[Juba, South Sudan, WPDI] – Last month, experts from the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) conducted a community dialogue between the Dari and Mokido clans of the Mundari community, which reside in Kworijik village just north of Juba in the former Central Equatoria State. The two clans have a history of violent conflict against one another, sometimes even resulting in killings. The local government managed to reconcile the Dari and Mokido in 2016, but there was a need to reach out to the local population and ensure that reconciliation was genuinely appropriated by the direct stakeholders in this conflict.
WPDI first became aware of the deteriorating situation in early October, when a community member came to us to report early warning signs of violence. Several youths on both sides were pushing for struggle and physical engagement to the extent that the local police had to intervene. This was a call for assistance that WPDI could not ignore. We decided to respond quickly based on our experience in bringing together different communities to engage in dialogue.
For a day, our experts invited 50 members of both the Dari and Mokido clans, civil society organizations, community and government members, and other stakeholders to identify the root causes of the conflict and explore solutions to them. The two clans, after participating in dialogue with one another, identified many major issues: the writing and performance of songs that promote hate speech and violence between the Dari and Mokido; cattle raiding; the use of alcohol and drugs; and the incitement as well as manipulation of youths by elders. Accordingly, they agreed to ban songs that promote hate speech and violence, immediately halt all cattle raiding, and form a joint committee to engage in reconciliatory dialogue and activities that promote peaceful coexistence. The successful dialogue session ended with members of the two clans shaking hands and sharing a meal.
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Weeks later, the dialogue has proven to have been a critical step towards achieving a long-lasting peace between the Dari and Mokido clans. As Malual, a member of the Mokido clan and a one-time participant in violent activities told us, “I was one of the musicians who composed violent songs about the Dari. After the forum, I committed to stop composing those songs and instead I have embarked on a mission to only sing positive songs that promote peace and reconciliation.” Margaret, another youth, mentioned that she is happy that both clans can now “stay together in peace in one village.”
The future of this agreement now lies with the goodwill of the communities, but WPDI will provide oversight support to ensure the peace agreement prevails. There undeniably remains uncertainty, yet, it is essential for us to observe that work in South Sudan is making a difference. That community members would take the initiative to contact us is a demonstration that, even amid conflict, people are looking for peaceful solutions and that they will mobilize resources for this when they are available and can be trusted. The success of WPDI and its programs is also to be gauged by the trust local populations put in us and our youth peacemakers and our ability to offer them a resource that they can appropriate for their lasting benefit.
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