Tambura communities come together to resolve tensions at UNMISS-hosted peace concert

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A recent #UNMISS peace concert in Tambura, Western Equatoria, featured top South Sudanese performer Bucha Rasta, who sang about reconciliation, nation-building and the need for unity. Photo by Denis Louro/UNMISS.

2 Jul 2024

Tambura communities come together to resolve tensions at UNMISS-hosted peace concert

Denis Louro

The rhythm of drums, frenetic dancing, and joyous singing rang out across Tambura’s Freedom Square during a massive peace concert hosted by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

One of the top acts featured South Sudanese performer and celebrity Bucha Rasta, who has a huge following across the country. On this occasion, he lent his voice to the peace movement in Tambura, a town in Western Equatoria, singing about reconciliation, unity and nation-building in the conflict-affected area. 

“My message was very loud to the people because for long time there has been no peace. That’s why I asked them why we don’t have a tifagia (agreement)?” said Bucha Rasta. “In this county, we have three camps for displaced people, which is not good. In your country, how can you be a refugee? That is the reason I use my songs as encouragement to the people for peace.”

In 2021, tensions erupted in Tambura that resulted in tens of thousands of people fleeing violence, while many others lost their lives. A resurgence of intercommunal conflict in April this year forced women, children, and the elderly to again seek sanctuary, including in a shelter next to an UNMISS temporary base. Peacekeepers have been working to help provide protection throughout the area, reduce tensions, and support the peace efforts.

Women living in the displacement camp came together with those in the township to attend the peace concert. For them, resolution of the conflict is a priority, so that their families can live without fear and their children can go back to school.

“We need peace in Tambura town. No one can live alone. People need to stay together,” said Aidah Kazima. “Look at our children, they lack education, they lack everything. Who can rule this country without education.”

A Government official at the event also stressed his commitment to promoting peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in the area.

“The State Government is taking the issue of peace seriously. We want peace in this place,” said State Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement, James Severino. “There are people who don’t want peace. We know all of them and the Government will act against them. We must bring peace.”

For UNMISS, the event has been a priority since conflict broke out earlier this year, but there have been delays in bringing the communities together due to persistent tensions.

The aim is to create an environment where participants can remember how much they have in common and can discuss their grievances rather than using violence to resolve differences.

“We call on you, even if you are aggrieved, to start a journey of peace and reconciliation,” said Emmanuel Dukundane, UNMISS Acting Head of Field Office in Yambio. “We need to embrace peace, forgive each other and reconcile, so that we can return to our farms, our children can go to school, hospitals can re-open and normality returns.”

“This is a journey. We need to work together and achieve peace as the communities of Tambura. UNMISS will work alongside you to ensure we achieve the objective of sustainable peace.”

The concert is just one of many activities that UNMISS has been conducting in partnership with local authorities and communities across Tambura to promote reconciliation, prevent conflict, and ensure that peace prevails.