By: Clement Maring Samuel,
(OurSouthSudan) – In October 1964, Gen. Ibrahim Aboud stepped down and gave power to the people to form a civilian caretaker government. Aboud was pressurized to step down following demonstrations in Khartoum because of his inability to fix economic policies of the country and his restriction on political leaders.
This spirit of stepping down is what is expected from President Salva Kiir to pave way for peaceful democracy. Similar to Aboud’s ineffective economic policies, Salva Kiir is also following the same spot. The economy of the country is badly derailing the country into a failed State. In addition, the arrest and restriction of political dissenters will lead the people to popular uprising. The wisest way is to stop the current civil war and fix the economic status, to enable the government to facilitate a high rate of economic growth and create niches for the nation in global market.
All the Leaders of South Sudan need to realize that peaceful transfer of leadership is healthy for a country to grow and to minimize conflict. One of the elements that characterized a good leader is his strong decision to leave power whether through elections or by voluntary stepping down. Good leaders in Africa have done that, and one of them was Nelson Mandela.
Unfortunately, the period of President Kiir to leave power peacefully to earn the respect like that of Nelson Mandela has elapsed, it was right after the independence of South Sudan. He emulate the spirit of many government officials who do not want to retire but keep on renewing their ages to block the active ones from taking over from them. Such people offer nothing to the public but they build around them Kleptocratic supporters to loot the country’s resources and oppose any change.
When Ibrahim Aboud prepared to step down, the new dawn of electoral politics created internal leadership squabbles among the Southern leaders. Some of the leaders join the government to fight for self-determination, while others remained in the bush to resist the government for total separation. Aggrey Jaden and Joseph Oduho stood for separation, while William Deng was an earth to teeth diehard of federalism system in Sudan. Federalism is not a new trend that certain click is incriminating those who are demanding it in contemporary politics, it is a right. Instead of incriminating people, it is better to listen to their grievances and offer viable form of government to stop the grumble. It is not how you incriminate people that matter, but it is how you address their grievances and end it peacefully that count.
The politics of the then Southern Sudanese leaders was built on viewpoints of self-determination, separation and federalism. These ideologies are as old as building the political history of South Sudan. The nature of their differences was based on above viewpoints visa-vise Arabs’ stance for national unity. Although Khartoum leaders rejected their ideas, yet they could not offer a just system to unite people; instead they opted for a fanatic form of government that was radically imposed on people through Islamization. This rejection to address the quest of the people created vehement opposition and rebellion by Southern leaders. A repeat of this in contemporary politics of South Sudan comes because those who usurp the monopoly to discriminate, oppress, suppress and alienate others pay no attention to address the grievances of discontented groups within the country.
There is high need to redefine the unity of the people in terms of what accommodate everyone, than sticking to nurture a pseudo-ideological belief that we are the majority in South Sudan. Entertainment of this notion will not only lead the country to federation but separation because no one like to be subjugated in his/her own country. A country is palatable with rainbow colors, but becomes unpalatable when others don’t mirror themselves in and feel the taste.
The disunity of South Sudanese can be traced back to the days of the Anyanya 1 and beyond. During those days, the Leadership of the Movement was largely Equatorians, and Dinka felt that they were the majority tribe who should not be led by the minority. As a result, most of them did not participate effectively in the first liberation struggle but rather played sabotage role. William Deng, Gordon Muortat, and Akwot Atem among others anchored the participation of the Dinka. John Garang, after assessing how few Dinka were in the Movement, joined the national army in Khartoum and prepared himself to launch the second movement in order to rewrite the history of liberation of South Sudan. With due respect to his visionary leadership style, his name remains respected for generations and can be credited for managing the second liberation that brought the newest State in the world.
Paradoxically, with participation of all the tribes of South Sudan in the second movement right, some hardliner-Dinka grasped the notion that SPLA/M is their own movement. This shortsighted Dinka even in public hurls insults on other tribes especially the Equatorians and reduces them as engrafted fighters but not to participate in the cake. Such humiliations were reiterated even by Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk that Dinka were the ones who liberated South Sudan, and this sentiment is echoed by the youths and women which become their tribal anthem. This spirit has made so many people to distrust their own government. This mentality has made reform of the SPLM party and the SPLA as taboo. Talking of transformation of these two intuitions is like touching chronic wound. As a result, during the SPLM political rearrangement meetings in Juba, some Jieng SPLM party members hold to false notion that the Dinka leadership was going to be taken by Nuer. As such, the party differences that could have been resolve in spirit of patriotism escalated into civil war and cause massive deaths and displacements of South Sudanese who voted the independence and brought them into power. Yet they are not concern with the perishing people who gave them power to rule but they are after power to loot, oppress and destroy.
Thus, the Jieng leaders have broken the national bond of defining ourselves as “we, the people of south Sudan”, by inculcating a dominant spirit of “we the majority tribes of South Sudan against the minority” which fragment the spirit of Nationalism. Such disenchantments by leaders do not only put unity at stake but is soaking deep hatred on people of South Sudan, and grossly affects the spirit of nationalism.
The nationalism that some people are singing is not genuine, but curtailed by impractical deeds. Maintenance of nationalism cannot be by putting barricades and tribal features of majority versus minority tribes, but by setting nation building programs that can unite and address the needs and aspirations of the diverse ethnicities to love and embrace themselves and their country, through equitable distribution of resources and provision of services to all communities, to improve their economic status and change their living standards, maintain the security situation by building spirit of peaceful coexistence than allowing certain groups to abuse the security maintenance and become untouchable like porcupines.
As we strive to build a stronger nationalism, let the bond that unite us be not a negative unity but real unity that is defined by principles of “we, the people of South Sudan” void of “we, the bigger tribes of South Sudan”. Failure to build this spirit, the consequence shall lead the people of South Sudan to answer questions of self-determination, federalism and separation.
The author is an Independent Researcher, can be reached at email@example.com