We acknowledge that Africa has for long been a continent of conflict and violence. The violence of slavery and colonialism compounded the violence of our pre-colonial past. Indeed the cycle of violence makes Africa a continent with many unhealed memories and feelings, including those inflicted by conflicts between the many nations and even the religious communities that we represent. In the last decade, conflict has continued to cause intolerable human suffering and to undermine prospects of a better future in many countries and the continent as a whole.
We acknowledge the work of inter-faith groups in different parts of the continent which are engaged in dialogue and peace making at the grassroots as well as national level. Some of these groups and some religious leaders have taken great risks in order to bring understanding and peace in their localities and countries. The obstacles they have encountered and the success they have achieved cannot go unrecognized. We pray that these efforts to make peace in Africa may be blessed and continue to flourish, and that others may join, so that together we can move Africa on the path of peace and development.
But we also acknowledge that religious leaders and communities have at times failed to promote peace. Some of us have sometimes been intolerant of each other’s beliefs and allowed ourselves and our religious traditions to be manipulated for purposes that do not reflect our true beliefs. We have sometimes been arrogant in our behaviour towards each other. We have sometimes failed to speak and act against division, injustice, degradation of human dignity, corruption, poverty, disregard for rule of law, and dictatorial leadership which are causes of violence and untold suffering in our continent. Consequently we have not fulfilled the aspiration to peace that our different traditions share.
We further acknowledge that despite our common aspiration to peace, we often seem to ignore, or not to understand, what peaceful co-existence entails. Religious diversity and differences have sometimes been a point of conflict and violence, and at times manipulated to give a deeper motivation to political and ethnic conflicts, and to pursue personal and selfish ambitions.