As a young South Sudanese born in a generation that is still netted in war and violence, things can be really depressing. To me, violence is a crime because it has resulted in plenty of homicides throughout the entire country, somehow considered lawful acts. Violent incidents hindered peace talks and at some point even worsened the government’s attempts on maintaining stability and having proper continuity of the country’s domestic demands. The inability of a nation to seek and find solutions to these mysteries and future results of these negative acts is becoming unenviable.

Our mothers went through these same struggles and brutalities and were fortunate enough to make it till this day. As for our fathers, most of them had to join military operations to stand for their rights and protect their loved ones, although most of them never made it out alive. Even when all seemed to have ended, there were always small speculations which at times fuelled up violence in small states and sometimes reached a nationwide scale.

Most of South Sudan’s wars and violence from the time of the 1963 Sudanese Civil war have always had a connection with tribal dominance and ethnic issues. The spirit of fight-and-revenge has been inherited from the elders. This sense of revenge is caused by deep and emotional pain over the continuous suffering, and is connected to loss of loved ones and destroyed belongings. In times of violence, communities have to abandon their dwellings and find new places to settle, because they couldn't bear to hold grievances and leave problems unsolved. We also tend to carry the pain and emotions for many years, letting them affect our children.

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Source: Isaac Billy for UN via usip.org

In the recent 2013 violence, I had direct experience with a war scenario and a life changing situation. I was walking with my brother to buy some stuff from a near-by shop, two weeks after the city of Juba was a little stable and ‘thought’ to be safe for work and free movement. I had my headphones on and was moving with the beats of the music, while my brother was a little bored and wanted me to start a conversation with him. I chose to continue listening to my loud music as we
approached the shop where we were supposed to buy the items. We were still waiting for the food items, when two rapid gun shots were fired from the compound that the shop was built on. In swiftness and panic, I saw everyone including my brother leaving the shop. I actually heard these shots but wasn't so certain where they came from as I still had my headphones on.

I remember hearing my brother shouting out my name in the chaos, but couldn’t see him and so I had to run alone and find a place to cover up. I had no knowledge that the shooter was actually chasing his own foeman and I was about to be a culprit of his future shots, as I was the only one who ran in the same direction as his
foeman. With my brother on the other side crying out my name with anxiety and fear, the shooter was preparing to pull the trigger towards my direction. My
instincts told me to crouch really low and cover my ears, which is exactly what I did. As soon as I did that, the shooter opened fire. At that moment I saw my life flashing before my very own eyes.

All the bullets he fired passed above me, but I could hear the close stealthy sounds and vibrations that these bullets made as they passed through the air right over my head. Praying in my heart that this man would just stop shooting, the Military Police answered my prayers as they emerged into the situation and told this gun-man to drop his gun and lay on the ground. With no hesitation I ran towards my brother and we immediately made our way home, as the shooter was being captured and taken with the military pickup truck. We made it home safe and my mother was quick to get us inside, worried as she was about our whereabouts since she heard the gun shots.

Later that day, the president gave a speech promising citizens that Juba was safe and for dwellers to not listen to speculations about insecurity in the city. I wondered to myself if that was really the case and if we were actually living in a peaceful society.

As a young citizen witnessing such violence so recently in our history, I see fear has been greatly inflicted onto our generation, generation Z. With this, a negative
physiological attitude towards the spirit of nationalism has been created. Youth are actually fleeing and leaving for more stable neighboring countries for the safety of their lives and potential future possibilities. However, hope can be regained only by resetting our mindsets from any negativity and starting to work on the path of love and harmony.

We need to build peace from a solid platform, inclusive of this young generation that wants to actually embrace it as a culture. Patience is a virtue on the course of this evolution in search of peace, but if we stick to a democratic, free- and-fair country, then I have high hopes that this peace we've all been yearning for shall truly be ours.

This post is also available in: Arabic