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Beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning-hooks: Transforming the traditional media of communication from drivers of conflict to instruments for peace and security: Examples from Hakamat singers in Sudan’s Darfur

Daniel Terzungwey Adekera


The Hakamats, a group of traditional women singers and poets from Darfur, Western Sudan, contributed greatly to fueling the decade old Darfur conflict using their traditional war songs and poetry. Using the  same instrument to appeal to the ego and romanticisms of their male counterparts  they also blocked several proposed peace initiatives. Through education and advocacy, they now sing for peace; a clear case of beating swords into  plowshares and spears into pruninghooks. This study examines the factors that influenced the Hakamats’ choice to promote war and conflict rather  than peace and peaceful co-existence, and the motivation that sustained that momentum. The focus is on how they were convinced to  abandon an old-time traditional role and embrace the search for sustainable peace in an area they held sway for a long time. The study is based on  series of workshops, sensitization campaigns and personal interviews with some women Hakamats. The data generated from the workshops and  interviews was critically examined using content analysis. The findings show that economic benefits and, the quest for societal recognition greatly  influenced and sustained the Hakamats’ choice of trade, motivation, and activities. The study recommends that a new set of value system and other  means of economic survival for the Hakamat are an imperative in order for the transformation to be sustainable. It also recommends the  deployment of traditional media as a very critical tool for conflict resolution.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2449-1179
print ISSN: 2006-1838