BY: Mayak Deng Aruei
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King proclaimed. Having just concluded the SPLM/SPLA’s historic Day-May 16, I’d like to encourage South Sudanese to reconnect with their past, recall the many wars they fought against the colonial powers, and against the successive Sudanese governments.
The quest for independent South Sudan dated back to 1947, but the liberation struggle that started in 1983 gave birth to the nation called South Sudan. Freedom as it was the basis for five decades struggle cannot be realized until peace is every citizen’s Motto.
For the record, war destroys good conscience, bankrupts countries, and corrupts the intelligentsia. In South Sudan, the culture of revenge, vicious cycles of violence and cattle-rustling have contributed to political intolerance across the country.
The nation’s founding principles have been suppressed; freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, justice and equality. Fear of unknowns, aided by deliberate obstruction of democratic governance has undermined South Sudanese collective efforts. Take your time and read the article in its entirety.
Why are South Sudanese fleeing their homes?
The outflow of South Sudanese into neighboring countries is a proof that they cannot live in their country whilst the war rages. In the aftermath of the ongoing civil war, many civilians were forcefully uprooted from their villages, crops production in rural South Sudan hit all times low, and attempts by the Regional Bloc to resolve the conflict were met with steep resistances.
Because of the unbearable economic conditions, civilians who have no other sources of income apart from local production chose to leave the country for refugee camps, and some took up residence in internally displaced camps.
The conflict has disturbed people’s livelihoods in many ways: frequent raiding of cattle ensued, trading activities declined, boundaries and territorial disputes have proliferated over the newly created counties and states.
With all that, mistrust among neighboring communities has deteriorated “bigly.” To make matters even worst, South Sudanese warring Factions acted more like racist rival gangs.
State’s power and Media in Crisis!
As part of the recent history, those who have had the courage to write history as it occurs have been preyed upon by agents of destruction.
A short-lived politics where those in power use their positions to make gains has ripple effects and negatively impact on the society as a whole.
Intolerance in its all forms should be discarded. The new wave of unknown gunmen has resulted in mysterious deaths of vocal cyber-critics.
The Republic of South Sudan is known in papers as a democratic State, the Interim constitution is colorful in terms of what it says, and how it envisioned South Sudan as a country governed by laws.
Despite to all that, South Sudanese leaders have made themselves unattractive; failed to acknowledge all they have caused onto the governed.
There should be no any doubt; those in charge have failed the leadership’s test, and have tarnished their legacies.
The world at large has written extensively about South Sudan as the world’s newest State, and the challenges it had faced in the past 6 years of its independence.
This leads me to the next point; governance and politics in the new nation.
Misguided national politics!
The political landscape of South Sudan is barren and rough, not a lot of rooms for citizens to contribute freely to the nation-building.
The politics of “divide and rule” is not new in South Sudan; it has been used numerous times by select politicians to rise to power.
The causes of the mini-wars in South Sudan have been spelled out in the last itemized points. Social media has helped expose so many hidden and behind the scene political dealings.
The raging war has destroyed citizens’ expectations, and undermined goals for South Sudan’s independence. The displacement of civilians speaks volumes.
The unequal civilians’ access to public good is a primary problem in South Sudan, and it’s often exploited by disgruntled Groups, and uses it as a recruiting political message.
This is where the Interest Groups in the Region and around the world get their chances to meddle in internal affairs of South Sudan.
Humanitarians’ organizations that bring in assistance: food and medical supplies are not immune from influencing the political process in the country.
It is also relevant to point out that their donors want to see positive impacts, and organizations want to stay there as long as war continues.
For South Sudanese to coexist, to harvest fruits of their hard earned independence, peace must prevail in South Sudan.
The nation of South Sudan started on a wrong footing, the first rebellions (2010-2012) were just the beginning of bigger political wrangles.
It was a matter of time, but things were going to explode.
The current crisis is no longer what it was between 2013 and 2015, it has evolved into something else.
The wounds of this conflict are deep, clans are competing against clans, and neighbors are constantly in heated arguments.
The incentives for peace are many: economic prosperity, free trade, high crops yield, and cheaper homemade commodities.
The treasures of war are many: political unrest, economic despair, and widespread poverty.
In summary, it’s fair and safe to conclude that political tolerance is the way forward. The problem(s) of South Sudan are better termed as systemic:
— lack of meaningful political structures, breakdown of social relationships, and lack of adherence to the nation’s founding principles.
As a multicultural and multi-ethnic State, South Sudan needs laws and policies that can protect citizens equally, institutions that will accelerate nation-building, and leaders who’d follow through with people’s aspirations.
Just to touch up edges, Martin Luther King further emphasized, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
This piece of writing is for the voiceless, and for invigorating nationalism among South Sudanese.
May the ongoing peace conference end the conflict, and may South Sudanese find a common ground for all their political differences!
The writer is Mayak Deng Aruei, a Peace Activist & Human Rights Advocate. He can be reached at Kongor.firstname.lastname@example.org