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Reconciliation in the Sudans

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Stein Erik Horjen

In 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the longest civil war in African history. Stein Erik Horjen argues that although this second civil war was not a religious one, religion still played an important role in the conflict. Ensuring freedom of religion was a high priority for the SPLM and for the Sudanese churches, which were instrumental in preparing the ground for the 2005 agreement in the same way they had been in facilitating the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement in 1972.
Focusing on the pivotal role of the Sudanese churches through a grassroots peace process called People to People, Horjen examines the churches’ work in ensuring the success of the peace talks between the SPLM and the government sealed by the 2005 Peace Agreement. Taking up the role as the voice of the voiceless, the Sudanese churches challenged and criticized the military and political leaders in regards to abuses of power.
In Reconciliation in the Sudans, Horjen details the tremendous suffering of the people during recurrent conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. Understanding the history will allow the reader contextual insight into the latest conflict that erupted in South Sudan in 2013. The failure of including mechanisms for reconciliation in the CPA can be considered a main reason for this latest war.
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Chapter 6. Suffering and God

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· 6 ·

SUFFERING AND GOD

What happens to a people who have endured fifty years of civil war? Terror and suffering become a part of everyday life. Children with gruesome memories of lost family members grow up not knowing much about how it is to live in absence of war. Many had not ever experienced the safety that peaceful life gives. They were constantly ready to move when soldiers attacked the villages, and they knew the particular sound of the engine of Antonov planes before the bombs were dropped. People were vulnerable and had few possibilities to choose their own destiny. The victimization of a whole civilian population became a characteristic of Southern Sudanese, like a scar that would not heal. More is needed than a peace agreement and a declaration of independence to heal the wounds created by war. Violence and fear become entrenched. We can speak of a fundamental war competence or a trauma that leaves its mark on family life and daily living, on religious faith and cultural identity. This “negative competence” also influences peoples’ view on the current political situation and of the future prospects for the country. These traumas are the long-term effects of the war.

The war created a society based on the right of the strongest, and a lack of justice. When soldiers from the SPLA march into the prison and “liberate” an apprehended Minister of Finance put in jail because of suspicion of...

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