Managing Religious Conflict in a Multi-religious Setting: A Case Study of Ẹdẹ (Southwest Nigeria)
Traditional Yoruba religion is known for its ability to tolerate and accommodate other religious beliefs. The emergence of Islam and Christianity in the Yoruba town of Ẹdẹ, southwest Nigeria, was initially met with opposition from the Traditionalists but was later accommodated. Since the 20th century, the practitioners of these three religions in Ẹdẹ have continued to live together in harmony and peace. A major social reality in Ẹdẹ, like in other Yoruba towns and cities, is that there is ample presence of Muslims, Christians and Traditionalists in almost every family group or compound. This reality appears somewhat strange in contemporary Nigerian society which is often prone to ethno-religious intolerance. In Ẹdẹ’s case, the cooperation among adherents of the three religions is one of the factors responsible for the peaceful religious coexistence in the town. This article aims at discussing the roles of traditional (Sango) practice, Islam, and Christianity in fostering religious co-existence in the now predominantly Muslim Yoruba town of Ẹdẹ. Data sources are from oral interviews and extant literature. Focusing on historical conflicts among and within religious groups as well as their resolutions, the article argues that religious conflicts often emerge for the purpose of control and power. It shows that peaceful religious coexistence in Ẹdẹ is a reflection of mutual agreements by adherents of the religious groups over appropriate locations for different religious practices in the town.