Peaceful coexistence: "We strive for dialogue in everyday life"
Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "We are working to promote the spirit of dialogue", says to Agenzia Fides Msgr. Paul Abel Mamba, bishop of Tambacounda and vice-president of the Episcopal Conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape- Green and Guinea-Bissau, on an ad limina visit in Rome. In the interview with Agenzia Fides, Msgr. Mamba underlines the importance of daily relations to enable people of different faiths to live together peacefully.
"Senegal is a country with a strong Islamic majority", underlines the bishop. "We strive to promote the spirit of dialogue in daily life, which we share with our brothers of the Islamic faith. It is not uncommon to see families in which different faiths coexist; members who adhere to the traditional faith alongside Muslims and Christians. In this context, we not only share daily life, but also celebrate holidays together and mourn together".
In this context, the Muslim religious communities, which represent a vision of peaceful Islam, are of great importance. The specificity of Senegalese Islam, as Bishop Mamba says, lies in the fundamental role of the Islamic brotherhoods, which have allowed the Islamic religion to be inculturated in the local tradition. Muslim religious leaders who received Islam from outside have adapted it to the Senegalese reality". Muslim leaders also work with the state to maintain cohesion between the various Islamic brotherhoods and prevent them from being influenced by extreme tendencies outside Senegal that could lead to divisions or violence".
This commitment is all the more urgent "since our country borders with Mali, where several jihadist groups are active", said Bishop Mamba. "We are all careful that our population is not contaminated by this jihadist and violent spirit".
Prior to his appointment as Bishop of Tambacounda, Bishop Mamba served for 10 years as Bishop of Ziguinchor, the capital of the troubled region of Casamance, where a conflict led by the separatist Movement of the Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) has been raging since 1982.
"With regard to the conflict in Casamance, efforts are being made to find a solution," says Bishop Mamba.
"Three months ago, the Senegalese state and the separatists signed a peace agreement. We are confident that these agreements will be maintained, even if they do not create unanimity within the separatist movement. In my 10 years as Bishop of Ziguinchor I have been very committed to peace between the State and the Movement and I believe that peace is now possible". The agreement mentioned by Bishop Mamba was signed on August 4th in Bissau between the Senegalese government and the so-called "Provisional Committee of the political and militant wings of the MFDC" (a faction of the MFDC).
The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic, coupled with the war in Ukraine, has also caused prices for basic goods to soar in Senegal. "The state offers grants to lower prices, but unfortunately they are not always enough to fully meet the needs of the population," the bishop concludes.