Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, Chairman and C-in-C of the SSDF, NOV/28/2016, SSN;
The struggle for an independent South Sudan was pioneered by the Equatorians as evidenced by the Torit Mutiny on 18 August 1955. Subsequently, the struggle took the shape of a full-blown liberation movement under the leadership of Fr Saturnino Ohure, Aggrey Jadden, Joseph Oduho, Gordon Mortat and Joseph Lagu. Then the South Sudanese were seemingly one people united around one common goal which was getting rid of the Jallaba rule.
The tribal prejudices and inclination to tribalism were kept at a low level. Tribalism was bound to disappear or remain insignificant had we kept the nationalistic approach of the Equatorian leaders.
South Sudanese nationalism was on the rise since the Torit revolt only to be hampered by Alier’s administration following the Addis Ababa Peace Accord, impeded by Garang’s SPLM/SPLA and totally derailed by Kiir’s regime, thanks to the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE).
South Sudan would have been in a better place by now had the government put the people’s business as its top priority. Instead, it pursued a policy that lacked impartiality, favouring the interests of one ethnicity (the Jieng) and pitting communities against each other.
The Juba massacre of the Nuer civilians on 15/12/2013 was a mortal blow to the South Sudanese nationalism. The Equatorians, the Chollo and the people of Western Bahr Ghazal were subjected to atrocities and heinous crimes as well. The regime has destroyed the social fabric of the country.
Now there is a great concern among the Equatorians and the international community as well that the government in Juba is preparing to commit genocide. Many human rights organisations have sounded the alarm bell and most important was the statement of Adama Dieng, the UN Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide on the 11/11/2016. Mr Dieng confirmed that all the ingredients for genocide, do exist in Equatoria at present. He has urged the international community to move fast to avert a catastrophe.
It’s clear that there is no such thing as South Sudanese nationalism at present. You will be deceiving yourself if you think the contrary. However, the SSDF believes that Equatoria is already a nation. South Sudan is not yet a nation but has got the potential to become one.
There is peaceful coexistence among the Equatorian communities despite diverse ethnicities. They have developed a unique common language (Arabi Juba) which is spoken all over Equatoria and beyond. They have a common psychological make-up or culture.
When you add to the above the fact that they come from a territory with well-defined boundaries, then the conclusion is that a nation is in existence. There is no ambiguity here, but many Equatorians seem to lack awareness of this fact just because they never gave it a thought.
There are reasons to believe that the JCE and some among the Jieng elites knew it and are working day and night to see it unravelling. It’s not a coincidence that the name Equatoria has been removed and never featured in the newly created 28 states.
We have seen the attempts to avoid using the name Equatoria and the increasing tendency to address the Equatorians individually according to their respective tribes. An undeclared war is being waged against Arabi Juba to stop it from spreading all over South Sudan. These desperate acts would come to no avail.
Between the late 1950’s and the second half of the 1960’s, a policy of cultural and religious assimilation was adhered to by the Aboud’s regime and the democratically elected governments. Some South Sudanese were coerced into changing their religion and names to Arabic names.
But as soon as the first winds of relative freedom blew over South Sudan after the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement – those South Sudanese swiftly discarded their coerced names and rapidly abandoned the adopted religion they were made to believe in. It’s too obvious that going against an insurgency or an army is a lot easier than fighting a culture.
Turning the country into a big prison, bugging people’s phones, torturing and eliminating perceived opponents, will only strengthen the people’s resolve to topple the regime. The JCE plan is bound to fail but would, unfortunately,
come at a high cost for the country both in human lives and material.
Our vision revolves around two central points. Firstly – Equatorian nationalism does not work against South Sudanese nationalism. In fact, it facilitates and enhances the process towards that end. The presence of Equatoria as a Sovereign State within a stable South Sudan would set the ground for peaceful coexistence, more cultural interactions and the emergence of one dominant language (Arabi Juba).
In essence, Equatorian nationalism would be the Launchpad for the greater South Sudanese nationalism.
It’s evident that the regime in Juba which is heavily under the influence of the JCE has its agenda for transforming the country into a Jieng State. The Dinka Development Plan (DDP) is at odds with fostering a South Sudanese nationalism.
The domination of the government by the Jieng and the operationalisation of the 28 states all point to the implementation of the DDP.
Therefore, a confederacy is the only way to salvage Equatoria and the other states as Sovereign entities and at the same time to safeguard the evolution of South Sudan into a nation where unity in diversity is upheld.
Secondly – We are not poor people but impoverished by poor policies and the absence of visionary leadership at the helm of the government. We do own vast swathes of fertile lands, numerous water resources and massive untapped mineral reserves.
South Sudan was lucky to have a reasonable number of technocrats at the time of independence as compared to the other African countries. With a visionary approach and the right policies in place, South Sudan would have leapt several steps forward in the way of development by now.
The formula for a rapid growth and improvement in services delivery to the populace encompasses three things. Prioritising the objectives, proper planning and setting up achievable targets within a specified time-frame.
The SSDF has ambitious plans for a robust economic growth and development guided by the principles of fiscal conservatism and a small government. We believe that with peace, the right policies and well-placed efforts, South Sudan could become a stable and wealthy country in the middle of Africa similar to Switzerland in the midst of Europe.
Dr Lako Jada Kwajok,
Chairman and C-in-C of the SSDF