Monday, 5 May 2008

Against all odds

"Violence erupted in the spring of 1992. 'For 48 hours, we were killing one another,' remembers Imam Ashafa. 'I was fighting, believing I had to defend my faith, maiming and killing the others. My spiritual teacher, a man of 70, was murdered by the Christian community in his area. Two of my cousins were killed, and I came to know that it was Pastor James's group who had organised that militia. I was nursing an anger. For three years, my group and I were planning to eliminate the leaders of these groups.'

"Later that same year, Pastor Wuye and his entourage were set upon. Wuye's bodyguard was killed, and he was left for dead. When his friends found him, Wuye was lying in a pool of blood, and his right hand, completely severed at the wrist, was on the ground beside him. He now wears a prosthetic hand. Throughout his recovery, he thought only of vengeance. 'I felt propelled forward, even with a bandage on my arm,' he says. 'I went out to train people to fight, to show that this thing must be continued. I thought, Even if I die in this cause, I will be happy. Even when I started working with the imam, I nursed the ambition of killing him.'"

Extracted from my feature in Spectrum magazine. Imam Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye are now the driving forces of a peace movement in Kaduna, Nigeria, which is slowly becoming influential around the world. This extraordinary tale of reconciliation is back online at Read it here: Against all odds

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