Chronic Absence of Internal Peace: Is South Sudan a failed State?

BY: Wani Tombe Lako, SUDAN, JUL/01/2013, SSN;

The notion or concept and practice of integral peace (IP), may appear to be a commonplace thing for some of us in the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS). However, the misunderstood notion/concept of, and absence of IP in the RoSS, constitute some of the societal moral, legal, constitutional, socio-cultural, psychological, and religious challenges that the peoples of the RoSS need to overcome.

By notion/concept of IP, I mean the general state of public tranquillity, whereby, there is a general freedom from civil disturbances or hostility. Given the multiplicity of tribes in the RoSS, it is also valid for me to be apprehensive about armed tribal peace, that is, a situation in which two or more tribes, while at peace, are actually armed for possible or probable hostilities.

The practice of IP is therefore all amicable public or private, group or individual, and tribal or institutional, intentions and acts or omissions, which contribute to comprehensive pacification of the human society in the RoSS. Within the remit of the RoSS, these pacification processes ought to be within the ambit of sectoral taxonomies therein.

There is also a logical need, for the acceptance of universal definitions for salient variables of the notion/concept of IP. This is important, so that, there emerges a uniform methodology for the operationalization of these variables, in order to attain the ultimate conditions favourable for the outbreak of IP in the RoSS.

What are universal definitions for salient variables of the notion/concept of IP in the RoSS? For example, the intention or conduct of assault. Both fall within criminal and tort laws in South Sudan. We are refereeing here to the threat of use of force, on another that causes, that person to have a reasonable apprehension, of imminent harmful or offensive contact.

That is the act of putting another person, in the reasonable fear, or apprehension of an immediate battery, by means of an act amounting to an attempt or threat to commit battery. I am trying here to show that, in the RoSS, with its practical myriads of tribes, complete with their languages, there is bound to be some conflicting meanings to the notion/concept of assault, and thus IP.

With specific reference to sectoral taxonomies referred to above, it can be argued that, each individual sector, within the economy or society of the RoSS, comes complete with its salient variables of IP. It is the positive and beneficent operationalisation, of these sectoral variables of IP which shall, at the end, lead to the general outbreak of IP in the RoSS.

Let us take the variables of economic or financial and political powers for example. How do we use these sectoral variables in such a fashion that, we maximize the units of IP in them, and thus minimizing or extinguishing the units of hostility in them? Let us for example correlate the variables of hostilities, of current rebellions in the RoSS, with the variables of economic or financial, and political powers, and then see the behaviour of units of IP in the RoSS.

It appears that, the variables of hostilities in the current rebellions in the RoSS, are akin to those variables of hostilities which were present in the SPLM/A, as a rebellion against the hitherto unitary Sudanese State. Therefore, this means the correlation of civil strives, various economic, financial, and political powers variables, within the remit of hitherto unitary Sudan. The synergies between these variables, maximized hostilities in the hitherto unitary Sudan, and minimized, and almost extinguished the variables of IP in the hitherto unitary Sudan.

There were no universal common and beneficent definitions of variables of IP as between the SPLM/A, and the hitherto unitary Sudan, until the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) (2005). The CPA produced some contradictory common working definitions for the variables of ramshackle and transient IP in the unitary Sudan.

These were the Government of National Unity (GoNU), in Khartoum, and the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in Juba. This was the case up until the birth of the sovereign RoSS, as a direct result of absence of IP in the hitherto unitary Sudan, as well as comprehensive absence of common, beneficent, and functional, definitions, of the variables of IP in the hitherto unitary Sudan.

What historical, and contemporaneous beneficial lessons are there, for the peoples of the RoSS, to learn, from the then overdue outbreak of IP, in the hitherto unitary Sudan, which led to the secession of South Sudan, and the current overdue outbreak of IP in sovereign RoSS? Many a people shall always argue that, the CPA provided for the plebiscite to be conducted in South Sudan.

The CPA is only bundles of papers, containing human feelings, of hurting human beings. These hurting feelings have historical and contemporaneous origins. Human feelings are human feelings. Human hurts are human hurts. That is, human hurts do not wait to identify the race, colour, ethnicity, and religion of the source of the excruciating hurts.

Reactions to human hurts are always the same notwithstanding the sources of such human hurts. We in the RoSS have to understand this. We in the RoSS have to minimize and extinguish the tendencies towards the creation of subaltern others, in the RoSS. This is because, such tendencies represent the entrenchment of absence of IP in the RoSS, and thus, some of the explanation for the overdue outbreak of IP therein.

We in the RoSS ought to guard against, instances of societal cruelty, whereby, predatory sovereign formations, strive to thrive on accidents of history. Such historical accidents include regimes of the dominant others, based on brute raw force, frauds, tyrannies and brutalities. This might in the end render many peoples of the RoSS rightless and almost remediless.

These are the kinds of human formations, which are right now entrenching themselves in the RoSS, and which does not promote the outbreak of IP therein. The peoples of the RoSS must not be deluded by the ubiquitous insignia of self-determination. Even in times of peace, the human person can be deprived of his or her human rights, by the same political paradigms.

That is, political paradigms, which on face value, enthuse the populace with human rights parlance, but, in fact, gave birth to iniquitous political markets. In these iniquitous political markets, the human rights of the human person become nothing but political currencies, for purchasing more of societal impoverishment. We in the RoSS must watch out against the invention of many political modes of production, of human hurts and miseries, which delay the outbreak of IP, or even, extinguish such IP in the RoSS.

On the other hand, mere enunciation of historical presence of human hurts and agonies is not in itself a justifiable reason, for locking the peoples of South Sudan in human unreasonableness. That is, psychological thoughtlessness, for the regurgitation of these historical hurts and agonies, as basis for future happiness and universal IP in the RoSS.

The extant flirting with insignias of self-determination in the RoSS, must not become the existential political incubators in the RoSS, for the germination of future societal hurts and agonies, via contemporaneous deprivation of the RoSS, of its badly needed IP.

There are many disturbing negative human conducts in the RoSS. These conducts, paradoxically, became must do cultural accessories, with the domestication of politics of human rights, through the doctrine of self-determination. For example, the wholesale relocation of families of South Sudanese elites and others, who have the resources to do so, to nearby Kampala and Nairobi, for safekeeping?

This is a phenomenon which we in the RoSS must interrogate with all seriousness needed. Many, if asked for reasons, for such actions, shall narrate plethora of stories, confirming the endemic deficit of IP in the RoSS, as the fundamental cause for this exodus of well-to-do families, from the RoSS, to these East African fountains of perceived IP.

I do not blame these individual families whatsoever. My blame is on us, South Sudanese, as a polity, as a political society, and as policies. What kind of a message are we broadcasting to the outside world? That is, as regards the stability of our country. As well as our ability to manage our affairs by ourselves, so that, we are able to educate and socialise the next generation of South Sudanese, in South Sudan?

I think, the rest of the world, and our immediate neighbours, to whom we are currently sending our children and wives for education and safekeeping respectively, shall justifiably conclude that, there is a chromic deficit of IP in the RoSS. This also means that, we ourselves doubt general societal stability in our nascent country. Others could also justifiably conclude that, we lack the ability to rule ourselves.

We must thoroughly disabuse ourselves from thinking that, ruling ourselves by ourselves involves constant response to internal fire with fire. On the other hand, ruling ourselves by ourselves, does not mean the treatment of chronic intra and inter-tribal bloody carnages as ordinary cultural events, and just wait for that time when such costly episodes shall just miraculously disappear.

Ruling ourselves by ourselves does not mean that, the whole RoSS becomes a sociological and an anthropological platform whereby, tribes eye themselves with angry suspicions devoid of any semblance of human trust.

Those East African countries, to which we continuously send our children and wives, for education and safekeeping, did not find the relative IP, which we want our children and wives to savour, and bask in, lying on the ground. The peoples of these East African countries, worked hard to pacify themselves, and relatively tamed their wild and ancient tribal lust for killing one another, so that, they can have relative communal peace as human societies.

These East African countries are able to supply us in the RoSS with the limited foodstuff which we are fighting over, due to the fact that, they have secured for themselves some relative IP, which could allow them to produce enough food for their subsistence, and some to sell to us.

These East African countries are able to run the schools to which we send our children for education because, they have succeeded in outlawing all semblances of tribal bigotry, which are always counterproductive.

On the other hand, these East African countries are able to keep their schools open so that we can send our children to study there, by paying their teachers reasonable salaries and on time.

These East countries are keen on feeding their students, and on making sure that, their children do not go to schools to kill themselves there, along tribal lines. These acts and omissions appear to be very mundane for others in the RoSS, however, these mundane issues are the giant pillars of IP in any reasonable society, and an IP which is becoming extraordinarily, and dangerously illusive in the RoSS, due to our individual and group recklessness.

It is extremely unfortunate and lamentable that, the RoSS was born near terminally disabled, and deformed. This has been due to abnormal development of, and near absence of IP. In fact, IP is one of the most important organs, for RoSS’s eternal survival and effective, efficient and beneficent functioning, as a modern State.

This modern State, ought to be able to discharge all its local, national, regional, and international duties and obligations. The good news is that, this ailment as far as this vital organ is concerned, can be remedied by ourselves in the RoSS, if we have the group will to do so.

The most important first step towards the cure of this ailment is the cessation of internal hostilities in the RoSS. We as a people ought to know that, all major civil unrests, start as negligible instances of rebellions, and then, such unfortunate events snowball into full-blown civil wars. We have seen this happening in Africa a lot. Our own modern history is also a powerful testimony to this.

Therefore, we must immediately start working towards the immediate outbreak of IP in the RoSS, by all peaceful means. The reasons for this current deficit of IP in the RoSS are all known to us in the RoSS, and to all other regional, and international players and stakeholders. It was mentioned above that, the intrinsic and inherent causes of current deficit of IP in the RoSS are akin to the causes of the general deficit of IP in hitherto unitary Sudan and thus; the uprising by the peoples of South Sudan in 1955 and 1983 respectively.

It all boils down to subjective and objective, or potential and actual, human hurts, humiliations, marginalization, and discriminations. Issues of wealth and political power are common variables of the histories of deficit of IP in South Sudan. It was also mentioned above that, human hurts are human hurts, notwithstanding who is inflicting such hurts, on the supposed victims of these hurts.

These being issues on hand at the moment, it is then imperative that, we in the RoSS must give ourselves some respite from our chronic cycles of hostilities.

We have to understand that, we in the RoSS, cannot by all means, entrench deficit of IP, and the perpetration of any form of societal violence, as the methodology of claiming our political and civil rights, in the RoSS. If we confirm this as the only methodology, we have, in the RoSS, for accessing the said civil and political rights, then, we have collectively as a society, effectively signed our own death warrant.

That is, we shall never see any IP in the RoSS, and our East African, and other partners, shall become our permanent destinations for refuge and such like. Is that what we collectively fought for? Is that the meaning of self-determination that we are celebrating day-in-and-day-out in the RoSS?

We in the RoSS need to redefine the meanings of public roles. We cannot vote for independence, and then proceed to kill ourselves in the RoSS, simply because, we want to serve our people in constitutional positions, either in Juba or in any of the ten states in the RoSS. If we truly want to serve our peoples in the RoSS, we cannot serve them by making them homeless, hungry, ill, traumatized, hopeless, and futureless.

These entire dangerous situations, due to deficit of IP in the RoSS, are created by our continuous engagement in armed political hostilities, related to issues of wealth and power sharing within constitutional paradigms of the RoSS. For those of us in power at the moment, we should not also see those of us not in power as permanent enemies.

Those of us who voice our objective political concerns, from time to time, about the fashion of governance in the RoSS, are not really permanent enemies of the peoples of the RoSS, nor are we permanent enemies of those in power in the RoSS.

The real issue is that, as South Sudanese, those who are not in political power, at the moment, only want to see that, their brothers and sisters, who are in political power, do their level best in such a fashion that, there is an IP in the RoSS.

This IP in the RoSS can be tangibly felt in terms of all vital goods and services in the RoSS, including general tribal tranquillities in all states of the RoSS. Those South Sudanese not in government, at the moment, want their brothers and sisters, in government, to work hard for total and immediate outbreak of IP in the RoSS.

The author is Professor of Social and Rural Development and Lecturer in Laws. He can be reached at

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