My dreams and hopes for South Sudan

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Saturday, 12 March 2011 11:44
Written by Dhieu Deng Leek, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), newsudanvision.com
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(Syracuse, New York) - Peace has finally come to South Sudan after many decades of war with the north, during which roughly two million people were killed and many more were looted, raped, or starved in conflict fueled by religious, ethnic, and ideological differences as well as a scarcity of resources.  Nevertheless, I see a very bright future for my country, South Sudan and I am confident that peace will be a way of life for my people.  Many countries contributed to the birth of our new nation and provided aid over the years.  The continued support of these countries, and particularly of the United States, will be immensely important in the years to come.  The South Sudan I envision will be a valuable friend and ally to the peace-loving nations who help it develop and thrive.

Now, the first order of business for South Sudan is to create hope by developing a peaceful and prosperous nation to be called “Cush.” A primary focus on the development of agriculture is an essential step for rebuilding South Sudan.  Sitting on the Nile’s sources, and benefiting from a generally temperate climate, South Sudan can modernize its subsistence farming to become a supplier of food for the entire continent, alleviating the severe lack of food sources currently plaguing the region. Further, Kenro Oshidari, Director of the UN World Food Program, and others point out that “South Sudan has the capacity to become the breadbasket for the world”. 

Large-scale, mechanized farming and crop exportation has become an important business in Northern Sudan, while the South has yet to realize its agricultural potential.  If the South fails to lay claim to its land by developing agribusinesses and taking a stake in the burgeoning agricultural economy of the region, these chances will be lost and our dream of a prosperous nation of Cush will, unfortunately, never be realized.

There are many substantial benefits to developing agriculture in South Sudan.  First, as I saw on a recent trip through Bor, a town and the capital of the Jonglei State there, local people do not have enough to eat, and the food available is imported from other countries.  This scenario could be improved significantly with the adoption of a strong agricultural system.  Introducing agriculture to the region would also create an opportunity to build a stable, self-sustaining economy centered around farming, cause a dramatic increase in employment, and help facilitate the transition of our people from nomadic herders to stationary farmers.  Currently, villages are neglected and lack basic necessities such as clean water, proper sanitation systems, and electricity. 

If agricultural business is pursued, however, villages would be generating enough income to work toward self-sustainability.  The resources are already there, waiting to be utilized to better the country.  In fact, approximately seventy five percent of the population in South Sudan is thirty years of age or younger, and more importantly, willing and able to work.  We can learn to use our resources effectively and responsibly, and simultaneously provide a viable alternative to the importing of food into Africa from aid organizations.  This will discourage what I like to call the “give-me, give-me” syndrome, in which people grow to expect handouts. Our youthful nation has so much potential to succeed and yearns to know self-reliance.

I hope for a united country of South Sudan where people are blind to tribal affiliations and work together to build a great nation, a place where people will be guided by the true principle of hard work that will enable us to turn God’s given land into what it used to be: the Garden of Eden.

I am hoping for a place where the laws become unspoken tradition and are inscribed on every citizen’s heart.  I am hoping for a country where everyone will value respect, honesty, equality, humility, kindness, caring, freedom and personal responsibility as if it were written into their genes. And most importantly, I am hoping for a country where the sweetest name of the Almighty God will be lifted high above everything else as we continue to worship Him in the land He gave us. The time has come, when everyone in South Sudan will get enough to eat, enough to save, enough to give and enough to use to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is much work to be done to reach such great height. Illiteracy is one major issue in South Sudan, with about sixty to seventy percent of our population still unable to read. The education system should be respected, and teachers should be rewarded and well-paid. Having been deprived of any formal education until the age seventeen, I have developed deep respect for teachers and I cherish every minute of their time in all of my classrooms. The war that was fought against injustice and marginalization is now over, now let us start a war against illiteracy and hunger.

Next, the majority of the people have no means to stay informed of current events in their own country, and they still rely on word of mouth.  They deserve to be provided with a modern, technological medium of news information. Media will play an integral role in the rebuilding of South Sudan and the citizens need access.

Another problem is the low status of women in South Sudan. Rather than valuing women for their unique abilities and perspectives and allowing them to help build the country, they are viewed as mere objects of desire.  It is time women be given equal rights in a society currently dominated by males.

Despite these obstacles, I have hope for my country. I dream of a land where good traditions are observed and different cultures are fused to make one united, universal culture. Festivals, such as the ritual initiation to adulthood, when respect, personal responsibility, duty to the nation, honesty, courage, accountability, “tribal blind” services to the poor, and care for strangers are emphasized should be encouraged for every state in the country to embrace. Such festivals and other aspects of our culture make it a unique and essential part of life.

I dream of a South Sudan where transparency is equated with governance. Politicians’ actions must be as clear as glass.  Police must protect their citizens and abstain from brutality currently going on in other nations. It is my hope that the police force will establish peaceful relations with the citizens it is designed to protect and represent the nation in a positive light.

Other than the north, South Sudan is ringed by friendly, African and God-loving neighbors, some of whom are currently investing in different sectors in South Sudan such as banking and transportation, just to mention a few. These countries are important to the strong growth and prosperity of South Sudan as we can import and export goods through their borders and thrive from good relations with them. Blessed with many millions of different kind of wild animals, South Sudan is also an excellent tourist destination, which safari lovers have yet to reach and can be counted on to admire.

Life is full of twists and turns. Every person encounters struggles and obstacles on the road to success, as the two conditions are inseparable.  Hard work is the only way to achieve success, because it does not come to those who sit idle.

The South Sudan of my dreams is built upon the fundamental concept of hard work and many fellow citizens share this perspective. I dream of a South Sudan when I will be proud to say “In Unity We Stand” to one and all, where South Sudan is an example of peace, hard work, God-loving society, calm, prosperity, and progress, a country where strangers are welcome. This is the South Sudan of which I dream. A place I love to call my home.

*Dhieu Deng Leek is the President of The John Dau Foundation (http://johndaufoundation.org). He's also pursuing his BA in Public Policy at Syracuse University. HE can be reached atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..