Chinsapo is one of the highly populated semi-urban areas of Lilongwe City in Malawi, consisting of people belonging to different cultural and religious backgrounds which include Christians, Muslims, Rastafarians, and Traditionalists. Some of the notable tribes in the area include; Chewa, Ngoni, Yao, Lomwe, Sena and Tumbuka. Issues of sociocultural and religious motivated conflicts and violence have been a challenge in the area for a long time which mostly involve the youth from different faith backgrounds quarreling and fighting in public places such as schools and markets. The youth have for a long period of time been used as agents of violence for defending religious and cultural supremacy over the others by the leaders, a development which negatively affects peace and co-existence in the area.
As one way of ending cultural and religiously motivated actions of conflicts and violence, Wildlife and Natural Resources Conversation and Rehabilitation Trust (WNRCRT) Cooperation Circle in conjunction with United Religious Initiatives (URI), Lilongwe Cooperation Circle, and Chinsapo Youth Network organized an Interfaith Youth Peace Building and Coexistent Event on Saturday, 26th November, 2022 at Chinsapo UNICEF Events Centre in Lilongwe. The function brought together youth from different cultural and religious backgrounds showcasing their diverse talents and gifts to preach the messages of peace, tolerance and coexistence. The theme for the Event was “Utilizing the Youth talents as a tool for ending end religiously motivated actions of conflicts and violence’’.
Speaking at the Event, WNRCRT CC Programs Coordinator Alexander Zenasi said the initiative seeks to help change the mindset among the youths who are mostly used as agents of violence to becoming responsible citizens in their communities. "We thought of bringing together different young people from the tribes of Chewa, Ngoni, Yao, Lomwe, and Tumbuka among many, giving them a platform to showcase their artistic cultural performances centered on the key message of peace, tolerance, and co-existence," Zenasi said. "As you may know that Chinsapo is one of the areas where cases of socio-cultural and religious conflicts mostly involving the youth have been a challenge, we would like to take a holistic approach to end the vice by engaging the young peace as key agents of peace.
Group Village Headman of Nasson, who was also the guest of honor appreciated WNRCRT and URI for the intervention hoping that it would help end cultural and religious related cases of violence ad conflicts in the area. "I am thankful to the organizations for this remarkable event today which has brought Christians, Muslims, Rastafarians, and Traditionalists together promoting peace and unity regardless of our social and cultural differences.
"We need love among us, we are all one and let us join hands to civic educate our children in both communities and schools about the significance of living together in peace and harmony, therefore we ask URI and other concerned stakeholders to bring us a stable project that addresses these issues in our area," GVH Naison said.
In his remarks United Religious Initiative (URI) National Coordinator for Malawi Geofrey Manasseh said bringing together youth to showcase their different traditional dances, drama and poetry will help in ending actions of conflicts and violence in the area. He further said that peace and unity are key to promoting the socioeconomic development of the country.
"We need to be having events like these for different people to share knowledge, skills, and experiences to promote peace and understanding among them, " Manasseh said.
Commenting on the development one of the youth members involved in the event, Gloria Makhonje from Lomwe culture said she has learned a lot from the performances displayed during the day, on how she can co-exist with fellow youth from different faith and cultural backgrounds. She appealed for more interventions of similar nature in the community for peace to prevail.
Over 200 people attended the function and the work is being carried out with financial support from United Religious Initiatives (URI) Seed Grant Initiative, aiming at strengthening its purpose of promoting enduring daily cooperation to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings through grassroots interfaith network.