In Eastern Equatoria, South Sudanese united for peace at UNMISS-supported cultural festival
EASTERN EQUATORIA – More than 26 ethnic groups recently gathered to renew their united commitment to harmonious coexistence. They did so at a cultural peace festival in Torit, jointly organized by the state’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS.
“We will always continue to support peace and any initiatives that promote it. An event like this helps nurturing inclusivity. More importantly, it is an opportunity for the people to own an outreach activity that supports the national peace process,” said Tahir Cevic, a Civil Affairs Officer serving with UNMISS.
The multiple tribes attending the festival made the most of the day by sharing and showcasing their traditional cultural expressions, distinct clothing, special dishes, hunting tools, singing and exuberant dancing.
What their various performances had in common was the message: the need to be united, inclusive and to refrain from any kind of intercommunal violence.
“It warms my heart to witness this happening, with so many ethnic groups present, in earnest search of common ground to create a true sense of the togetherness that we need to live in peace,” said a visibly moved Silliman Ngungun Apaigo, a 93-year-old Chief of Hawaii-maser in Torit, representing the Azande community.
Wani Kute, Director General of the state Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, not only urged his fellow citizens to keep promoting unity in their everyday lives but also pledged that the Ministry will play its part.
“To sustain durable peace, we will do our best to hold a similar event every year, in honour of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (21 May), recognized by the United Nations,” he said.
Over the last few months, the peacekeeping mission has organized similar peace festival events in different parts of South Sudan, with more set to follow.