Friday, December 22, 2017

Imam and Pastor receive UN award for intercultural innovation

Intercultural Innovation Award 2017

Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa, of the Interfaith Mediation Centre in Nigeria, were among five recipients of this year’s prestigious 2017 ‘Intercultural Innovation Award’, conferred by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and BMW. The Award Ceremony took place at UN Headquarters in New York on 29 November 2017.


Video message from Ms Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations


UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms Amina Mohamed, expressed her appreciation to all the award finalists in a video message: 'Creativity, courage and passion are qualities which define the people who we celebrate'. Ms Mohamed emphasized that the work of the awardees will 'help achieve a safer, more sustainable, equitable and prosperous place for all'.

The theme of the Interfaith Mediation Centre's project is 'Transforming pastoralist-farmer conflict in Nigeria'.  It was developed by Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye in collaboration with Dr Alan Channer of the Initiatives of Change (IofC) programme Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace.  The project builds on Pastor James and Imam Ashafa’s success in trustbuilding across ethnoreligious lines, and adds the dimension of livelihood collaboration in order to restore the land - thereby creating a 'win-win-win' for the conflicting parties and the environment.  

A short film on this work, using footage from The Imam and the Pastor and Chad – a Journey to Hope, documentaries made by IofC’s FLTfilms, was screened at the ceremony.


Footage on pastoralist-farmer conflict transformation from the film 'Chad - a journey to hope' (FLTfilms 2015)


In accepting the award, Imam Muhammad Ashafa said: ‘Tackling farmer-pastoralist conflict will restore the social fabric of the Sahel region, while healing the land will restore the environmental fabric. Support inter-dependence, celebrate the gifts of diversity and collaborate to care for the planet wherever you are - and we will make a difference to our world.'

An article on the UN ceremony was published by Nigerian newspaper ‘PM News’. It cites the importance to the award winners of their regular participation in the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security, which takes place during the annual Caux Forum at the international IofC conference centre in Caux, Switzerland.

Imam Muhammad Ashafa, Pastor James Wuye, Dr Alan Channer and Charles Aquilina of IofC USA were received by His Excellency Tijjani Muhammed-Bande, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations. H.E Muhammad-Bande expressed his appreciation for bringing this story of positive change from Nigeria to the international community.


Photo top: Imam Dr Muhammad Ashafa, Dr Alan Channer and Pastor Dr James Wuye at the UNAOC/BMW 2017 'Intercultural Award Ceremony' in New York