The time for war has passed

Celebrating the UN International Day of Peace in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Khartoum

 Hassan ElGali Musa Hamid at the UN International Day of Peace celebrations in Al Damazine. Photo credit - UNDP Sudan 2014

September 21, 2014, several thousand people gathered in Al Damazine and Kadugli to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace under the theme ‘The Right of Peoples to Peace’. The celebrations featured sporting events as well as cultural, musical and dance performances with participants from different backgrounds, regions and tribes.

In Blue Nile State, the event was celebrated in Al Damazine, over two days, with the hosting of a football match as well as musical and dance performances. The event brought together more than 5,000 men, women and children from different tribal groups from the area. ‘The Universal Peace Day has promoted diversity through cultural activities and dances from across the region. The most important parts of the celebration for me were the participation of the Government and the opportunity for interaction between different groups’, said Hassan Elagali Musa Hamid, the head of the Youth Football Union in Blue Nile State following the event.

 For Umslama Alnile, the International Day of Peace celebrations reminded her that peace is possible. Photo Credit - UNDP Sudan 2014

In collaboration with the Blue Nile Peace Studies Center, a one day community dialogue was also conducted on the theme of “Building a national dialogue for Peace’. People from the various tribal groups in the region participated and the forum served to spread messages about the importance of peace and peaceful coexistence.

For one of the participants, this day brought her down memory lane, reminiscing about her community before the war broke out, Umslama Alnile said ‘I’m originally from Kurmuk, but I have spent 20 years of my life away from home because of war and for family reasons. Today, I saw people from many different tribes, such as the Uduk, Mabban, Hamag and Gomuz all celebrating the Peace Day together in one place. This took me back many years, reminding me of the days before the war and made me feel at home. This is why the war must end’.

 Bint-Bolad making her speech at the event. Photo Credit - UNDP Sudan 2014

The International Peace Day was also celebrated in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan State with sporting events as well as cultural, musical and dance performances, all in aid of promoting peace. Around 2,000 people, from a diverse range of tribal groups came together to participate in the event. Om-Elhassan Ali Othman, perhaps better known as Bint-Bolad, is a Hakamma -a traditional singer, gave a moving speech, urging people to work together for peace. She explained that following the loss of her own son to the conflict in South Kordofan and a Joint Conflict Reduction Programme workshop for Hakamma, she realized that ‘War was destructive for everyone’. Hakamma have traditionally sung songs encouraging men to fight or retaliate against their enemies, however through engagement in peacebuilding activities led by UNDP over the past few years, many of the Hakamma have changed their songs in support of peace. Bint-Bolad added that as long as the war continues, more and more people will continue to lose their loved ones’ and that war would not bring her son back again. Asked why she now advocates for peace, she responded ‘Because peace brings stability and stability will bring development’. The following is a poem she shared with the audience.

            Please Sudanese, I have some words for you; No more War!
            The time for war has passed, let us sit down in the soil
            To plan for the development and prosperity of our country
            To start building brick by brick
            So our children will be educated from kindergarten through to university
            Some of them studying Science, others economics
            Without War, Without Conflict

In Khartoum, the University of Khartoum Peace Research Institute celebrated the International Peace Day along with the launch of the “Anti-War campaign” and opening of the Resource Library for the Peace Innovation Hub. Welcomed by the sounds of traditional rhythms and songs of peace, the ceremony was attended by university students, diplomats, researchers and representatives of national and international organizations. Dr. Mohamed Mahgoub Haroon, Director of the University of Khartoum Peace Research Institute stated in his opening remarks that the Anti-War Campaign would aim to work with academics to strengthen a culture of peace in Sudan.  The Resource Library will be made available to the community under the auspices of the Peace Innovation Hub, which was established to link local, national and international peace actors in promoting innovative peacebuilding in Sudan.

The UN International Day of Peace celebrations were organized by the Peace Council in Blue Nile State, the Social Peacebuilding and Peaceful Coexistence Committee in South Kordofan State and the University of Khartoum Peace Research Institute, in collaboration with the UNDP and IOM Joint Conflict Reduction Programme (JCRP).

JCRP works to address immediate conflict risks and contribute to long-term conflict resolution and peace building in the States of South Kordofan, West Kordofan, Blue Nile and the Abyei Area. First piloted in South Kordofan in 2009, the programme has now entered its second phase (2014 – 2016) and is generously supported by the European Union.

 Stage from the left, Representing of Media the director of Sudan peace Radio: Mr. Ibrahim El-Buzay ,Dr.AlTayeb Haj Atia,Vice – Chancellor of the university of Khartoum: Professor, El-Sidig Ahmed Al-Mustafa Hayati, Stakeholders Representative (Academia): Professor Balghis Badri, Mr. Musa Ibrahim UNDP represesntative and Dr. Mohamed Mahgoub Haroon, Director of Peace Research Institute/University of Khartoum on stage