Ufuk Dialogue Foundation was founded in 2011 in Nigeria, the First Surat Group of Companies, owned by the Turkish investors in Nigeria. With the mission to foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions about supporting and fostering democracy and peace all over the world and to provide a common platform for education and information exchange. OLUMIDE BAJULAIYE writes…
The principal goal of Ufuk Dialogue Foundation is to promote peace in the world and contribute to a peaceful coexistence of the adherents of different faiths, cultures, ethnic groups and races. For that to be achieved, the foundation believes that everyone must respect the environment and all creatures right to exist. The foundation also believes in the sanctity of human rights and democracy.
To this end, Ufuk Foundation promotes education, exchange of information, opinions and expertise, with a special focus on accommodation of a diverse range of viewpoints. Ufuk, a Turkish word means harmony. The foundation’s modest contribution to this universal aim consists in conferences, seminars, panel discussions, common projects, scholarships, publications, meetings, trips among several other activities.
To promote its ideas, the foundation maintains Fountain Magazine in Nigeria, which is aimed at promoting science and spiritual thought. There is also a bimonthly periodical, which explores life and existence from the field of humanities, natural sciences and religious faith.
No Particular Agenda, Ideology…
Ufuk dialogue foundation has no particular agenda and no inherent ideology, other than respect and genuine concern for the spiritual quality and welfare of life.
The foundation is a non-partisan organisation. However, it supports activities pertaining to better service to humanity, such as promoting conflict resolution within and between nations. As such, the dialogues are committed to universal values of freedom, justice, democracy and the rights of all living beings.
“Ufuk Dialogue Foundation warmly welcomes everyone who wishes to work with the group and support the work of organisations and individuals in furthering peaceful relations, respect, and understanding between people of different faiths, beliefs and ideologies. Ufuk makes efforts to be absolutely inclusive, and deny participation to no one. They also offer empowerment programmes for women and give out scholarships, to create a peaceful atmosphere for the society,” the group said in its prospectus.
The dialogues have in the last five years tried to enlighten people on co-existence. Since its establishment in Nigeria Ufuk has provided platforms for discussions on serious issues like women forum, sports platform, arts platform, and academic platform.
“We have organized football tournaments among embassies in Nigeria, basketball tournament among the embassies and communities. Last year a painting contest was organized by the foundation,” the foundation pointed out in its prospectus.
As part of its activities to promote peace in Africa and Nigeria, Ufuk Dialogue Foundation & OYASAF exhibited Paint African Values with the theme: Art for Peace at African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethopia. The exhibition was declared opened by the Director of Political Affairs of African Union and Vice President of JWF, Huseyin Hurmalı. More than 1.500 people visited the art exhibition. HE Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Commisioner of Political Affairs, African Union, also attended the exhibition. The Exhibition Art For Peace had on display 26 paintings from Nigerian artists. The exhibition also took place in New York, Istanbul and Nigeria.
According to the Secretary-General of Ufuk Foundation, Ulgur, the foundation is organising a photo contest this year, entitled: Colours of Harmony. The photo exhibition will take place in eight countries.
Ulgur explained that, Art For Peace: Paint African Values Project is an initiative of peace building through dialogue launched by Ufuk Dialogue Foundation & OYASAF to support and energize the society.
“We like to be an instrument of building peace projects with the common values we share as human first.
“Art For Peace: Paint African Values Project is an art exhibition projects worldwide, which is aimed at using various art works for the promotion of peace and tolerance in our contemporary societies. The exhibition hopes to achieve a global peace promotion campaign of African values for the promotion of peace, love, tolerance and mutual understanding of the other.
Also in collaboration with Ministry of Women Affairs and Ministry of Education, the foundation is organizing women empowerment which is already doing well.
The foundation is trying to empower displaced women and is already discussing with the Ministry of Women Affairs on common projects they can work together to empower these women.
On education, the foundation recently donated stationary materials, about 400 to Government Secondary, Kwali in the Federal Capital Territory. Also, it is working on a relationship with Turkish Nile University on Conflict Resolution by offering 80 percent scholarship to students. At the moment, 13 students are beneficiaries of this gesture. Soon according to Ulgur the number would increase because there will be nominations from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Police and Catholic Church among others.
Slaughtered 1000 Cows..
Ufuk DF & NTIC last year slaughtered 1000 cows all over Nigeria and delivered to the needy as meat packages. In Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Kaduna & Yobe thousands of meat packages were distributed to the people. The volunteers and teachers reached to the villages. One of the places UFUK DF visited was the Ketti Village in Abuja. The meat was also shared with Christians living in the village.
As part of maintaining peaceful co-existence, UFUK DF visited Assistant Coach of Nigeria National Football Team Daniel Amokachi at training sessions. Football is an important area to maintain peace and improve culture of co-existence. The opportunities to educate the new generations through sports was also discussed.
The Secretary-General of the foundation further explained that the foundation is focusing on peace, living in peaceful co-existence in Nigeria as a part of civil society movement called Ismet Movement. “We are just trying to create a peaceful atmosphere among the people. From different background of people.”
We are trying to offer solutions to the conflict problems of the people by getting them around the table for dialogue on common values and issues.
“We are open uniformly to adherents of all views and encourage a free exchange of opinions. We recognize and honour the specific differences that distinguish individuals and cultural groups, yet seek the common principles and values through which they can be harmonized.
According to Ulgur, Ufuk Dialogue Foundation serves societal peace, love, and friendship wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good by striving to bring forth the common values of humanity; values such as understanding, tolerance, respect, and compassion.
In a world where even the farthest point is within an arm’s reach, it is impossible to live anywhere without experiencing diversity. “In order for everyone to live peacefully, it is important for individuals to rise above differences that drive us apart or against each other. Ufuk Dialogue Foundation envisions a community in which people from all walks of life interact with each other and cooperate to serve their communities, thereby strengthening civil society and promoting the development of human values.
Ulgur explained further that the aims and objectives of the foundation in Nigeria “are to see what we can offer Nigerians consisting of different tribes, with different struggles. We want to tell Nigerians to focus on common values that bind them together instead of the conflicts.
“If at least we can achieve these, and we can bring people from different backgrounds to talk on how to live together peacefully, especially young generation, we will be so happy. If we can contribute something to the society, the young people, the women, the disables, the poor we will have achieved a lot, Ulgur said.