Rev Kato explained the religious tension in Nigeria during a comment in the Africa Day celebration, 'There are good, peace-loving people in our society. But many people think, "Why does Christianity want to overcome the Islamic faith?" or "Why is the Islamic faith oppressing the Christians?".
He continued, 'But one needs to understand more deeply. For example, a Pastor will claim he was abused by some people of the Muslim faith because he wants to get the support of Christians. An Imam will go around his own community abusing the Christian faith. These actions are all about gaining popularity and material things, hoping some people might come and say "Aha, you are a hero, you are a hero,” and follow him.'
(Photo of Rev. Kato receiving an Ambassador for Peace award)
Describing the religious peace making effort in Bauchi State he said, 'Now we try to let people know that religion is a personal affair. When there is peace in the community and within the people, you can practice your religion without any problem. But when there is trouble all over, people don’t have time to go to the church or to the mosque. In some northern states, there is a curfew that keeps people from going to some prayers at the mosque or some church services.'
He explained the scale of the problem, 'In the community where Hon. Salisu Ahmed Barau, Commissioner of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Community Relations in Bauchi State, comes from, there had been no peace for 57 years. But the government asked us to do this peace work together, and there is now at least relative peace. Some of the people people who had abandoned those areas have now gone back. They have built their houses and are there to stay, except for one other place that we are working on now.'
Rev Kato emphasised, 'That is the importance of agreeing with people of other faiths to work together for a just peace. We are going back to hold a workshop for Muslims and Christians to discuss about peace. In these ways we are trying to make peace among the people.'
Photo on top is the presentation of an Ambassador for Peace award to Rev. Kennedy Masau Kato in the London UPF HQ.
Further Africa Day Reports:
Countering Religious Tensions in Nigeria - Hon. Salisu Ahmed Bara u Commissioner for Religion in Bauchi State, Nigeria
Africa Day 2013 UPF-UK Celebration in the House of Lords - Report on the Africa Day event in the House of Lords
Africa Day 2013 and the Relationship of Europe and Africa - Mr Mark Brann UPF Europe Secretary General
Africa Day - The Work of God Can Never be Destroyed - Mr Olaleye Alao, FFWPU – Nigeria President
Bringing Peace Among the People in Bauchi State, Nigeria - Rev. Kennedy Masau Kakto