1. The challenges of interreligious dialogue in a context dominated by the rise of religious radicalism: some points for reflection:

Today, it is difficult to live under certain roofs such as Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, the Middle East and many other countries in the world where people live in a climate of fear, mistrust ; Threatened day and night by the noises of shells and heavy weapons; Terrorized by their own brothers. These deplorable situations do not favor a harmonious and friendly fraternal life. The world is sinking more and more into radicalism and religious fanaticism and the situation is becoming very alarming. These conflicts, which are most often political, are intertwined with the religious considerations of each other and ultimately plunge our societies into a daily nightmare with a negatively affected youth.

Peace is becoming more and more a rare commodity, whereas it constitutes an essential good without which the development of our society and the full development of the human person would be only illusion. This shows the importance of trying to cultivate and flourish our inner garden of human, moral, civic and religious values ​​that will guarantee peace, a guarantee of all progress.

In a context dominated by the rise of religious radicalism, the dialogue between religions and the formation of consciences seem to be the open door to regain true tranquility. Interreligious dialogue, which presupposes religious freedom and the recognition of values ​​in other religions, is the mutual effort of partners of different religions to listen to each other, to avoid false impressions and to appreciate the goodness of Life, faith in God, religious experience and the thirst for righteousness that the Spirit has produced in the other, for the enrichment of each one by advancing together in the knowledge and effective love of God and next.

For a frank dialogue between religions, one should first accept religious diversity. According to Raimon Panikkar, “without peace, without genuine tolerance, without mutual religious respect and without sincere openness to the other, we cannot survive as a human race and lead as individuals a truly human existence”. Our world today needs more open-mindedness for a real recognition of the hidden treasure in every religion.

The cruel rise of the radical extremists who kidnap, kill the innocent creatures of God and recruit in their younger ranks, challenge us deeply. Our world should in no way weaken before the instrumentalization of religions for barbaric and partisan purposes.

The future of our world will depend on our ability to recognize ourselves as human brothers and sisters and to convey this value to future generations. Our future will depend on the cohesion of this human family. “We are alive under the same sun and we worship the one God,” said Pope John Paul II inviting religions to express the love of which each one is the bearer. Non-violence, the culture of peace and the civilization of love will cement our relations. Beyond the simple desire for coexistence, there remains the trust and love that we have towards each other, the assurance of always having around us a support to advance on the path of life, a human partner with whom we can build a better world. Young people, who constitute the most important layer of our continent and who are easily prey to pernicious and extremist ideologies of a religious and cultural nature, need to be positively educated around such values ​​as non-violence, peace, Love, interreligious and intercultural brotherhood, religious freedom, unity in diversity, solidarity with those who suffer in various ways, the help of the victims of religious discrimination, democracy and so on. Through the YOUNIB, we want with the youth to create and develop a culture of encounter where there will be a civilization of love in which there will be no place for hatred, discrimination or violence.

2. Maintaining peace, love and unity in Nigeria: a look from the YOUNIB:

Peace can generally be a situation which occurs between social groups and could be characterized as a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence. It could commonly be understood as the absent of hostility. Peace can be defined in a positive direction and in a negative sense. Positively, peace is a state of stillness and quietness, however in a negative sense, it is an absence of war or violence.

It’s very vital to maintain peace and unity in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious country of Nigeria. With more than 250 ethnic tribes and various religious beliefs divided across geo-political lines – of Muslim North and Christian South, — the nation’s unity is being woefully threatened by ethnocentrisms, sentiments and religious fanaticism. Recently, religious radicalism has exploded in the Northern part of the country causing more harm and hatred among the overall Nigerians.

Following are some tips on how to maintain unity in Nigeria:

 Sentiments Must Be Stopped

Sentiment is one of the major problems that are threatening the cause of unity and harmony in Nigeria. The war of words and tribal feuds are been squabbled by Nigerians all over the country. We must stop making sweeping generalization on other ethnic tribes, and begin to reserve our emotions toward other ethnic groupings if peace and unity must reign in Nigeria.

Love

This is the bedrock of peace and oneness in a multi-cultural nation like Nigeria. Nigerians of every race, gender, and religion should love and respect each other as one family.

We should learn to love our fellow countrymen. If we’re challenged by a problem, we should round ourselves on a negotiating table and not to dwell in finger-pointing and wicked sentiments. If we love and adore ourselves as Nigerians, peace and unity will forever thrive in our country.

Sense of Brotherhood

This is very important not only in maintaining unity in Nigeria, but in upholding peace and tranquility among Nigerians. Nigerians should regard all and sundry as one. Parents at home and teachers in school should orient the kids about the importance of equality. Let the Nigerian people know that they belong to one family. The notion of “we” vs. “them” must be stopped for Nigeria to stay stronger, safer and more united.

Lock Your Religion in Your Closet

Religion is a good thing, but its practice. Should be private — only between you and your God on whom you believe. Its practice should be within the confines of your church or mosque; your home and your family. We should learn to leave our religion at our homes and not try to carry it along and enforce it to people and in our public square.

Keep the NYSC Program Running

The National Youth Service Corp is a good thing. It was established in 1973 after the Nigerian Civil War in 1967 in order to “reconstruct and reconcile” the nation. The scheme is aimed to foster “national unity” amongst Nigerian youths; therefore, let us NOT “wallow in the valley of despair” to its cause. To maintain peace and unity in Nigeria, therefore, we should utilize the scheme and keep it up and running.

Massive Enlightenment

To maintain peace and unity in Nigeria, massive enlightenment must ensued. The Federal Government must step-in to enlighten the general public, especially the ignorant and illiterate population about unity and peaceful co-existence among the citizenry, with the central theme of equality and oneness. This can be relayed through the channels of media so as to reach the massive population.

Nigeria was built on the foundations of tolerance and solidarity. As Nigerians, we should uphold the Nigerian dream of unity in diversity and stay strong, peaceful, and united despite the bitter challenges that are facing us today.

Proverbs asserts: “The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks” African nations have no right to create uproar and imminent chaos for ourselves by ignoring the solid importance of Peace! A great transition of Africa’s suffering is linked to Africans inabilities to recognize the significance of Peace to Nation Building and Economic Sustainability and Stability. As a young Nigeria youth residing in Ibadan my eyes and ears have fetched the awful distress of violent conflicts, political instability, or unjust policies and practices overlooking ‘Peace,’ the final source of Africa’s liberation. I am convinced that all Africans, especially 21st Century youths must take an oath of speaking Peace and permanently stick to our word. As some elders will say, “A word uttered cannot be taken back!”

An African ancestor once declared, “Peace is costly but it is worth the expense.” The term “peace-building” African leaders must value peace because it creates love in the hearts of citizens to patronize, prioritize and protect their culture as they walk towards the progress of an ‘African success.’

“Little else” is needed for a society to prosper and progress beyond three conditions peace, love and liberty so says Adams Smith (Father of economics).

Peace and love are two words that brings us together. Despite religion, ethnics, belief but we are bound together by a strong bond which is called love and which also brings about peace and unity.

Peace will make us look beyond our fellow people flaws, seeing each other as one big and happy family. The absence of peace could be as a result of un-forgiveness and having one pain or the other in mind. Forgetting that we are human and we are also bound to make mistakes. In a case of Nigeria, love could help in overcoming corruption, as it will give us the ability to love others as ourselves.

Vivian OKOYE, YOUNIB-Nigeria

3. PEACE AND LOVE IN KENYA: a look from the YOUNIB Nairobi:

Peace is associated with an absence of aggression , violence and hostility amongst our society. In our beautiful country Kenya, peace and love does face various challenges such as terrorism, Regional imbalance, social and political inequalities.

We have become a hostile community towards one another due to religion and culture that we did not even create. Our creator wants us to leave in peace and love for that is what we are suppose to do and that is our main purpose on this world but instead we are so bitter and ready to kill on another due to things that we ourselves did not even create neither no one decided that they want to belong to a certain tribe we found them here.

Asking around if we will ever have peace amongst ourselves will not help in any way, its time for action for it speaks louder than words. If we all decide we want to leave peacefully and in a loving way, things will change but someone has to start and lead by example and that person is you am me.”Mahatma Gandhi said you have to be the change you need to see.

Peace amongst ourselves will be achieved if we all say” it will begins with me” and believe that it will. Let us chose to overcome evil with good, change our mindsets about other religion, tribe and culture. The way of peace is the way of love.

Our beautiful mother land is in tears and bleeding because we have turned against each other and forgotten that the way of peace is the way of love. let us all come together regardless of religion, culture nor tribe and embrace one another with love and be our brothers keeper from there we will restore the most precious gift amongst ourselves and that is peace in our beautiful country Kenya and spread peace to every corner of the earth.

Remember it all starts with me as an individual.

Maryanne Irungu, YOUNIB-KENYA

4. PEACEMAKERS FOR THE FORTHCOMING ELECTION IN KENYA:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Mathew 5:9). A peacemaker refers to, “a person, group, or nation that tries to make peace, especially by reconciling parties who disagree, quarrel, or fight.” In the beginning, God made the world in order and not chaos. However, why do we witness so much chaos in the place of order? I tend to agree with those who share the thought that, the origin of chaos can be traced back to the inventions of human beings. Simply, it is people who abuse their free will and commit acts of animosity against fellow humans and the rest of nature. The point I am trying to drive at, is to challenge all of us to own the challenge of insecurity due to violence of all kinds, or acts of terrorism, but most importantly pre and post election violence. Below I shall narrow myself to briefly expounding on the point of violence.

I assume the phenomenon of election related violence in our country is not strange to all of us. It has been only ten years now when we last witnessed a fatal explosion of ethnic violence that left about 1,500 dead, 3,000 innocent women raped, 300,000 internally displaced persons and a great loss of property incurred. Some of the victims of that controversial election were our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, grandparents and our beloved relatives. Thus, to the question how do we evaluate the negative lessons from the above experiences? Below is a recap of some of the prevention measures we can begin to work with.

We can refuse to be agents of perpetrating violence through; refusing to be paid in order to instil fear or cause physical violence, we can deny being blind followers of people or groups that carry ill intentions. Rather than participate in the above evils and others, we can make a choice to be led or influenced by peace lovers. Let us join movements like Kenya as one, the YOUNIB (Youth Network for Interreligious Brotherhood) and lead in the war for unity.  Wisdom of old says that, there is great power in unity than strife, “Unity is strength”. All these and even more better attitudes of socialisation in society can only be attained if we only grew up as God fearing people. People who are God fearing do not cut each other with machetes, they do not destroy each other’s property. God is love and those who do not love have not known God. The devil comes only to steal and destroy and those who commit evil can be called children of the devil. (John 10:10)

In conclusion, the work above has reminded us that it is only in the context of a peaceful co existence that good things like all round development are realised. There are many countries neighbouring us and beyond that have not known peace and the impacts are obvious, massive devastation. Let us pray for countries like South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, The Congo, Libya, Nigeria and some countries in the middle east that are torn apart by political antagony. Let us pray that God’s providence may favour the victims of post election violence, and that we may be agents of peace in this forthcoming election.

Brother SAKAWA Kennedy, assumptionnist