Chasing and singing, 30 South Sudanese wrestlers marched Saturday into Juba stadium.They are here for a national wrestling tournament.Traditional wrestling is hugely popular in South Sudan.Four teams from different tribes will compete in the tournament to bring home prizes of cattle, and national bragging rights.The tournament is also about showing that different South Sudanese tribes can bring peace after more than two years of war divided the country along ethnic lines.Peter Biar Ajak, CEO of South Sudan Wrestling Entertainment which organized the event, says South Sudan's leaders have been too slow to end the civil war.He says it is time ordinary folks did so themselves through sport.
“So we felt the people of South Sudan need peace, and we start mobilizing as young people from different tribes that we are going to host a wrestling tournament as a way, as our own way, of bringing peace to South Sudan, a peace at grassroots level. ”
Ajak says the last wrestling tournament in Juba began on December 14, 2013, one day before war broke out.Wrestlers fled to their villages.Ajak says they are pleased to see this year's tournament take place without violence.In Saturday's match, the Bor Dinka tribe defeated the Mundari after 15 rounds.The two tribes have a history of deadly conflict over pasture and cattle.Bor Dinka coach Chol Jok said after the match, that bringing the young men of the two tribes together to wrestle can prevent violence.
“When you are wrestling with somebody and then you go and dance with him, eat with him, this one will be your friend, and then you sit together and you play everything with him, and then there's no fighting again. ”
Bor Dinka wrestler Manyok Mapel Lual said he felt happy to wrestle after so long.
“You know since the war break out in 2013, we are facing difficulties, and when we come to an end we shall be happy, so we want show to the people that we accepted the peace. ”
The tournament continues for one week.