“They may be one” (John 17:22), “You may know one another” (Surah 49:13), faith leaders in Yumbe say

Training of Trainers, Yumbe Town Council, October 2018

Yumbe Town Council, Uganda; 4 December 2019 (F2A) – Since September 2018, local faith leaders work together closely in Uganda’s Yumbe district. Jointly, the offices of the district Khadhi, the Anglican and the Catholic churches have supported and engaged young people through interfaith sensitization, mentorship and guiding communities. They have organized community dialogues on peaceful co-existence to harmoniously address and resolve grievances. They have disseminated messages of unity and peace in places of worship such as community mosques and churches as well as cultural events.

Yumbe’s faith and cultural leaders are very pleased of Uganda Joint Christian Council and Muslim Centre for Justice and Law’s initiative. District Khadi Sheik Swaib Alahayi, Archdeacon Rev. Titus Ago and Dean Father David Andama of Yumbe Catholic parish, and Aringa cultural leader Salim Andiga increasingly participate in interfaith and intercultural dialogues, sports events, music, dance and drama events. They jointly officiate at the openings of events, with interfaith prayers and messages of peaceful co-existence.  In addition to providing interfaith and intercultural leadership, they have become friends. Jointly, they now give direction and guidance to Yumbe district’s young people on peaceful co-existence and unity for peace.

“They may be one” (John 17:22), “You may know one another” (Surah 49:13). The primary sources of messages on peace and coexistence amongst the communities are the Bible and the Quran. These messages have been approved by church and mosque leaders. During community sensitization events, the messages help youth leaders demonstrate that both the Quran and the Bible promote peaceful co-existence.

These interfaith and intercultural activities have changed the lives of young men and women. Increased understanding and cohesion have led to greater self-esteem. Young people are now involved in income generation activities, education and community work. 

  • 26 women and 4 men from Onjiri Village, Aliapi Parish in Kululu Sub county have formed a group. They called their group Asante Women group. “Asante” means “thank you” in Kiswahili.  The group is inclusive and has 28 Muslim and 2 Christian participants. It has three participants from the Kakwa tribe, two from the Terrego community, and 25 from the Aringa tribe. Led by Guy Majid, the group implements drama performances. With their proceeds, they have started a saving and credit scheme.
  • Full of energy and ideas, young people have engaged in inter-generational conversations. In the process, they have engaged Mzee Adiga Sulaiman of Kena Village, Wolo Parish Odravu Sub county. Aged 65 years, he had lost hope in life and the development of his community and had become addicted to alcohol. The young people convinced him to give up alcohol. As a spokesperson of his clan, he has regained respect of his community and officiates at cultural events, such as marriage negotiations and give-away ceremonies or funerals.
  • “The training raised hope among us the trainees and contributed to our positive thinking, I Judith, Viola and Christine of Lukutua Ward, African Quarter Village, Yumbe town council came up with a revolving saving scheme, where we save shillings 10,000 every week, and it has been running for two months now.”
  • Adomati is a 24-year-old young man from African quarters, a ward of Yumbe Town Council. He joined interfaith sports activities, and benefitted from peer counselling. He felt accepted by his peers, enjoyed group cohesion, and this increased his self-esteem. The youth leader Judith sensitized him on the dangers of substance-abuse, and he decided to stop chewing mairungi, a local drug. The skills and confidence, allowed him to find gainful employment in the construction sector.
  • Similarly, Iddi Waku of Oyanga village, Ewava Parish, Kululu Sub county has joined the interfaith community dialogues and youth talks conducted by Latib Afrika who is a youth leader.  Due to peer pressure, he had dropped out of secondary school, and turned to charcoal burning.  From interacting with his peers and with the guidance of the mosque imam, he re-gained hope in his life. He decided to get back to school. He enrolled into Ambia vocational technical school in year one as a plumbing student.

This work responds to a conflict between the majority Muslims and the minority Christians in Yumbe Town Council. The population of Yumbe is mainly Aringa sub-tribe of the Lugbara ethnic group (93%). The district is composed of 3 major faiths. A majority of people affiliates with Islam (76%) followed by Church of Uganda and the Catholic Church. Conflict in the area has taken a religious angle between Christians and Muslims. Therefore, Faith to Action Network supports UJCC and MCJL to promote tolerance and peaceful co-existence among youths from different faiths and cultures in Yumbe district through interfaith and intercultural activities.

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