Masterpieces for peace: Juba students rejoice in creative contest
A blank canvas. Imagination, pencils and brushes in motion.
“I remember seeing how happy my father was when South Sudan gained independence in 2011. I want to see people happy like that again; this is why I drew this picture.”
The young artist is 19-year-old Patrick Sebit, a student at Jubek Model Martyrs Secondary School. His piece depicts a dichotomy between a country at war and the South Sudan he longs for – where the guns have been silenced and people live in peace and harmony.
Patrick and 24 other students from 16 secondary schools across the capital Juba showed off their creative talents in an Art for Peace competition organised by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Centred on the theme South Sudan Peace, the students were asked to express in a drawing or painting what peace in South Sudan means to them, their families and their communities. A panel of judges made up of local artists scored each artwork based on the criteria of subject and theme, composition and technique.
For many of these students, the thud of a gun and cries of suffering are all too familiar sounds.
Aged between fourteen and nineteen, they have already been exposed to ongoing fighting between armed groups. The outbreaks of violence in 2013 and 2016 are still painfully fresh in their minds.
During the two and a half hours allocated to complete their drawings, the only sounds that could be heard in the assembly hall at St. Comboni’s Secondary School were the scribbling of coloured pencils and swashes of paint brushes.
“I am happy to be representing my school in this competition,” says Patrick. “I’m confident that I will win.”
Having had experienced the electric, though short-lived atmosphere after the young East African nation gained independence, many of the drawings and paintings by the students illustrated a similar mood – that of a jovial South Sudan.
In the end, it turned out that 16-year-old Rejoice Hanita Peter from Nile Model Secondary School was deemed to have created the best artwork, featuring a strongly religious tone.
“We need God to bless South Sudan,” she says.
As the winner of the competition, Rejoice has been invited to the flag-raising ceremony at the UN House in Juba to commemorate the International Day of the United Nations Peacekeepers on 29 May 2018.
The Art for Peace competition was held in the build-up to Peacekeepers Day. Apart from the art contest, students were treated to a comedy show, song and dance by the Worbab Dancing Group as well as a cultural performance by Chinese peacekeepers.