It is Thursday morning here!  Today is our last day here before departing for Abuja tomorrow.  Hoever, I want to write about yesterday because last night I was unable to get online.

I’m struck by what seem paradoxes around here in Jos.  There seems to be a great deal of building going on.  New construction, new business and offices are lining the main arteries through town, yet at the same time, there are many more military checkpoints around.  Tuesday evening it took an hour to drive home from a restaurant (that took 20 minutes the first time) because of at least 10 check points.  Power seems even more scarce, It hasn’t been on during even one of the days while here.  Most all schools and business rely on generators but then deisel starts being a major expense.  While it appears that development is happening, there is also evidence that deterioration has occurred.

On a brighter note, I met with anther group yesterday regarding peace work and the importance of dialogue.  After what I felt to be a successful interaction, the eldest of the group spoke up that he felt everything we said was a waste of our time and that dialogue was useless.  Talk about the energy of the room changing!  He was elaborated that he had worked as a civil servant and that surrounding corruption had undermined his work.  I acknowledged his honesty and his principles when working with others that were corrupted.  I was grateful he spoke, for he exemplified the reality of what the other youth in the room will most likely confront in their work at some point.  I relied on Angeles Arrien’s definition of cynical- someone who cares deeply but has been deeply hurt.  The man agreed this defined his circumstance.  I was able to honor his caring, his work, his ethics, his example and his pain, and also talk about we all need to be prepared to fail but not give up.  The session ended with our shaking hands and me seeing his gorgeous smile.  I think we had converted him and everyone in the class.


The Work Continues

People here know that peace is needed and want this time NOW make a difference.  All understand it will be an ongoing process.

Yesterday we were interviewed on a one hour live radio show.  The interviewer, Kenzy Gopar did a wonderful job of asking questions that tied education, religion and family to practices of peace.  Bottom line is everyone here wants safety in their homes and safety while worshiping together.  I loved bringing my voice forward in regards to overcoming the fear and hate that has settled over the area since recent violence.

This morning I met with Christian and Muslim women and shared the movie “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”.  Many signed a list taking a first step towards organizing a women’s peace movement here in Jos.  The momentum is ga.  gathering.  These beautiful women have been waiting too long and say it is time for all children to live in peace.


It feels like a dream, because it is.  The beginning of a new dream for all those in attendance.  Having gone through “The Principles of Reconciliation” everyone finished the conference with additional new skills and commitments of how to go forward in their own lives, personally and professional, to build peace.  I don’t think I ever actually used the word ’empowered’ during the conference, but certainly that is the word that many were using to describe to me how they felt when it concluded today.  Even though our time together has ended, it really has just begun.

I am exhausted, joyous, and in a state of awe at what we accomplished together.  The Ambassador Dr. Mussie Hailu, as regional coordinator for the United Religions Initiative, started drafting an appeal and proclamations from those in attendance calling government, religious leaders, women, youth and media is promoting the cause of peace in Northern Nigeria.  Simultaneously a group of the participants-journalists, poets, musicians, religious leaders, NGO founders,  from all walks of life that were present, collaborated in compiling a draft of ideas that were then integrated into the final draft.  All conference attendees approved the final appeal.

There again are more stories to tell than is possible at this moment, but my heart is telling me that history has been made and that we will remember this time with great fondness and genuine pride.  I am sure the ripples will go out through education in numerous forms, whether through community churches and mosques, NGOs or governmental organizations and with educators themselves who committed to implement peace education into curriculum.  The seeds of hope have been created, it remains to be seen what garden grows from this momentous gathering.

Hearts Touching Hearts

The transformation is happening.  People don’t want to stop their conversations. Things are definitely flowing. How do we measure the way that hearts have been transformed?  How do we measure how people have been inspired?  How we do measure the level of hope?  All I know is the difference is palpable and present at the conference!  The participants themselves are speaking about it.

[I’m sorry for you folks back home that the internet here has been so weak that I have been unable to post pictures.  I will keep trying, however, worst case I will post some photos upon our return.]

Many people came up to me throughout the day.  One shared that before attending last years conference, he had been betrayed and had lost hope.  He said that last year’s conference had been a turning point and that he had initiated several projects.  Another came to say that this was her first conference and that she can hardly wait to implement everything she has learned.  She works at an NGO work doing youth leadership development in Abuja.  Another gentleman also said this was his first time and that he has benefited tremendously.  The Ambassador from Ethiopia mentioned how much he appreciated learning about ‘The Demons of the Imagination’ (i.e. “I can’t make a difference”, “The circumstances are too powerful”, “I don’t have the resources-time or money,) since he knew these kind of thoughts stopped so many people.

Sani Suleiman and Emmanuel Ivorgba are wonderful partners in facilitating this conference.  Both are experienced peacebuilders.  Sani is widely known from a radio program in Jos.  He is humorous, capable, able to move with the group in a widely dynamic and engaging manner.  He brings a wealth of information from his years of experience.  Emmanuel is driven, passionate, a man of action and a man of his word.  Both bring overlapping and unique gifts to the conference.

Anyway there is so much to tell, but I have just been informed they are ready to serve dinner and are wiating for me.  So I’ll try to write more later.

In solidarity with peacebuilders around the world,


Pre Conference Excitement

Things are starting to speed up!   Conference attendees and presenters from out of town started showing up tonight at the CRUDAN Guesthouse where we’ll all be staying for the duration of the conference.

It seems that most of the Nigerian attendees are well known to each other as many have been doing peace work for years.

The special guest of Thursday’s presenters, Amb. Dr. Mussie Hailu, Regional coordinator, United REligions Initiative (URI), and Representative at the Africa Union and UNECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia arrived in time to sit with us at dinner.  What a joy to meet him and have the opportunity to get to know him.  Towards the beginning of our conversation he asked me if I knew of the book, The Moral Imagination by John Paul Lederach.  I responded by exclaiming that it is my favorite book!  He smiled and proceeded to tell me that it is his favorite book as well, and he valued the book so much that he invited John Paul to Ethiopia to lead trainings.  He mentioned how wonderful it has been to work closely with John Paul the last two years.  What a great start.  I have found a friend for life.   After dinner I did a private showing of Pray the Devil Back To Hell.  He mentioned to me afterwards that he appreciated I had brought the film, for it exemplified the need not just to attend conferences and ‘talk’ about peace building, but to step into action.  We are off to a good start.

Earlier in the day we’d had the opportunity to talk with Mr Godwin Okoko, the country representative of APURIMAC Nigeria who has his office in Jos.  He is doing fantastic peace work locally.  His organization lined up the program we attended yesterday with students from throughout Jos.  Mr. Okoko also will be presenting tomorrow and joined us at our dinner table.  It was a joyous time for all of us.   What a blessing and gift to be in the company of these distinguished peace builders.