“The prospect for a religion-based approach to peace-making has a great potential in sub-Saharan Africa,” Dr Yacob Tesfai said presenting his new book Holy Warriors, Infidels and Peacemakers in Africa.

Tesfai, an African scholar specialized in Peace and Conflict Resolution in Africa and former general secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea, presented his book to staff of organizations based at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva on 2 July. His presentation was followed by the launch of his book by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

In his book Tesfai writes on how religion-based politics have been a source of violence in sub-Sahara Africa. “This is mostly in cases where the holy warriors occupy the centre stage of religion and politics,” he notes.

He also points out that this becomes more of a problem where there is no clear separation between the state, economy and religion.

Distinguishing between situations where one faith group tries to impose its own religious views on others, and situations where people have failed to agree on a common understanding of the same faith.

His analysis is based on examples of African states such as Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Ivory Coast and East African countries among others.

When finishing his presentation he said that a recent poll showed that as 70-80 percent of sub-Saharan populations trust religious leaders. “Therefore they have a potential role to play in working for peace.”

Holy Warriors, Infidels, and Peacemakers in Africa, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN: 978-0-230-10427-3, 200 pages, hardback, can be ordered online at

Listen to a recording of the book presentation

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