Let us be sober:To: The People of South Sudan
To: The Leaders whom we expect to meet soon
From: Edward Abyei Lino, (Prominent SPLM-er) FEB/07/2014, SSN;
QUOTE: ‘To stage a “military coup” has it’s own prerequisites, which, if not met then there would be no “coup”, which could be mutiny. Let us examine the composition of the SPLA to find out whether it was ever composed of one united entity and adhered to one doctrine.’
My dear, can we be sober! All the premeditated misdeeds we inflicted on ourselves were the very things which we had been visualizing throughout our scramble on power without any direction to guide our dreams and imaginations as to how we could build an engulfing future. And thus we missed the road to build our country!
We refused to see and take the right things people take normally to go forward. Most of us believed that our people were heading to the ‘valley of annihilation and death’ and we refused to see, heed and know how we should take life to continue living in a harmonious way.
Unto the dot, it seemed our clock had stuck and refused to move forward when that killing machine started to pound innocent lives! With clotted hands, whom can those wrongdoers greet or serve with honesty?
Honestly, some of us lost their intellect and went astray to do impossible horrors, believing to have sealed off themselves untraceable in the underground in secret caves, in this modern world of transparency.
Within a month over twenty thousands killed and over a million displaced, not knowing that we kept the whole world with open mouths, astonished by our brutality. Oh, no! We forgot to cover our dirtiest linen.
Please, position ourselves around ourselves and look attentively at the center of the events, which took and take place around us. Find and describe to ourselves as to how we relate to those events, depending on which low or high we stand.
And carefully measure the distance between us and those specific problems facing us, while imagining and visualizing the time and space we covered that close to those problems, which pushed us to commit those mistakes.
Did we really understand and experience the lessons we might have gained from all the events from which we now cover our faces whenever we attempt to talk? Now, why cover our faces!
I want to say truth cannot be given in secrecy, because truth, as a universal fact has to be given with clarity. Indeed, truth cannot be hidden nor is there a person left who can disseminate it from behind, unless it is kept deep in the satanic soul of an insane self-conceited person who lost route to Heavenly forgiveness.
Our universe gets squeezed, because we take catastrophes from personal prospective. Specially and most painfully, when one attempts to seek pardon from a poor widow, a child and those we lost forever crossing the Nile rowing, escaping to safety!
Today when we look at ourselves within our communities, which were exposed to maddening inhuman experiences only yesterday, we would deeply wonder at the nightmare which befell the nation and almost turned us into nation-less beasts.
We may break down, twist and bend expressing our sorrow, but to no avail. Oh! What a misfortune. Yes, quite many, many horrifying crimes were committed at daytime more than what happens throughout our nights.
In a flash, I rushed to Liberia and revisited how Samuel Doe was butchered and asked, why do it that way! I went to Sierra Leone and witnessed how Sierra Leoneans butchered themselves in the streets of Freetown, because of power!
I flew to Cote de Ivore to see how a President ended his democratic reign through greed and arrogance, driven naked out of the palace hands cuffed, for being the real robber!
I turned to Burundi and found how people there butchered themselves before that killing plague was exported to Rwanda! I stopped for a long time in Rwanda by heaps and heaps of speaking human skulls in Kigali, to learn about what genocide means and lessons drawn so that humanity should not forget.
Straight, I went to Hitler, to Cambodia, to Saddam, to Bokassa, to Idi Amin, to Mobutu, to Kony, to Ghaddafi, to Ali Saleh, to the Taliban and others to learn about what went wrong with us fighting ourselves over power.
Did we forget the millions who offered themselves for us to be free? I wish their skeletons could rise and speak to us, as to why we should be free people!
Looking at ourselves the way we like, we need to address ourselves in an objective way and measure the distance between problems and us! We need to know how to relate to the real issues around.
Look for instance: after about eight years of self-rule and independence why should pit-holes increase in Juba main market! Why should pipes not increase commensurate to the rapid growth of Juba and other cities! Why should electricity go blind for years! When shall our schools stand to educate our children!
Not a few people look at the experiences we went through in the last few years with admiration. There are disappointments, but we condone them because of fear and escape to hide in foreign lands. We need to review those major impediments.
After our independence lack of these projects should be the real problem for which we should hold the government accountable by the throat from top to bottom.
It is a weak debasing tendency to handle things halfway when we intend to free ourselves from trouble, see and take them as they appear in the liking of a narrator who does not know how to keep experiences, depending on what benefit to gain or loose emanating from personal prospective.
But some of us fear objectivity, in spite of the fact that subjectivity might kill a greedy person. The objective, are the people who can hold the torch and lead through right passages in the dark.
Imaginations, which emanate from lack of experience dominates our thinking to do things that cannot save our restless souls. That is why there are no intellectuals around to follow our national issues to their logical conclusions.
Why deny ourselves to give up our rights! Why forfeit our destiny to ignorance! Where are the intellectuals! What are they doing, bending submissively in the dark? Poor imagination seems to be a chronic disease. If we pay no attention to that, it could suffocate and fry us in that open pit of shame!
Many mistakes have been done which might lead us to more fighting and deepen our disunity and disintegrate! Precisely, this is the time for our intellectuals with living conscience to rise and lead the people. Let us rise above personal gains.
We need to examine our realities with broad open minds. Sensitive mishaps by nature happen discreetly like dreaming and grow wild in the process.
But when we sense or see things cracking around us, some self-proclaimed infallible individuals from among us would turn and rush to stick blames and curses on others, whom they believe to be blind, dump and stupid not to have seen or even participated in what happened.
“I am right, because I am here holding a loaded gun”, so do they claim! At the pick of that ruthlessness, those who considered themselves to be ‘lucky’ are those who ‘benefited’ through the barrel of those newly acquired guns, without knowing that they were closely observed and followed by the people they scared with the very guns, which were bought with public funds.
That was the reason why looting took place at random. Why should those who committed crimes forget that they were being watched at close range with contempt!
What is happening now is that, those on the top of events do not know, feel or sense to have committed any crime on the very people they left drowning in the swamps, while the wretched in the bottom are thinking hard about how to apprehend wrongdoers and have them taken to justice, which has become an international affair.
Let no one be irritated because we, the concerned individuals, through our misdeeds to our own people were the people who attracted the inquisitive eyes of justice!
Please, let us admit our mistakes. Have them corrected in a transparent process. Eradicate the trauma and reconcile. Our people must reconcile in a genuine manner.
I encountered a teenager a few months before that Juba massacre, who appeared to belong to one of the newly ‘privileged classes’ driving an elegant leather seated 2012 V8 Balloon. I heard him asking some of his colleagues about the availability of a 2013 Model to change his ‘outdated’ wind-dropped Balloon.
And there were other strange tails related to that story, as he was fuming with contempt against another guy from a presumed rivaling community who contested him and won the Balloon he chose, in a Mafia way.
To that fellow what happened was so disturbing! The news and literature he ran about this and that tribe or nationality were not forthcoming and quite alarming.
When our Archbishop spoke in Nyakoron Hall in the evening of the 14th December 2013, followed by Bishop Paride on 15th evening, they both raised concern about the dangerous stage people were passing through and both of them appealed to the President before all to take some practical steps to ease the tension.
Following that candid appeal, the President rose and went to kiss the holy ring of Archbishop Lukudu, followed a day later by shooting all over Juba and elsewhere!
Let me state that some well placed individuals did prepare to exterminate others, because of the ‘disturbing’ tribal appearances, perhaps, under the belief that, the other tribe should not exist unless under the domination of that bigger tribe!
But really, why should big tribes be protected anyway? Some people decided to hate others for no convincing reasons. There could be some unknown hidden facts with regards to this matter.
Facts if exposed would definitely withdraw the carpet from the feet of those who are fighting their people. The right time has started to draw near and nearer for every bit of shameful fact to be exposed.
As a newborn nation, we refused to follow the fact that we were being seriously observed and our deeds and misdeeds are well recorded; to which all our crimes, deeds, styles, hand prints and pictures have been added without our knowledge or consent taken. That was so, because we refuse to grow and learn from our mistakes and experiences. Come on let us be sober!
Indeed, quite many mishaps have been made from day one, since the formation of our interim government. Our friends came with sincerity admiring, to see how we could be assisted. But we received them very coldly when we turned down their advice about the involvement of notorious individuals, ‘prophets of corruption’, whom we decided to entrust with the formation of our first interim government!
We mishandled the formation and the building of the SPLM, the SPLA and security organs, as well as other organized forces. We dismantled them intentionally.
We mishandled our major developmental projects: water in Juba, electricity, sewage, airport, hospital and roads. We failed to constitute our civil service according to merits and have it modernized. We blindly failed to open schools and that is why we send our kids on scholarships to kindergartens in foreign countries!
We failed to build roads to Yambio, Wau, Aweil, Raga, Malakal, Renk, Nasir, Rumbak, Bentiu, Pibor, Torit, Kapoeta, Kenya, Ethiopia, Yei, DR Congo and CAR and failed to erect a single bridge on the Nile.
We failed to implement those projects, which could have absorbed thousands and thousands of our poor people in spite of the fact that we lavishly spent over seventeen Billion Dollars in the past eight years since 2005!
We failed to attract investors, and today we remorselessly admit to have misspent over two Billion Dollars on a single commodity called ‘corn’ or Dura! People hear about loans coming, but let people be told where did money go? Seventy-five dignitaries were declared to be corrupt, but were not taken to court!
Now I stand to believe, all the chaos and financial havoc, which took place in South Sudan, Juba in particular being the capital, could be one of the reasons, which has contributed to the current fighting between beneficiaries underground.
Some of us have messed up a great deal to the point of starting to believe that they own South Sudan, because of their being from this or that tribe! Stories that come from across the oceans tend to confirm that.
And that could be one of the reasons why some of those people embarked ruthlessly on destroying whatever local including human beings! They started to open fire with arrogance in Juba, the heart of South Sudan and Central Equatoria State, of whom many citizens were looted and killed in crossfire with intended recklessness, and in other areas far from their original homes undeterred by ethics, because they seem to believe to own everything, land and people!
So, how should people narrate the atrocities, which took place in Yei, Meridi or Mundri to other people! Should people deny that they never happened! Who shall compensate all the losses, which our people incurred in those forgotten areas!
No, no, no, as a leadership, we have committed gross mistakes. If it were me I would publicly apologize and resign, since I failed to keep my people united and started to loot, groom and arm one ethnicity against the other!
No, my dear no! South Sudan belongs to no one, but to all South Sudanese. South Sudan belongs to no single ethnicity but to all the ethnicities of South Sudan.
South Sudan belongs to no single leader, but to the collective leadership of the people of South Sudan. Fragile and backward as it is, the country can disintegrate before us as we see it happen!
Individuals do commit mistakes. Let us admit and see how to correct them. If I hate Riek, why hate the Nuer! If I hate Salva, why hate the Dinka or any other nationality in the world not even in South Sudan!
There are mistakes, which could be pardoned. But there are others, which cannot be forgiven or even forgotten when intended to endanger the very foundation on which a people, and not an ethnicity, had collectively agreed to erect their nation; won through hard and long legendary war of liberation in which they lost over three million people!
No, no, we need to stand up great, as we were, to continue the struggle. We need to leave behind us something meaningful for the coming generations. Let us rise and shoulder the challenge of palliating our pains and wounds to build our nation.
Today, we collectively need to do things that shall save our newborn nation. Let us not get drawn in tears or socked in sorrow. Let our South Sudan be born again. Let our country rise above whims of that person who wants to consume us raw then die poorer than any poor South Sudanese, whom some of us believe to have killed, but left unburied!
Our story is crystal clear and that, we have to develop a federal democratic republic where our people shall be free to adore and develop in peace.
Now we all know what happened. No lie shall cover the truth. All the mistakes that forced us across those hot waters were caused by some few individuals whom we now know and why they did that in different, but united way of which some are even agents to foreign dictators.
We also need to know what to do to correct the mistakes we inflicted on ourselves in the first place. And the most fatal of all our diseases is the disease of submissiveness to rulers, the way we were subjected to dominators!
That is one of the leftovers of Khartoum who take us for ‘insects’. We need to unite and rise against any soul that shall attempt to dominate us after our independence. Hei! Let us be sober.
To stage a “military coup” has it’s own prerequisites, which, if not met then there would be no “coup”, which could be mutiny. Let us examine the composition of the SPLA to find out whether it was ever composed of one united entity and adhere to one doctrine.
No, no, SPLA has never been a robust united force since we started to incorporate militia into it in appalling numbers. Each formation taken was not fully absorbed, in reality. But was left to wonder in uniform commanded by their previous untrained jihadist officers.
Each soldier was almost free to take whoever to choose to be commander! And in that process we lost the essence of command and control and therefore no discipline. Armies are nothing without discipline!
In reality, there was nothing called “SPLA”! Basically SPLA existed, but it was divided and shredded into tribal formations adhering to individual commanders, based on localized tribal understanding. That is why our Commander-in-Chief had to resort to his tribe to form his group!
Indeed, SPLA had one uniform, but belonging to different commands inside that uniform. Therefore, since they do not adhere to one command, how would they stage a coup! There are several command posts scattered in Juba. But in essence they are all “defensive” in their formations.
None of them had an “offensive” capability except one! In fact, that alleged coup was not there and those who briefed the President should change the language and call “a spade a spade”. I know it is not easy to do that. But how can people accept to take a “spade” for a “forklift”! In such a situation, let’s get trained to call things by their scientific names.
There was no coup and what happened was a very unfortunate killing chaos!
Militarism, which is currently being inculcated by militia and their equals into the minds and hearts of our civil population, needs to be curbed with a strong sense of urgency once things get settled. Militarism started to rise with an alarming passé into the psychology of the common person in South Sudan. We need to confront that with vigor.
During the war, to confront the SPLA, those Khartoum dominating governments constituted almost over fifty varying militia groups to fight that war by proxy, since 1983. That had negative impact on the lives of the common person in South Sudan until now!
That sort of jihadist militarism based on barbarism led to maximum self-disrespect: looting un-abetted, raping un-restricted, killing un-accounted for, as well as, not knowing the cause one was fighting for. It was a life constituted on the barrel of the gun, through which militias acquire life-sustaining incomes.
So far in the Sudan, since 1955 up to now not a single Sudanese soldier has ever been taken before justice for war crimes committed, except for the SPLA freedom fighters, of whom some were executed for crimes like rape, committed during the liberation. Accountability of the military and dealing with militarism should be taken very seriously!
Before President Museveni “smartly” expressed his support in confidence to this and to that side in our conflict, no sober person ever knew that he was going to be involved body and soul to one side in an internal conflict among brothers in South Sudan.
But he dashed in a barbaric way. His helicopters killed people randomly in a local conflict in which they understand nothing. Beside petro-Dollars, which had kept him running desperately after Ghaddafi, what pushed him into the swamps of South Sudan is yet to be discovered.
Now Museveni is there, while al-Bashier is desperately waiting to rape us. Lack of a formidable force to defend South Sudan has become evident, since SPLA has scattered to more than a direction and many of our fighters who fought the war of liberation deserted.
This is no more a secret. That situation needs to be attended to, beside the other organized forces. Yuweri is required to stop killing in South Sudan. Let him use whatever hair left under his creamy hat to fly out his gunships. Let his personal involvement not generate bad relations between our peoples. We need our people to live in peace and harmony.
We made a lot of mistakes in our recent past, which made some of us to grow wild in the process of usurping the power of the people for their own good. As a people, we were explicitly told that we should not be led into war again.
And that was the reason why we pulled out our advancing forces from Pan-Thou and almost offered the whole of Abyei Area for free after having abandoned its oil to Omer al-Bashier. Our rich Hofrat-Nahas remains a big challenge and we do not know when to have it incorporated.
But to the surprise of our people some myopic individuals were bogged down preparing for internal war, without knowing how long it shall take and from where to fund it! They simply usurped our public funds to finance that war.
But, to raise such legitimate concerns these days would definitely amount to unforgivable sin. The sin of knowing, understanding and exposing an open secret in which guns and bombs were fired in public, but no!
Let us say it, because it is a legitimate right of a freedom fighter, to say the truth when things go wrong, at any cost. On that steep twisted road we were pushed hard by unstudied individualistic notions. But now, let us correct our mistakes. We need to stand up free and do the very things free people do to be free.
In this regard, let us revisit the vision of SPLM, which we inherited soberly from Dr. John Garang de Mabior, we, all the legitimate heirs of our peoples’ struggle. A vision long watered by the pure blood of our martyrs, built over impossible years of our struggle.
A vision that confronted tribalism and I would re-call our Leader addressing the people of Bor in un-mince-able terms over Radio SPLA, when some started to behave in a dominating way.
He told them, if you do not change your attitude, he was prepared to unite all the tribes of Southern Sudan against them.
The Movement, the SPLM/SPLA, belongs not to one tribe, but to all the Sudanese people on equal basis. And he meant his words!
A vision that transcends over the boundaries of religious divides, tribalism, sectarianism, sectionalism, gender-ism and all the ‘isms’ that tend to place others below others.
A vision drawn to transfer our towns to the villages! A sound vision that should have used our oil to develop our agriculture and other human potentials!
In short, a vision irrigated with the blood of our most beloved mothers and children. A vision that kept us all united and led us to freedom.
Let us revisit our vision! Let us not over-lament for the loss of Bor, Bentiu, Malakal, towns and villages put under fire by us.
Hellish fires which we premeditated to light in our hearts against ourselves in the first place. Let us weep not. All that happened when we refused to be wise. So, let us be wise!
In those anticipated talks, South Sudan should emerge strong and hopeful. A new republic has to be born. We must unite and build our country on the firm basis of democracy, justice and peace.
I strongly believe we can make it as we did in the recent past. We need to revisit our interim Constitution.
Critically, let us examine our civil service. We have to sit down properly and come up with viable formulae for building a new formidable army, police and security institutions. We need to examine our justice institutions.
We must confront corruption. We need to direct our social institutions. We need to handle how developmental projects should be implemented equitably.
Oil can be a killing grace and as such, we need to revisit its extraction and disposal process on an equitable viable basis.
We need good education. We need to be gender sensitive. We need to come out against all the negative aspects of tribalism. We need to teach our citizens to understand the Constitution. We need our civil societies to flourish in our hearts.
We desperately need to attract investors. We need to structure our economy. We need to open our minds and hands for people of good will to come and assist us.
All the above and even more are what we expect to come up in our envisaged meetings, as a people yearning for what shall save us as individuals and together as a nation, in which people shall always pray genuinely for stability and peace…
Please, take my candid words seriously with sincerity…
Top them with my love to you all in spite of what happened!!!
Writer email address email@example.com, Nairobi, Kenya