:: Francophone West and Central Africa Regional Conference for Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders on Peace and Development. Hôtel Le Sahel, Maroua, Cameroon, 6th – 10th January 2013.
The Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) organised a conference on the theme “Francophone West and Central Regional Initiative for Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders for Peace and Development”. The conference was held at Hôtel Le Sahel in Maroua, Cameroon, from 6th to 10th January 2013 and hosted by the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Cameroon. Participants at the conference were drawn from twelve (12) countries, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and the host country, Cameroon.This was historic since it was the first time in the history of Christian-Muslim relations that Christian and Muslim religious leaders from the Francophone Central and West Africa, came together to work towards peace and development. The conference was also timely in the sense that countries such as the Republic of Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon share borders with Nigeria where Boko Haram activities is creating anxiety in the region.
Apart from the reality of the Nigeria situation, the conference was called at a time when Mali was under severe strain following the invasion of the northern part of the country where the ethnic Tuareg with political, cultural and ideological agendas, are fighting what they believe to be a liberation war, while the Ansar al-Din (the helpers or defenders of the faith) joined the fray with an exclusive religious ideology that are principally anti-Sufi Islam. The fact that Mali share borders with Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire made the presence of the countries (except Côte d’Ivoire which could not make it to the meeting) very important indeed.
In the same vein, it is important to say that the presence of the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo needs no elaboration as the two countries then as now, continue to seek peace which appears to elude them from time to time.
The capacity building sessions entailed constructing bridges and breaking the ice, by creating the much needed conducive environment for the Christian and Muslim religious leaders to interact freely and share their aspirations and anxieties amidst the disturbing conflict situations within their countries or neighbourhoods.
The papers presented in the conference contributed to frank and open discussions and gave credence to that atmosphere uniquely accorded by PROCMURA. As contributions from the floor clearly indicated, more of such exposure is required to get Christian and Muslim leaders in Africa to work and plan to make their invaluable contribution to peace and development in the continent.
The proceedings of the conference that follows, give us a hint of the challenges that exist in the countries that participated and the regions from which they come. It also provides the ray of hope. As one person put it, the fact that PROCMURA has provided the forum for Christian and Muslim leaders to sit, discuss, listen, learn and even pray according to their various religious traditions and exhort one another towards a common course: A course for peace and development is unprecedented.
:: Africa Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Conference on Peace and Development, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 8-13, 2012
The journey of PROCMURA towards the promotion of Christian and Muslim joint actions for peace and development continues to make great strides and heights, as we began the year 2012 as evidenced by this conference which we organised at the beginning of the new year. The conference, dubbed the Addis Ababa conference with the theme Africa Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders for Peace and Development was special in many ways. This is because it brought together Christians and Muslims from a cross-section of the African continent: West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, North Africa and the Indian Ocean.
This cross-section of participants was deliberately chosen to enable them to share good practice as well as concerns and visions of Christian and Muslim relations into the future. The countries that participated were deliberately pinpointed and chosen because of their particularities and the experiences that they would bring to bear on the proceedings. For example, Sierra Leone and Liberia are two countries where Christians and Muslims collaborated and took risks that helped to end civil wars in their respective countries. In fact their efforts earned them the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Peace Price. Tanzania (Mainland) and Zanzibar as well as Madagascar, were chosen so that participants may learn from them how Tanzania’s political concept of Ujamaa and the Malagasy traditional concept of, Fihavanana has helped to build bridges of understanding between Christians and Muslims for peace and peaceful co-existence toward the wholistic development of their peoples. Egypt on the other hand come into the rendering because of their great experience of Christians and Muslims having to live alongside one another as important minorities and majorities respectfully, and how such relations are sometimes threatened by violence from a few politico-religious bigots.
The so called Arab Spring made us to recognise that the presence of Egypt will unravel the perceptions that the outside world have of the cause and effect of the Arab Spring. Nigeria and Cameroon were invited by similar and yet different reasons. The situation in the northern part of Nigeria where the activities of Boko Haram has hit the international media meant that a conference of this nature could not appropriately be seen to be successful without hearing ‘the Nigeria Story’. The Cameroon, a northern neighbour of Nigeria which plans to replicate the Addis Ababa experience needed to be present to listen to others especially the Nigerian delegation. For as the General Adviser of PROCMURA has always said “if your neighbour’s beard catches fire you need to get water close to your beard”.
The Danish Christian and Muslim participants were needed not just to experience Africa’s maze of Christian-Muslim relations, but also to share their own experiences. This is very important. For in Christian-Muslim relations we have always said that the universal significance of the two religions calls for not just an African approach but a world approach since this global village we live in has shown that what happens anywhere can happen everywhere. The value of publishing the proceedings of the Addis Ababa conference is not on the brief summaries that we have given, but rather on the individual papers themselves. In this light, readers are encouraged to read the main papers which are put in the appendices. We look forward to sharing with you from time to time in the form that this report has taken or in brief reports on country programmes which are usually put on our Website. May God bless all who made this conference possible and to all who are able to read it, we hope that you will learn something from it.
Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah
We, members of the PROCMURA Area Committee for Nigeria North, have for some years now been concerned about how relations between Christians and Muslims grow from good to not so good, from bad to worse, and from worse to who knows what. Our efforts to work towards Christian and Muslim constructive relations for peace and peaceful co-existence unveiled the complexity of the situation we are dealing with.The complexity, it has to be said, defies the simplistic notion of the outside world who easily jump to the conclusion that violent conflicts in the northern part of Nigeria are essentially religious conflicts. It is far from that. What can be said to be true though is that those who engage in such conflicts are people who profess to be Christian or Muslim and are sometimes known to use their religious labels as a rallying cry for support.
This landmark conference with the theme “Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders together for Peace Building, Conflict Management/Prevention and Reconciliation” was called by PROCMURA, to provide the religious leaders with a platform to openly and frankly discuss the causes of such conflicts with the objective of preventing future conflicts and managing existing ones so as to bring about peace and reconciliation.
We would like to encourage all those who read the proceedings of the conference to pray with us and to journey with us in search of peace between and among people of religion and the wider society. I would personally like to thank Cokkie van’t Leven, the Programme Officer, Mission Department of ICCO & Kerk in Actie, who took keen interest on the situation of Christian-Muslim relations in the Northern part of Nigeria and discussed with the leadership of ICCO & Kerk in Actie to raise the needed funds for the Conference. It is our hope and prayer that the effect of this conference will go a long way to reduce tension and eventually bring about peace in our region.
Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu Fearon
Chairperson of PROCMURA
:: Christians and Muslims Quest for Peace
PROCMURA’s determination for Christians and Muslims in Africa to work together as the major religious grouping in the continent to bring about conflict prevention through peacebuilding and ensure that they become proactive in the prevention of violent conflicts took it to West Africa. In the Ghanaian capital city of Accra, PROCMURA brought together 64 Christian and Muslim religious leaders drawn from Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Togo and staff from Kenya to deliberate on issues of peace in the West African subregion.
The Accra Conference which took place from 21 to 24 July 2009, was a replica of a similar conference for Eastern Africa which took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 2 to 5 September 2008. The documentation of the Accra conference in its detailed form is aimed at providing readers, activists for peace and the general public with a document that will provide insight into the causes of conflict in the region, the forms that is takes to become protracted. It is also meant to provide information on how religious leaders plan to engage governments and civil society to mitigate conflicts and take measures to prevent such conflicts as was experienced in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire from recurring in the region.
The proceedings delved into the role of religious leaders in identifying root causes of conflict and sharing together ways and means by which they can be more proactive in mitigating and forestalling conflict. In the same breathe as the East African peace conference, during the organisation of the West African peace conference; PROCMURA understood the importance of drawing together all relevant stakeholders in order to consolidate the peace process in the sub-region and by extension, the continent.
Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu Fearon
:: Peacebuilding in Sudan
The Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) has in consonance with its Strategic Plan embarked on programmes on conflict prevention, justice, peace and reconciliation. These programmes focus on Inter-faith (Christian and Muslim) and Intra-faith (various Christian denominations) engagements towards achieving the above stated objectives.
As Inter-faith engagements towards conflict prevention, justice, peace and reconciliation may be obvious to understand, intra-faith engagement towards the same goal may not be quite obvious. This is what we seek to clarify.
PROCMURA, the sole continental Christian organisation that stretches a hand of friendship to the Muslim community believes that the Christian communities can only meaningfully work towards constructive relations with Muslims when there is good intra-faith relations among and between Christian denominations. This approach which has an ecumenical thrust and may therefore technically belongs to that area, is deeper than meets the eye. The PROCMURA approach does not just look at the churches understanding of unity in diversity in the body of Christ but rather the acceptance of unity in diversity of the body of Christ as it seeks to relate to non-Christian religions and in the particular case of PROCMURA, Islam and Muslims.
The foundational urge for this approach rests on PROCMURA’s fifty years of experience of what it calls those who gather and those who scatter when it comes to Christian constructive engagement with Muslims for peace and peaceful coexistence – a prime objective of PROCMURA.
Our commitment is to get the Christian community to live with their doctrinal differences in peace and adopt an approach to Islam and Muslims that promote good relations rather than that which create strife and violent conflicts. It is to help the Christian community to recognise that there are things that they can do together as Christians of different denominations and things that they can do together with people of other religions especially Muslims.
These basic objectives have to (as PROCMURA always states) be implemented in context. It is the context of Sudan, specifically Southern Sudan and even more specifically the Upper Nile State, that provided grounds for choosing the topic “Peace and Reconciliation” for the Church leaders workshop.
Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah
| :: PROCMURA AT 50 (1959-2009)The programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) inherited a legacy that is unprecedented when it comes to issues of Christian-Muslim relations. Many of us who are currently working with PROCMURA are younger than the organisation. Some of us have always wondered about what the original vision of the organisation was, how it developed over the years, and how different it is today as compared to the time it was founded.In this book we read stories, experiences and challenges of those veterans of PROCMURA, who were there, or at least around when PROCMURA then ISLAM IN AFRICA PROJECT(I.A.P) was founded.The evolution of Islam in Africa Project to Project for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa is fully captured by those who were present at the time. Those of us who only came to know PROCMURA as the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa have also told our stories in the book. The value of this book for all its readers is the practical nature of the presentations.It contains life stories not academic writings. It tells of the good, the challenges, the original visions of PROCMURA, its transformed visions along this long journey of 50 years.The current General Adviser has added some value to the book by giving us a gist of what he inherited and what the Programme has been like in his time.The book does not only contain the stories of those who were at the helm of affairs but also the stories of veterans who worked at grass-roots level, and reflections of current Area Advisers on their work.There is a welcome section for the Women’s Programme which arguably is one of the programmes of PROCMURA that has committed grassroots lead persons. There is so much in it that one cannot but just want to read and read on.The book does not include biographical notes of the authors. We regret that but have to explain that most authors did not submit them and we therefore deemed it inappropriate to publish partial biographical notes. In spite of this loophole, readers will not find it difficult to identify the writers from their own papers.Join us in our celebration by going through this book to see the struggles and aspirations of PROCMURA as it celebrates its 50th birthday.Joy Wandabwa
Team Leader- Finance and Administration
NB: COPIES OF THIS BOOK ARE AVAILABLE AT THE CENTRAL OFFICE, NAIROBI, KENYA
| :: A Journey of Peace Click Here to Download the Report
The gathering of Muslims and Christians in the Eastern African city of Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania, to conference on conflict prevention, peace building and Reconciliation, was one of the very few occasions in Africa where one could reflect and say Christians and Muslims are now doing what they should have been doing a long time ago.
We are honoured that PROCMURA provided the much needed platform for religious leaders of the region to openly and frankly discuss issues of conflict in the region and how they can contribute to mitigate such conflicts and ensure that peace and reconciliation become the norm and not the exception.
As a person who comes from Kaduna in Nigeria, a city which has over the years experienced wanton destruction of lives and properties including Churches and Mosques, this conference reminded me of so many things. It made me recognise as ever, the importance of Christian and Muslim leaders coming together to talk peace and call on their followers to live peace.
At the conference the General Adviser reminded us severally that Islam prides itself to be a religion of peace while Christianity prides itself to be a religion of The ‘Prince of Peace yet the African continent which has majority Christian and Muslims do not experience peace. We were challenged to transform the good precepts our respective religions into good practice.
In the conference Muslim and Christian leaders (as may be seen in the communiqué issued after the conference) recognised that the well known statement which states: “if you want peace, prepare for war” is obsolete and not beneficial for human development. The proliferation of small arms in the horn of Africa and some parts of the Eastern Africa region has only produced a vicious circle of violence where innocent lives are destroyed day in and day out.
In Dar-es Salaam PROCMURA initiated the Journey of Peace for Christian and Muslim leaders in the continent. We hope that many others from the two religious communities and the wider society will join us in this journey so that together the small arms menace in the region will be curbed. With such a concerted effort weapons of war may be transformed into tools of development that would help feed the hungry and restore justice to the poor and those who are displaced but such instruments of war.
As management of PROCMURA, we have urged the General Adviser and his team of Regional Coordinators and Area Advisers at the grassroots level, and the Central Office staff, in Nairobi. to work hard to ensure that this programme for peace that has began in earnest become the norm and not the exception. We do so not just because one of the key principles of PROCMURA is to facilitate Christian and Muslim constructive engagement for peace and peaceful coexistence between their adherents and the wider society, but more so because peace in the continent of Africa has become an expensive commodity that we have to work hard to get and transform it into a cheap commodity to the extent of it being the norm of our living.
We pray God to lead us in this journey.
Right Rev. Josiah Idowu Fearon,Chairperson, PROCMURA
| :: From the Cross to the CrescentThis is the first in a new series of Occasional Papers to be published by the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA).
The purpose of the Occasional Papers series is to provide academic and practical information on Christian-Muslim relations in Africa to those who are engaged in this important area of work within and outside Africa, or are simply interested in knowing historical and contemporary developments in Christian-Muslim relations around the continent.
The first Occasional Paper consists of a collection of papers, most of which were presented at a PROCMURA, Area Advisers/African Christian Islamicists Consultation held in Accra, Ghana in July 2002. The consultation was organized by PROCMURA in fulfillment of its stated objective to work closely with African Christian Islamicists who are currently outside the PROCMURA fold, with the view of sharing information and to invite them to be partners of PROCMURA in promoting Christian-Muslim constructive engagement in the continent. Organised under the theme Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities, the consultation sought to share experiences on constructive engagements for peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims in the continent, and worrying engagements that turn Christians and Muslims into bad neighbours.
Papers presented during the consultation ranged from country and area reports on Christian-Muslim relations, to thematic topics of academic and practical nature. A very important subject matter, which took centre stage both in the academic and practical papers, was the question of the sharī’a, its implementation, and what that means for Christian-Muslim relations in the continent.
In all there were twenty-three (23) participants drawn from twelve countries around the continent. Other participants from different countries who could not attend for one reason or the other sent in papers.
In calling the Occasional Paper From the Cross to the Crescent, accompanied by the symbol of a dove taking off from the Christian Cross to the Muslim crescent we are reiterating one of the main objectives of PROCMURA, which is to extend a hand of friendship and peace to our Muslim neighbours across Africa and the world at large with the hope that they will reciprocate such good will so that together we may live in peace.
This issue of the Occasional Paper starts with a background paper by Johnson Mbillah on Interfaith Relations in Africa, Mbillah’s paper provides a general overview of the current situation of Christian-Muslim relations in Africa and sets the stage for the other papers that follow.
One of the major concerns in Christian-Muslim relations today is the growing assertion of Muslims in a number of countries to introduce the Islamic Law (sharī’a) in its totality and the objection of Christians that to do so will infringe on their rights as co-citizens in a given country or region. The situation in most northern states of Nigeria and the Sudan are of particular relevance and interest as they can be seen as ‘signposts’ to what the introduction of the sharī’a is and may be in other African nations.
The issue of sharī’a in Nigeria is dealt with in the papers by Josiah Idowu-Fearon, The sharī’a Debate in the Northern States of Nigeria and its Implications for West Africa Sub-Region, and by Emmanuel Oyelade, The sharī’a and National Unity in Nigeria These papers help to put the present situation into context and give an insight into the complexities of the situation in that country.
Samuel Ador’s paper, sharī’a: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives in the Sudan, gives an overview of the development of sharī’a in the Sudan. His paper is timely, especially when at the moment the on-going Peace Talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are also discussing the issue.
Reflecting on the impact of sharī’a on non-Muslims, especially ‘the People of the Book’ (Ahl al-Kitab), who by classical Islamic definition are Christians, Jews and Sabeans, John Chesworth’s paper, Dhimmi Status in Islam from a Historical Perspective with Implications for Present Day Africa, examines the status of Christians in an Islamic state where the sharī’a has been the legal code.
The final papers in this collection examine aspects of interfaith dialogue. Catherine Jarra in, Dialogue for Peaceful Co-Existence between Christians and Muslims: The Sociological Dimension, discusses the practical realities of Christians and Muslims living peacefully together. Corneille Verduijn in his paper entitled, Religious Groups Involvement with the Forum for National Reconciliation in the Ivory Coast relates the role that religious groups, both Christians and Muslim, play in the current attempts at national reconciliation in the Ivory Coast.
A communiqué issued after the consultation and the list of participants concludes this first Occasional paper of PROCMURA.
Johnson A. Mbillah & John Chesworth – Editors.
:: A Time to Gather
To maintain peace and mitigate conflicts between Christians and Muslims are no easy tasks since there are growing religous movements within Christianity and Islam that tend to caricature the other. These movements revisit historical stereotypes and manufacture modern ones to breed animosity between adherents of the two faiths.This booklet captures the proceedings of a sub-saharan Africa and North Africa Christian and Muslim joint consultations organized by PROCMURA and the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and Horn of Africa to look into how Christians and Muslims can work together for peace.The title of the booklet speaks for itself as it talks about a “Time to Gather” and by implication, NOT a “Time to Scatter”.
:: Questions Muslims Ask
In Christian-Muslim relations, one of the areas of misunderstandings is the belief system of the other. In PROCMURA’s experience, Christian’s statements of faith and practice are not always appropriately made clear to Muslims in dialogical discussion.Over the years, common questions that Muslims wish to know about Christianity have been documented by PROCMURA’s central office. We have, in this booklet, reproduced what the forefathers of PROCMURA wrote in pamphlet form and ensured that it is available in three languages – English, French and Kiswahili.The objective of this booklet is to help Christians to appropriately articulate their basic faith and beliefs when their Muslim brothers and sisters wish to know. It is also to help Muslim readers to develop a fair view of what the Christian faith is as well as what Christians believe and practice. This, we believe, will go along way to avert Muslim constructive engagement for peace and peaceful coexistence. We also hope that the answers provided would, in themselves, be credible witness to the Christian faith.
We would like to express our gratitude to those who compiled the questions and those who worked on the answers and all those who contributed to the publication of this first volume (Questions Muslims Ask). We look forward to working on other questions that are being compiled in order that we may come up with Volume two. We would welcome any comments from readers of this first volume.
Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah
:: Réponses aux Questions Des Musulmans
Au niveau des relations islamo-chrétiennes, le système de croyance de línterlocuteur constitue l’un des domaines de malentendu. Suivant l’expérience de SRICA, les déclarations de la foi chrétienne et de sa pratique ne se font pas toujours bien comprendre chez les Musulmans dans le cadre des discussions en vue du dialogue inter-confessionnel.Pendant plusieurs années, des questions communes que les Musulmans se posent et souhaitent connaître au sujet du christianisme ont fait l’objet de documentation du bureau central du SRICA. C’est ainsi que nous avons produit dans ce livret les écrits en forme de pamphlets des aïeux de SRICA et nous nous sommes assurés qu’il soit disponible en trois langues, à savoir l’Anglais, le Français et le Kiswahili.
Ce livret a comme objectif principal d’aider les chrétiens à articuler convenablement leurs croyances et foi fondamentales lorsque leurs frères et sœurs musulmans souhaitent les connaître. Il va également servir d’aide aux lecteurs musulmans pour qu’ils développent une juste vision de l’essence même de la foi chrétienne ainsi que le moteur de ce que les chrétiens croient et pratiquent. Nous espérons que ce livret va permettre à ses lecteurs de s’écarter des polémiques superflus et, de cette façon, promouvoir la sensitivité dans l’engageemnt constructif islamo-chrétienne en faveur de la paix et de la coexistence pacifique. Nous croyons également que les réponses fournies vont être en elles-mêmes un témoignage assez crédible à l’endroit de la foi chrétienne.
Nous aimerions exprimer ici notre gratitude à tous ceux qui ont compilé des questions, ceux-là qui ont élaboré des réponses et tous ceux qui, d’une façon ou d’une autre, ont contribué à la publication de ce premier volume (Réponses Aux Questions Des Musulmans). Nous attendons avec plaisir les résultats de la compilation d’autres questions et leurs réponses en vue de la publication d’un second volume. Nous apprécions vivement tout commentaire de la part de nos lecteurs sur ce premier volume.
Pasteur Dr Johnson Mbillah
| :: Maswali Wayaulizayo Waislamu
Katika mahusiano kati ya Wakristo na Waislamu, mojawapo ya mambo yaletayo kutokubaliana ni sera ya imani kwa nyingine. Kwa uzoefu wa PROCMURA, maelezo ya imani ya Kikristo na desturi mara kwa mara hayajadhihirishwa kwao Waislamu katika majadiliano ya ana kwA ana.Kwa muda mrefu sasa, maswali ya kawaida ambayo Waislamu wangependa kuyaelewa kuhusu Ukristo yamechapishwa kwenye ofisi kuu ya PROCMURA. Katika kijitabu hiki, tumeyatoa upya yale ambayo waanzilishi wa PROCMURA waliyaandika kwa namna ya kijitabu na kuhakikisha kwamba yamo katika lugha tatu – Kiingereza, Kifaransa na Kiswahili.
Kusudi la kijitabu hiki ni kuwasaidia Wakristo kuidhihirisha vema imani na itikadi yao kwa ndugu na dada zao Waislamu wanapotaka kufahamu. Pia kitawasaidia wasomaji Waislamu kufanikisha mtazamo wa kadri katika imani ya Kikristo; na pamoja nay ale wanayoyaamini na desturi zao. Hivyo basi, tunaamini kuwa hili litaendelea, kwa muda mrefu, kuzuia mabishano yasiyo na maana; hivyo kuendeleza wepesi wa ufahamu katika mahusiano ya maana kati ya Wakristo na Waislamu kwa ajili ya utengamano na kuishi kwa pamoja kwa amani. Pia, ni matumaini yetu kwamba majibu yaliyotolewa yenyewe yatastahili kuwa ushahidi wa kipekee katola imani ya Kikristo.
Tungependa kuwashukuru walioyakusanya haya maswali na wale waliotoa majibu na wale wote waliojitoa kuchapisha nakala hii ya kwanza. Maswali Wayaulizayo Waislamu. Tunatazamia kuyashughulikia maswali mengine yanayakusanywa ili tuwe na nakala ya pili. Tungependa kupokea maoni yoyote toka kwa wasomaji wa toleo hili la kwanza.
Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah,