More than 500 people, including several members of the national parliament, gathered in Terekeka County’s Freedom Square to renew their commitment to peace ahead of elections scheduled for December 2024. They did so under the galvanizing rallying cry of “Peace Begins with Me”.
The outreach event, targeting community leaders and citizens alike, was a collaboration between the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), through its Community Outreach Unit, the African Theological Leadership School, and the Central Equatoria State Ministry of Peacebuilding.
“Our families are vital to fostering peace at the community, county, state, and national levels. It begins with each one of us, and it is in our homes that we should pass on the values of social cohesion and unity,” Laurence Musoke Samuel, Director General for the state’s Ministry of Peace Building, affirmed.
Reverend Lavrick Baying, representing the African Theological Leadership School, agreed.
“We are grateful for the efforts made by UNMISS to reach out to logistically challenged areas. We also believe that churches have a pivotal role and responsibility in disseminating reconciliation messages,” he said.
The event also highlighted the vital role women play in nurturing tranquility and contributing to the ongoing nation-building process in the world’s youngest country.
“Inclusivity is a must. Women are the first line of educators in every society, because everything starts at home. It is a necessity that we are all involved in the peace process. The plans that the political leadership has for our country must be aligned with the expectations of its grassroots,” stated Hellen Kaku Kula, a local women’s leader.
Reuben Inaju, Head of the peacekeeping mission’s Community Outreach and Advocacy Unit, emphasized that sustainable peace can only be achieved by the South Sudanese themselves.
“External partners can only support the process. The real will resides within the hearts and actions of the people of this country,” he said.
Those in attendance were familiarized with the UNMISS mandate and received, courtesy of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, updates on the status of the ongoing drafting of a permanent constitution and other critical aspects of the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.
To end a day full of information and reflection, the peacekeeping mission’s in-house band, the Flamingoes, played crowd-pleasing hits, traditional dancers performed, and those fortunate enough to be present shouted, in unison: “Peace begins with me! South Sudan shall never return to war.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).