Wau University students dissect the concept of peace
Students at the Bahr El Ghazal University seized the opportunity provided by the International Day of Peace to debate the very concept of peace and its ramifications.
The event was the centerpiece of a series of activities organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan in collaboration with the university to mark peace day.
Ten students, represented different faculties, engaged with each other by tackling the question of what it takes to pursue peace or be at peace with oneself, within the family and community, and more broadly in the region and across South Sudan?
Participant Joseph Khamis argued that peace has its foundation in the individual’s values and beliefs.
“Every individual establishes a zone around themselves, and once that zone is crossed they are not at peace with the intruder and that triggers conflict,” he said.
Fellow student Francis Mayen countered that it would then simply require passing over another’s transgressions for peace to reign.
“Forgiveness is at the core of peace, and should be reciprocal. You forgive and are forgiven,” he argued.
Mayen Aguek promoted peace as starting with communication within the family.
“Absence of communication with parents is the reason why we have so many children in the streets,” Mayen Aguek said. “This happens when members do not sit and talk and address issues that disturb the peace of the family.”
Santino Auger took the family angle further by introducing the topic of limiting the size of families to ensure children received the opportunities they need to reach their full potential.
“Produce fewer kids and give them equal attention but most importantly, equal love. When you have too many children with the economic hardships in our country, you are likely loose grip and instead create more street children,” said Santino Auger.
The winner of the debate, Susan Ruben, elaborated on peace in the community, insisting on love as the foundation for communal peace.
“To mitigate conflict, we must initiate community peace programs that engage youth, elders and women in the communities,” she said. “And to do so, we need to promote dialogue, human rights and justice.”
Augustino Ring countered that mere love for each other would not assure peace. The mechanisms must be in place translate such love and communal efforts into sustainable peace.
“We need an authority to implement what the community proposes,” Augustino Ring said. “How is the community going to enforce justice? With what tools?”
Majok Ajak argued that enlightened minds are more open and accommodating and therefore susceptible to peace.
“It is through education that people can accept each other and eschew tribalism and other forms of division,” Majok Ajak said. “An educated community is more able to reach a compromise on issues that would otherwise appear irreconcilable.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Madit Wai emphasized good governance, arguing that the stewardship of a country was vital to peace.
“Equitable distribution of resources, peaceful coexistence, low level of corruption and effective leadership are some of the ingredients for effective governance, hence sustainable peace,” Madit Wai said.
While William Ateny focused on justice as the key to peace.
“Unless the perpetrators of crimes against humanity are brought to justice, any peace would be shaky”.
Other highlights of the International Peace Day celebrations included the Head of UNMISS’ Wau Field office reading the message of the United Nations Secretary General, drama skits and a message of thanks from the Acting Vice Chancellor of Bahr El-Ghazal University.