By Elshaddai Mesfin*
Militant groups under the banner of religion, advancing political aspirations are on the rise in Africa. They have shaken up the thin balance that exists between religion and secularism in Africa. Central Africa Republic has hosted reprisal attacks between the Seleka and Anti-Balaka movements claiming thousands of lives that only ceased recently. Last week, 147 students were killed during the Al-Shabab Garissa Massacre , 17 were killed in a terror attack in Tunisia’s National Museum, 2000 died in one of the deadliest attacks by the Boko Haram insurgency in Kano this past January, who in March has officially pledged its allegiance to ISIS. In fact, ISIS seems to have spread to Northern Africa as well, Libya in particular, where Sirte has been a battleground between ISIS supporters and opponents.
These facts reflect a rise of movements that advance their respective interests using politicized faith. This rise has triggered unanswered questions within the mind of the African citizen who wants to know how policy makers will understand and address this issue. From 18 to 19 April 2015, African Head of States and Governments, International Stakeholders, CSOs, members of the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa, acclaimed researchers and academicians will assemble in Bahir Dar to address the theme of politicized faith and secularism in Africa. I believe that the Forum will be an African platform where an African perspective will be debated. I hope these perspectives will shine a light on a possible solution to be owned by Africans; also reflecting African shared values on religion and secularism.
“Africa is a continent where faith holds a special place in people’s lives whether it is traditional African beliefs or organized religions. We at Tana feel it is time to take the debate to the pertinent stakeholders and seek holistic solutions.” Remarked H.E Olusegun Obassanjo during the Ambassador’s briefing of this year’s TANA HIGH LEVEL FORUM ON SECURITY theme.
Join the discussion and see what many are saying on tanaforum.org.
*Elshaddai Mesfin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Research Intern at the Africa Peace and Security Programme (APSP), a joint programme of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) and the African Union. All views expressed in the AfSol blog are solely the views of the authors and do not in any represent the views of the IPSS or APSP. For more information on AfSol Blog, please contact email@example.com.