Football Initiative Uniting Jos Residents Polarised By Conflict Reaches Final

The ‘Football Plus Music Equal Peace’ project has been ongoing for years in Plateau State, North-central Nigeria, with significant success in uniting residents divided along ethnic and religious lines due to incessant crises.

A peace building tournament tagged ‘Football Plus Music Equals Peace’ is holding its grand finale on Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Jos, Plateau State, North-central Nigeria, HumAngle can report.

Organisers of the football match said the aim is to bring together youths from different parts of the city who are polarised along ethnic and religious lines.

The event, organised by a non-profit organisation, Face of Peace also aims at “deepening tolerance through team spirit” and is scheduled to be held at Rwang Pam Township Stadium.

Founded by Salis Muhammad Abdulsalam, Face of Peace brings together Muslims and Christians from conflict-affected areas to form teams Unity, Love, Patience, Humanity, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation.  

Abdulsalam’s initiative saw Muslim and Christian youths gathering in different parts of the city to play and watch football tournaments together, thereby breaking ethno-religious boundaries that once held them back.

Currently, the initiative has stepped up its activities to include financial inclusiveness where players will go through entrepreneurship training and get seed money from “corporate organisations”, according to Abdulsalam. Also, the number of participants has been increased to include those in other locations within Jos. 

Jos has not experienced any major ethno-religious tension for over a year until when about 26 travellers were attacked in Jos North on their way back from an Islamic religious event on Aug. 14, 2021. This triggered reprisals that led to many deaths. 

Responding to how the development impacted his initiative, Abdulsalam told HumAngle it brought about “trust deficit” and “mutual suspicion that encourages conspiracy of silence.” He added that the incident made communities protect “their criminals.” 

However, Face of Peace has not relented and has pushed on with its effort that seeks to bring youths together who ordinarily may not be found on the same football field. The idea has not changed and remains to enable them “to forge bonds their different religions and ethnicities did not help them to.” 

Between 2001 and 2019, the city of Jos experienced a crisis between Christians (who are mostly Berom, Afizere, Anaguta) and Muslims (mainly Hausa and Fulani). Members on the divide relocated to areas where they felt safe, which was basically among people of their own faith.  

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Nathaniel Bivan

Nathaniel Bivan is Features Editor at HumAngle. He tweets @nathanielbivan

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