By Lizzy Okoji
Dr. Jairzinho Pereira, a Cape Verdian scholar, has urged ECOWAS citizens to inculcate virtue of religious tolerance in their children from their early ages.
Pereira, made the call at the ongoing delocalised meeting of ECOWAS Parliament’s joint Committee of Education, Science and Culture/ Committee on Health/Committee on Telecommunications and Information Technology in Praia, Cape Verde.
He said that the sub-region must change its approach in addressing religious tolerance by inculcating the virtue of tolerance in children.
This, he argued, would help mould the way they grow to accept and tolerate others from different faiths.
“The key is through education. As parliamentarians permit me to say, it is your responsibility to promote and support all efforts targeted at teaching children in school the virtue of tolerance.
“Please be bold and make history. Never in support of politics if tolerance has to change a country from top to bottom.
“And, I believe that education is key and it is only through inclusive education that Africa dreams of ridding itself of the spectre of religious violence which has been raging for some time now.
“No one has the right to impose religious beliefs on others in their aeronautical dispute,” Pereira said.
According to him, being tolerant is to be willing to admit that others have the same right to choose and to make that choices as I, as you and all of us do.
“Being tolerant means standing by one’s own belief, while condemning the opposition or persecution of others. This is what Africa needs to inculcate in the minds of its children.
“Honourable parliamentarians, I beg of you to promote just that. Back an educational system in which children will be taught to preserve their own beliefs and identities.
“While respecting those who are different and I promise you a glowing future awaits our great continent,” Pereira added.
He pointed out that if the western world where one could find some of the most atrocious and Procedures Act of intolerance could overcome its own religious intolerance, it is also possible for the sub-region with deliberate efforts.
“If we look to the history of the West, we see centuries of senseless slaughters, sometimes ignited by religious differences, just like now we see in Africa.
“The West has overcome those barriers. We can also do the same, let’s not postpone peace and prosperity in Africa.
“We deserve better. Let us be tolerant. It is our duty to be tolerant. Let’s hoist the flag of religious tolerance.” Pereira said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was from Sept. 13 to Sept. 18 with themed, “Religious tolerance and harmony: Essential factors for development, peace and stability in the ECOWAS region”. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola