With the support of a JPII Leader Grant, Fr. Mak Caesar Abagna (Cohort XI, Ghana), created and led three workshops for young people in Ghana to raise awareness around religious-based conflict. With workshops in December 2022, March 2023, and May 2023, Fr. Mak Caesar’s project, “Christian-Muslim Youth in Dialogue for Conflict Prevention,” sought to achieve conflict prevention “by creating bonding and cohesion in the context of interreligious dialogue by means of educational workshops.”
Fr. Mak Caesar elaborates: “The objective of the project has been to invite young Christian and Muslim students, whom the experts say are the ones easily recruited into the terrorist gangs, to an awareness training workshop. The goal herein is to raise their consciousness of the pending threats and encourage them to seek to be each other’s keepers by not allowing themselves to be drawn in any way to whatever attraction these dangerous groups may steal in and propose. We aimed at educating them to be critical and report any suspicious persons in their environs.”
The emphasis on conflict prevention is in response to the increased threat of violent extremism in Ghana. “The initiative was thought of as international security reports continue to raise the alarm bells of the spread of terrorist activities across the Sahel Region of Africa,” explains Fr. Mak Caesar, “For instance, INTERPOL has sounded the warning and Ghana’s Government has also alerted citizens of threats received from these terrorist groups.” “The activities of these destructive groups, most of whom claim to be Muslims,” Fr. Mak Caesar continues, “are evident in countries with which Ghana shares political borders.”
One of the biggest takeaways for Fr. Mak Caesar from leading these workshops on “Christian-Muslim Youth in Dialogue for Conflict Prevention” has been the enthusiasm of the young participants in engaging with the subjects of interreligious dialogue and conflict prevention. “This gives credence to our hope that the fraternal future we desire can be constructed when there are avenues for guidance and education with clear goals as in the case of this initiative,” shares Fr. Mak Caesar.
Fr. Mak Caesar is now a postdoc Research Fellow at the Angelicum, where he is focusing on the contributions of and developments in all the Episcopal Conferences in Africa on ecumenism in the course of the ongoing Synodal process.