Detail

Sister Agatha Ogochukwu Chikelue Is Committed to Cultivating Peace in Nigeria

 

Imagine trying to teach the idea of tolerating differences to a community mired in government corruption, violent conflict, and religious extremism. Sister Agatha Ogochukwu Chikelue doesn’t just imagine it, she lives it. And, yet, she’s undeterred.

 This Nigerian nun, who already holds a master’s degree in international affairs and diplomacy, serves as director of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja Liaison/Interreligious Dialogue Office. She is co-chair of the Women of Faith Network in her homeland, which brings together women of differing faiths to work for peace in Nigeria. Thanks to a tip from her Bishop she discovered the Joan B. Kroc Scholarship for Peace and Justice Studies and the Clergy Scholarship, which granted her the opportunity to expand her knowledge in support of her work.

At the Kroc School, while she learns more about effective ways of countering violent extremism, Sister Agatha is finding that it’s not just about conflict, but about peace.

“When we try to find common ground, we can better value peace and justice, we can understand differences, and we start to see change. Learning about conflict analysis and resolution for instance, has reshaped the way I approach peacebuilding — by understanding the root cause of the problem I can consider how to best engage the local community in resolving or managing the problem.”

Thanks and giving

With a calm demeanor and lilting, soft voice, the deep gratitude Sister Agatha expresses for the scholarship and the donors — including her Bishop — pours out.

“These generous donors are building peace by giving, but they’re not just giving to me, they are giving to an entire community. I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to come here and gain the skills to make a difference in Nigeria by bringing together those with opposing views and beliefs. So many people will benefit from the money that is given to me,” says Sister Agatha.

Her efforts to bring different religious groups together is critical toward reconstructing peace in Nigeria, a country that experienced the largest increase in terrorist activity with 7,512 deaths in 2014, an increase of over 300 percent in one year.

Don’t mistake Sister Agatha’s gentle tone for a lack of passion. This staunch humanitarian knows that the process of peace takes global collaboration. That’s why the Kroc School’s International Negotiation class piqued her interest. This is fertile ground for how to engage in more successful conversations.

“What happens in Nigeria will not just affect me, but you too. So building bridges across divides in our communities and countries is still the best way to move forward. And by developing my negotiation skills, I have the tools to build those bridges.”

Empowered with this shift in thinking, Sister Agatha is unearthing new strategies for restoring the justice that was deprived from Nigerians by their own government and people to create change.

“What I’m learning here, it’s already informing my work.”

In Nigeria, the power of one can influence global change.

 

Contact:

USD News Center
news@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-4681