Introduction: Mr. Simon Mach the South Sudanese Community Peace Initiative
By Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Feb 27, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– It is my pleasure to introduce Mr. Simon Mach and the South Sudanese Community Peace Initiative. McMaster University has worked with Mr. Mach and his group to facilitate and promote peacebuilding within the South Sudanese community in Canada as a step towards ending the conflict in South Sudan and bringing lasting peace to that country.
In 2013, Mr. Mach and other members of the South Sudanese community in Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area, approached McMaster University to solicit the university’s assistance in organizing a forum to facilitate peacebuilding dialogue within their community. Their hope was that McMaster would work with the community to create a forum to discuss and explore solutions to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, which has created tensions within the diaspora community here in Canada.
In response to this request, McMaster University’s Centre for Peace Studies led a McMaster community engagement initiative to promote dialogue within the South Sudanese community.
This initiative culminated in a “Public Symposium on Conflict and Peace-Building in South Sudan” which was held on November 8, 2014 at McMaster Innovation Park. The event included a public lecture by Dr. Douglas Johnson, a foremost scholar on South Sudanese history and a panel discussion with South Sudanese community leaders. Over 100 members of the South Sudanese community in Canada attended the event which provided them with an opportunity for open dialogue and consultations.
A report on the key outcomes of the symposium has since been published. Among the key recommendations of the Symposiums were the following:
Continued dialogue within the South Sudanese community to foster peace and mutual trust:
There is need for more dialogue and meetings to discuss issues arising from the conflict and ways of dealing with them. This was identified as one way of building trust and restoring hope among members of the South Sudanese community in Canada.
Building capacity by drawing on governmental and non-governmental support:
The South Sudanese community should explore opportunities and resources with governmental and non-governmental organizations in Canada to support the long-term goal of peacebuilding. This can include seeking leadership training as well as specialized training in grief counselling, conflict resolution, peacebuilding and social media advocacy for members of the community in Canada. Those trained in Canada can, in turn, provide training to communities in South Sudan.
Female Empowerment: More women should be involved in political and peace-building processes in South Sudan and in diaspora communities. Women should be encouraged to take up more active roles especially since women and children have been most affected by the conflict in South Sudan and the tensions it has created within South Sudanese communities in Canada.
Building on these outcomes and recommendations of the Symposium, leaders of the South Sudanese Community are now taking the next steps of engaging in comprehensive dialogue with various governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations who can assist them with capacity building.
Having worked with Mr. Mach and his group of community leaders, I can attest to their commitment to the cause of building peaceful and inclusive communities here in Canada and in South Sudan. Their continued initiatives and efforts in this regard come with my most enthusiastic support.
Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh is a Acting Associate Vice-President (Research), Professor of History and Global Human Rights, Department of History/ Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He can be reached at Phone 905.525.9140
Ext. 21590, Fax 905.521-1993, Email: email@example.com or at https://www.research.mcmaster.ca