May 30, 2023. Forest Whitaker, the Hollywood star who is in South Sudan to launch a number of peace initiatives, believes the country will find a lasting solution to the raging conflict that has killed thousands and left millions of people displaced.
Whitaker, who is in the country for a four-day peace initiative, said that the over 100 students who recently graduated from the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) will play a significant role in conflict resolution in South Sudan.
“The work we are doing at WPDI, we hope, will be able to help you find more peace,” Whitaker said when he met some of the students from WPDI in Juba on Tuesday, May 30.
He said that the practical skills gained by the cohort should be put to good use in solving rising conflicts at the community level.
“They should be able to mediate situations around them that are causing difficulties or just be able to make you feel a little more secure the way you are,” the star of the blockbuster movie, The Last King of Scotland and Panic Room, said in Juba on May 30.
The WPDI is a nonprofit outreach programme that works with young people in South Sudan to develop life skills as leaders, peacebuilders, and community builders.
The initiative was founded in 2012 by Whitaker, who is the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, with the aim of promoting the values of peace, reconciliation, and social development within communities impacted by conflict and violence.
Whitaker, 61, said that his visit to South Sudan was to encourage those trying to bring peace to the country.
“I’m going to be here for about a week to try to encourage people who work in the programme to try to bring peace to the country and to try to bring opportunities.
The American actor known for his humanitarian work and activism has also starred in a number of high-budget movies like Black Panther and The Star Wars Story.
He made his acting debut in 1982 – First Times at “Ridgemont High”, but has since gone ahead to cement his name on the list of the best Hollywood stars.
Whitaker has won some of the biggest awards in the film industry, including the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the British Academy Award, just to mention a few.
While he admits that the war has soiled the image of the country, he remains upbeat that a lasting solution will be found if more peace ambassadors are involved in the programme.
“I look at the ICT (students), and I think it’s okay. This is what needs to be done. A lot of people have been able to communicate. I can feel it happening with South Sudan, and it will continue to grow,’ he added.