BY: Dr. Ireneaus Sebit, Nairobi, Kenya, APR/08/2013, SSN;
Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about creating heaven in the homeland where people reap the abundant fruits of liberation, where children are guaranteed their future, where health services are for all free of charge or nearly so. Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about a home that has modern roads, bridges, railway lines, modern airlines, good communication system. Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about abundant food grown within the country not the catastrophic daily import from Uganda and Kenya.
Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about dedication to creating peace, tranquility and unity among the people of South Sudan. Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about non-existence of corruption, nepotism, tribalism, hegemony, oppression and subjugation. Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about absolute respect for public and individual property and working for one another as brothers and sisters in one country.
Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about existence of rule of law where human sanctity and rights are upheld. Thinking about patriotism is like thinking about existence of independent judiciary, parliament and executive that complement each other. I would go on thinking about patriotism endlessly but I have to end because the patriotism being preached in South Sudan has different interpretation from the dictionary patriotism.
What is being preached is a translocation of words from Nyagat and liberators. I will expound on this connection later but I would like to start by saying that of recent some of our brothers have started questioning South Sudanese whether they are patriots or not. This means there are patriotic South Sudanese and Non-patriotic South Sudanese.
Before going to urge on this point I want to recall that during the referendum, it was announced to the whole world that 98% of South Sudanese voted yes for the independence of South Sudan. If this is the case I wonder whether what some people are calling non-patriotic South Sundanese are the 2% who voted no or there is a new connotation to the use of the word patriotism.
My crystal ball tell me that there is a new connotation to the usage of patriotism. My strong feeing is that this is yet another invention to discriminate or divide South Sudanese into two groups: patriotic and non-patriotic and this is coming up because words like Nyagat and liberators have lost taste and indeed become un-sellable even to the proponents of being liberators and non-Nyagat.
Ladies and gentlemen, rather let me say my countrymen, nothing can be hidden but the fact is that all these three words are being used in one context; we are not collaborators with the enemy (not Nyagat), we are liberators thus have right to everything and we are patriots and thus can be corrupt, tribalistic, oppressive, hegemonic and dictatorial. Let me not be misunderstood at this stage but follow the issues, countrymen.
The word Nyagat was coined in 1983 by the newly-formed SPLM/SPLA to refer to the Anya Anya two who Garang had forced out in the initially unified movement when the fighters met for the first time in Bonga, Ethiopia, after various groups including Garang and Keribino joined the group led by Abdalla Chol, Gaitut and Atem.
During this democratic exercise Garang was elected to lead the army but this did not go down well with him because he wanted to lead the unified movement. Secondly Garang and his group objected to the goal of the movement which was to fight for independence of South Sudan. Backed by Ethiopia, Garang dropped away Abdalla Chol’s group resulting in a protracted war that led to defeat of Anya Nya two.
During this period of feud the word Nyagat was coined to describe Anya Nya II as collaborators with the enemy. So the connotation was you’re a collaborator with the enemy. Once you are said to be a Nyagat you deserved to die the way the founders of Anya Nya II were hunted down and killed in shameful manner.
It was stated that Garang ordered one of the bodies of the Anya Nya II leaders to be flocked by a cane made from cow skin. Therefore this word was coined to divide South Sudanese to non-collaborators and collaborators who were enemies of the movement.
However, what was the crime Anya Nya II really committed? The crime was to fight for the liberation of South Sudan and as Garang proudly said that his first bullet was to kill separatists.
The paradox of this is that millions of lives were wasted on creating united democratic secular Sudan with no success but at the end the separatists prevailed and South Sudan was born albeit with persistent asthma which the current doctors (leaders) are not only to able to treat but in fact not able to diagnose.
When the movement split in 1991, the word Nyagat was immediately translocated to refer to Riak’s group because they dared to oppose the principle of united secular democratic Sudan. I dare to say this because this term was applied to Riak’s group long before he signed the Khartoum agreement with the Sudan Government.
The idea here was also to divide the South Sudanese into two groups of non-collaborators and collaborators who are enemies of the liberation. Thus the so-called collaborators were deemed enemies of the “New Sudanese” and must be liquidated.
If my history serves me well, the so-called Bor massacre came about as a result of Garang sending forces to attack Riak’s position in Upper Nile. This attack was led by none other than Willian Nyoun. When this force was defeated and retreated to Bor, the Nuer took advantage to try and annihilate Bor. What followed is a black spot in the history of South Sudan.
The use of this discriminating word only vanished when the CPA was signed bringing together both the non-Nyagat and Nyagat into the Government of South South (popularly referred to as Government of Self Service). However, Nyagat as a word disappeared because there was no one to be referred to as Nyagat, a new word came; the liberator.
This was meant to not only divide the people of South Sudan into those who were in the bush fighting and those who remained in the non liberated areas but it was actually meant to demonize those who did not go to the bush. It was meant to call them Nyagat who deserve nothing in South Sudan because they did not fight for it.
It was intended to raise the profiles of those who were in the bush to be the deserving sons of South Sudan. This fact underlined the so-called liberators attitude towards other South Sudanese whereby taking somebody’s property including taking over people’s lands was accepted.
This concept created impunity in the government. It created nepotism, favoritism and the attitude of everything is mine because I liberated it.
On the hand the non-liberators were looked upon with contempt. They were made to be inferior and almost second class to the liberators. They were considered undeserving, not worthy of participating in the development of South Sudan.
This mistaken attitude created the rampant corruption in South Sudan because the so-called liberators did not consider taking government money as corruption but a right and benefit of fighting. The behavior of the so-called liberators in the past seven and half years have depicted them as people who did not go to the bush to liberate country and its entire masses.
What is the use of going to fight if there are no oppressed, subjugated or downtrodden people to liberate?
In fact one cannot go to the bush to liberate himself or herself as an individual if there are no other human beings to liberate. However, the mockery of our situation in South Sudan is that the liberators have become the oppressors, the masters and bourgeois of South Sudan.
Therefore the creation of the word liberator was meant to create a master and servant relationship in South Sudan while on the other hand empowering the liberators with impunity to an extent that taking away a life, property or belongings of a non liberator does no count in any law in the country.
Because of intensive criticisms that many level-minded South Sudanese raised against the word liberator resulting from its negative connotation, the masters of South Sudan have come up with yet another emotional but divisive word. The word is patriot.
As I said in the introduction, patriotism is being created yet to divide the people creating a class of patriots and non patriots. Certainly it is the same game being played over and over so that the non patriots are subjugated and relegated to the level of undeserving second class South Sudanese.
However, my understanding of patriots like Fidel Castro, Barack Obama, Chavez, Mandela and others is that they dedicate their whole lives to not only the country but also to improve the lives of their citizenry without personal gains. These leaders consider their country and countrymen first before they consider themselves.
In fact this week Obama announced that he was going to give back 5% of his salary to the Government because some deserving American needed it. The paradox in South Sudan is that the patriots are the first to become millionaires from looted government coffers. They are the ones who have institutionalized impunity, corruption, nepotism, tribalism and name it… in the world.
They have made South Sudan a failed state. They continue to use dictatorship by ruling by decrees instead of using democratic means. They continue to subjugate, oppress and subject the masses into a state of despair and uncertainty.
South Sudan is on the crossroads because the so-called patriots cannot think of how to render services to the people.
Therefore, my greatest worry is that the people are being continuously divided using intellectual chauvinism yet those who are creating this situation do not know that human elasticity is not indefinite. Science has educated us that this elasticity will one day give up and nobody knows what can happened.
History has thought us that even the downtrodden, the helpless and the beggars will one day say enough is enough, and this is my advise to the government and the so-called non-Nyagat, liberators and patriots.
Please wake up from the delusions of non-nyagatism, liberation and patriotism and face the realities facing our people. The people need services not your selfish grandiose mentality.
God bless South Sudan
Ireneaus Sebit; Nairobi; Kenya