According to statistics of the United Nations in 2010, Nigeria is now the country with the fastest population growth in the world. After achieving independence in 1960 and enduring three years of war and many years of military rule, Nigeria now has a federal structure with 36 states, a fact that reflects the presence of a huge variety of cultures. There are about 260 different ethnic groups with a variety of languages, traditions and religions.
The conflict between Muslims and Christians, often caused by socio-political reasons, has unfortunately led to many difficulties. There are great treasures of oil and natural gas in the South, but there is an extreme imbalance of distribution of these riches. The risk of corruption and serious ecological damages are other challenges of this nation.
The Focolare Movement took root in Nigeria in the 1970′s through bishops, priests and families who had met the Movement in Cameroon, Austria and Italy. The first two Focolare Centers arrived in Lagos and Onitsha 25 years ago.
Today more than 20 local communities in cities like Abuja, Lagos, Jos, Ogoja, Makurdi, Enugu, Yola, Port Harcourt, Onitsha and many others, have developed through people living the sentence of the Gospel: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18,20). The approximate 400 Focolare members and 5,000 adherents are committed to being instruments of unity, building bridges of peace wherever they are: in the family, at work, at school.
These communities try to give a decisive contribution to the renewal of society, through the formation of children, teenagers and adults, and through constructing bonds of fraternity among all people in the spirit of the Gospel.
At Igbariam near Onitsha, a “ little town” is emerging where people of different countries, cultural backgrounds and denominations live to learn how unity is put into practice. They experience how the world could be if the unity, invoked by Jesus and inspired by the Holy Spirit for our times is fulfilled. They work in different places and are involved in various projects: a child-care centre and primary school, a carpentry shop and a rice mill: true laboratories of mutual love.