July 9th and the beckoning of civic duty in South Sudan

Posted: July 9, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Amer Mayen, Columnists, Editorials, Featured Articles, PaanLuel Wël

Happy 5th Anniversary to the Republic of South Sudan!!

By Amer Mayen Dhieu (Brisbane, Australia) and PaanLuel Wël (Juba, South Sudan)

The 5th independent day anniversary

July 9, 2016 (SSB) — On this 9th of July, we, the South Sudanese, are deeply disillusioned with politicians over the war and the economic crisis. There is a palpable sense of fear, indignation and betrayal. Too many conflicts colliding with too little conciliation in Juba.

There are plethora of ills bedeviling the new nation, including blunders committed by our political leaders, blunders that only add fuel onto the fire, precipitating the downhill slide into the dark abyss.

We are ranked second only to Somalia among the failed states in the world. Our infant oil-dependent economy has collapsed, along with social amenities and physical infrastructure. Corruption is running amok in the country, sparing not even the office of the president. And our honorable politicians have been providing a bizarre episode in a drama of epic confusion.

Apparently, the country has run out of able and good leaders that the prodigal son is the one proclaiming our salvation and redemption from the failed Messiah.

Little wonder that, while it took us about five decades of revolutionary armed struggle to liberate ourselves from Khartoum, it has taken us barely two years after independence to push ourselves over the cliff.

As a result, there is darkness at the end of our tunnel as we celebrate the fifth anniversary of our independence. Logically, many have been driven to disillusionment and despair over the sharp contrast between the sweet promises of the Promised Land and the bitter realities of the Real Land.

The rapid hellization of South Sudan, the burden of freedom and the curse of independence, must have already compelled some to wonder out loud, when will independence end.” But while there is darkness at the end of our tunnel, there must be light at the beginning of it, the very light that enabled us to locate the dark tunnel in the first place.

The naysayers will have their field day marveling at our credulity for celebrating the fifth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence amidst war, massive displacement, destruction and death.

Yet, South Sudan is a sovereign state whose freedom was achieved with the precious blood of millions of South Sudanese people for a period spanning over 50 years.

It is incumbent upon us therefore, on this occasion of the fifth anniversary of our independence, to revisit the past, to go back to our revolutionary roots, to retrieve the light from the heroes of our liberation struggle.

This is the only antidote to vain moaning and futile ranting about the current unfortunate state of affairs in our country. As Dr. John Garang used to say, “sometimes it is necessary to go back in order to gain momentum to go forward.

south sudan in tatters

In tatters, South Sudan on the fifth anniversary of the Independent Day

Going back to the past means reminding ourselves of what this July 9th celebration—yes, it is indeed a celebration, not a national day of mourning—is all about. It means remembering the obstacles we have faced and overcome.

The mountains and hills scaled; the valleys and rivers crossed; the forests and bushes populated; the suffering and the deaths encountered and experienced; the oppression and subjugation resisted; the heroes produced and the martyrs lost; the milestone peace agreement achieved and the game-changing referendum conducted; the costly independence gained and the legacy of the revolutionary struggle bestowed upon us, and most importantly, the future we are destined to chart for this and forthcoming generations.

July 9th is about our proud legacy, feats of achievement that generations upon generations of our descendants will be marveling at. July 9th is a celebration of the Torit mutiny—we never received the change of masters from European colonialism to Arab chauvinism in silence, shattering the myth of the submissive abed (slave).

July 9th is a remembrance of the Anyanya One & Two struggles—we confronted force with force and never succumbed to northern superior military power and human resources, rendering the threat of force from the north impotent.

July 9th is about the Addis Ababa agreement—establishing a democratic system that was the envy of the north—which had fooled itself into believing that “southerners can’t rule themselves”– thereby shattering the analogy of “a sick child being forcefully fed for its own survival.”

July 9th is a celebration of the SPLM/A liberation struggle—by championing the new Sudan Vision, the SPLM/A succeeded in injecting a new paradigm shift in the dynamism of South Sudanese liberation struggle. As Dr. Francis Mading Deng explains,  the SPLM/A “shifted the Southern outlook from that of a minority, struggling for recognition and a degree of autonomy in a marginalized corner of the country, to one of self-assertiveness, pride, and dignity in the struggle for a democratic Sudan” culminating in an independent state of our own.

July 9th is a call for peace, reconciliation and unity—reminding ourselves that in spite of their perennial rivalries, the people of South Sudan have never lost sight of the bigger picture, of their common destiny. Even in the midst of their worst antagonism, they have always been conscious of the fundamental goal of their struggle.

July 9th is about enlightening ourselves about the fact that the politics of liberation in South Sudan, our long walk to freedom, was a collective achievement, a shared heritage by, of and for all tribes and nationalities that inhabit the country.

July 9th is about reminding ourselves that we have a shared legacy, one that was shaped, more or less, by the relative contributions, over varying times and under special circumstances, of each of the four political forces that currently constitute the political fabric of our country—the Nuer, Dinka, Equatorians and the Minority group.

July 9th is about our living martyrs and unsung heroes. In the solemn words of South Sudan’s founding father, Dr. John Garang, we all “salute the memory of these martyrs as a reminder that they did not die in vain; they have brought peace and the legacy and spirit of their struggle and sacrifice will always guide us, as well as generations to come, toward a better and ever better South Sudan. We will always ever be grateful, and we will always remember our fallen heroes and martyrs.”

Moreover, in the living words of Father Saturnino Lohure—the pioneering father of our liberation struggle—we should always know that “the lambs of sacrifice for a country are the best of its sons, just as the unblemished lambs are offered on the sacrificed as narrated in the Old Testament and as practiced in our traditional rites.”

Indeed, to paraphrase Dr. John Garang, it is unto them that we owe the struggle to which we owe the CPA to which we owe the referendum to which we owe the independence to which we owe the July 9th we are commemorating today! South Sudan oyee!

In short, July 9th is a solemn celebration of our being the Greatest Generation that fought the war, brought peace, ushered in independence and set out on an equally rough and uncertain road to mold the future we want to bequeath to our children and children’s children.

The fact that the road to the future has been soiled by the utter failures of Joshua and his team cannot rubbish the glorious past we have banked with history. There is more to celebrate than to mourn over. Indeed, we believe, being a citizen of a failed state is better than being a second-class citizen in your own country. July 9th oyee!

We refuse to be exclusively defined by the ephemeral crisis in our beloved country. We ought to commemorate this solemn day, if not for anything else, then at least as a recognition of all our historic sacrifices offered to achieve this day, for the living memory of all our martyrs and in the name of all our war veterans and future generations.

The celebration of July 9th is a remembrance of the fruition of the CPA. We are celebrating the sovereignty of South Sudan as a proud member among the League of Nations.

Happy fifth anniversary of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan! May peace and reconciliation once more dawn amongst the beloved people of our great nation!

Happy 5th Anniversary to the Republic of South Sudan!!

South Sudan fifth independent day anniversary

South Sudan fifth independent day anniversary

About the authors:

Amer Mayen Dhieu, the co-founder and executive director for the Twic East Girls Scholarship Program (TEGSP), received her Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in Psychology and Human Services from the Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Queensland, and her Masters of International Relations, majoring in International Security and Human Rights, from Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

PaanLuel Wël, the managing editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB), graduated with a double major in Economics and Philosophy from The George Washington University, Washington D.C, USA. He is the author of Who Killed Dr. John Garang, the editor of the essential speeches and writings of the late SPLM/A leader, Dr. John Garang, published as The Genius of Dr. John Garang, vol. 1-3, as well as a co-editor (with Simon Yel Yel) of President Salva Kiir’s speeches before and after independence: Salva Kiir Mayaardit: The Joshua of South Sudan.

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