In Malakal, peace begins with approximately 1,500 attendees from diverse backgrounds coming together for a vibrant concert featuring updates on the implementation of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement, leading up to upcoming elections.
“We are hoping for just and peaceful elections, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our country. The information we received about what is going on was a real eye-opener for everyone to know what rights we have as citizens,” said Salwa Joseph, who had attended the event for that very reason.
Proud Nuers, Dinkas, Komas, Mabans, and Shilluks performed traditional dances, and the peacekeeping mission’s band played popular tunes, captivating the crowd. Amidst the festivities, community leader Nyua Arop reminded the audience of the crucial tasks ahead, including the drafting of a permanent constitution for the upcoming elections.
“Our peace, political process, and constitution must be as inclusive as the crowd here enjoying this occasion. Without the voices of women, for example, we can’t achieve stability in our state,” she emphasized.
The event, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) with the Upper Nile State government, featured Governor James Odhok Oyai, who highlighted the cooperation between the state and the UN, emphasizing their joint efforts in nurturing peace and development.
The audience was also briefed on the peacekeeping mission’s mandate in the country and given an opportunity to ask questions for further clarity.
“I am grateful for this colorful event, where we have proven that, despite belonging to different tribes, we are united and can have fun together,” said Christina Gwang, one of the dancers. “We are tired of war, and it is our turn to enjoy peace now,” she added.
While peace in the country may seem elusive, Alfred Orono Orono, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Malakal, addressed the crowd from the stage, emphasizing that peace begins with each individual and led them in a declaration: ‘Peace begins with me, peace is within me’.
And so they did.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).