By Gabriel Kucdid Kachuol, Panaker, Yirol
N.B: Dr Garang’s challenge of his mission and vision for South Sudan can be viewed from an angle that it formed the rift between the first tiers and the contemporary SPLM/A tiers of “ABËK-WËU” hence the challenge to become a peaceful nation. It is from this perspective that my writing is derived.
January 29, 2017 (SSB) — Before delving into the core principal message of this piece, I would like to briefly explain the word “abëk-wëu” as aforementioned. “Abëk-wëu” is a Dinka connotation meaning “masqueraders whose intent to join army is to get money.” I have an impression that the word must have been coined towards the end of struggle to sarcastically describe those who massively flocked into the SPLA and, perhaps, also into the political wing, SPLM, after comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) 2005. The first time I heard of this word was 2006 when many young people of the time were turning up for military recruitments in the organised forces in places like Malon-Jiec, Mapel, and other Military training barracks across the young nation. At the same time, many were also registering to get the SPLM party membership Identity cards believed to boot in higher opportunities within the GOSS.
Dr Garang de Mabior was known as a charismatic leader and whose ideals were to have a united, secular, and a genuinely democratised New Sudan that would be inclusive of all the people of Sudan; and if that failed, then there was a need to look for another solution such as splitting the country. The two ideals remained perplexing to many, including the SPLA who were at the forefront of the movement. Till today, there is still varying skepticism over this matter where by some hold that if Garang was alive, the chances of splitting Sudan would have been minimal asserting that he wanted a new Constitution and an inclusive government for all Sudanese that uphold justice and civil rights for all.
Howbeit, most of the people privately believed and optimised that he knew better beyond his political rhetorics of a united New Sudan what would be best for people of Southern Sudan; having in mind that the opponents (Arabs) would not easily succumb to the idea of power sharing or equality in the country. This explains why the people of South Sudan massively supported the SPLM/A with complete devotion and spirit of sacrifice. And in this same regard, Dr. Garang, as well as his comrades in the struggle, were considered the models of the liberation movement of the people and this earned them boundless trust and esteem, hence the validity of the saying: if you have seen Garang or any of his veterans, you have seen SPLM/A and the reverse is true.
Therefore, against such a rich and complex background, how can we identify the rift between the first and the contemporary SPLM/A tiers formed by Garang’s challenging and perplexing vision and mission for South Sudan? How do we intricate ourselves out of this challenge and perhaps correctly locate the vision and mission of Dr. John Garang and SPLM/A which must become a point of reference for us?
By answering the above questions, a clear comprehensivity is attained. We need to recognise that Dr. John Garang, together with most of his comrades, who founded and established the first tier of SPLM/A, were not certain kinds of superhuman. They were neither perfect nor mystics evidenced by the fact that there were, for one reason or another, some intermittent clashes amongst themselves. Such did not impede them because they were astute and shrewd enough to always quickly recognize their failures and found common grounds on which to compromise their divide hence managing to achieve their main goal – the CPA which eventually gave birth to independence.
As a model of patriotism and nationalism, the first tiers of SPLM/A led by Garang present (ed) themselves as a group of complex, energetic men and women who came to know the people of Sudan in their distinctive diversities (ethnic, cultural, religious, etcetera) without fleeing the country and without mortifications; revolutionaries who understood love in terms of active, virile service to their own people in their sufferings. They chose to go to the bush against the Arab government of Khartoum because in the Sudanese people and especially the Southerners, they recognized the maximum expression of need, of destitution, of dereliction – they saw Southerners at their most marginalised and assaulted with all forms of injustices. This is why they fought selflessly for 21 good years without salary nor did they hope to get any reward as opposed to the contemporary SPLM/A tiers of “abëk-wëu” whose first allegiance and loyalty is to the individual politicians through whom they forged their way in into the system.
Consequently, as politics is a dirty game of conflicting individual or collective interests, the nascent nation is plunged headlong into a catastrophic civil war. What a rift created by greed! Though it is evident that Dr. Garang and his colleagues (martyrs) and all the first tier’s ultimate sacrifice goes well beyond the revolutionary movement (SPLM/A) they founded, there is here a very direct challenge for us; the deviation from a right course.
Admittedly, Garang’s times are not our own and the contemporary context in which we live today is completely different from his and that of all veterans, the wounded heroes, heroines and “martyrs” who did not only offer their own blood but laid down their own precious lives to purchase for us the most exorbitant freedom we are misusing today. In such a regard, a process of “substantial” renewal is called for. In adequation, a renewal does not necessarily mean trying to overtake the founders nor does it mean following them in a literal and fundamentalist way; it means, rather, doing what they would do today in a dynamic fidelity to the spirit, vision and mission of the founders.
We cannot understand SPLM/A apart from first tiers. We have seen how much it costed them to establish the SPLM/A both in terms of their own patriotic, nationalistic and unwavering revolutionary spirit of dedication and the output of energy and efforts. The SPLM/A is made of their own image and likeness. So if we want to grasps what renewal of SPLM/A vision and mission might mean for them, we have to start from what was “essential” for first tiers, especially their model’s (Dr. Garang’s) life and work.
It is indisputable that our martyrs, led by Dr. Garang, left the ideals in which they believed and for which they struggled to their sons and daughters as an inheritance. They are the same values which we identify today by the name of SPLM/A manifesto, CPA manual or booklet, interim Constitution and Garang’s audio speeches and videotapes. For Garang, as well as all other Martyrs, liberty, justice and equality for all were three inseparable passions for their life. They reflect the colour and intense commitment typical of Garang and his colleagues.
The contemporary SPLM/A tiers, all membership and especially the youth of South Sudan, in these three (liberty, justice & equality), we find the principal values of Dr. Garang who was the patron and will always remain a model of SPLM/A; the essence of his charisma and of the heritage he and all his colleagues left us. If we must become a peaceful and stable nation, each of us must acknowledge that together we can effect the change we want to see and experience in our nation. Peace and nation building are a collective as well as an individual responsibility in the nation, and so we have to decease finger-pointing and instead focus on our common good. As much as we have things that divide us, we have as much things that we could intersect. Youth are the paragon of change South Sudan want to behold not ‘abëk-wëu’.
The author is a student and can be reached via Kucdidgab@gmail.com
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