Celebrating Peace: Sports and Music for Peace

In the Blue Nile State, a place that has long been known by wars and tensions, more than 7,500 men, women, youth and children gathered peacefully and joyfully in a full day of events marking celebration of the Universal Peace Day on September 21, 2013.

The gathering that took place in Damazine, capital of the Blue Nile state was organized for enhancing peaceful co-existence and engaging communities in the peace building efforts in the state.

Although organized locally, the event followed the global initiative in celebrating the Peace Day by calling people to come together through all sorts of mediums and platforms, including sports, dance, music and art. In particular, this year’s Peace Day celebration encouraged individuals and groups to organize football matches in their communities. These matches celebrate the power of football to bring people together to play, enjoy, and interact in a safe pleasant environment. It was based on the belief that, through these human exchanges and gatherings, peace-building and reconciliation can begin to take place.


  • In the war affected State of the Blue Nile, more than 7,500 gathered to celebrate this years’ Universal Peace Day.
  • Provision of basic services and demarcation of seasonal cattle routes are considered as important interventions to the resolution of conflict in the State.
  • Human exchanges and gatherings for football matches and sharing each other’s culture, music, dance, could contribute great deal to peace-building and reconciliation.

Originally from South Kordofan, but resident of Blue Nile State, Halima Koko is a member of a Nuba Women’s Musical Band who performed on the day. “I’m happy to see the Blue Nile people support the South Kordofan football team which is playing against the Blue Nile team. The Peace Day is an opportunity for me to meet and interact with different people, spend lovely moments away from stories of war and share dreams and hopes for peace.”

Despite a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army that was signed in 2005, tensions between the two parties’ supporters has remained high, leaving people in the Blue Nile State uncertain and the ongoing security situation unpredictable.

Communities in these areas have been ethnically divided and politically polarized, resulting in mistrust and disputes on both sides. The Joint Conflict Reduction Programme (JCRP), which is a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has been working, in collaboration with Government stakeholders, most notably, the Blue Nile Peace Council, to foster reconciliation and peace building in the State. Among other activities, JCRP has been supporting peace processes through assisting in the demarcation of seasonal cattle route corridors, provision of water points and other basic services prioritized as important to the resolution of conflict.

Gashra Saadaal, is a woman from Rosaries town, her voice is certainly one that needs to be heard in conversations about peace-building through communities’ gathering “For me, the word peace is a wonderful word, it makes me immediately feel happy and hopeful. We have been in war since the early 1980s and enough is enough! I love the music and dancing that were performed today from various tribal and ethnic groups of Sudan. Thanks for this opportunity to come together.”

The Universal Peace Day required the cooperation of a broad range of people, including the Peace Council members, the Minister for Culture, Youth & Sports, Community Leaders, Youth and Women Unions, Native Administration, and Government Authorities as well as the South Kordofan Football Union, in planning and carrying out the day’s activities.  For all those who attended, the Peace Day was an opportunity to leave aside differences, to come together, to share in each other’s culture, music, dance, and enjoy a football match. Seemingly ordinary things, yet in the context of the Blue Nile State, they are quite extraordinary.

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