Returning to Weideng for Nuer peace

Weideng is home to the shrine of the Nuer spiritual leader Ngundeng and represents a historical and spiritual focal point for the wider Nuer community. 26 May - 01 April, Nuer from Ayod, Nyirol, Uror, Akobo and Ulang came to Weideng for a peace Conference culminating months of local pre-dialogues.

The dynamics of conflict in the wider area of Jonglei and GPAA are impacted not only by the prominent inter-communal dynamics, but also the internal conflicts of different communities. With communities reluctant to engage directly across ethnic divisions over the last three months, peace partners have shifted the emphasis to these internal dynamics.

On the Nuer side, a series of pre-dialogues – within the Lou, Gawaar and Jikany, respectively and between the Lou and Gawaar – culminated in a final conference from 28 April to 02 May in Weideng, Nyirol.

Weideng (‘Wechdeng’ on the map below) is home to the shrine of the Nuer spiritual leader Ngundeng and represents a historical and spiritual focal point for the wider Nuer community. As part of the lead-up to the Conference, USAID supplemented its dialogue support with resources to refurbish the Shrine precinct. This investment renewed the potential of the area as a hosting space for such initiatives.


With this unifying symbolism as the backdrop, 125 official representatives of the three communities met to discuss pathways to a sustainable internal peace, as well as ways forward in their relations with their Murle neighbours. The official delegates were joined by several hundred others, some walking days to witness the event.

The three days of discussion outlined the communities’ frustrations – with each other and with the different strands of their leadership. Blame was thrown to women, to traditional leaders, to youth and to formal authorities in the government. Progress became possible as a number of speakers began to accept responsibility for their part in the ongoing conflict. In particular, several Lou leaders acknowledged unprovoked attacks against Gawaar from their community, and appreciated the forebearance shown by the Gawaar community in response.

At the same time, Lou leaders noted that these criminals were only a small minority of the Lou community, and asked that the whole community not be painted with the same brush. There are echoes of the same narrative presented to the Lou by the Murle, who accept responsibility for ongoing raids coming out of Nanaam but insist they are not sanctioned by the community as a whole. The double standards were noted in side discussions, and the Conference as a whole rejected mass mobilisation. Noting the close links historically with the Murle, including stories from Ngundeng himself, the Nuer agreed that Murle representatives should come to Weideng for further discussion on the way forward.

The rejection of mobilisation is signed and agreed on paper, with the community clearly understanding it would set back their own interests significantly. But the underground campaign in favour of a mass mobilisation continues, led by some Jonglei armed youth leaders. It remains to be seen whether the community will continue to stand up to these efforts to undermine their interests.

Returning to the internal Nuer questions, the conference built significant momentum around the restoration of Weideng as a focal point for Nuer unity and peacebuilding. Some specific requests have been included in the resolutions, and the Conference has indicated that the next annual gathering will take place in Weideng again in early 2023. A key focus of the preliminary discussions in the meantime will be the review of Nuer customary law, which all agreed is necessary.   

On the final morning, a series of rituals were conducted to finalise the agreement; both in the bush as a sign against thieves and then at the shrine itself. It is not the first time in the last year a Conference has ended on a high note, with consistent challenges around implementation. In this case, the greatest risk is a mass mobilisation, which would likely mean live-saving food distributions are put on hold for security reasons, deaths of youth in far greater numbers than the small-scale attacks at present, villages on both sides destroyed, and more difficulty for peace partners to support rebuilding in the short term.

Weideng Agreement

Nuer Conference | Weideng, Nyirol County

28 April – 02 May 2022


Acknowledging that the ongoing violence within the Nuer community of Jonglei is causing unnecessary division and suffering,

Recognising that our divisions are unravelling a historical unity and peaceful coexistence,

Reaffirming that the spiritual heritage of our community is centred in the spirit of Ngundeng and at his Shrine in Weideng,

Underlining the failure of accountability processes as one of the critical reasons behind ongoing violence,

Concluding that the internal peace of the Nuer community can only be realised through the effective cooperation between State, County, traditional, military, youths and women leaders,

Affirming the need for the renewal of Nuer customary law,

Deeply frustrated and concerned by the ongoing sporadic cattle raids and killings by criminals based in the GPAA, 

Affirming the historical links between Nuer and Murle communities,

Recognising that a mass mobilisation against the Murle community will affect innocent civilians, and present an obstacle to progress for the Nuer community itself, including the impediment of life-saving humanitarian supplies.

Grateful to the partners who have organised the resources to facilitate this gathering in Weideng,

Resolve the following:


  1. Cattle thieves will be held accountable for their crimes. The Commissioners and Paramount Chiefs accept this is their joint responsibility and will be accountable to the people for failing to bring thieves to justice.

  2. Revenge killing is rejected absolutely as a legitimate form of justice.

  3. Compensation for any outstanding cattle and/or killings will be agreed by the communities. From today, violent reclaiming of cattle will be considered a grievance and the perpetrators will be held accountable.

  4. The Conference supports the continued development of Weideng and the Shrine of Ngundeng as a peaceful centre of development for all Nuer. In particular, the Conference requests support in four initiatives:

    a.     Two water holes

    b.       A co-educational school

    c.       A primary health facility

    d.       A feeder road to facilitate vehicle transport the five kilometres from Waat

    e.       Further renovation of the Shrine area as a spiritual heritage site, including a fence to enclose and protect the Shrine area itself.

  5. The Conference rejects any attempt at mass mobilisation of youths to attack the Murle community.

  6. The Conference insists on a further engagement with the Murle leadership and demands an explanation by them for undoing the rituals performed jointly between Murle and Lou Nuer in the Lekuangole area in 2021.

  7. The Nuer community will hold an annual meeting at Weideng, in January to avoid challenges associated with the beginning of the rainy season. Future meetings should also invite delegations from the wider Nuer community in South Sudan.

  8. This agreement shall be confirmed with rituals to be performed before departure from Weideng.


Hon James Bol Makuei | Nyirol Commissioner

Hon Gai Gatluak | Ulang Commissioner

Hon Machot Gatluak | Uror Commissioner

Hon Peter Teah Chuol | Ayod Commissioner’s Representative

Hon Machuoch Tuong Malual | Akobo Acting Commissioner


Hon Simon Hoth | Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement

(Team Leader, Jonglei State Government Delegation)

Hon Simon Hoth, Minister for Local Government and Law Enforcement, standing with the Jonglei State Government delegation, speaks following the conclusion of the final day’s rituals.

This project and associated threads of peacebuilding activities in Jonglei and GPAA are supported by USAID-funded Shejeh Selam, Caritas Germany, Swiss Cooperation Office, the FCDO-funded Peacebuilding Opportunities Fund (POF), the UN-funded Reconciliation, Stabilisation and Resilience Trust Fund (RSRTF).

Peace Canal, as a partner in the peace process, has an interest in promoting positive narratives of peace, but aims to present balanced perspectives on progress.


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