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Sudan: Keeping the Olympic flame alight


This film features scenes of the sporting events and former 'Lost Boy', Jimmy Makuach, a refugee who returned to Sudan from the USA to co-ordinate the annual Twic Olympics.

Twic county has suffered the worst excesses of conflict.

Located on the border between north and south Sudan, for much of the last 25 years it was at the epicentre of brutal civil war. Civilian massacres were frequent, while women and children were abducted for use as slaves.

It was against this background that the local relief agency Sudan Production Aid (Supraid) founded the Twic Olympics.

This annual sporting festival pits the county’s six payams (districts) against each other for sporting glory – but more importantly brings them together in a spirit of peace and friendship.

Christian Aid is one of 12 international organisations that fund the games. Sports include football, distance running, volleyball and tug o' war.

A fragile peace

War was still raging when the Twic Olympics began in 2000. It was another five years before the northern government and the southern rebels reached a peace agreement, allowing those displaced by war to return home.

However the peace is fragile.

As well as organising the games, Supraid uses the opportunity of such a large gathering to conduct education on issues such as HIV prevention, peace building and reconciliation.

Keeping the flame alight

The games offer a chance for people – and youths especially – returning after the war to integrate back into their communities by being part of a sporting team. It is also simply a fun and exciting diversion from everyday life.

‘The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.’

As one of the participants says: ‘The Twic Olympics challenges everyone who thinks nothing good can happen in Sudan.’

Indeed, while the global games have increasingly been tarnished by scandal and corporate interest, Twic perhaps better exemplifies the original Olympic creed: that ‘the most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle’.

 

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Issue:  Conflict

Country: Sudan

Region:  Africa