A meeting for peace in Nigeria in the 'spirit of Assisi': interreligious dialogue and fraternity with the poor

On Thursday, 14 October, a prayer for peace in the spirit of Assisi was held in Kachia, Kaduna State, Nigeria, following the prayer in front of the Colosseum in Rome. Christian and Muslim religious leaders, as well as traditional leaders and leaders of youth movements gathered under the title "Peace is the future"and discussed the origin of the violence in the region and possible ways out.

Forty religious leaders participated in a dialogue on conflict and peace. Then a public ceremony followed in front of an audience of 300 young people. The yearning for peace of a population exhausted by violence, massacres and kidnappings was felt throughout the meeting. A great desire to live together in peace was expressed. As one of the participants remarked: 'we have been brought up to hate each other, but actually we are all victims of the situation'.
Kaduna state, particularly in the south, has witnessed much violence for long time. It appears to be a conflict between Muslims and Christians, between shepherds and farmers, yet in reality there are criminals at work, backed by external powers. Kaduna town has regularly been subject to violence, and there has been a great need for local solutions to these problems, because top-down solutions do not work. The day before the meeting itself, three seminarians from the diocese of Kafanchan were kidnapped; at the peace meeting, news of their release arrived happily.

The meeting for peace was organised by the Community of Sant'Egidio, which has been present in the region for some time, in collaboration with the archdiocese of Kaduna, the diocese of Kafanchan and other religious and traditional leaders.

Before the meeting, a delegation of the Community brought food and aid, with the help of the Belgian embassy in Nigeria, to a refugee camp near Kachia, crowded with people who had to flee their homes because of the violence.