Baptist minister Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga, a spellbinding preacher in several languages, wants Angola's warring factions to use words instead of weapons to bring lasting peace to the West African country.
"Let us use dialogue to achieve permanent solution to the national conflict," he tells fellow Angolans, urging them to reject, even at the risk of their own lives, the policies of violence being preached by both the government and rebels.
Earlier this year, Ntoni-Nzinga and five other prominent church and civil society leaders formed the Angolan Group for the Reflection of Peace (GAP). When the group published the manifesto, the idea of "peace through dialogue" caught on like wildfire in the peace-thirsty land.
In only five months, GAP has become a national political force in Angola, enjoying widespread support of churches, trade unions, student groups, and women's organizations.
Ntoni-Nzinga joined the staff of the American Friends Service Committee following his assignment as consultant for international affairs and program coordinator to the World Council of Churches, working on the Reconstructing Africa Program.
He says he knows the risks involved in speaking out against atrocities being committed by both sides in the conflict. He knows it is particularly risky to call attention to the corruption and immorality of misusing national resources for a war that lacks purpose and ideology other than the quest for political power and personal enrichment. Angola has seen warfare since 1961, first for liberation from Portuguese rule, and since then, long-lasting internal conflict.
"Today there are very few who are still genuinely concerned with the life of the nation we all belong to," Ntoni-Nzinga says. "Most people have succumbed to survival strategies, which sustain the culture of violence."
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