From culture of war to one of peace
By Dan Eiffe
The Peoples of Sudan are severely traumatized from war. While the war has ended, the memory and effects of the war are still deeply imbedded in their minds. It has deeply affected everyone and sometimes people are not aware and do not recognize how this has affected them. As a result, the society has been brutalised and the people’s behavior is influenced.
Foreigners complain that people in South Sudan often overreact in an aggressive manner. It is easy to understand why having lived in a culture of war for over 20 years it will take time and healing in order to develop a culture of peace. Another group of people who have been affected are Aid Workers. You cannot observe the suffering and death day in and day out without it affecting you. There is an International NGO called people in Aid which was formed to assist Aid Workers from conflict zones. Even the Catholic Church in Sudan has been running a very successful program for its people called “Healing the Healers” It is important to recognise the stress we inherit and also to recognise how it changes one’s behaviour.
We hear of very strange and sometimes brutal incidents which may be the result of this. For example in Yei two weeks ago, a man quarreled with his wife and locked the room which she was in with her two sisters and child. He then threw a hand grenade into the room killing all four. This is rather extreme, however, this culture of violence is common. People seek revenge by killing as has been happening in Rumbek County , upper Nile , Akobo and many other places . When a dispute arises, instead of negotiating, people go first for the gun as a solution.
The important issue is, we will never know peace irrespective of the CPA’s implementation unless this issue is addressed .We can see an increase in alcohol consumption where people drink themselves into a stupor thinking it will resolve their problems. In many areas in Southern Sudan , people are drinking spirits throughout the day and the women also encourage it because it is a good and easy source of income.
These issues need to be addressed and the hope is that the youth, through education and idealism, will be able to bring that peace. The Churches, NGOs civil society groups, local authorities and the media need to address this. This is the main reason I started the Mirror three years ago to use the media to promote a culture of peace.
The youth as I say are key here, so I appeal to the youth to assist in this process. An example of this was the Acholi and Madi youth meeting in Nimule this week. They met to address these issues. It is my hope that other youth groups be formed to follow their example.