Call for one people, one nation resonates with audiences celebrating Human Rights Day in Malakal
“One people, one nation,” croons one of South Sudan’s most popular singers, Garang Ateny, as hundreds of people sing along and sway to the beat of the uplifting music.
The performer created this song to inspire young people to have fun, but its lyrics also call on them to respect each other as South Sudanese without discrimination. It was the perfect theme for a special event held to celebrate Human Rights Day in Malakal, in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan.
The call for action to respect and protect human rights and ensure equality for all was echoed by speakers throughout the day, including Nyanuer William, the state government’s advisor for economic affairs.
“No rights are safe when there is war,” she told the 400-strong audience, most of whom were children and young people. “We also need to ensure that all women and girls can access education as a basic right and the first step towards a better and more equal future.”
The event, hosted by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, also marked the conclusion of the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender-based violence.
“We are here today to remind ourselves that equality is a right,” said Acting Head of the Malakal Field Office, Christian Mikala. “All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights. So, we are encouraging the government and people of South Sudan to work together for an equal and inclusive society that will contribute to the positive development of this country.”
Some of the children who attended shared a paper on their perception of equality. which was the global theme for Human Rights Day, saying that: “equality means that we have to respect one another, no matter your gender”.
A representative of the Upper Nile State Youth Community also stressed the important role of youth in the peace process.
“We are the peace promoters and union seekers,” said Tarateel Alteybe from Manyo County. “We want to be role models in fighting discrimination and inequality now and for generations to come.”
After the formalities, the children happily gathered around and danced with other popular performers, Jada Musica and Achol Jok, who sang about peace and respect for all peoples.
Rwandan peacekeepers serving with UNMISS also entertained the crowd with traditional dances to promote human rights and equality.
To wrap up the day, the last word went to women’s leader, Josephine James.
“It’s time to guarantee girls access to education, opportunities and the chance to reach their full potential, including making the promise of 35 percent representation for women in government a reality. It is through equality that we will find peace and prosper.”