By Odongo Odoyo and Moses Gum
As the D-day knocks the door, everyone is awake in anticipation of the coming peace celebration slotted for Wednesday this week. From all walks of life, the mood has engulfed the country and the utterances in the lips of almost everyone, young and adult is the one word with five letters “peace.” Welcoming and witnessing “Our peace celebration” is what remained.
The day has been superseded by a number of activities which included general cleaning as seen in every part of Juba City, renovation and painting of key points and preparing the venue of the celebration at Dr. John Garang Freedom Square (Mausoleum). The organised forces, army, civil societies, the City Council and civilians have been actively doing one thing or another for the success of the day.
The youth have not been left behind and are keen to take the centre lead in the celebrations. In readiness for the peace celebration, youth said they were seeing a rising hope for settlement of disputes to end conflicts in the country.
October 31st, 2018 is the day set for the peace celebration. The function is expected to bringing people of all walks of life including IGAD heads of States, African Union leaders, guarantors and friends of South Sudan.
The celebration is also to acknowledge achievements and the role played with solidarity by friends, partners of the country in pushing and reaching the final stage for peace.
As the country gears towards a joyous moment many local citizens believed that having South Sudanese come together and celebrate relics was a landmark for lasting unity and reconciliation.
Some of the youth who exclusively talked to Juba Monitor said they were tired of war and that the only path to end conflict was to come together, talk, leave differences and open up a new chapter of rebuilding the nation.
Daniel Abocha Ali is the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Youth League chairman; he described the peace celebration as a new period to end the suffering of citizens and a hope for nation building.
He said the slated peace celebration marks an important milestone for all people to come together and forge a new path.
“As we celebrate this new dawn of peace and values the reunion and concord of South Sudanese, there is expected new beginning and opening of a new chapter,” he said.
Abocha said it sounds realistic that the peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir will hold as it marks a new era and ends the civil conflict.
Daniel Abocha Ali, SPLM Youth League Chairman (photo by Moses Gum)
“We are hopeful that the recent agreement will hold. This is because every citizen has that tendency of unity and reconciliation,” Abocha said.
The Youth League Chairman stressed the need for all South Sudanese to redefine their destiny and sweeping a freshleaf.
The youth League leader revealed that there have been ongoing rallies in Juba city inviting citizens to attend the celebration.
“The SPLM youth League is conducting rallies for the last four days inviting people to attend the celebration in mass numbers. This celebration is important for all to attend, for it is the new beginning”, Abocha expressed.
He said they have divided the City into six zones to conduct peace rallies aimed at creating massive awareness for the importance of the celebration.
The Youth League leader said his office extended an invitation to youth in states to attend the event especially those states near Juba.
Those who could not make can do their own celebrations in respective states, he added.
Abocah thanked the President of the Republic for having initiated the peace celebration for the sake of unity and reconciliation ahead of implantation.
He called on the people of South Sudan to imitate the spirit of Rwanda by denouncing violence, forget the past differences and accept unity.
John Akech Agau, one of the youth in Eastern lakes called on the government and the opposition leaders to celebrate the peace in good spirit.
John Akech Agau one of the youth in Eastern Lakes (photo by Moses Gum)
He stressed that many may doubt the attendance of Dr. Riek Machar and many others due to fear of any eventuality.
“We all welcome the peace celebration. This is the only thing we must do to restore hope and confidence,” he said.
Akech said there is need for all to celebrate without fear of any problem and by doing so the government and the opposition must know that they have fully accepted to remain in peace.
“I am appealing for trust from the government and the opposition to come together and celebrate. The two sides must put first what people of South Sudan want and do occasion successfully”, Akech said
He expressed happiness to celebrating the peace deal while underscoring the need for confidence building during the event.
Hundreds of thousands of people, including government, international actors, women, youth traditional chiefs and the army are expected at the celebration at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum on 31st October, 2018.
Last month, the final deal was inked by parties to the conflict in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abba in a bit to end the conflict in the country.
In December, 2013, South Sudan plunged into civil conflict when the country’s former Vice President turned rebel and fought the government under President Salva Kiir. The political tensions turned ethnic and escalated to rural areas.
The conflict resulted into an augmented hatred with men from different ethnic backgrounds mobilizing themselves to fight one another. Issues of cattle raiding, road ambushes, robbery and looting have drastically increased in the five past years of conflict.
The war brought the negative impact on people and disrupted livelihood activities. It led to shutdown of the national oil production following a dispute with the northern Sudanese. The country’s infrastructure and political stability were already flimsy. The conflict brought the suffering of the people coupled with massive displacement, killings, rape and increased food insecurity.
However, half of the country’s population displaced with thousands killed. Large numbers remains on the brink of famine and the state economy in shambles, with women and children being the hardest hit.
Outlooks of peace
The new peacepact would see the country’s crippled economy improve with increment of oil production, improved revenue collection, repair of roads and open ways for farmers to their fields.
The new peace would also mark the beginning of equitable service delivery to the local population including health, clean water, and education and extension of telecommunications.
The army and other security organs will act under one command with the rule of law as the only thing to depend on.
Earlier, one of the local tea sellers in Custom Market said with the current peace she wants to see that issues of night robbery are minimized with the security providing maximum protection.
“We expect that through this peace all those carrying arms shall not be targeting individuals at nights. I am requesting the government to protect our lives,” she said.
As we celebrate the peace agreement, we want to see police protecting the lives of people and their properties,” Sarah added.
She said if all leaders are committed to accept one another, admit mistakes and reconcile then the country will be in peace.
Sarah expressed happiness for celebrating the peace and that she could return to doing her previous business of farming apart from selling tea.
“I was a farmer before I fled my home. Only farming makes me get enough money. But with this local tea I am earning nothing,” she said.
She called on all leaders especially President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar to put the interest of the people first and work as one people in one nation.
Alfred Malual Mudir, a student at the University of Juba described peace as the only way for the citizens to prepare and nurture the young generation.
He said denouncing war and hatred would shape a brighter future for the citizens and the coming generation.
“With peace we believe things would work out well. And if there is no peace the suffering will be great,” he said.
Mudir called on the people of South Sudan to forge a future that is free of conflict.