South Sudan: the visit of the pope galvanizes a school that advocates the gathering of all ethnic groups

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

Pope arrives this Friday in the capital of South Sudan. A visit to promote peace and reconciliation in this country destroyed by violence. The creation of a South Sudanese national identity is still not easy: the country has no less than 64 ethnic groups. At Augusto Memorial College, the boarding school promotes South Sudanese unity through education.

Dressed in their uniforms, students pray, dance, and sing on a hot January Saturday at Memorial College, a boarding school in Kit, a village near Juba. Here, harmony and joy are at the rendezvous, and the conflicts that undermine South Sudan have no place. Having become independent in 2011, a civil war broke out in 2013 in the country, opposing President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and his vice-president Riek Machar, a Nuer. A peace agreement was signed in 2018 but intercommunal violence continues.

Diverse cultures, a common identity

Founded by the Catholic Congregation of the Brothers of Saint Martin of Porres, Augusto Memorial College is a secondary school that brings together 350 students from all regions and ethnicities of South Sudan. Since its creation in 2016, Father John Bosco, director of the school, has tried to forge a common identity to promote peace

“We gave them an instruction: there should be no grouping of students by ethnic origin. You come together as students of Augusto Memorial College and as South Sudanese. But, of course, the culture, where you come from, is not bad in itself. That’s why every Saturday, they have these cultural activities, says Father Bosco. Each group must come and share their traditional dances. »

Redempta Jiben, 19, from Malakal in Shilluk land, is a fan of the school’s dance and music club. “I learned the traditional dances of the Anyuak, Mundari, Dinka, and Acholi… I master them perfectly! And when I dance them in front of my mother at home, she can’t believe her eyes, that I can dance the dances of other ethnic groups! smiles the young woman.

Soukaina Sghir

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