Holiday revellers in Bor hoping for 2019 of peace and reconciliation

christmas december 2018 new year 2019 bor south sudan unmiss peace reconciliation

Peace, reconciliation and the safe return of the displaced were all high on the wish-lists of end-of-year holiday revellers in Bor.

2 Jan 2019

Holiday revellers in Bor hoping for 2019 of peace and reconciliation

Mach Samuel

“Our 2019 should begin with a new page of love for one another. I know, it is not easy to forgive, but if I can forgive the leaders of our country for making me a widow in 2013, why can’t we all forgive one another for the sake of our children?”

Ajoh Kuol Kwai, a 67-year-old mother of five, echoed the sentiments of many as she reflected on her own and others’ suffering.  She lost her husband and several relatives in 2013, and a daughter in the violence that broke out in Juba in July 2016. Yet she forgives, and urges others to follow suit.

On Christmas Day in Bor, thousands of people took to the streets to mark the occasion. With the recently recent signed revitalized peace agreement in mind, they hope that peace will prevail, allowing everybody to move about freely. They wish for the rule of law, for children to go to school and for the many internally displaced people to safely return to their homes.

Revellers spoke about the need to learn to forgive, reconcile and understanding the situation from your neighbour’s perspective. That way, they can shape the future of the nation together.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan played its part to make Christmas celebrations in Bor as inclusive as possible. Peacekeepers offered safe transportation of the internally displaced at the UN protection site who wished to participate in the festivities.

“We are now in Bor town at the Catholic diocese, this is the first time in five years that we celebrate Christmas outside the protection of civilians site,” said community leader Matai Babuoth, considering this a significant sign of peace.

Deborah Schein, head of the peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Bor, also struck a tone of optimism, but cautioned that durable peace demands the work of everybody.

“Peace is not a signature on paper but a commitment. We are seeing hope right now, people are beginning to travel by river and by road and everybody should move about freely and safely. We will continue to stand by the people in their quest for peace,” she said.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Miraya, Minister of Information and government spokesperson Michael Makuei asked his fellow South Sudanese people “to own the peace agreement” and outlined how the country can go about moving forward along the path to stability.

“Let’s forgive those who have wronged against us and we must leave behind the past and look forward for our country to be in peace,” he said. “There are many [peace] spoilers who are trying to undermine the agreement. It is the duty of our people to ensure that these spoilers are not given the opportunity to do that.”

Mary Achol is a student in Bor. She lost her parents in 2013, and she wants to play a part in the positive changes needed in her country.

“I hope peace will prevail next year, and that I shall have a bright future once I complete my studies.”