Interfaith Dialogue for Development & Peaceful Co-existence Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe

Minister of State and Religion Delegation, closing ceremony_LogoThanks to the invitation of the Islamic Centre of Zambia, opposite the University of Zambia, I had the privilege of attending the first Regional Conference jointly organized by the Committee on Interreligious Dialogue (Zimbabwe) and the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue, attached to the Iranian Embassy of Harare. The three-day conference which was focused on the theme: “Interfaith Dialogue for Development & Peaceful Co-existence”, took place at Arupe College also known as the Jesuit School of Philosophy and Humanities in Harare from the 23rd to the 26th June, followed by days of cultural and free interaction. The themes proposed dealt with the contribution of religion to global peace, conflict management, development in general, family development and security. In spite of some of the themes being repeatedly presented by two or more speakers, they bore interesting variation in terms of giving a different perspective on the same topic. About 28 speakers – three from Iran, two from Namibia, one from South Africa, two from Zambia (Sheikh Gabriel Brill from Livingstone and myself) and the rest from various institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe – were foreseen during the three-day conference, resulting in reduced time imparted to each speaker for the presentation. In all, about 120 participants, with an appreciable feminine presence, were present during the opening ceremony which was presided over by the Iranian Ambassador to Zimbabwe. Each series of speeches was followed by a moment of question and answers. The participants had also opportunities to interact cordially during tea-breaks and during lunch time. The conference period was graced by such personalities the Minister of State and of Religion, who presided over the closing ceremony in the presence of the Malawian Ambassador to Zimbabwe. The Ambassador to Indonesia not only showed up but also made his own contribution to the conference, presenting the situation of interreligious dialogue in his country. The enthusiasm was high among the participants and it was adopted in the final resolutions that such regional conferences be held on a bi-annual basis in different countries of Africa, alternating with the international conference organized every two years in Tehran. The material presented during the conference will be compiled into a book and made available to a wider public at a later stage.
On my return to Zambia, Dr Hosseini of the Islamic Centre of Zambia expressed the desire and affirmed his readiness to partner with interested local organizations to organize a similar Interreligious Conference but on a National level any time soon and I think this would be an opportunity not to be missed.
Felix J. Phiri
Tangaza University College, Nairobi

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