The Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron
SPORTS FOR PEACE
While many parts of South Sudan struggle with armed conflicts between tribes, the Holy Trinity Peace village (HTPV) gathered different clans for a peaceful celebration of the International Day of Peace this week.
Text and photo by: Miriam Hagen
The celebration started Thursday September 18 with a Youth festival. Different clans from the Toposa tribe gathered for long and short distance running races. About 150 people attended the competitions, and there were even four women among the long distance runners.
“I wanted to run to make my body strong and healthy. That gives me a longer life, and I also wanted to win the price,” said Maria Natabo right after the race.
The best runners won rubber boots and a blanket. This was the first official running competition in Kuron, and the discussion got a bit heated when the participants realized that only the winners got to win a price. Francis Lobongo Ekaru, Project Officer of the Community Development and Peacebuilding program in HTPV, still believes that sports can bring peace to this community.
“The sports activities are a symbol of peace and unity. This year we only invited the Toposa community, but if it is successful, we will also invite the Jie, Murle and Kachipo tribes the next years,” said Lobongo Ekaru.
These tribes are rival tribes to the Toposa. They do armed raiding of each other’s cattles, and many people get shot annually because of the traditions. If they can be brought together for sport activities, that might be a great breakthrough in the peace work.
September 19 around 500 people gathered in HTPV for speeches from clan chiefs, the youth, women groups, Bishop Taban Paride and the Payam Administrator, Mr. Joseph Lokidor Louren. There were also theatre performances by the HTPV Community Development and Peace building group. They tried to sensitize about alcoholism, the importance of education and about gender based violence. Field officer in the Community Development and Peace building group, Eliah Lokii, is happy about the outcome and believes that the Toposas made some reflections.
“They said “this is a good thing,” and they know the badness of what they are doing. They acknowledge that they will change in the future,” Lokii said and added.
“We know it will be very slow, not a radical change.”
This is the third time HTPV celebrates the International Day of Peace. The day was celebrated before the official date set by the United Nations, September 21, because Bishop Paride is going on a journey from September 21 and would not have been able to attend on this date.