Displaced women in Bor: “We fought for South Sudanese independence, we are one people”
“We were all in the bush together. We all fought for the liberation and independence of South Sudan. We are the same people.”
One after the other, one Bor-based woman after the other delivered the same message, with slightly different wordings, as they participated in a workshop on national identity.
Initially, the more than 100 women, all staying at the protection site for displaced people adjacent to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s Field Office in Bor, were seated together along ethnical lines.
At a certain point during the proceedings, the Civil Affairs Officer leading the workshop, Samuel Sarpong, asked them to reorganize their seating arrangements and mix, in a practical, hands-on demonstration of the key message of the event: the people of South Sudan are one, regardless of their tribal affiliations.
To further drive home the point, Mr. Sarpong used other national symbols, such as the South Sudanese flag, anthem and crest.
“The symbol of the flag, with its colours and their different significance, does not belong to one tribe or one group of tribes, as no tribe ranks above any other. The flag symbolizes the entire South Sudanese state, and under the flag of this nation we are all one people with a common destiny,” Samuel Sarpong stated.
This particular workshop targeted women, because females in South Sudan are often deprived of possibilities to go to school and requested to stay at home. Such “household isolation” means that women rarely find natural opportunities to meet and interact with their sisters belonging to other ethnic groups.