The Slam Dunk for Peace: Basketball’s Explosive Impact in South Sudan


In an unconventional effort to foster peace in South Sudan, local authorities and the United Nations are turning to the game of basketball. The city of Yambio in western Equatorial state recently hosted a tournament where diverse local teams participated, aiming to promote camaraderie as a crucial element for peace in the world’s newest nation.

Jacob Anther, a player representing one of the competing teams, emphasized the significance of youth taking the lead by setting an example through activities like sports. He expressed pride in the ability of the youth to engage in such games, believing that continued participation could contribute to resolving social issues in the region.

Geoffrey Omon, the chair of the UN peacekeeping mission’s Welfare Committee in Yambio city, sees sports, particularly basketball, as a tool to establish lasting peace during South Sudan’s transition from conflict. Omon highlighted the positive impact of games like basketball in fostering peace, love, and joy among community members. He expressed satisfaction with the participation of women, children, and various sections of the community in witnessing the United Nations Mission in South Sudan compete against local members.

South Sudan faced a devastating civil war shortly after gaining independence in 2011, stemming from a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and then Deputy Riek Machar, resulting in the loss of approximately 400,000 lives, according to the UN. While violence has decreased since 2019, pockets of low-intensity conflict persist in different parts of the country.

As South Sudan looks ahead to its first general election since independence in December 2024, initiatives like the basketball tournament symbolize a unique approach to building bridges and promoting unity in a nation that has experienced significant turmoil.