- Ghanaian Paramount Chief Togbe Afede XIV, has appealed for tolerance and reciprocal respect among Africa's peoples, saying conflict was one reason why the continent had grown poorer over the past 25 years. The regional leader of Ho-Asogli state in the Volta region, urged African governments to endeavour to strengthen peace by working toward a more equal and just society.
In a candid presentation during the opening session of the West African Inter-Faith Peace Summit in Ghana's eastern city of Ho, Afede XIV cited tribalism, intolerance, poverty, excessive politicisation of governance and corruption as some of the most significant causes of conflicts in Africa.
- While we work for the resolution of the various conflicts in Africa, it is important that we do not forget to work toward the prevention of conflict in areas where there is a semblance of peace, Chief Afede XIV told religious representatives attending the 23-24 June summit organised by the Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa (IFAPA).
He noted that religious leaders were uniquely placed to advance the cause of peace in Africa as religion played a central role in the people's lives. "We should remind African politicians that while they pursue power, others desire peaceful enjoyment of their lives. They should also remember that [very often], those who profess support for us constitute a greater threat than those who oppose us."
He further urged African governments to ensure that the continent does not remain a problem for the world but provides an opportunity to enhance growth, prosperity, global peace and development.
IFAPA coordinator Sheikh Saliou Mbacké, reported on the significant achievements in the implementation of a plan of action adopted at the first continent-wide inter-faith summit in Johannesburg, South Africa two years ago.
He cited the formation of the Sudan Inter-Religious Council as an opportunity for the country's religious communities to play a significant role in facilitating a "communication corridor" between the northern and southern regions in the implementation of the peace process.
Mr Mbacké said inter-faith initiatives facilitated the establishment of the first contact between Ethiopian and Eritrean religious communities and faith groups. "We believe that as a consequence, an inter-faith body will be formed soon in Eritrea that will strengthen inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace," he said.
The IFAPA coordinator also announced plans to convene a women's forum in the context of the second continent-wide inter-faith peace summit scheduled for the latter part of this year in North Africa. Women, he stressed, play "a key yet under-acknowledged role in peace making in African society."
He said the impact of violence between different groups in parts of Nigeria had made religious communities there aware of the need for dialogue. This, he noted, resulted in the 2001 creation of the Association of Christian-Muslim Relations in Nigeria, which has been very active in preventing conflict and promoting peace.
IFAPA's long-term objective, he stressed, is to establish strong inter-religious networks, and encourage a sense of self-ownership on the part of the respective faith communities.
Mr Mbacké said the implementation of IFAPA's first phase would terminate with the convening of the second continent-wide summit. He added: "With this ambitious program we want to believe that concerted inter-faith action for peace will change the face of conflict in Africa."
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