24 Sep 2018

 

Hagana Festival, The Festival Of Peace

James and Lillian, (imaginary characters) are ‘rolling’ away a land destroyed by war, to give way to a beautiful land of equality, freedom, peace, and development.

Hagana Festival, The Festival Of Peace
One of the dramas during the Hagana festival [Photo by Jale Richard]

By Jale Richard

JUBA, 24 May 2017 [Gurtong]-This is the dream of James Aguer Garang, one of the artists showcasing their works at the Hagan Festival. He is envisioning a new country with peace, development and progress through art.

The Hagana Festival literally meaning South Sudan is ours is meant to sensitize the youths to take up responsibility of the country and lead it away from the conflict it is currently embroiled in.

The event last Saturday in Juba featured musical performances by artists; dance groups, comedy, spoken word, drama, and art exhibition.

Hagana festival is one of the events organized by the Anataban campaign group launched last year after the July fighting, aimed at mobilizing youths against violence.

With his works, Garang aims to sensitize the youths to unite and take responsibility of the country, and to see an end to the conflict facing the country.

According to Garang, if the youths sit and do nothing to change the situation of the country, no one will change it. “We have to wake up and do something for our future because this country belongs to us,” he said.

Garang acknowledges that it takes the efforts of all South Sudanese to ‘roll away’ the land of nightmare and remain with the beautiful land.

“Together we have to pass a message to our communities to change our behaviors of revenge and hatred,” he said. “We have to accept we are all South Sudanese and change the environment we are in, and God willing we will go to the new environment that I am dreaming of.”

The over a thousand youths that turned up for the Hagana, festival were excited with various performances of the artists and dramas on Saturday at Nyakuron cultural Centre.

John Malith of ‘The South Sudan We Want’ campaign says the event helps in bringing people together to speak about peace and celebrate the identity and sovereignty of the country.

“If you listen to the messages that are being passed around, it talks about South Sudan as a country that has people with potential,” he said.

Malith added that the theme of the festival ‘South Sudan is Ours’ signals that the country belongs to every one of its citizens, and they should work for its prosperity. “We have to avoid violence, wars, conflicts, tribalism and things that bring underdevelopment,” he said.

Malith envisions a South Sudan where people stay in peace; live in harmony, where there is rule of law and democracy, where there is accountability, and where there is no insecurity on the roads.
Jacob Bul, the Media Coordinator of Anataban, says the event is meant to urge the youths to take ownership of the country by using their talents to spread the message of peace. “We are urging all the youths to come and showcase their creativity, and learn from each other to encourage them take the lead in peacemaking,” he said.

Bul said the festival is to bring the youth together to show them how beautiful they are in their diversity, ‘how beautiful the different ways of doing things, and how beautiful for them to co-exist.”

He urges the youth to change the culture of discrimination along tribal lines. “As long as you are South Sudanese, you need to accept the fact that we are all South Sudanese and we are equal regardless of what we do and where we belong,” Bul said.

For Manasseh Mathing, one of the Founders of Anataban, the campaign gives youths platforms to express their minds in regard to issues affecting the country. He said art work on the streets of Juba helps to make aware the public about the dangers of war.

The group was launched after the July 2016 fighting that plunged the country back to war, to mobilize the youths against fueling the conflict and work towards reconciliation and peace through the work of art.

The artists are also recording an album of music to spread the message of peace, reconciliation and tolerance amongst South Sudanese, Mathiang said.

According to Mathiang, due to the campaigns of Anabatan, youths now believe that they have a voice to do something to change the situation of the country. “We are encouraging the youths that they can speak up and fix the country,” he said.

The campaign group went to Yei River State which experienced the worst aftermath of the July conflict, which displaced thousands of people. It also visited Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and formed a subsidiary to lead the campaign in the refugee camp in Kenya.

Mathiang says Anataban will reach all the parts of South Sudan to sensitize the youths about the dangers of wars so that they could play positive roles to mitigate conflicts rather than fuel them.

Mary Juana David, a student, is struck by the drama performed by Juba Day Secondary School depicting violence the country is going through. “I need the people to stop violence and make our country become lovey,” she said.  

For Emmanuela Brown 17 years said all the youths should stop supporting people who are inciting violence so that the country will be in peace.

“We the youths should not fight,” she said. “We are going to be in peace, there will be no war, we shall no more cry, our children are not going to be orphans, and our fathers are not going to cry.”











 




 

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