The Diocese of Adigrat, the Tigray conflict and lessons for a better tomorrow” – Dialogue with Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin in Bonn

|   Afrika, Aktuelles, Veranstaltungen

A dialogue between the head of the Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat, Ethiopia, and Ethiopian students contributed to the question of what a better future in Ethiopia could look like through the power of mutual listening, learning and understanding.

As part of a two-day visit by the bishop to Bonn, KAAD initiated a forum in which twelve Ethiopian students (including six KAAD scholars and six students from the University of Bonn) from different regions of Ethiopia were able to talk to Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin about the conflict in Tigray. The meeting was moderated by Dr Marko Kuhn, KAAD Head of Africa Division; other participants were Prof. Dr Walter Bruchhausen (University of Bonn), Prof. Dr Christoph Käppler (Technical University of Dortmund), Dr Alexandra M. Dias (NOVA University, Lisbon), Dr Manfred Öhm (former Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Division, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung) and Helen Meier (KAAD).

In his introductory remarks, Marko Kuhn reflected on the war in Ethiopia and emphasized the extent to which KAAD, with its numerous scholars and its alumni and partner network from and especially in Ethiopia, is emotionally involved in their suffering. The bishop's visit was therefore an opportunity to enter into a dialogue with one another, as the willingness to exchange ideas can contribute to a better understanding of the other and is therefore an elementary step towards reconciliation.

Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin then reported on the terrible experiences of war in his diocese and his home region and made the young people aware of their position as a unifying element and as multipliers; they are representatives for all those in Ethiopia who do not have the opportunity of a sound education. He reminded them that education is a key element in establishing and maintaining peace and that each and every one of them is called upon to be a multiplier for peace. Without continuous conversation with one another, peace could easily be jeopardized at any time.

Following this, some of the students described their experiences of war in the various regions of their home country, some of which were almost unbearable. Following on from this, they addressed questions to the bishop. These concerned the possibilities of healing trauma, examples of mourning work, the role model function of religious leaders, the role of the media, the possibilities of interreligious dialog and which institutions would deal with coming to terms with the events of the war.

In the following discussion with the whole group, which was characterized by mutual respect and compassion, the need for dialogue - especially national dialogue - in Ethiopia was underlined. One participant emphasized that it was also of immense importance for the healing process and mourning work to tell the stories of the victims and to pay attention to the suffering of others.

In concluding remarks, Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin encouraged the group to always lead by positive example - if each or every one of us would positively influence another person, lasting peace building would be possible.

Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin during his visit to the KAAD office, here with the KAAD Secretary General, Dr Nora Kalbarczyk, and the KAAD Africa Department, Dr Marko Kuhn, Miriam Rossmerkel and Jessika Braun