“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
The Dutsen-Wai community is located in the northern part of Kaduna state in central Nigeria. The community faced a number of communal crises including farm land disputes, marital and political tensions. While these disputes are commonplace and occur within in any given community, recent political and religious tensions have escalated tensions to a boiling point.
The rise of radical religious groups such as Boko Haram and Ansaru spread fear and hate between Christians and Muslims, dividing communities and families. Most unfortunate, in conflicts between religion and tribe, children are taught to hate and fear “the Other” – perpetuating the same in the next generation.
For example, years earlier in Dutsen-Wai, the schoolchildren of Christian and Muslim families used to attend the same schools without incident but a local resident from the community recalled that increased tension and incidents between Muslims and Christians had forced children to stop attending religiously mixed schools.
Yet remarkably, within a few months of a Global Peace Foundation (GPF) community peacebuilding program, a resident noted that: “children of Christian faith now attend Muslim schools and vice versa. And if we can revive the culture of combined schools, we can also restore our peaceful coexistence.”
In other developments in Dutsen-Wai, following the initial GPF intervention, youth of different faiths have come together and to form a football club.
“Children of Christian faith now attend Muslim schools and vice versa. And if we can revive the culture of combined schools, we can also restore our peaceful coexistence.” Resident of Dutsen-Wai
Even beyond religion, the intervention encouraged people to reach beyond tribes to create new bonds of trust between distinct communities. “As a result of GPF’s intervention, Fulani children during holidays visit me at home while I also send my children to them as well,” a local Dutsen-Wai resident named Margret noted proudly.
When we start to see that we are One Family Under God, we can then imagine new possibilities. Yet these possibilities can only be realized when we begin to also behave as One Family Under God.
The communities in Dutsen-Wai have begun to do this. How might you do this in yours?
Watch the One Family Under God Campaign video update.
This article was originally published on www.globalpeace.org.