Photo by Amin Ismail, UNAMID.
Zalingei, 14 February; Thousands of people from Zalingei and surrounding villages attended a Horse Racing competition organized by UNAMID Communications and Public Information Section (CPIS) in partnership with Zalingei Horse Racing Union in central Darfur. The event held under the theme: “Together for Peace” and attended by UNAMID Force Commander, Lieutenant-General Leonard Ngondi, Government officials and UNAMID staff, was aimed at promoting peace and peaceful coexistence among feuding local communities in the area. Trophies, medals, prizes and promotional material bearing peace messaging were distributed to the winners and other horse riders who participated in the 6-round horse racing competition.
Addressing the gathering, UNAMID Force Commander, General Ngondi, underscored the Mission’s keenness to continue its support to such popular sporting activities as part of its contribution towards achievement of sustainable peace, stability and prosperity within different Darfuri communities.
“Sport is universally acknowledged as a valuable tool in settling differences between communities and promoting a spirit of peaceful coexistence. This is nowhere more evident than in today’s event. I have realised in my time in Darfur, and Sudan in general, that horseracing is a celebration of more than 400 years of chivalry and horsemanship. This makes this sport a unique, defining cultural element that can bring communities together rather than divide them,” General Ngondi added.
In his remarks, Mr, Jibril Younis, the representative of the Wali (Governor) of central Darfur, commended UNAMID for sponsoring the horse racing competition and noted that the ethnically divergent nature of the gathering reflected the tolerance and peaceful coexistence that now exists in central Darfur. Mr. Younis also pledged the Government of Sudan’s readiness to support the upgrading of the horse racing track, in partnership with local and International organizations.
The Chairman of Zalingei Horse Racing Union in central Darfur, Brigadier General, Ali Yagoub, extended his appreciation to UNAMID for its initiative to support the horse racing competitions in central Darfur, noting the Mission’s efforts in keeping peace and maintaining security in Darfur, in collaboration with the Government of Sudan.
“Horse racing competitions are an effective tool in strengthening the social fabric and promoting harmony among the local communities in central Darfur. Our Horse-Racing Union looks forward to further collaboration with UNAMID CPIS as we scale up these confidence building measures through which peace is the ultimate dividend in central Darfur,” Brigadier-General Yagoub further stated.
UNAMID, in collaboration with the UN Country Team and various local entities, have launched various sport-based initiatives. Many of these initiatives target local communities and create neutral space for the young and old to participate in events that promote peaceful coexistence, cutting across existing barriers and divisions as the Mission prepares for its imminent exit from Darfur. It is worth mentioning that horse racing is one of the most popular sport in Sudan, and Darfur in Particular. It has been practiced in the region for more than 400 years.