Southern Sudan: Nowhere near the "Promised Land" - Part II

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Monday, 21 February 2011 04:00
Written by Chol Marol Deng, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), www.newsudanvision.com
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(Toronto) - There are ways in which South Sudanese, together with their leaders, can resolve some of the problem mentioned in part one of this article but before I get into that, let me start with the following quotes from the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776, five years before he later became president:

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the factsthey misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

“A government that is big enough to provide everything you need is big enough to take everything you have.”

 I chose Thomas Jefferson’s quotes because he was a president not long after America got independence and he was one of the freedom fighters whose wisdom, like those of the other founding fathers of America, have established the greatest nation on earth.  To manipulate the meaning of his second quote in order to reiterate what I have already mentioned about governments, the capacity of the government to help its people comes from people themselves.  If governments cannot bring corrupt leaders to justice because of fear of tribal violence, it is largely the responsibility of the tribal minded people that they (the politicians) remain corrupt. 

I believe Thomas Jefferson was not talking necessarily about weapons when he mentioned the phrase, “let them take arms” in the first quote, though arms are common place in Africa as a way of opposing the governments and can never be ruled out.  To come back to the possible ways of resolving the problems that lie ahead, it is important for every citizen not to underestimate the importance of their responsibility in participating in the politics of their country.  One of the common statements I hear from some Southern Sudanese when politics is mentioned is how they hate it.  The fact that politics is usually played badly by the players on the political arena does not mean that it should be hated.  No society can survive without politics and whether you participate in politics or not, there still will be politicians.  The fact that you have refused to vote for a president or an MP does not mean there will be no president or MP of your country or constituency and when others vote them into office, how they play their politics is going to affect you like every other citizen. 

Politics is one of the things on which one cannot afford to give up because you will assume that you have, but the truth is that you cannot.  I’m very sure that there are a few Southern Sudanese who might have been greatly disappointed by the government of Southern Sudan during the interim period and therefore their conscience was split between the pessimism about the future of the South Sudan and the confirmed failure of unity.  These people might have refused to vote during the referendum because of that, but the truth is that there is always something better, at least at the time of the decision.   If you cannot add another choice, then you have no other better choice than to choose from the choices given.  If politics is left to the politicians, they transform it into a private business asset and that is why many presidents in Africa stay in power longer than enough.  They need to be reminded frequently that they are there to serve and not to rule.  On the contrary, if South Sudanese citizens do not replace tribal nationalism with Southern Sudan nationalism, their participation in politics can be counterproductive. 

Tribal political youth organizations, which do not have clear objectives rather than tribal politics, have now sprung up and are perpetrating the same evil that they claim to fight against.  In my view, there should be no political youth organisations formed along tribal lines; rather, there should be regional (such as state) youth groups that participate, not only in politics but also in the preservation of our fading cultures and languages among other things.  It is important that our people learn each other’s cultures because it is the best way that South Sudanese can appreciate and respect each other as it fosters understanding and reduces intertribal hate that results from stereotypically misinformed attitudes.   For that reason, would suggest that primary school pupils are taught a little about the cultures of the native communities in the regions where they live and go to school.  Tribal political youth groups end up talking about other tribes instead of addressing issues they intend to address. 

On the side of leaders, one of the most important things that a leader ought to do is to demand respect from his or her subjects.   Our leaders have fought for a long time perseveringly and that is something for which they will be remembered for umpteen generations.  However, full respect requires persistence and is never complete until death.   A significant part of leadership is to act as a role model by upholding the values of the society.  No society expects leaders to be perfect, but leaders should demonstrate high level of morality in order to win and maintain honor from the people. If our leaders cannot sacrifice some of their desires for the sake of leading the nation, then they will pose as a bad example to the rest of the Sudanese community, especially young men and women and lead to the degradation of the society’s moral values.

It is a silly contradiction if GOSS leaders do gross  unconstitutional things such as picking girls from the streets and putting them in cells where they are beaten before they are released because of their dressing styles while at the same time, the same leaders engage in rampant sexual activities and have become targets of HIV/AIDS after surviving bullets from the enemy for more than twenty-one years.

 

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