What are the values common to the various forms of religious and secular belief? In an ever more multi-religious society that witnesses a constant increase of immigration and circulation of people, the dialogue between individuals of different religions becomes a crucial issue.
Through this European project, directed since 2004 in an international partnership, and more recently bought locally to many Italian regions, schools and educational corporations from 4 European countries have further explored the inter-religious issue and analysed the messages of humanism and the spiritual values held by every religious and secular belief system through the comic strips by African authors.
Love and forgiveness, anti-violence, mutual respect, generosity and anti-racism: these are the common values held by various religious and secular belief systems chosen by the project. Starting with these values, 5 original cartoon narratives have been created and designed by writers Carl Norac, Pascale Fontaneau, Abdourahman Waberi and Thomas Gunzig, adapted by Christophe Ngalle Edimo and designed by authors of African origin: “The appeal” by Pat Masioni, “The reserve” by Faustin Titi, “Hisham and Isotta” by Simon Pierre Mbumbo, “If you follow me around the world” by Fifi Mukuna, “Housework” by Chrisany.
After the creation of the comic strips, an instruction guide was created: the guide is designed to provide teachers with tools and materials to use comics in educational work, exploring concepts that are hinted at in the narratives’ dialogue, embodied in a character, or interpreted in the main character’s affairs. The guide appears to be modelled according to the demands of the school education: every section can be used both as a specific tool for analysis of the comic strip and its story and as a source for interdisciplinary lessons, class discussions and intercultural workshops. This is a useful tool not only as a supplementary help for a critical reading of the comics, but also as a true mode for both school education for workshops in an intercultural environment.
This educational kit (guide and comics) has since been spread and tested in 12 schools as a pilot project in Italy, Belgium, Spain and France. The activities are designed to promote the initiative and check its actual validity and effectiveness in schools. During the workshops, the children were given ways of examining the links between the different forms of religious and secular thought giving them the basis of this affinity. Fundamental documents, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Charter of Rights in the European Union and the Declaration of Human Rights in Islam were analysed and shared amongst the children, with the aim of proposing a critical and informed reading of these texts. The exhibition with the original comic strip sketches has since toured Europe. Following the conclusion of the European project, Africa and Mediterraneo has propelled the project further through planning and workshop activities in various Italian regions, using the educational kit in the educational context and involving African cartoonists, such those who hosted the meetings with the children.