Gopar Tapkida

Regional Peace Adviser (RPA) for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in West and Central Africa

I currently serve as the Regional Peace Adviser (RPA) for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in West and Central Africa. This position oversees and provides Peacebuilding technical support to MCC Reps and MCC peacebuilding partners and practitioners in six countries: Nigeria, Chad, Burkina Faso, Congo DRC, Rwanda and Burundi.

I continue to facilitate interfaith bridge-building connections in Nigeria and Chad. While I work with the top religious (Muslims, Catholics and the Evangelical) leaders in Chad, I work with the Emergency Preparedness and Response Teams in Plateau state of Nigeria. I also serve as an instructor at Africa Peace Institute in Zambia, Great Lakes Peacebuilding Seminar in Burundi and Jos ECWA Theological Seminary in Nigeria, focusing on issues of ethnic, religious and identity conflicts.

My family and I now reside in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria. The Mennonite Central Committee Associate Director for West and Central Africa has also moved from Akron, Pennsylvania, USA to Abuja.

December 2006: Upon returning to Nigeria in 2001, Gopar and his family settled in Jos, the capital of Plateau State. The state had been destabilized by an influx of migrants from other parts of the country and spiraling poverty. Gopar took the challenge of building connections among the diverse groups in Jos. He designed workshops contextualizing the materials from his years of conflict resolution study for the situation there. In the neighborhood of Anglo-Jos Christian and Muslim leaders created a plan for non-violent resistance of their community.

Early in September tensions between Christians and Muslims erupted into riots that killed about 500 people. However, when news of the riots reached the leaders in this area within Jos, the religious leaders convened and made a plan to save their neighborhood, non-violently. The people pledged their support. They blocked access to all those who came to incite violence.

Gopar has continued to focus on building bridges between Christians and Muslims with the goal of decreasing conflict and transforming society in Nigeria. He also is involved in setting up conflict-monitoring teams and emergency-preparedness response teams, using the plateau state in Nigeria as a pilot project for all of West Africa.