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The Imam
& the Pastor

'The Imam and the Pastor' Launched in Nigeria

02 March 2007

After a stirring world premier at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and high-profile launch events in Washington DC and Britain’s House of Parliament, February 22nd saw the documentary’s official launch in Nigeria, homeland of the film’s protagonists.

The Imam and the Pastor tells the remarkable story of Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye who moved from leading opposing armed militias to working together for peace and reconciliation between their respective communities.

Around 400 people, including several nationally known dignitaries, thronged the African Hall of Abuja’s International Conference Centre. After the screening, the audience heard from Rev Dr Williams Okoye, Chaplain to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and his personal representative at the occasion. Okoye said that the President had viewed the film and was delighted and thankful for the work.

His Royal Highness Alhaji Nuhu Sanusi, Emir of Dutse and Chairman of the Inter-religious Committee of Nigeria, also spoke, commenting that the country needed more people like Pastor James and Imam Ashafa. Others speakers included Senator Saidu Dansadau, Secretary of the Northern Legislators Forum, His Royal Highness Oba Sateru II, Ojomu of Ajiranland and Engineer Salifu, General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

Dr Judi Asuni, President of Academic Associates Peace-Works in Abuja urged people to sponsor purchase of the DVD as a way of supporting the work of the Interfaith Mediation Centre. As a result, one million naira (US $7500) were pledged at the premiere. About 200 DVDs and video CDs were sold.

The Nigeria Television Authority carried a two-minute nationwide bulletin on the launch, which was broadcast repeatedly. The following day, Pastor James, Imam Ashafa and Alan Channer, the film’s director, were interviewed live on AM Express, Nigeria’s popular national and international breakfast-time programme. African Independent Television also carried a 30-minute piece on the launch of the film.

A week earlier the film had been previewed at a film festival in Abuja organixed by US-based NGO ‘Search for Common Ground’ and the United Nations Development Programme. All six satellite stations present at the festival had declared a wish to broadcast the film.

The launch in Abuja was followed by screenings in Plateau State, hosted by the Governor, and in Kaduna. Much of the peace-building work depicted in the film takes place in Plateau State, where tens of thousands of people have died in ethno-religious conflicts over the last decade. Two hundred people, including many students attended the Plateau State premier in State House. Afterwards, Executive Governor Chief Da Michael Botmang said, ‘All governments and local governments should buy this film and show it to our people – it sends a strong and a good message that living together is a must in this country.’ He then bought 200 VCDs and pledged two million naira (US $15,000) to support the inter-faith work.

The final launch event was in Pastor James’ and Imam Ashafa’s home city of Kaduna at the prestigious Arewa House. Among those who commended the film after the screening were the Representative of the Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Kaduna State and the Commandant of Civil Security Services in the state.

The film's producers, Alan Channer and Imad Karam, were interviewed live in English on Kaduna State Television, while Imam Ashafa and Pastor James were interviewed live in Hausa and then in Pidgin English.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Kaduna State Media Corporation, Zubair Abdur Ra’uf, pledged to broadcast The Imam and the Pastor on Kaduna State Television. He also offered to get the film sub-titled into Hausa.