After Being Divided By War, South Sudan’s Gabriel Wenyen Wants To Unite His Country Using Basketbal

A 25-year-old player named Wenyen Gabriel who plays for American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, Lakers, wants to unite the people of South Sudan with basketball.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, after over 20 years of civil war. The violence is widespread, reaching almost every state in the country. The marginalization of different groups, ethnic rivalries, and poor governance are all factors which continue to drive conflict, and misinformation about ethnically motivated attacks and counter-attacks reinforce distrust. The conflict in South Sudan ended by a peace agreement signed in September 2018.

The conflict in South Sudan displaced more than 3.9 million people, and Uganda alone is hosting more than one million South Sudanese refugees – the majority of them women and children.

“Sports brings a lot of positive energy and we need to shift our mind-set away from negative to a more positive one,” when you share a basketball court, you look at the person next to you and that is your brother. It’s important for that to trickle on your regular life. Coming home here was important. I want to help In rebuilding this country, because nobody is going to build the country except for us, the youth and people like myself who have learned different skills abroad,” Gabriel told BBC Sport Africa.

Gabriel said he prays that his country continues to have peace in South Sudan and he wants to use basketball to help unite the country. Gabriel is keen to tap into the country’s potential, as he believes it has the ‘tallest and most resilient people’ in Africa.

The basketball player organized a camp in the capital Juba, an initiate he funded himself when he paid a visit to the country.

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