Pastor James Wuye, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Dr Alan Channer were invited to Chad by the United Nations from 24 March – 2 April. Their visit, under the theme ‘Media and Mediation’, was part of a bid by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to build skills in mediation and peace-building amongst a newly-forged network of Chadian mediators.
The programme started with a screening of Une Solution Africaine (the French version of An African Answer) and a ‘Media Roundtable’ attended by Chadian journalists and press. The film struck a positive chord and the event was widely reported in the national press.
Imam Ashafa and Pastor James had meetings with the Mediator of the Republic, Abderahman Moussa and with the United Nations Resident Co-ordinator, Thomas Gurtner.
Film screenings then took place at the Don Bosco centre in Ndjamena, for 400 sixth-form students and at the Al Mouna ecumenical centre. Both events generated lively discussion, with many questions and comments on Imam Ashafa and Pastor James’s approach to peaceful coexistence between peoples of different religious and ethnic identities.
The following four days involved three workshops on mediation and peace-building skills, facilitated by Pastor James and Imam Ashafa. The workshops were held in the capital, Ndjamena; in Abéché, in eastern Chad (bordering Darfur), and Moundou, in southern Chad (bordering Central African Republic). Forty participants, including representatives of local government, traditional chiefs and leaders of civil society, were selected by UNDP in partnership with the Chadian NGO Comité de Suivi de l’Appel à la Paix et à la Réconciliation (CSAPR).
Une Solution Africaine was screened at the start of the workshops in Ndjamena and Moundou. In Abéché, where Arabic predominates, the fully dubbed version of The Imam and the Pastor was screened.
Many of the conflicts which Chadians face were brought to the surface and addressed during the workshops – for example the growing gulf between French and Arabic speakers in the country, the vying of different ethnic groups for political power and tensions between pastoralists and cultivators.
All the participants were eager for further training materials, including the Resource Guide for Grass-roots Practitioners that accompanies the films. UNDP Chad is working on translation of this guide into French and Arabic.
In Abéché, an open air screening of Une Solution Africaine attracted 200 younger people. Questions went on into the night and had to be brought to a close to allow people to reach home safely.
One young man commented, ‘You have realized my dream on the screen here tonight’.