Meet Our Expert
This month, we would like to feature our Country Expert, Boris Modeste Yakoubou, who works tirelessly in the Central African Republic promoting dialogue and working to bring people together. The Central African Republic, informally known as CAR, is one of KAICIID’s focus countries, where we work to re-establish dialogue and understanding between Christians and Muslims through building and supporting existing dialogue platforms, which can then be integrated into the ongoing peace processes.
“Political-military groups use religion to further their agenda or as instruments to acquire power, with tremendous consequences on community life and social cohesion,” according to Boris. “In name of the right to citizenship and of equality for minorities, certain groups turn to violence. This is a great challenge for peace and social cohesion.”
According to Boris, misconceptions of the ‘other’ between the adherents of Christianity and Islam transformed into prejudice in recent years, which political-military groups exploited and used as an instrument for their own socially destructive ends. However, Boris feels that dialogue is key to overcoming the misconceptions that can lead to prejudice and violence.
“It is important that members of different religions engage in dialogue in order to truthfully know each other and overcome the prejudices caused by the crisis and fostered by the political-military groups,” he said. “The adepts of these two religions lived in harmony and tolerance until the advent of the political developments of the last decades.”
Boris believes that the people of CAR need to dialogue and remember that there was a history of peaceful coexistence between the two religions. Social cohesion can be only solidified when there is an understanding and openness for dialogue, which is essential for lasting peace in the country.
“The people need to be made aware, they need to rediscover their history even if that history is going to challenge preconceived notions. Peace among the religions is a guarantee of peace for the country.”
Boris is confident that KAICIID can support the efforts of those fostering dialogue for social cohesion, especially given the history of KAICIID’s work for the country.
“KAICIID is well regarded and appreciated for its neutrality within the Muslim community. KAICIID has to take advantage of this opportunity in order to provide the assistance needed to foster dialogue to bring the leaders of the communities closer to put an end to the internal divisions and foster cooperation among them.”
Currently Boris is leading KAICIID’s efforts in the Central African Republic in-country by facilitating dialogue interactions. He recently facilitated a meeting among residents of Bangui’s 8th District. The group then formed a committee working directly with members of this community to promote mutual respect and coexistence. There is still much work to be done to promote peace in the country, but first the opposing parties will need to dialogue.
“On the political side, CAR needs security, justice and peace. On the socio-cultural side, confidence and tolerance between the communities needs to return. This will create social cohesion, a necessary condition for peace and development. But in order to get there, a lot of education is necessary, as well as capacity building and getting to know the ‘other’.”
Boris Modeste Yakoubou is the KAICIID field expert for the Central African Republic (CAR). Boris contributed to the creation of the Platform of Religious Confessions in the Central African Republic where he worked for two years as an expert. He has been a member of the Peace Resources Group since 2009 and also works as an expert and consultant in social cohesion and reconciliation programs and on interfaith dialogue in CAR and the Central African sub-region on behalf of national and international NGOs. He has organized several interfaith conferences, forums and seminars for management and peacebuilding, human rights and good governance. He is a research professor at the University of Bangui, where he also conducts seminars on peaceful communication, management and conflict transformation.