By Thiik Mou Giir, Melbourne, Australia
February 23, 2017 (SSB) — I have a question for you. But before I ask that question, I would like to remind you that I am one of those people who have been saying that a solution to our problems, coming from South Sudanese people themselves in their own country, would be much, much better than a solution that some of us are trying to seek from the International Community.
When we create a mess in our own country, when we are the ones who are creating problems to ourselves, when we are the ones collaborating with other people to create problems in our own country, we should fix these problems ourselves. True, South Sudan is a young country. But it has to grow up just as those countries that so many of us are now expecting them to intervene in our country had grown up and have become what they are now.
It is normal and natural for any young country to start by having problems from the beginning. If she is able to solve them, she is growing up very well. On the other hand, if she appeals to other people to come and to clean up her own mess, she will never grow. She remains a child. What she is doing is that she is saying to other countries, ‘look, I’m your child; I have made a mess, come please and clean me up.’
When those countries hesitate to clean her up, then she turns around and start blaming them, ‘The International Community have failed to fulfill their obligation; they make promises, promises that they never keep.’ There is no such thing as free aid in this world. Aid comes with conditions attached.
What we are doing to ourselves is that we are giving other people the privilege of being look at as our patriarchs, our fathers, as others look upon us as their children. We are developing this in our mind to become a habit. I’m saying ‘this habit’ because that is what it will become, a habit. Just sit down and imagine a situation. Suppose you wipe out of your mind President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar.
They now no longer exist. Then ask, have our problems gone? Are we problem-free? I am sure you will agree with me that we will always have them. Now the question is, are we going to keep running to other people each time we feel we are going to be at each other’s throat? Are we going to keep making a mess around and expect others to always, always come to clean us up?
If our people are bent in seeking solutions in other countries, if all of us will become glued to that habit, we will never grow up as one people; we will perpetually be delivering ourselves up to the mercy of other people at the risk of being mentally enslaved to them. Sooner or later, we will realize that in the past, they came to take us into bondage; today, we run to them begging them to enslave us.
Why is this happening? It is happening because we have failed miserably to love ourselves and to have confidence in ourselves. It is time to think differently. It is time to think that we are not just Jieng, Nuer, Mundari, Shilluk, Balanda, Jurchol and so on, but that we are one and indivisible people. We have got to believe so and we have got to work very hard towards that end.
There had been attempts that South Sudanese had made in the past to solve their own problems. The current one came from President Salva Kiir. But it seems to me that it is not going to be successful. The president has appointed eminent personalities to be in charge of the National Dialogue Initiative and these personalities include the Retired Catholic Emeritus Bishop Paride Taban, Prof. Moses Machar, Joseph Lagu, Abel Alier, Francis Mading, Bona Malual Madut and Francis Mading Deng.
Although these personalities are well respected and loved by all South Sudanese in varying degrees, the opposition leaders have declared that they would not go along with what they are in charge of, namely, the Dialogue Initiative. The Dialogue Initiative is a ‘bogus’, Dr Riek Machar had said. ‘It will not be considered a dialogue, but a monologue’, said others. ‘Salva Kiir is the reason why South Sudanese is in this chaotic situation, how then should he be the one to appoint these personalities to be in charge of the National Dialogue and then to appoint himself as its Patron?’ declared a member of G10, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior.
This appears to be a logical argument. However, the argument is likely going to diminish the hope that the President might have given to people. A partial dialogue (monologue) is as bad as the absence of a dialogue. It is either going to be an inclusive dialogue or nothing. This stalemate argument is in the air while our people are facing the on-and-off intense fighting, and they are also facing the declared famine which is a result of a seemingly collapsing economy.
In my opinion, because our people have endured suffering for too long, the people at the grassroots should come up with a layer of their own plan to be added to the layer that the members of National Dialogue Committee would produce. The ordinary people should come up with a plan that would help bring peace. The purpose of the proposed plan would not to be viewed as something to replace the plan/timetable that the eminent members of the committee will produce.
The purpose of the plan would be to simply send a strong message to all the parties in the conflict that, not only would there be an agenda from the National Dialogue Committee, but there would also be another one from the grassroots which they could use whenever necessary and whenever they reach a deadlock. Its intention would be to prevent this opportunity from being missed again; in other words, it would be to make it hard for the dialogue participants to let this opportunity slip away through their fingers.
We would hope that this plan would be considered as a strong appeal to the stakeholders to make this initiative a success and to stop the war immediately and permanently so that our people could go back to their homes to start rebuilding their lives. We would also hope that this plan would reach the hands of every South Sudanese stakeholders. If you like, we could call it A Peace Plan from the Grassroots.
If you authorize me to write a draft of this plan, I can voluntarily do it and have it published. After that, I will expect you to send me your feedback. Now the question is: Shall I go ahead and write a draft of this Peace Plan I am proposing?
You can reach the author, Thiik Mou Giir, via his email address: email@example.com
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