Tragedy spurs cattle keeper’s passion for peace at migration conference in South Sudan
Bashir Hamid is a cattle keeper from Misseriya, a nomadic community living in the border zone between Sudan and South Sudan.
In the dry season, the 56-year-old and his people migrate across the border into Dinka territory of South Sudan to graze and water their cattle. Historically, this has caused significant tension and, at times, violent clashes between the two communities.
Since 1991, Bashir Hamid has been involved with various initiatives to keep the peace between the groups.
Despite the loss of five sons aged between 18-27 years in fighting at the border early this year, his personal commitment to peace remains steadfast.
“As painful as the loss of my sons is, and despite the strong urge for revenge, I and my community remain committed to maintaining peace with our Dinka neighbours,” he said.
This year, Bashir Hamid attended the Misseriya-Dinka pre-migration conference in Wanyjok, Aweil East State, to contribute to peace-building efforts. The two-day conference was supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s Civil Affairs Section, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Saferworld, an independent international organization dedicated to improving security, peace and development.
More than 125 representatives from both communities gathered for the annual conference and signed a number of resolutions affecting pastoral migration and trade including security of cattle keepers, blood compensations, cattle theft, rape, adultery, farm destruction and bush burning . The delegates also recommended removal of the multiple taxations, immigration fees and other barriers to improve cross border trade.
For Misseriya, Bashir Hamid says, living with Dinka in peace is not an option but a necessity.
“To get grazing and pasture for our cattle, which are our economic mainstay, during the dry season in South Sudan, we must maintain good neighborliness, relationship and cooperation with Dinka.”
He says the two communities are bound by common destiny, not only by geography, migration and trade. His vision for the future is a relationship transformed into one of cooperation between the two countries of Sudan and South Sudan, with free movement of people and good across the border.
Bashir Hamid is proud that his generation have made peace with Dinka possible. He hopes that the next generation will nurture that relationship and continue the legacy of peace into the future.