Jawhir Komondan: As a Peace Ambassador I use Drama for Peace Building in Blue Nile

“When we bring out laughter and cheers from the communities that is when tensions are eased.”

Jawahir, how would you best describe yourself?

I am Jawahir Komondan  Joda , a native of Shaheed  Afandi  area in Baw locality in Blue Nile state.  I am an   artist at heart who have graduated from the school of Drama and Theatre.

I love the impact which my work has on people. Drama relates to all communities. By sending a small message through the use of drama we can relate the aspirations, hopes and fears of people. It is a powerful tool and I have worked with it for years to instill behavioral change in societies. However, there are not many of us in Blue Nile state, even though the public really likes and appreciates our work.

Despite the central role which actors can play in their societies, most of us are unable to find jobs either here in Khartoum or in Blue Nile State where I live.

What is your most valued contribution to Sudan? What do you want to be most remembered for?

My most valued contribution to Sudan is my daily work in Baw locality in Blue Nile state where I work as a Peace Ambassador.  It has now been two years since I joined this initiative thanks to the locality administration and a local NGO named “Citizens of Al-Angasana” which introduced me to the Peace Ambassadors.

After I have joined this initiative, I was trained both in Khartoum and in Blue Nile by UNDP experts on the techniques of mediation and reconciliation between different groups with different backgrounds.  For the past three days, I was invited to Khartoum by UNDP’s Joint Conflict Reduction Programme to attend the Peace Ambassadors Forum where I was fortunate enough to meet with Peace Ambassadors from across the Border States to gather and share experiences from their community peace building work.  Engaging with others who do the same work which I do was really rewarding.  We were further inspired by the work of Elva and Sisi-ni-Amani  organizations who came to Sudan to share their experiences and success stories on conflict management and peace messaging in Georgia and Kenya by using innovative tech solution.

What I wish to be remembered for?
I wish to be remembered most amongst my community as a peace–maker.  It is in the smallest of settings that I wish to bring about peace.  My usual reconciliation sessions are done over Jabana (Coffee), where I urge the women and men to analyze their disputes, reconsider their positions and identify the genesis behind it, in other words, what really triggered it.  Small tensions could escalate out of proportion if we do not contain them.  I try to mediate and intervene before these disputes reach court.  The techniques which I have learnt over the past two years have enabled me to restore trust between communities and strengthen it.

I also hold a number of regular meetings with the tribal leaders in Baw to discuss approaches to conflict resolution amongst tribes. As you know we are in a border area with different tribes populating the area. We try our best to enhance the community’s sense of empowerment and cohesion.

But we do not only talk to each other to resolve disputes. One thing I have done is leverage my drama background to engage people more in the peacebuilding initiatives which I lead.  Quite frequently I call on my friends and colleagues from the drama school to come and perform traditional music and dancing in Baw locality and organize a day out. I even design small sketches and tell the audience jokes using different dialects to engage them more. When we bring out laughter and cheers from the communities that is when tensions are eased. 

I have also noticed that innovative approaches to resolving conflicts are what works best.  For example, women in Shaheed Afandi had some tensions amongst them so I invited them to coffee. One way to resolve the tension between them was to purchase a small ball which will bring together the children and certainly their families.

What are the opportunities and challenges for implementation in Sudan?

Of course the main challenge which we all encounter as Peace Ambassadors is funding.  We sometimes lack the necessary funding to go over to a place to help mitigate a tension which has risen. The time factor is also crucial in resolving conflicts. Any delay leads to terrible consequences; ones we sometimes cannot contain. As the saying goes: “The largest of fires begins with the tiniest of sparks.”

Another challenge which I perceive to be hindering me from doing my job, is that we as Peace Ambassadors do not have an ID or even a certificate to state our function. Working in my community has been no problem at all, but the problem occurs when I have to work in nearby areas with people who do not know of me and of the work I do. I wish we could have a small card or ID, or even a certificate to explain our work or title.

Lastly, what is your vision for the future of Sudan?  When imagining Sudan 2030 what do you see?

In 2030, I wish to see a Sudan that is free from conflict in every part of it.  A  Sudan where tolerance is prevailing, and where our focus is on the best interest of children, to improve their health and their education. I think 2030 is far off though, we should try to make this happen sooner!

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