Despite Boko Haram Atrocities, “find a place in our hearts to forgive”: Nigerian Bishop

Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza of the Catholic Diocese of Yola in Nigeria. Credit: ACI Africa

There is need for Christians in Nigeria to let go the pain they may be harboring against members of Boko Haram, who have caused them traumatic experiences, by making the decision to forgive, a Catholic Bishop in Nigeria has said.

In a Monday, November 20 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza of the Catholic Diocese of Yola in Nigeria weighed in on the situation of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency, who started flocking his Episcopal See in 2014 in villages in Adamawa Estate, leaving behind their homesteads, which had been ravaged by the militants.

“I think it is high time for us as Christians to find a place in our hearts to forgive them for all they have done to us because we cannot continue to live in this forever,” Bishop Mamza said.

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop added, “Let life come back to normalcy. Let us learn how we can forgive.”

He went on to highlight some of the atrocities that members of the Boko Haram have committed, saying, “We know the havoc that the Boko Haram insurgency has caused us; we know the trauma we are going through, we have lost families, friends, brothers, sister and the source of our livelihood is lost, communities destroyed and this is not only on the Christians part alone both the Muslims too are affected.”


“People of different tribes have been killed; people have been traumatized and people are still living in trauma,” he further said, and added, “Forgiveness may not be easy especially when somebody remembers the horror and trauma that the Boko Haram insurgency has caused but for the sake of Christ, we have to forgive them.”

The Nigerian Bishop who has been recognized widely for his peace initiatives in the West African nation expressed his awareness of the challenge of reaching the decision to forgive, including the difficulty of forgetting the past  atrocities by Boko Haram members.

“I know there are some instances that it may be very difficult for us to forgive, like for example there is this woman we have in our camp that four of her children were slaughtered in her presence, that one may be very difficult to forgive  and forget but even if she decided to forgive, it will be very difficult to forget, because the scar will continue to be there, the pain will continue to be there, so we need the grace of God in other to forgive this injuries done to us,” Bishop Mamza said.

The Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Yola Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in April 2011 highlighted efforts that his Diocese has undertaken to help victims of Boko Haram insurgency.

He said, “For the past ten years the Northeast has been seriously affected by insecurity because of the activities of Boko Haram, but we have had several activities to bring about peace in the region.”

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“We have tried to strengthen relationships particularly between Christians and Muslims. This is because the coming of Boko Haram has succeeded in widening the gap between the Christians and Muslims,” Bishop Mamza added during the November 20 interview with ACI Africa.

While some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned home, the Catholic Church leader who will turn 54 on November 30 said, “There are some who could not go back to their original homes, so we resettled them permanently in the Salama homes that we built for IDPs.”

Abah Anthony John contributed to the writing of this story

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