South Sudanese Community Readiness for Dialogue in Melbourne, Australia

Posted: July 17, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Thiik Mou Giir

By Thiik Mou Giir, Melbourne, Australia        

July 15, 2017 (SSB) — The saying of a Chinese philosopher goes like this: “A journey of a thousand miles…” Just minutes before a community forum, attended by Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny, the Press Secretary of South Sudanese government, in Melbourne, yesterday, I told members of Jieng Union that members of South Sudanese community, as a whole, are not ready, without a well-defined program, to come together and dialogue among themselves.

The incident that had occurred, minutes later, during the forum proceeding, confirmed my point.  After Mr Ateny ended his talk that had focussed on the political situation in South Sudan, Mr. Aleir Ateny Lueth, representing SPLM-IO, was among the few who were given a chance to ask a question or two.

What he said stirred such a noisy reaction that it became impossible for anyone present to hear and make sense of what he had continued to say.  It seems to me that time is ripe for people to have dialogue.  If we are expecting a more positive outcome, we must dispel such a behaviour.

It is normal that a person to whom an audience is listening to may, sometimes, say things that would make an audience mad and noisy, but, if members of the audience believe that the person who is speaking is their brother, or a sister, they have all the reasons to eventually come to their senses, manage their emotions and continue to listen to what he or she has to say.

It may take seconds, or even minutes to do so but they should allow the person to speak without any unnecessary interruption.  It is not what the person is saying that is going to hurt us (South Sudanese); it is what is going to remain with him unsaid that is going to hurt us.

It is ridiculous for us to desire a dialogue with those who differ with us in opinion and, at the same time, create conditions that make it hard for us to understand, or even to make sense of what they are saying to us.  We all love to be listened to; this is a core rule of a dialogue.  We must observe it.

This problem of unruly audience can be overcome only if those who have taken the responsibility of bringing South Sudanese together in order for them to dialogue to come up with a well-defined program.  I have heard that there are such attempts around in Melbourne.

The forum that took place yesterday and the prayer gathering that is scheduled to take place on July 22/17 are examples of those attempts.  The question is no longer whether there is a desire for dialogue or not; there is a desire for dialogue.  The question, at least to me, remains how?

There are community leaders, elders, and intellectuals who are willing to assist in bringing the whole community together so that they will be able to address their grievances and reconcile.

The presence of Mr Alier Ateny Lueth, representing SPLM-IO, Mr James Chol Duer, representing SPLM-IO/IG and Mr Ateny Wek Ateny, representing SPLM-G., in the same forum, organized by Jieng Union, has shown that there is a desire for dialogue in Melbourne.

What I am not aware of is whether a program that will make dialogue possible exists or not.  If there is no such a program, the priority should be for community leaders, elders and intellectuals to put their hands together and produce a well-defined program.

It will take time for them to do so, but it will be a time well spent instead of focusing on something of an enormous and sensitive nature such dialogue without a clear program and then realize it is doomed to fail.

You can reach the author via his email: Thiik Giir <thiik_giir@hotmail.com>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is 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 paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

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