By Maliap Madit, Kampala, Uganda
March 16, 2017 (SSB) — First and foremost, the writer isn’t a dialogist (Speaker) of the National Dialogue Committee and as such, this article isn’t meant to answer the questions in the minds of all South Sudanese regarding the national dialogue, but just a personal view as a peace-loving citizen.
A lot has been said and we will continue saying all sort of things which could help us achieve a lasting peace. My President, H.E. 1st Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit deserves a vote of thanks for this initiative. For, there are rarely few leaders who know the real essence of leadership and peace in times of unrests and deteriorating economy, Bravo Mr. President!
When the president of the republic decreed the National Dialogue Initiative and consequently formed a committee under his Patronage together the then Co-Patron, Bishop Paride Taban, it was received with mixed reactions, that is assumed as a political move by the happy-go-lucky individuals especially opposition of the system.
On the other hand, the ordinary, peace loving citizens view it as a hi-res towards achieving a lasting peace despite the fact that it isn’t yet known how it will be handled and therefore, by virtue of peace and reconciliation, I would say that the claims that this move is a political is a hokey statement and so the opposers are just hiss-fit.
What does it mean to dialogue? Dialogue can be described as a conversation or other forms of discourse between two or more individuals either in a dramatic or literary presentation (verbal or script) by the actors or characters (general meaning). I don’t know how politicians understand it but more of this if meant for good course as far as management of society is concerned. Looking at the nature of national dialogue, it is voluntary in nature, non-negotiable though it has different definitional potpourri.
The National Dialogue Initiative was then pioneered by the National Prayers Day dated 10th March 2017 which was successfully witnessed by attendances in masses nationwide. This day was spent entirely on worship, praying wholeheartedly to the Heavenly Father, to grant us peace, love and harmony.
To me, I take the National Day of Prayers as an ‘eye and hearts opener’ in readiness for national dialogue which is believed to commence anytime when all the necessary arrangements are put in place to offer conducive atmosphere for the dialogue. I assume these arrangements are underway and that all appropriate measures are being put in place to make sure that the dialogue is not done in higgledy-piggledy manner.
Much as the National Prayer Day was criticized by the enemies of peace, it is a milestone and by all reasons a bold and meaningful decision taken by the president. As for me, it was my first time to hear and witness human beings opposing prayers whatever religion. There are many countries that went through a series of unrests, destruction, famine, genocide and many other catastrophes – human or natural let alone this one of ours. But never ever did such happen – declaration of national prayers, but because our president is a God-fearing man, a man of peace, he opted and always opts for peace regardless of those disturbing the country and his leadership for this case.
I was almost shocked to see or hear people believed to be people of God (Religious leaders) protesting, speaking badly as well as resigning. Honestly I ended up questioning myself as, ‘who is good’ in South Sudan? And as of now, I don’t have the answer(s). I had to console myself alone ….memorized the history of other nations where religious leaders had had an upper hand in. exampt grata, Rwanda 1994, genocide.
For sure I almost lost hope and faith in some religious leaders that day but on the day of prayers, I recovered the trust in some of the Bishops though some speeches and prayers where bias and didn’t add value, but hatred. Hence, citizens still live in despair as to how the dialogue will be.
Expectations and essence of the national dialogue – all we need to know is that, the dialogue is by no means meant to find and punish who really has problem with who, no. We are simply going to ‘’dialogue’’ ….talk, communicate, discuss, shake hands, and share water together ….. Ask questions like, what went wrong? What our key problems are? How do we avoid or solve them? How do we end hatred, nepotism, sectarianism, tribalism, violence and move forward? And so many other things vital in dialogue and peaceful progress.
Why dialogue? There are not universal answers as that necessitate dialogue, but can be derived from how it is perceived and the situation at hand in relation to the desired state of the society after dialogue. As a nation, the national dialogue shall present us peace, unity, love, political security and togetherness.
Why peace? Peace is a state of tranquility as of; freedom from civil disturbance, violence, oppression in the community. Politically, peace is an agreement between warring parties or antagonistic groups or nations, to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting. This means that in the dialogue process, we shall all have one choice, that is choosing peace an unconditionally.
Even the Bible tells us to do good all the time. Here I quote, ‘’Do not repay evil with evil or insults with insults. On the contrary, repay evil with blessings because to this, you were called so that you inherit the blessings. For whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil to do good, they must seek peace and pursue it.’’ 1st PETER 3:9-11. On the other hand PSALMS 37:37 says, ‘’Consider the blameless, observe the upright a future awaits those who seek peace.”
When we choose peace, all the political pandemonium (noise, lawlessness, violence) will come to an end and replace it with forgiveness. By this, we will call off all the divisive factors in and between our communities throughout our country. Achieving a lasting peace means proclamation of oneness, harmonization by denouncing our differences whatsoever regardless of our cultural or ethnic identities.
Why reconcile? I would summarize the process of national dialogue and reconciliation in the following Rs. Reconciliation – reconcile, mends the broken hearts and relationships, Repentance – repent of all our wrongful doings in the recent past. Renounce – sinful desires, Redeem – buy back what our God and country has for us, Relate – all creation in a uniting new-way, Relationships – with humanity (brothers and sisters in Christ), Restore – all the first, past good things.
Remember – the greatness and goodness of God, and victories of our sojourning, Rejoice – in all unspeakable glories of presence of God and the Lamb of ever more! This can be achieved by making all efforts to do what leads to peace and mutual edification’ in our beloved society – South Sudan. Therefore, let us move away from theoretical to practical peace and reconciliation house to house, village to village, state to state and nation at large.
Conclusion; By burying all the divisive factors and accepting peace, national dialogue is a ‘turning and restarting point’ and very fundamental toward arriving at a peaceful, harmonious, united, God-fearing society in which everyone sees each other as brethren by denouncing violence and hatreds of all forms.
Only in peace shall we have a prosperous, progressive nation and only achievable if we pursue peace. ‘’Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and be holy, without holiness, no one will see the Lord.’’ [Hebrew 12:14] Hence, let us accept one another as brothers during and after the national dialogue. For, ’It takes all sorts of people or tribes to make a better South Sudan.’
Oh God Bless South Sudan!!
The writer is a South Sudanese and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org ,
+211 (0)955 994 979 or +256 (0) 784 297 377