Celebrating South Sudan’s Cultural Diversity
South Sudan is joining the world community in commemorating the World Day for Cultural Diversity observed every year on May 21st.
Honouring the occasion, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is staging a colourful event on Thursday, May 23, at the UNESCO office in Juba from 5pm to 8pm. Key note speakers representing the government as well as the civil society will underscore the importance of respect for ethnic and cultural diversity in building a peaceful, united South Sudan. They include Hon. JokMadutJok, Undersecretary for Culture and Heritage in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, and Dr. Alfred Lokuji from the College of Community Studies and former Dean at Juba University. In addition to speeches, there will be an exhibition of arts and crafts from different regions of the country, a drama play and traditional dances performed by the ROOTS project.
Understanding and managing the country’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity is both a challenge and an opportunity to strengthening stability and harmony through respect and acceptance of cultural differences. There are 70 cultural and ethnic groups speaking over one hundred languages in a country still lacking institutions and policies to record the existence of the various traditions, and to facilitate a better understanding of their diversity. Nurturing a sense of national identity while at the same time upholding diversity remains a big challenge to the South Sudan government.
UNESCO is making efforts in assisting the government with the establishment of key institutions and policies and the development of technical capacities for their operation. UNESCO believes that without these foundations, the safeguarding of any form of heritage would be impossible. To this end, UNESCO Juba is coordinating a UN joint prorgramme to establish National Archives funded by the Norwegian Government. The Archives are to represent the people of South Sudan and the memory they want to leave for the future. These will also play an important role in building peace and reconciliation. In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, UNESCO Juba is also working on the establishment of a National Museum which will help in promoting intercultural dialogue and a participatory democracy.
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