Nigeria: Meet Fatima Madaki

25 January 2019

Nigeria - Africa's most populous nation and the continent's largest economy - is a vibrant, diverse country, with a history of world-class universities, a thriving film industry, strong civil society organizations and media, influential artists and designers, and musicians that top global charts.

But the oil wealth that helped power Nigeria's growth has left a legacy of corruption and environmental destruction, and governments have failed to address either those problems or a growing inequality that has fueled widespread violence and conflict.

Fatima Madaki is one of the country's peacebuilders - a young woman working with other young people and faith groups to discuss the issues that divide Nigerians, probing for what they all share, in the face of factors that drive them apart. She founded the Education and Sustainable Livlihood Youth Initiative, which focuses on education, environmental issues and peace.

Working with Search for Common Ground, she and her youth collaborators are bringing together mostly Christian farmers and mostly Muslim pastoralists and herders, whose competition for scarce land and water has resulted in fierce fighting. The challenges are daunting, and the work is not without personal risk. But she and her colleagues say they find inspiration and strength in each other, their families, their faith and their communities.

Meet Fatima Madaki Abubaker in Part 1 of Fridays With Fatima.

I am Fatima Madaki. I work with Search for Common Ground Nigeria on peacebuilding, human rights and youth engagement.

I'm grateful for an opportunity to be able to share a little bit about the work that a lot of young people are doing back home, and I hope that more people would have an opportunity to talk about the interesting things that they're doing. I love hearing stories of change and development. It's what keeps us going.

I'd like to use this as an opportunity to speak to every young person out there - that the responsibility lies on our shoulders now, the potential to change the world to a better place.

It's possible. We might not understand the politics, like the economic dimension that could be stifling, but that hope is more than enough, because sometimes that's just what someone out there needs to see that they are not standing alone.

It's really frustrating, you know, when you feel isolated, that it's probably just you working hard to see that you changed this. But a lot of us are out there. We just need to find each other, hold hands and, and move forward, and also move away from this thinking that, for instance, development work is about self opportunities to attend conferences, place pictures on social media.

That is good because we need to tell the story. But it's beyond that. It's about real life issues. It's about at the end of the day, what are the little things we can do at different levels to ensure that all lives are spared.

Watch for the next episode of Fridays With Fatima.

AllAfrica's reporting on peacebuilding is supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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