welcoming remarks delivered by Msgr. Harvey Chikumba, and followed by a brief pause for reflection which he gave on Mathew’s account of Jesus’ Discourse at the Mount of the Beatitudes, the Honorable Mayor of Lilongwe, Mr. William Chapondera, took to the floor and expressed his gratitude to the Community of Sant’Egidio for organizing the special event for peace. While recalling and affirming Malawi’s history and commitment to peace, the Honorable Mayor also paid tribute to the youths who recently lost their lives during their demonstration in support for democracy.
Speaking on behalf of His Excellency, Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic, was the Honorable Mr. Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Presidential Adviser on National Unity and Parliamentary Affairs. Referring to the need for African countries to seek and build on greater cohesion and internal unity, the Honorable Minister also warned against the dangers of ethnic and political division.
Before the final ceremony, where some children presented leading politicians present a Peace Appeal, Mr. Elard Sadimba Alumando, of the Community of Sant'Egidio moderated a roundtable entitled “Peace is the Future”. At the roundtable, Professor Shareef Imran, of the Department of Theology of the University of Malawi and President of the Malawian Muslim Association, reminded participants of the numerous instances in history of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims, and emphasized the benefit of learning from these examples for Malawi and its society. Has also stressed the fact that violence and murder can solely be attributed to the responsibility and choice of single individuals, and that such criminal actions may never find justification in Islam.
The Presbyterian Pastor, the Reverend Joshua Nyaungulu, of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Livingstonia Synod, spoke of St. Francis of Assisi as a man of peace and dialogue, referring to his religious patrimony as an example of ecumenical spirituality.
Finally, at the roundtable, Msgr. Boniface Tamani, Member of the multifaith Public Affairs Committee, also briefly illustrated the value of the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, by calling to mind too, the legacy and efforts of several international religious and civil gatherings on peace, referring particularly to the 1986 interreligious gathering convened by Pope John Paul II, and ending with the most recent Prayer for Peace, under the theme “Peace Is the Future”, which took place this year in Antwerp (Belgium) on the occasion of the centenary of World War I. Msgr. Tamani also emphasized the need to address injustice and poverty, as well as the divide in Africa between the many poor and the few rich, as means to ensuring a stable and long-lasting authentic peace.
Just before the conclusion of the event, Mr. Elard Alumando expressed his sincere gratitude to all the Speakers, while calling to mind the fact that our world is still today very much affected by wars, which therefore, makes the call to dialogue evermore the responsibility of all, and not just the duty of politicians or those in power.
With the gathering being brought to its end via the symbolic ceremony of the signatures of an Appeal for Peace, the Honorable Mr. Symon Vuwa Kaunda, officially then thanked the Community of Sant’Egidio and thereafter, unexpectedly announced on behalf of the President, that the Government of Malawi would hope to be able to conjointly organize and celebrate a Meeting for Peace with Sant’Egidio for 2015. The surprise news brought great delight and a simultaneous round of applause from all participants at the gathering.