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A lecture hall, six vice-chancellors or presidents of universities, and a sensitive issue: « secularism and politicized faith ». That is what it takes for a refined debate with about 150 students and teachers of the Bahir Dar University.
The 4th Tana High-Level Forum could not have had a better start, a day ahead of its official launch on Saturday 18th April 2015. Professor Andreas Eshete, Deputy Chairperson of the Tana Board and Advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of a minister, immediately stated provocatively that “secularism does not guarantee tolerance and civic peace”. The tone was set for a thoughtful debate.

First to address the issue, Dr. Baylie Damte, President of the Bahir Dar University posed the question: “The issue of secularism comes down to the issue of identity: how can we create a system where everyone feels they own it, knowing our diversity on the continent? Universities should be attractive and generate this debate with the students.”

The Ten Commandments of the Bible as a constitution. This is what the Lord’s Liberation Army (LRA), led since 1987 by Joseph Kony, wants in Uganda. Brandishing the Holy Bible, the LRA has committed the worst atrocities on civilians in almost three decades of armed fighting killing, torturing, and mutilating millions, if not thousands, along the way.

In recent years, Joseph Kony and his cronies from the north of the Uganda withdrew from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo before being resurfacing in Central African Republic. Today, the LRA might have been reduced to less than three hundred, but the unsettling strength of this group of part-Christians, part-mystic combatants remains important enough in the region to mobilise troops of African and Western Union.

The fourth Tana Forum on Security in Africa has started yesterday with African Vice-Chancellors debate and public lecture on the 2015 theme, “Secularism and Politicized Faith,” in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara regional state, 578 kms North of Addis Abeba. The lecture was organized by the Institute for Peace and Security (IPSS), the organizers of the Forum in collaboration with the Bahir Dar University.