By PaanLuel Wël, Juba, South Sudan
The fruition of our collective revolutionary struggle: Let’s aim for the nation, not personalities or tribes or clans.
May 25, 2015 (SSB) —- For all the chattering about the fundamental problems of the Republic of South Sudan, much has been said about President Salva Kiir Mayaardit and Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
However, a comprehensive study of our liberationary struggle and history might give you a different picture of President Kiir and the kinds of problems he is confronting in South Sudan. Most likely, it might not be as straight forward as drawing a line in the sand.
For instance—and Nhialic forbid—if President Kiir or/and Riek Machar were to drop from a plane today like John Garang did in 2005, South Sudan would still be in a mess, probably in a bigger one, ten years from now.
Why? Because the fundamentals of the problems in the Republic of South Sudan are systemic, circumstantial, environmentally oriented and societal, not Kiiristic or Riekistic etc. You don’t simply solve these problems by getting rid of either Salva Kiir or Riek Machar.
Here is a classic case in point. When John Garang was alive and reigning, a good number of Junubeen thought that he was the problem and getting rid of him the solution. Garang has been gone for ten years now, and we are still in deep shit.
Our top SPLA commanders during the war—men and women who never betrayed the movement, men and women who gave everything for our freedom —have bankrupted the army, reducing the mighty SPLA to a shell of its former glorious self.
Is it President Kiir’s problem? Yes and no. But how is President Kiir supposed to discipline these war heroes without engendering an outcry from the public? Remember what happened when Arthur Akuien Chol was detained? Are you not experiencing the repercussions of relieving Riek Machar from his position in July 2013?
Visit any ministry in Juba and see how folks are glued to their TVs watching Nigerian films, playing games, casually chatting over bun (coffee) or literally snoring on their shining, expensive desks.
The joke in Juba is that these folks forego sleeping in their hot, sweaty homes in order to have a deep sleep in their air-conditioned government offices.
In most cases than not, the boss (ministers plus their deputies and undersecretaries and DGs) is not often in the office but rather in “a meeting”, which mean he/she is snoozing in a hotel. For all their frequent “meetings“, how many roads are built, hospitals constructed, schools erected across Junub Thudan?
Is it Kiir’s business to keep them at their desks? Yes and no. But surely, how could he possibly micromanage the entire country from the presidential office to the remotest kitchen in Yuai, Jonglei state?
According to John Garang, it was Maulana Abel Alier who once opined, “If we have to drive our people to paradise with sticks, we will do so for their own good and the good of those who come after us.”
Unfortunately, Uncle Abel Alier didn’t tell us whether that stick would be in the hand of a democratic or a dictatorial leader. Should we ask President Kiir to decree dictatorship and turn Juba into Kigali?
Had he lived, John Garang, might have been more of an enlightened dictator, possibly along the lines of Paul Kagame in Kigali, the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, or Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa, etc.
Unlike Uncle Riek Machar babbling about bringing ‘democracy’ to Juba, Garang was talking about taking towns to the people in the villages, about using petrodollars to fuel agro-industrialization in the country.
Uncle Salva Kiir’s problem is his inability to fit into any camp: he is not a democrat, not a dictator, and not particularly enlightened. He is simply himself: soldier Kiir.
Kiir being Kiir hardly explains anything about the fundamental problems in South Sudan. Ship in Obama today and you would still have the same circumstances, environment, society, and system to deal with: he would fail, three out of four times.
As the South Sudanese people are falling all over themselves to bash the Dinka government, the Nuer rebellion, the Equatorian complacency, Kiir’s failurism and Riek’s murderism, will they, can they, pause long enough to remember the words from the Good Book, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?“
Is it possible that the people themselves, the righteous Junubeen, are the problem, part of the problem, bigger part of it, and the leadership is just but a sheer manifestation of their own “GREATNESS”?
Can they all partake in the failures of the country, much the same way that they are quick to partake in the liberation and independence of South Sudan?
Did John Garang liberate our land from Arabism and Islamism? No, we all did. Did Salva Kiir achieve our independence from Khartoum? No, we all did.
Did Salva Kiir and Riek Machar fail the Republic of South Sudan? No, we all did. Will Salva Kiir and Riek Machar bring peace and reconciliation and social prosperity to South Sudan? No, we all must do it, together.
South Sudan does not belong just to the likes of John Garang, Salva Kiir, Riek Machar, Wani Igga, Pagan Amum and Nyandeng Garang; it belongs to all of us Junubeen.
Junub Thudan is ours to destroy or to build and cherish. The choice is yours. The choice is mine. The choice is ours.
PaanLuel Wël, the Managing Editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers, is a South Sudanese national currently residing in Juba, South Sudan, where he works for one of the International NGOs. He graduated with a double major in Economics and Philosophy from The George Washington University, Washington D.C, USA. He is the author of “Return in Peace (R.I.P) Dr. John Garang” and the editor of the speeches of Dr. John Garang, published as “The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 1 &2“. He is currently working on two books to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Dr. John Garang: Vol. 3 of “The Genius of Dr. John Garang” and “Who Killed Dr. John Garang“, an account of events and circumstances leading to the death of the late SPLM/A leader in July 2005. You can reach him through his email: firstname.lastname@example.org