Peace clubs help defuse tensions

Communal conflicts for control of land and resources, often along ethnic and religious lines, continue to ravage Nigeria’s northcentral state of Plateau. The response to this violence has almost always been retaliatory and militarized, resulting in catastrophic consequences. This past June, more than 180 people were killed in a reprisal attack between farmers and herders.

To promote a different response, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) helped support the development of Emergency Preparedness Response Teams (EPRT). The teams, comprised of both Christians and Muslims, were formed to prevent and proactively respond to conflict. EPRT monitors early warning signs related to electoral violence.

EPRT has also established peace clubs to work with both Christian and Muslim youths. The clubs seek to transform antagonistic and hateful narratives through peace education in communities across northcentral and northeastern states. Such alternative addresses animosity and stereotypes, enabling people to overcome mistrust and suspicion.

In the Kanam local government area of Plateau State, Abdul Adamu, a teacher in a secondary school, says, “Before, I was called Mallam Soldier (“teacher who behaves like a soldier”) by teachers and pupils in our school.” Now, he says, “the name ‘Mallam Soldier’ transformed into ‘Mr. Peace’ with the establishment of [the] Peace Club.” Adamu received an award from the state government for his efforts in peace clubs.

In its work with Adamu and others, EPRT is building the foundation for a more peaceful and stable Nigeria.

 

Kitshwe William is MCC’s evaluation and monitoring officer in Nigeria.