Visit from Dr. Effiong
In spring, 2017, the Dialogue Institute and the University of Uyo in Oyo, NIgeria, collaborated in the opening of dialogue center at the university. Board member William Cullinan and local activist Olabisi did all the preliminary discussions and planned with Professor Effiong of the religious studies department of the school the mission and opening of the center for dialogue. Then in collaboration with Professor Swidler, the groundwork was completed. At the opening, hundreds came to celebrate. Music played, workshops engaged the DI dialogue principles, and speeches inspired the young people. A large screen shared Professor Swidler's keynote address as he was unable to go himself at the last minute. Both William Cullinan and Olabisi were present and reported how well the crowd received Professor Swidler's address.
Now in spring, 2018, Professor Effiong, director of the university's Dialogue Center, returned to Philadelphia to spend several days with Professor Swidler and Dialogue Institute staff to plan on how best to keep developing the already good work of the center. Upcoming hopes include populating the library with good resources, especially past issues of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies and more trainings in the U.S. Nigera.
The Dialogue Institute is also working with two other large non-governmental agencies who are doing dialogue work in the country. These groups and the DI draw on a significant documentary about the work in Nigeria, "The Imam and the Pastor."
"The Imam and The Pastor" depicts the reconciliation between Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, and the peace-making initiatives which have flowed from it. The film, narrated by Rageh Omaar, shows that it is possible for the perpetrators of interreligious violence to become instigators of peace. It is both a story of forgiveness and a case study of grass-root initiatives to rebuild communities torn apart by conflict. For more information on the documentary, please see the following link: www.iofc.org/imam-pastor