The Vienna-based KAICIID Dialogue Centre recently conducted a 10-day training session for its African Region Fellows Programme in Abuja, where no fewer than 21 participants from 10 African countries were drawn.
Programme Manager of KAICIID Fellows, Mike Waltner, said the essence of the programme is to bring together religious teachers and scholars for training in a bid to promote “training in dialogue, mediation and promoting social cohesion.”
He also added that the fellows programme is basically designed to equip religious teachers and scholars with skills necessary to educate students on how to become active agents and facilitators of interreligious and intercultural dialogue
Commending the enthusiasm displayed throughout the duration of the 10-day programme, Waltner said, “They were always on time and displayed great enthusiasm during the training. You could all see that they enjoyed every session of the training and look forward to putting what they have learnt into action.”
One of the fellows, Ougba Ben Nafi Ahmadou, who is the Chairman of the Central African Republic Youth Faith, said he learned about perception and how it influences human reaction, including practical measures in engaging various people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.
“I commend the creation of the KAICIID Fellow Network on how we can replicate the learning we have received here. In Central African Republic, we have people who have differences, but they do not want to accept these differences. With the tools I have learnt here, I have no doubt that if replicated, our communities can come together and accept our differences,” Ahmadou noted.
Malam Isa Okonkwo, who is the Director of Administration of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), said the training has broadened his knowledge, adding that he was exposed to issues that can help bring Peace to Nigeria.
He said, “There is always a meeting point between Muslims and Christians. I have always agreed that there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity. During this training, I have learned on stereotypes, assumptions and perceptions.”
Rev. Sister Rose Kyali Gonza, who is of the Daughters of Mary (BannaBikira) from Uganda, but currently teaching Comparative Religion at the University of Tanzania, says the fellows training afforded her an opportunity of getting an in-depth knowledge of interreligious dialogue, adding, “Most importantly, the interaction with other fellows from other African countries has been wonderful. I am happy to be a member of the 2018 African Region Fellows Programme of KAICIID and I look forward to deploying all I have learnt from this 10-day training to expand the scope of understanding as it relates to interreligious and intercultural cultural dialogue in my area of operation.”
Apart from Nigeria, Uganda and Central African Republic that had participants, the fellows were also drawn from Chad, Ghana, Ethiopia, Niger and Ethiopia, among others.
The KAICIID Dialogue Centre has so far graduated no fewer than 125 alumni fellows, with another 44 fellows presently undergoing training in 2018 in various parts of the world.