Toward a Living Legacy for Isaiah Abraham


Dear true patriot, this month marks the 2nd anniversary of your sad departure from this world. Yes, it has been 2 years since you were senselessly murdered on December 5, 2012, all because you were voicing your opinions–rather prolifically—in the hopes of seeing a better South Sudan. And, even though the news of your assassination galvanized our nation and the world, sadly, your killers are still at large.

And, justice—that elusive word we all humans yearn for—is still elusive. But your death became the turning point for our nation. It was the beginning of our “revolution killing its own children.” For days, a distraught family and friends were joined in mourning and grieving your loss. For many South Sudanese, feelings of betrayal were palpable. People spoke out in South Sudan and throughout Diaspora. A week and a half after your painful death, the following lines bellowed from the soul of one essayist:

I think I speak for most young writers when I say that one of the best things the late Isaiah Abraham has taught us is the ability to rise above the usual pettiness of tribal politics. Many, including me, became aware of his ethnic background after he had died. He transcended tribal politics. He will be remembered as a voice of reason and a model for what we need in a true citizenship. It is with a heavy heart that I say the nation will dearly miss him during these important times of national debates, whether it is on constitutional convention, the likelihood of national reconciliation or most importantly, the elections of 2015, the first since independence. Imagine the kinds of questions he would have asked. Imagine the kind of analysis, insights or backdrop he would have provided. Just imagine!

If those heartless assassins had given the late Isaiah a chance to share a few parting words with us, some of those might have read like this: to you all the passionate writers out there, who have kept the flame of national discourse burning, don’t retreat into some literary refuge because of intimidation. Continue engaging the public because South Sudan will be built with ideas and the sheer embrace of the diversity of opinions

And retreat they never did. Although most of the imaginations therein would never come to pass, many citizens, in fact, are now speaking out. Why? Because, a year after, the country was rocked by a calamity. That constitutional crisis which was brewing while you were still alive never got resolved. Instead, it blew up in the form of a war. And as a result, my dear patriot, the Greater Upper Nile region was martyred the same way you were martyred for freedom of thought and expression.

The Greater Upper Nile region has been depopulated, with thousands of women and children now languishing in misery and despair in IDP and refugee camps. All the while our thoughtless leaders are stuck banking on an ethnic-inspired, mindless politics of destruction—an utter destruction that is! I’m afraid if these same thoughtless leaders don’t relent, they might plunge the nation into a ‘giant black hole’–or even worst, push the country on the road to perdition. None of the leaders is hearing the cry of our suffering masses. The callousness of our political leaders has come to defy every bit of an explanation.

But I hope someday, when our nation begins to turn from its current wayward ways and onto the path of lasting peace, security and human progress and development, someday, far into the future, when our young nation begins to find its voice and the very meaning of the last 30 years of the People’s liberation, when all the thousands you have continued to inspire with your great character and principled writings, begin to harness their intellectual resources effectively, they will ponder and create an award in your name. That award, to be called The Isaiah Abraham Prize for Freedom of Thought and Expression, will be awarded to a fellow citizen who shall have demonstrated the greatest courage and sacrifice in espousing the very ideals that are at the heart of freedom of thought and expression—that often-overlooked right of all mankind.

The Isaiah Abraham Prize shall equally be bestowed on someone who shall have demonstrated the highest commitment and integrity in championing human development causes both in their writings and actions, including advocating for and/or highlighting voices of reforms, renewal, and ethnic reconciliation.

In the end, the men and women who will dedicate their time to running the activities of the IAP shall strive to select worthy recipients as well as seeing the award through posterity. In short, it will be a way to recognize and honor those who speak for the voiceless in our society. The award will also send an unmistakable message to those who threaten or kill fellow citizens for airing their views. It will prove them wrong. It is true that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword,’ which is why the assassins chose to take your life.  But what they did not know is that you died a patriot.  For, in the words of a young poet, “blessed is the pen of a patriot.”

In death as in life, you have continued to inspire South Sudanese. May your legacy live on in the minds and hearts of all those who aspire to live in a decent world, my dear true patriot!

The author is president and co-founder of New Sudan Vision. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More Articles By This Author