News / Africa

Pan African Conference Calls for Interreligious Freedom, Tolerance

The first Pan African Conference on Interreligious Freedoms has ended in Cameroon with participants from 80 countries from Africa and beyond.  Participants pledged to work together for the service of peace in the name of God.  

Conference participants say development across Africa has been greatly slowed by interreligious conflicts.  The case of Nigeria was cited as one of the worst, with tens of thousands of lives lost in fighting between Muslim and Christian communities, and thousands more killed by the Islamist militant-sect Boko Haram.

South African-based Malawian cleric Hopeson Bonye says nothing good has come out of Boko Haram, saying it is just fighting everyone, and is extending its tentacles to neighboring countries.

"It is wrong, and it is not the right thing at all.  One thing I want to mention is that not everything that is Western is bad, because we live in a global village and we interact with one another.  So we can not choose to live as Africans and just be Africans.  We still need to borrow from other people.  Those things that are bad we can let them go, but we can not fight and kill, and cause violence in the name of hating Western philosophers whatsoever," said Bonye.

Bonye adds that Nigeria is not the only hot spot in Africa.  He says even his country, Malawi, has suffered from conflicts in the name of God or Allah.

"Property was damaged, people have no place to worship.  Like the mosque had to rebuild, and the churches had to rebuild again, and people were destabilized, families hating one another.  They belong to one family, some are Muslims, some are Christians, so it splits families all the time and people are displaced also," he said.

Besides condemning violence and asking governments to name, shame and prosecute perpetrators, the conference agreed to preach and practice tolerance.  That is the message that Ghannian-born pastor Emmanuel Menu, who serves as West and Central African overseer of the Seventh day Adventist Church, is taking back to Ivory Coast, where he is based.

"We should be able to live together as Africans.  We should not leave any room for intolerance, we should respect all human beings.  Africa has suffered a lot and because of this we are among the poorest African nations," said Menu.

Nigerian delegation leader Oloyeke Alaoye Labi said the outcome of the conference may be slow and difficult to be felt, but highly expected by true believers in his country.

"I have got to know that Africans are African, Cameroonians, Nigerians ... and we should not allow any religion to separate our brotherhood," said Labi.

As for Liberian-born pastor James Gole, he says tolerance should be the watch word among Christians, Muslims and even animists if Africa has to develop.

"We are promoting religious liberties and tolerance.  God created us the same way.  So we do not need each other because of religious differences," said Gole.

A conference communique says during the past 20 years, an estimated eight million people around the world have lost their lives because of religious extremism and fanaticism.  

Meanwhile, skeptics of conferences like this are asking whether such interfaith dialogue can really increase religious tolerance, when the perpetrators of extremism never attend such meetings.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs