The community I come from in Nigeria is a religiously mixed community, comprising of Christians and Muslims. Animosity between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria generally dates back centuries ago. Over the years, this has led to violent conflict, loss of lives and loss of property in the country. As such, relationships between Christians and Muslims have been badly shattered, creating so much enmity, negative perceptions, and scepticism. Any small misunderstanding is often defined along religious lines, which magnifies the situation and leads to serious violent destruction in many cases. One of my motivations for participating in API was to learn how to prevent such misunderstandings from escalating to serious violent conflict.
Upon returning from API, a misunderstanding erupted between some Christians and Muslims in our community. The way this conflict was going, I knew it would soon escalate to a big inter-religious violent conflict, which probably could spill over to other communities around. Immediately, I put the peacebuilding and reconciliation skills I learned from API into action. First, I made sure that the conflict was contained within the parties that were in the conflict, to prevent its escalation to other people in the community. For we learned at API that the more people are involved in an issue, the more complicated the issue becomes. Secondly, I made sure any underlying relational issues were identified and addressed. I used my conflict analysis tactics and worked with the parties to analyse the conflict. Finally, I led the parties to identify the remote causes of the misunderstanding.
At the end, what normally would have led to a big conflict, was brought under control and the parties were happily reconciled as they embraced each other and had stronger appreciation for each other. Looking back, I am surprised that I was able to bring this conflict under control. I must say that API gave me self-confidence, skills, and the wisdom to handle this conflict. In the past, I would have hopelessly watched the situation escalate.