The road to peace: The role of the Southern Sudanese church in communal stabilisation and national resolution
Brown, Elijah M
This thesis examines the part played by Christian churches in the communal stabilisation of three refugee settings and in the national resolution of the second Sudanese civil war. Based on extensive field research in Sudan and in Sudanese refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda, the thesis is further underpinned by current theories on displacement, social identity and conflict resolution. Ranging from grassroots pastors to Presidential Cabinet Ministers, altogether more than one hundred fifty church and political leaders were consulted through individual interviews and focus groups with more than seventy-five recorded hours. Archives at The Centre for Documentation and Advocacy in Nairobi, Kenya, the New Sudan Council of Churches’ Archive in Kampala, Uganda, the Sudan Archive at the University of Durham, United Kingdom and the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., United States were also utilised. The thesis commences with an examination of three grassroots communities in refuge, Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, the internally displaced of Hajj Yusuf, Khartoum and Oliji Refugee Camp in Uganda. In establishing the social impact and influence of the churches on the respective displaced community, each of the three local manifestations function as a case study detailing endeavours by Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Catholic and Pentecostal churches to respond to arisen needs, resolve political instabilities and reconcile ethnic tensions. Though the exact influence of the churches differs in each context one overarching theme that emerges is greatly enhanced communal stabilisation. Alongside the numerical growth and social impact of the churches at the local level, the ecumenical New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) employed a three-tiered strategy to facilitate national resolution of the second civil war as is delineated in the second half of the thesis. First, through ‘the people-to-people peace process’ the NSCC directly mediated grassroots reunification throughout southern Sudan. Second, the NSCC functioned as the primary channel of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) criticism and utilised its growing clout to pressure the SPLM/A to adopt measures of good governance and pursue in good faith negotiated settlement with the Government of Sudan. Third, the NSCC stood behind a successful international campaign that lobbied and secured engagement from regional and European and American governments critical to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. By paralleling three local communities and the NSCC national resolution initiatives the thesis proffers several important conclusions about Christianity and the civil war in south Sudan including enumerating rationales related to the explosive growth of Christianity, demarcating several nascent indicators of a Christian influenced civil religion, highlighting the growing social and political impact of the churches throughout south Sudan and finally, delineating several general conflict mediatory keys relevant to the churches’ endeavours. The thesis furthermore clearly demonstrates that in the midst of civil war the southern Sudanese indigenous churches bolstered communal stabilisation at a grassroots level, substantively impacted the emergence of national political resolution and thereby directly facilitated the road to Sudanese peace.