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Dink-Nuer Peace Conference Sudan


By Andrew Mosher

As in much of Africa, war is an old and seemingly intractible reality for the people of Sudan. In fact, civil war has largely defined the country in the world's eyes ever since it gained independence in 1956 from Egypt and the United Kingdom. In the ensuing 40 years, rebels from the country's southern provinces - populated by black who practice African Traditional Religion and Christianity - have fought periodically against a Sudanese government dominated by the country's largely Arab, Muslim northern population. The war has cost an estimated 2 million lives from fighting and famine, as the government and an array of southern rebel factions battle back and forth across a devastated landscape, with no apparent end in sight.

Conflict in Sudan, however, is older than the independent state. Individual tribes in the south have fought over cattle and grazing land for centuries, settling scores at the point of a spear. But the civil war that has ravaged the south for more than four decades has also changed the nature of tribal conflict. Turf battles that had nothing to do with the larger struggle nevertheless were being fought with automatic weapons instead of traditional ones. Tribal elders came to believe that modern warfare was not only killing their people, it was killing their culture. If modernity was part of the problem, tradition might be the solution, they reasoned.

Early this year, the New Sudan Council of Churches brought chiefs and elders of the Dinka and Nuer, the south's dominant tribal groups, together in an effort to make peace through traditional means. Washington Post photographer Michel duCille went to southern Sudan and chronicled their efforts.

Enter Gallery 1: Thiet

Map of Sudan
Photos by Michel duCille Photos by Michel duCille
Photos by Michel duCille

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