UNMISS Concert Unites Bor Communities to Stand up for Peace

With floods and repeated conflict, people in Jonglei have had little to celebrate in past months. All that changed last weekend, though, when some 5,000 ecstatic fans—youth from several different ethnic group amongst them—came together to sing and dance along to the impossible-to-resist tunes of top South Sudanese artists performing live at a concert organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The Freedom Square in Bor saw people flocking to stand up for peace, which was also the theme for the musical event.

And stood, sang, and danced for peace they did, en masse.

“We need peace, durable peace that can bring us together to find solutions to our problems. This concert means so much more than a bit of music, it stands for hope and togetherness,” said Mary Akool in between some groovy moves in coordination with those of her two sisters.

Having iconic acts like DVD, AKJ Africa Music, the Youth Mama Band and Mei-Bai perform along with the UN Peacekeeping mission’s in-house band proved a massive hit among the thousands of revelers, who were further delighted when Ethiopian and Sri Lankan peacekeepers regaled them with cultural performances of their own.

Several local dignitaries were spotted dancing and letting their hair down as well, including Denay Jok Chagor, Governor of Jonglei State.

“Music is a powerful tool to show the unity of our people despite their different cultures and languages. We must stay united and not allow ourselves to deepen divisions and threaten the peace we are currently enjoying,” the Governor said, expressing his hope for the event to be repeated and included as a regular feature in the Jonglei calendar of events.

In between amazing musical acts, UNMISS also informed those in attendance about its new mandate, as recently approved by the Security Council, and to promote much-needed social cohesion and reconciliation.

“The revitalized peace agreement remains the ultimate road map to sustainable peace in South Sudan, and we (UNMISS) will continue to support its citizens quest for the stability and harmony they yearn for,” said Reuben Inaju, Head of the UNMISS Community Outreach Unit.

Hotel manager James Maluack even hypothesized that the concert, which will live long in the memory of those fortunate enough to have witnessed this five-hour-long outburst of unadulterated joy, may serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I believe that these kinds of events show that peace is already here and is establishing itself, in people’s minds, as a significant factor in the development of the country. For us doing business, these events signal more than a moment for worry-free happiness,” he said.

Judging by the joint cultural performances displayed by youth representing the ethnic groups of the Anyuak, Dinka and Nuer, and the reception their show received, Mr. Maluack may have a point.

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