United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

“We are using music to send messages of peace. South Sudan has seen too many divisions, but we are one people,” said Emmy J Yoere, a popular musician in the world’s youngest nation, as he performed at the Stand Up for Peace concert in Yambio.

“I believe every individual can be a peace ambassador and the push for peace shouldn’t only come from our leaders, but from communities themselves,” added the high-profile guest act at the large-scale event organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the state government.

Emmy’s rumba-style music wasn’t the only headliner. Traditional dancers from different ethnic groups gave outstanding performances that had crowds on their feet, while the UN Peacekeeping mission’s in-house band—the Flamingoes—kept danceworthy tunes coming. Local stand-up comics added to the boisterous, joll

But what was most special and significant was the overarching spirit of peace that prevailed.

“It is hard to describe how happy I am, seeing different communities coming together,” says a joy-filled Lucia Joth, a Yambio resident and one of the many thousands who gathered to celebrate coexistence at the Town Square.

“We have suffered enough and want to prosper, give our children the best possible education so that they can become future leaders,” she adds, raising her voice to be heard over the boisterous, jubilant crowd.

Annie Alice, a displaced person from Tambura, which was the epicenter of intercommunal conflict last year, joined Lucia in spirit and exhortation.

“Greater Tambura communities have been devastated by violence, but we must return home to rebuild our lives,” she stated.

“But for that, we need to be assured that the relative stability we are currently experiencing will hold and guns will forever be silent. We want to see our leaders come together and unite us as sons and daughters of one nation,” added Annie.

Alice’s sobering words did not stop her and her friend, Ippai John, from enjoying the show.

“It feels wonderful to finally catch a breath and enjoy good music; this is a sign of unity in diversity. This event has given me hope that I can soon return to my village in Tambura without fear of being killed or tortured,” said Ippai, swaying to the beat of traditional drums.

Yambio’s elderly and disabled joined in the merriment as well.

“I may be old but I can still sing to the percussion of traditional drums,” stated Alex Sebit.

For his part, Christopher Muchiri Murenga, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Western Equatoria, pointed out the essence of peace-affirming slogans on display, and urged attendees to take them to their hearts.

“Standing up for peace requires hard work from every single person. We are here to support the people of South Sudan to achieve an inclusive and sustainable peace. But the people must let go of what divides them and embrace what unites them. As UNMISS, we vow to continue being your partner in this necessary journey,” he averred.

Wokila Charles Abdu, Speaker of Western Equatoria’s Transitional Legislative Assembly, stressed the government’s commitment to stand together for unity and amity, regardless of political or ethnic affiliations.

“This remarkable event is a reminder to all of us that equal rights and an irreversible peace needs partnerships, a unified sense of purpose and accountability. We must work collectively for practical reconciliation so that we remain true to the letter and spirit of the Revitalized Peace Agreement,” said Speaker Abdu.

The concert also included an interactive awareness raising session on the UNMISS mandate and its work with communities and authorities across South Sudan.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).