Peace caravan returns from Sudan

June 2007 -

A peace caravan consisting of ten Sudanese living in other countries from the New Sudan Organizations Network NSON recently returned to the Netherlands. The caravan traveled for one month through the country torn by conflict to deliver their message of hope and peace in the capital Khartoum, the Nuba Mountains in the middle of the country, the southern capital Juba and a number of other locations. They shared with their fellow countrymen, not only during conversations but also in the shape of music, dance and theatre.

"Many times we were the first outsiders with whom the villagers could share their horrible war stories. It was heartbreaking. We came across seventy children who had lost their parents, everyone, everything. No aid organisation seems to care." Osman Korena, the leader of the peace caravan, can talk about it for hours. Since Sudan gained its independence in 1956, it has almost continually been plagued by civil wars. Which is why many Sudanese have fled the country. They have recently started to visit their country again. A few Sudanese living in the Netherlands almost immediately started working on the plan for a peace caravan. First peace groups were organised to work on the relationships among the participants. The Sudanese refugees come from every corner of the country and adhere to many different faiths. Then the caravan got going. Osman Korena: "In Sudan, we talked a lot about the part that music, dance and theatre can play in reconstruction. Much is happening. In one village the villagers had written songs about peace and living together, which not only referred to living in a family but also to living in Sudan. In another village a woman sang an ode to the local heroes in which their ethnic background was ignored. That is something special in our country, which is torn by ethnic conflicts. In yet another village, messages about HIV and AIDS were interwoven through their peace theatre." Will the caravan truly bring more peace? Osman Korena: "At some of the meetings, former enemies came together to discuss the necessity of peace. That was impressive." The peace caravan was unable to visit Darfur. "But they asked us to come back soon."