April 7, 2014 (KAMPALA) - A two-day conference of students from South Sudan’s Equatoria region called for unity if prosperity was to be achieved in the new nation.
- Eastern Equatoria state Governor Louis Lobong Lojore speaking at the Equatoria conference in Juba, January 10, 2014 (Larco Lomayat)
The meeting, held in Uganda’s capital, Kampala brought together leaders from the Greater Equatoria regions headed by Eastern Equatoria governor Louis Lobong.
The governor, in his address, cautioned the students against taking sides in the war and urged them to focus on their studies.
“I believe you will all agree to say the interest of South Sudan is better than of tribes. You should be remember that we the Equatorians had suffered from the brutal civil war and destruction of properties since 1955," said Lobong.
"We cannot again go for meaningless war after gaining the independence we fought for," he added.
Bush Buse, the deputy president of Equatorian students union, said the event was timely organised and would play fundamental roles in restoring the country’s peace.
"I believe the exemplary [spirit] shown by Equatorians would mean unity for the entirely country," Buse said.
“We are putting steps forward as Equatorian, bringing ourselves together and the next thing will of course be bringing all the other South Sudanese from other region and any other areas in South Sudan so that we all come together, unite to make sure we have peace," he added.
South Sudanese, the student leader stressed, needed ever lasting peace and that this could only be achieved though unity which paves way for prosperity.
“Any elements that bring disunity must be suppressed in the country like South Sudan. South Sudan is like a body that has got very many parts, you have the hands, you have the legs you have the eyes [and] so if any part of your body is paining, that means the whole body will pain," he remarked.
"So we felt the responsibilities and constructional [roles] that we shall play as Equatorians. What is happening in other region, what is happening in Upper Nile, other parts of South Sudan is our concerns," added Buse.
Western Equatoria’s education minister Phillip Pai called urged the students to ensure normal peace was restored back in the country.
"There is need to find out the causes of violence [which started] in Juba and [spread to] other part of the country’s three states," Pai said.
“We Equatoria should try to engage the communities of South Sudan to identify the roots causes of the conflicts and try to address them. We can be talking about the symptoms, but I think we need to address what are the critical root causes of this conflict since peace was signed since 2005 in addition to other challenges that South Sudan faces," he added.
Wani James, a student, said the Kampala conference was vital in the road to peace.
“This unity starts with the family and the families here refer to the Equatorians. Once the Equatorians are united, we shall be able to move out and preach the same gospel of unity to our fellow brothers and sisters in South Sudan and at the end of it all it will be South Sudan to benefit, not only the Equatorian," said Wani
He expressed concerns over the killings in Upper Nile region and urged the country’s leaders to put aside their political differences in the interest of the suffering population.
Buse says he saw responsibilities to be laid by Equatorian in order for prosperous South Sudan.
Meanwhile, many of the students Sudan Tribune interviewed admitted that the conference would pave way for an end the four months old conflicts in South Sudan.
Most of them, however, urged leaders from the Greater Equatoria region to actively involve the youth in efforts aimed at restoring peace and stability in the country.