Peace begins, sometimes, with a multicultural gathering like the one recently organized at the Freedom Square in Yambio. Featuring representatives from nine ethnic groups residing in the area, with each showcasing singing, dancing and a myriad of musical instruments, several hundreds of people had a great and unifying time.
“We don’t want to hear gunshots anymore; these tunes are better. We are here to express joy and togetherness,” said James Amabele, a youth leader.
And that, demonstrating that culture can be trusted to be the cradle for peace and unity in diversity, was very much the objective when the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and local partners, including the state’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, decided to organize the festival.
Whistles, vuvuzelas, drums, and xylophones were just some of the items used to create a mixed soundtrack of robust and dance-inducing rhythms that brought revellers together as one.
“You can call this a peace party, because that is the feeling we are celebrating here,” said Mama Hellena Mading, one of the dancers, as she momentarily caught her breath.
Emmanuel Dukundane, a Civil Affairs Officer serving with the peacekeeping mission, was pleased with what had been accomplished.
“People must begin to understand that their diversity, when coupled with a will to also recognize everything they have in common, is a real strength. I think we are observing a step being taken in that direction right now,” he said.
Representing the state government at the event, John Baryona Furlla, himself clearly swept away by the elated mood of the crowd, summed it up better than most.
“Today we are saying no to tribalism and no to divisions. We are embracing unity and saying yes to peace.”Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).