A Kenyan politician has praised the faiths in Africa for taking a leading role in peace-making through practical activities such as providing water and creating understanding among communities - writes Fredrick Nzwili.
"I am delighted you have gone beyond taking peace in a simple definition and you are doing it practically," said Chirau Ali Makwere, Kenya's Minister for Trade, while opening the 5th Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa (IFAPA) Commission meeting in Mombasa on 11 March 2011. "The fact that you are using water to bring peace is a first in the world," he said.
IFAPA is an inter-faith organisation working to promote peace. It involves Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha'i and African traditional religions. From 11 to 14 March, delegates, along with representatives from Europe, Canada and the United States, have been reflecting on recent African crises with a view to ecumenical work.
"You and I have the pieces of peace. Unless we come together in the life community ... we cannot live in peace," the Rev Dr Ishmael Noko, IFAPA president, told the meeting.
Noko, who was Lutheran World Federation General Secretary from 1994-2010, said peace could never be a property of one community against the other.
The future of Sudan, peace in North Africa and human rights issues are high on the agenda of the conference. Noko urged the leaders to take responsibility as faith communities to accompany north and south Sudan through peace and reconciliation.
"Difficult times are ahead of the people of Sudan," he said, while noting that radical changes in North Africa told of an existing gap between the leadership and the ordinary people.
"These complex events demonstrate that political self interests are a priority against the human rights of others," Noko added.
Sheikh Saleh Habimana, the Mufti of Rwanda, who studied in Tripoli, said the developments in Libya were extremely painful.
"I think IFAPA can help start dialogue there because it brings together prominent faith leaders. Since the group offers solutions through faith, I think it would be easy to reach the faith leaders there. The issue is complex, but I urge the world to try to understand Libya," he told ENInews.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]