Sudan: Country overview
Sudan’s 21-year civil war left two million people dead and split the country in two. Weapons are everywhere in the countryside and inter-communal battles occur with frightening regularity.
Simple disputes over water rights, farmland or cattle theft can leave scores dead and breed local hostilities with wider implications.
The continued bombing by the Sudanese Air Force of villages under the control of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – North results in the deaths of many civilians.
The UN estimates that 100,000 people have fled into neighbouring South Sudan. The growth of weapons in the region along with existing armed groups destabilises communities and entrenches cycles of revenge.
Defusing local conflicts and responding to violence
To stop local conflicts in often remote locations, we support local organisation the Collaborative for Peace in Sudan (CfPS). Their network of Peace Committees operating across South and West Kordofan can mobilise entire communities to watch for trouble and defuse it, resolving local level disputes.
When a dispute flares, members of the Peace Committee meet with the warring sides, discuss what can be done to solve the problem without using violence and come to a solution together. Committees are elected villagers, bringing together tribal elders, community leaders, women and young people – from the very communities they live in.
We are also looking to support and develop their locally driven early warning and response system that has operated in South Kordofan for over five years.
This would help local organisations like CfPS combine and develop their own information, so they can respond to events on the ground as and when they happen. The objective is to identify the potential for trouble to flare before it actually does – and therefore prevent violence before it sparks.
In their words: Huwaidah’s story
Each Sudanese tribe has their own Hakamat, a woman who traditionally sings men into battle. They are very influential in Sudanese communities. She will publicly praise positive elements of a group or conflict situation, but can also do the same for peace.
Huwaidah is a Hakamat from the Nuba tribe in Kaduglei and lives in Hajar El Mak, Sudan. She was 11 when she became a Hakamat, it was passed down through the generations with Huwaidah’s grandmother and mother being Hakamat’s before her. Her traditional role is to sing for men to go into war. Huwaidah sometimes sings poetry from others but usually makes up her own as the songs are specific to the occasion.
Before Huwaidah was part of CfPS’s work with Hakamat she used to sing for war, now she sings for peace. A Hakamat makes a good living from donations from communities. Singing for peace brings in less work.
However, Huwaidah is still able to support her family on her income including her seven sons, two of whom are in college. Her husband is a labourer but his money is not consistent so her singing is the family’s only stable income.
One example of when she sang for peace was in Lagoari between the Trooji and Ngoalu clans. Both clans met at a water source but were each too proud to let the other take water before them. Then the young people from each clan started to fight which ended in a young girl being badly wounded.
The adults were about to fight when Huwaidah came and sang about peace and that fighting was not the way to resolve a dispute. She then facilitated a dialogue encouraging them to think rationally which meant the clans resolved their conflict peacefully.