and the Pastor' Launched in Nigeria
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
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.