My State Diary: What is UDI and its frustrations awaiting Southern Sudanese? I

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Sunday, 05 December 2010 19:51
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(Juba) - What is UDI? Literally it is Unilateral Declaration of Independence. UDI is a DIY sort of independence. DIY means Do-It-Yourself. In Machakos terms, it is called Self-determination of the marginalized Sudanese peoples; especially of the Southerners, by the Southerners with the Southernness of the Sudan.

Literarily, it means referendum. For quick analysts, am obviously wrong. I might be seen confusing UDI, a one-way traffic choice, with referendum, a two-way traffic road to our freedom. Excuse me, my interest is in the word 'unilateral'. I will call the Jan-9 exercise a referendum only if it is the North versus the South. But if it is the South versus its own will in the decision to declare its independence from the North (secession) or dependence on the North (concession), then why would somebody call it a referendum? The way I see it, with or without favourable results on the side of the South, Southerners are determined to determine themselves by all costs.

Have we just forgotten that the same rights of a first class citizen we had been claiming by bullet are the very ones we are demanding by ballot?  In short, the Southerners are already fixed in their decision since the signing of the Self-declaration protocol on July 26, 2002 in the Kenyan district of Machakos. Of course, there is and there will never be any historic miracle to rewind that historical date of the Machakos. Even those who are trying to turn it into another Addis Ababa Agreement so that it is easy to dump into oblivion like the first one are practising an old Nimeiry magic. Everything is too late! And should any 6-year sleeper in Khartoum wake up now and think it is still early to renegotiate the CPA protocols in Addis Ababa, the answer will be UDI.

What justification is there for UDI? And how about that option?  As I mentioned last time on this column, ours is a marriage of convenience. Marriage of Convenience is not real marriage; it is a situation where partners or former enemies co-habit for benefits other than love. It is necessary where there is sharing of common interests such as political and economic powers. This is typical of the case of Sudan.

However, when marriage of convenience turns into marriage of inconvenience, say, of discomfort and unrest; characterized by arrests, cheatings and beatings, then why in a man-made hell do you want to co-exist? I am a married man, so I know what is required to make a long-lasting and productive family.

The first of the ills in marriage (Juba University students in Khartoum, take note) is not only beating but also cheating. Cheating in marital, legal and biblical language is adultery. In social terms, it is promiscuity, going around slandering your own partner and sleeping with other people's partners as far as Algeria, Iran, Qatar, etc. This is obvious with our northern brothers who constitutionally consider an Iranian better than me, the southern 'brother'. For instance, one Gulf News editor regretted last week, blaming Bashir's party for letting the "Arabs' Fatherland" being taken by Kuffar (infidels). Yes, they call it Arabs' Fatherland because it is their merchant fathers who invaded our African Motherland with their Mahdist salt, followed by their Jihadist assault. What I condemn here is not their genealogy in Sudan; it is their ideology of forcing me to be identified with him, calling Sudan 'an Arab country'. Imagine some religiously drunk and racially drugged security officer just waking up one morning in Khartoum to close down our only daily source of news (The Citizen) for advertizing a talent competition sponsored by a Kenyan beer company (Tusker Project Fame 4).

Crime? Why selling a newspaper that mentions beer (hidden in the brand name Tusker) in it in Khartoum, a violation of Shari'a law! Yes, The Citizen was temporarily suspended for that crime last week! That, plus the NCP's Arab world campaign of calling us names, including Kaffirs (infidels) and Zionists, a trick to mobilize the Arab world against us, is enough to convince the deaf and the blind world that our marriage of convenience is calling out loud for a divorce.

As if that is not enough, in a family, all in-laws and other relatives from both sides of the spouses (husband and wife) are treated equal. And if in any way or by any means harassed or embarrassed, the marriage is in question. That is why I put the Sudanese political marriage (call it Comprehensive Peace Agreement or CPA) in question, especially the new policy of taxing southern returnees a departure fare or luggage fee at every checkpoint from Khartoum to the South. It is therefore noteworthy that the trick is counterproductive. Just as they are trying to discourage Southerners from returning to the South, they are encouraging them to declare their independence, be it by ballots or bullets, it is UDI, otherwise they must allow us to vote on time.

To the unionists, millions of questions are there in quiescence about this political marriage of ours. But one of them is, if really we are one family struggling to be one forever, why should marriage wealth, such as bride price and food be stolen, embezzled or confiscated altogether? For example, when it transpired early this year that figures of our '50 percent' were not rhyming all the way from Beijing, Khartoum and Juba, according to a credible Global Witness and others, our CPA partner refused to own up the fact. By the way, somebody should take note that the 50 percent of the Wealth Sharing Protocol is only on oil; and only on oil from the South! How about the delay of referendum funds? Who is withholding the money for civic and voter education of our referendum? Is it the Arab-led Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, headquartered in Khartoum or the bureaucratic United Nations or the World Bank?

If it is Khartoum doing this, then they must be practically taught a lesson to realize (after January) that for a marriage or relation to be more attractive, a husband or wife should not indulge in stealing their own dowry. If so done, then it becomes marriage of inconvenience, and calls for conjugal operation, to remove the bad part, or in that case, the bad party. From this analogy, Sudan really needs a political surgery, call it secession if you like. But for me and my friends who have witnessed how Khartoum is aborting our child in the 8th month of pregnancy, I call it UDI.

However, care should be exercised as fear should be exorcised in our march to announce a political divorce of this forcefully united family. Let note be taken that just as a cell is the nucleus of life, a family is the atom (smallest unit) of a nation. For this matter, we should relevantly draw an analogy for our situation in Sudan as a whole, and Southern Sudan as a piece. Therefore, if a family is chronically infirmed by a cancer of marriage, what prescription is fit for the cure? Of course, divorce. A peaceful one, by the way.

John Penn de Ngong is a founding editor of The Younique Generation magazine, a poet of over 333 poems on 333 pages on 33 chapters under one title 'The Black Christs of Africa', an essayist, an artist, having recorded his debut album, 'Noise for $ale', and a director of a talent spotting and supporting organization called USTASS (United Scribes, Teachers & Artists of Southern Sudan).

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