DIVERSE RELIGIONS FOR PEACE & DEVELOPMENT
(This is a post from 2016 presented by ETI Partners, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, Karagwe Diocese -KAD. ETI is encouraged by the intent and purposes of KAD and remains appreciative of our steadfast Partner.)
Interfaith Faces Inter-Ideology in Karagwe
Kayanga: If one could be asked to describe the Tuesday of 6th December 2016 for the people of Kayanga, “terrific” can be the perfect phrase. The day began by a walk from the District Commissioners office to Kayanga play ground. A group of religious leaders from different religions, government officials and citizens who carried banners, that had different messages on the importance of love, peace and peaceful religious coexistence for development, walked singing the phrase “dini mbalimbali – amani na maendeleo”. Meaning diverse religions, for peace and development. It is an interfaith initiative to strengthen good relationships among religions.
At the Kayanga stadium, the leaders from ELCT-KAD, Roman Catholic and Islam, delivered speeches to a multitude of people that gathered at the stadium. While the District Sheikh, Hon. Nasib Abdallah explained the history of good relationship between Muslims and Christians in a
Muslim perspective, Hon. Bishop Almachius Rweyongeza from the Roman Catholic Church, Kayanga diocese, insisted on the importance of tolerance, love and valuing each other despite our differences. He added that despite all differences in religions, all religions should be guided by their golden rule. “Any religious leader that fuels conflicts, misunderstandings or terrorism is not a
religious leader, rather he/she is driven by self interests” he said.
Hon. Bishop Dr. Benson Bagonza completed the session by adding that religious leaders are coming together to fight universal enemies — enemies that do not observe religious boundaries such as diseases, ignorance, poverty, discrimination and impacts of conflicts. He compared the interdependence between religious leaders and government officials like that of Kings, prophets and priests in the Old Testament. “We are playing different roles in serving one community and together we complete the well-being of the society” he said.
Finally the awaited moment arrived, a number of people doubled each minute, and the teams were ready for the match. The Ebenezer Team (religious leaders) against the Sinai Team (government official’s team) started the match at 16:45 hours. The Bishops started the ball and
left the ground when the epic match began. Against a tough opposition Ebenezer defended brilliantly and enjoyed their best game of the year. They were terrific and outstanding in all areas despite little practice. The game finished 1-1 and Ebenezer made it through penalty shootouts. After the Ebenezer outstanding goalkeeper saved the first 3 penalties, the stadium was filled with hundreds of people and like a swarm of bees they carried the players around the stadium and later with loud noises of joy they carried a cup around the
streets of Kayanga towards Karagwe hotel where the religious leaders changed their sports gears.
It was fantastic when people of different religions came together and suspended all their differences for 90 minutes. They all felt as one, with one goal, and as one family hoping for victory of their
religious leaders. Every prayer was okay as long as it will bring victory, and after the victory every one thanked God in their own way and it didn’t matter. Christians hugged sheikhs, Muslims lifted pastors in the air, and it was a shared joyful moment for all. Unfortunately apart from the Sinai players (government leaders), no one else shared their loss of the gameJ.
The soccer match concluded first part of interfaith dialogue seminars which have been going on in the Kyerwa and Karagwe District. The government team comprised players from all political parties while the religious leader team combined Muslims and Christians – two major religions in Karagwe. Seminars and events were sponsored by Danmission partners in collaboration with ELCT-KAD department of Mission and Evangelism.