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  • Mariana Goetz

Young South Sudanese author wins ‘Write for Peace’ Challenge

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Today Rights for Peace and Writing Writers Fellowship are announcing the winners of the ‘Write for Peace’ story competition, which was open to South Sudanese youth aged 14-35.

'Writing is so powerful it can change the type of human the reader becomes’, explained Alith Cyer

Mayar, 23-year old youth leader and poetess who co-led a series of online workshops with Rights for Peace to counter prejudice and identity-based violence that is fuelling ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

48 young people participated in a series of online workshops in June, some living in refugee or

displacement camps. The young people joined on Zoom and WhatsApp for a training exploring identity, prejudice and counter-narratives. They then submitted short stories as part of a competition.

The first prize goes to Awien Rose, aged 22 and living in Uganda, for her story, ‘Put out Hate with Love’. Rose’s story tells of prejudice and hate from a child’s perspective of open-mindedness: Young Awien is taught by her mother to avoid ‘Mama Kiden’, a market-seller from a different tribe. In the end it is Mama Kiden who comes to rescue young Awien, breaking the animosity amongst the adults.

“It's sad but sometimes our parents and relatives actually teach us to hate other people different

from us, from other tribes. Not directly telling us to hate them but by telling us to stay away from

them or being careful when we are around them. All that inspired me to write the story.”

The four winners (1st, 2nd and two tied in 3rd place) were chosen by a panel of judges including PEN International’s President, Jennifer Clement, Daniel Samson Aru, Lecturer at Upper Nile University in Juba, and Jada Albert, at the British Council in South Sudan.

The winners will receive cash prizes, and their stories along with shortlisted, will be edited and

illustrated into a Story Book and guide to countering divisions in South Sudan. Second place is awarded to Brenda Johnson Sebit for her story ‘Embracing Diversity Through Marriage’ and third place is jointly awarded to Kiju Emmanuel for ‘The Old Widow’, and Moses Taban Ejidio for ‘About Jop and Ajop Communities’. Read more about the writers, the stories and the project here.

The project is funded by Lush Charity Pot, enabling printed copies to be disseminated as a literacy resource for young people, in a country where over 70% of the population aged 15+ is illiterate according to UNESCO 2018 data.

Rights for Peace is a human rights organisation working to prevent mass atrocity crimes in fragile states, by supporting and collaborating with local organisations. The trainings were facilitated by Mariana Goetz, human rights practitioner focused on transitional justice and founder of Rights for Peace. Access Rights for Peace’s blog about the workshops conducted remotely during Covid-19 lockdown here.



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