2011: The Making of a Nation IV

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Tuesday, 08 September 2009 05:06
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Jok Gai Anai
(Victoria, Canada) - In light of recent killings in South Sudan, particularly in Malakal and Wernyol,Twic East, this column title ought to have read “The Unmaking of a Nation.” Those who read my writings know that I rarely condemn the government of South Sudan (GoSS) but I woke up on Suday morning with a million questions that have no answers. My colleague here at NSV, Zacharia Manyok Biar, has been asking these questions. Other South Sudanese have been asking these questions. No answers.

 The problem in Malakal is well known. It was Gabriel Tanginya. Now it is allegedly

Lam Akol. They all have links to Khartoum. In this last attack, a paramount chief and his family were killed. This same paramount chief was very influential in the 1999 Wunlit Peace Conference – what a loss! What has GoSS done about this? Why is it hard to apprehend militiaman, Gabriel Tanginya when Salva Kiir is the 1st Vice President of Sudan? And when Atem Garang is Deputy Speaker of Parliament? If we can become hopeless beggars of justice, where is the authority in the Interim National Constitution vested in the post of the 1st Vice President? For Lam Akol, he is free to carry out his political operations anywhere in South Sudan. There are many parties in South Sudan but they cause no chaos. Why would his be different? Let it be made clear to all troublemakers that you cannot hold South Sudan hostage.

The attack at Wernyol is very different. We don’t fully know the motives yet. The most blasphemous thing in most of the cultures of South Sudan is to kill in cold blood (or killing an enemy who has raised a hand in surrender). These are things nobody did in the past, not even during the war years. But at Wernyol, people were killed but no cattle involved. It has been the practice (even Salva Kiir was on record as saying cattle rustling is historical) that previous inter-communal attacks are blamed on cattle. Now what do you call this? Of the 43 people killed, one is a Payam Administrator and the other an Archdeacon – a man of God! And hey, it was the very centre of your authority at Wernyol that was attacked. But for what reasons?

But GoSS did not send a presence, to at least assure people that there is a government. GoSS did not issue even a statement (sorry if you did and I did not come across it).

If these killings cannot make us afraid, what else will? It is a new scale that deserves uproar.

Building the nation begins now, not after the Referendum. And like many people have suggested, it begins with security. Without security, people are in perpetual state of panic that they cannot be productive.

General Salva Kiir, if you believe you are the leader of South Sudan (leaders don’t have to be popular in all decisions they make), then do the following NOW:

•Civil disarmament. Somebody who refuses to hand in the gun, is he not an enemy of peace? It appears from your own words that you are held hostage by what human rights activists will say. If that be the case, then you are very wrong

•Check SPLA discipline. Without discipline and obedience to hierarchy, there is no army

•Station SPLA units, and the police of course, at conflict zones. After all, that is why SPLA gets 40% of the budget!

•Open hotlines for chiefs and paramount chiefs so that they can communicate directly with your office. Let governors also open those hotlines even at boma levels

Finally, everybody is watching very closely. Our people cannot die innocently in record numbers while the government does nothing. We don’t see your government trying to contain insecurity that is now rampant in South Sudan. We don’t expect it to be 100% but you should be seen trying. And you must also actively engage the whole nation – the civilians know better solutions to our problems.

*The author can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.