Amid Interethnic Violence in Nigeria, Prelate Encourages Mutual Understanding of Diversity

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Nigeria's Abuja Archdiocese.

Amid persistent interethnic violence between Nigeria’s Tiv and Jukun ethnic groups, the Archbishop of Abuja has encouraged members of both tribes to understand cultural diversities and to “appreciate what each has.”

“If we struggle hard enough, we can understand one another’s culture, appreciate what each has; be happy when they are happy, sad when they are sad, and be ready to humbly learn from them what they have that we don’t have,” Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama said Sunday, November 29.

In his homily during Holy Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, Tyozua, Makurdi of the Archdiocese of Abuja, the Archbishop said that making every effort to understand and accept cultural diversity “shall make our communities and indeed our country one of the best in the world.”

“It is the unhealthy competition, rivalry and the syndrome of ‘I before you’ or ‘I am better than you’ that keeps us in the reverse gear of social progress all the time,” Archbishop Kaigama added.

He went on to implore, “We beg God to give us during this Advent the grace to forgive, embrace and support one another, so that we can experience spiritual growth and intimacy with God as well as social, economic and political progress in our land, especially security of lives and property.”


Members of the Jukun and Tiv communities have had recurring violent conflicts since 1959, reports indicating that the crises are based on disputes over ownership and control of land.

In his homily on the first Sunday of Advent, the Nigerian Archbishop explained the meaning and value of the Season.

“Advent invites us to an interior examination as we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas,” he said and added, “We are not just preparing for a social feast but the total acceptance of Christ and his message of peace, love and reconciliation.”

He further said, “St. John of the Cross refers to the three stages of spiritual development and thus shows us the path we should follow as part of our preparation for Christmas: purgation (purge yourself of sin, conversion), illumination (growing in faith, love and hope) and union with God (transforming into Christ in this life as much as possible).” 

Referring to the stage of spiritual development that speaks of transforming into Christ, the Local Ordinary of Abuja said, “Being like Christ is a call to conversion, which means a change of direction, like Zacchaeus who took a decisive step to break away from his negative past and to make amends.”

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“We often think other people are the sinners or the criminals or the enemies, but we forget that all these are found within us,” Archbishop Kaigama said, adding that Advent is a season to “dig out the enemy or sinner in us.” 

Regarding Advent as the preparation for Jesus’ birth, the Prelate said, “The ideal preparation for Christmas is that which puts Christ at the centre. Jesus Christ is the focus of our celebration. Advent season is a holy season.”

He further said, “We are challenged to bury our old past of sinful ways and pay good attention to new beginnings; taking heed, being on guard and spiritual watchfulness to meet Christ.”

“Today, we face the negative economic and social impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, inhuman activities of kidnappers, bandits, herdsmen, etc. There is hunger and poverty in the land and frustration is brewing in many quarters,” the Prelate said and added that amid the issues, Christians must “live by faith, walk in hope and be renewed in love as we prepare to meet the Lord.”

“Some Christians who seem to have become tired of waiting, have become spiritually stagnant,” he went on to say, adding, “St. Paul assures us that those who persevere in the faith shall be blameless before God the Father on the Day of Judgment. Hence, we must never grow weary of doing good.”


In his November 29 homily, the first Sunday of Advent, the 62-year-old Prelate also called on the people of God to engage in acts of charity and avoid unhealthy social habits such as gossiping, peddling of false rumors, spreading fake news in the social media, and telling white lies on phone.

“Let us remember dear brothers and sisters that the evil we do remains with us but the good we do comes back to us. Let us do more good during this holy period of Advent” he said.

The Archbishop implored, “May we experience both spiritual and physical health and safety in order to celebrate Christmas with joy, peace and happiness.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.