The Vitality of the Sentry Report

Posted: September 23, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Columnists, Featured Articles, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Ajang Barach-Magar – Nairobi, Kenya


George Clooney with President Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar and VP James Wani Igga

September 23, 2016 (SSB) —- Some reputable Historians posit that when the people of South Sudan went to vote in the historic referendum in 2011, a staggering 2.2 million South Sudanese had died and millions of others displaced as a result of the conflict between the North and the South. This is an eternal reminder that our independence was an incredibly costly affair.

Now we have a country. But what are we doing with it? How, for one, will the slain heroes who helped in laying its foundations judge us if they were to rise from their graves tomorrow? Is what we currently have close to what we and our ancestors envisioned?

In the 2014 Corruption report, South Sudan ranked 171 out of 175 countries. A highly placed insider of South Sudanese political affairs observed that a cabal of elite emerged as soon as the prospects of implementation of the CPA increasingly became a reality. This elite then built monstrous cartels whose heads reside in Juba but with tentacles spread to East Africa, Europe, The United States and Australia. Consequently, resources that would have gone to construction of roads, health facilities, schools, modernization of agriculture and exploitation of hydrocarbons – are continually plundered and stashed into individual accounts. Even foreign aid is not spared.

Yet, with the advent of The Sentry report, there is one Cambridge analyst who had the temerity to publicly call the report a “bunch of nothing”. One colleague immediately advised him to rename his article to reflect something a lot more appropriate – may be “In Defense of Father-In-Law”.

This conduct is extremely alarming, because it is a resounding demonstration that South Sudan as a society has countless old heads tucked over young shoulders – young people who are ideological relics of the old guard. Secretly or publicly, they harbor the attitude of “you don’t get in unless you are one of us. Or if you are evidently not one of us, you must at least know how to think and talk like one of us.”

A tradition is good. And it takes hackneyed discipline to keep it. But let’s stop there. How do you keep inflexible, opaque, decades-old rules and regulations? Why should fully civilized members of the society observe strict adherence to arcane practices? Or engage in desperate and blind defense of their relatives and political godfathers? Do you know what those things are a recipe for? They strongly hint at a choking inability to adjust to changing times and a blinkered adoration of a questionable past.

Such army of obedient clones is a dangerous weapon with which to face a difficult future that requires experimentation and new directions. What happens when you tie people in cryptic social norms? You lose all the ones who can’t be herded like sheep – sometimes the innovators and trailblazers. If that is the talent pool to move South Sudan forwards, then I can only hope that our elite’s prayers are stronger than their strategies.

Little or no development can be achieved in a country where corruption is adored. Every one of us should join the fight against this menace. Ethnic, political or nepotistic ties must not stand in the way. There is no corrupt or “clean” tribe in South Sudan. Rather, it is question of the unscrupulous elite vs the rest. Unfortunately, the Dinka & Nuer remain the niggers-in-the-woodpile in the minds of other communities, when it is only a few individuals who are the beneficiaries.

When representatives of the people got together in an “Agora” in ancient Greece, to exchange ideas about how they wanted matters affecting the people – demos – to be handled, that was the foreshadowing of modern parliamentary democracy. It was undoubtedly crude, but we now have modern parliaments.

The Sentry Report is certainly not the finished article. There are concerns over whether anybody is going to persecute those who have been adversely mentioned in it. But it is a good starting point. It is clearly not a bunch of nothing. Not even close. In fact, it should be an embarrassment to us that foreigners appear to be more concerned about the state of the rot in our country.

In my opinion, The Sentry Report represents the most iconic step ever taken towards at least exposure of the corrupt individuals who are remorselessly crippling the economy of South Sudan.

The writer is a Biomedical Scientist and can be reached via

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.


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