Tension between hope and despair: Violent vs non-violent revolution in South Sudan (Part 1)

Posted: September 16, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Thiik Mou Giir

By Thiik Mou Giir, Melbourne, Australia

fighting in juba

fighting in Juba, 2013, 2016

September 16, 2017 (SSB) —- Since the outbreak of violence between the soldiers loyal to the government and the soldiers loyal to the opposition in Juba and as well as in other parts of South Sudan in 2013 and which have continued up to this very day, the consequences are now well known.  It is very important that we should reflect and learn from something that has touched every South Sudanese negatively.

In this piece of work, I have examined what violent and non-violent revolutions look like.  This part deals with violent revolution.  Next week I will have the second part published.  Aware that you may want to participate in the discussion, I have numbered each grid with a number for referencing purposes.

Factor Advantage Disadvantage


Regime Style of leadership





·         Becomes more dictatorial and oligarchic;

·         Unleashes national security agencies to silence the voices of dissent;

·         Members of a particular tribe often become the target of revenge attacks;

·         Collateral damage is unavoidable



The armed opposition forces




·         Become ruthless to those who are suspected of trying to have contact with the government’s agents;

·         Members of a particular tribe often become the target of revenge attacks;

·         Collateral damage is unavoidable



Militancy and the culture of violence





·         It promotes the culture of violence; (You have some grievances against the government, take up a gun and rebel regardless what the consequences will be;)

·         The cycle of violence becomes difficult to break because it is passed on down to the next generation;



Areas affected





·         The once peaceful areas now become unsafe;

·         Engaging in agriculture becomes a risk and crops are often destroyed;

·         Homes are deserted, looted and destroyed;

·         Ceased to be a welcoming area;




Communities/tribes affected


·         Becomes more cohesive in order to face threats posed by members of other communities/tribes


·         Divisions between communities/tribes deepened and animosity multiplied;

·         Negative impact on traditional values;

·         babies, children, young adults, old adults, and elders become traumatized;




Diasporas Affected





·         Violence in South Sudan is playing a part in failing the diaspora;

·         Each sub-community becomes very much self-centered and somewhat disconnected from other sub-communities



Leaders, Heroes and, heroines


·         Become the focus points in the communities/tribes;

·         Some leaders may lead people to do right things


·         Some revolutionary leaders, heroes, and heroines are often killed during violent struggle;

·         Some leaders may lead people to do wrong things;

·         Some people who, in the past, were considered national personalities, are now considered tribal personalities.



Families affected


·         Children learn to be responsible in their early age;

·         Children may learn to become more determined and more resilient than they would normally be.


·         Members of families are often separated;

·         The children whose parents are killed are robbed of looking up to their mother/father as their role models;

·         Children are easily lured to become criminals;

·         The number of orphans increases;



Children’s schooling affected





·         Not able to go to school because schools are closed or destroyed;

·         Their learning is interrupted;

·         They are forced to be child soldiers and, in that way, they are robbed of their childhood



Civilians affected





·         Are displaced;

·         Are forced to live in refugee camps;

·         Lack sufficient food, water, and proper shelter;

·         Risk being raped, tortured, or even killed;








·         People are unable to afford dignified lifestyle;

·         People are forced to live in poverty.



The economy/resources of South Sudan





·         Weak;

·         Limited proper utilization of the resources;

·         Because South Sudanese leaders are known to have been engaging in a costly violent struggle and, because of that, are desperately in need of hard currency, they are easily taken advantage of and they are given far less in return for far more profit;

·         The country plunges into long term debts;



Development of the country





·         Slow or non-existent



Human development





·         Slow or non-existent;

·         Government unable to offer even basic training to the people;

·         Jobs become scares



Sub-communities’ disputes and fights





·         Government and the opposition forces often become so weakened that they are not able to solve them immediately;

·         Government and the opposition forces may take advantage of using them as a means of maintaining status quo or of reaching power;

·         Government and the opposition forces may create them as a means of maintaining status quo or of reaching power





·         Becomes widespread



Non-South Sudanese interference


·         Showing their humanity by supporting those who are in need without expecting anything in return;

·         Neutral, therefore, trustworthy


·         Often take advantage of the situation in order to make a profit;

·         Often play direct and indirect role to prolong the war;

·         Often impose their own puppets regardless whether the majority of people will like them or not




Social media apparatus

·         Peacemakers;

·         Conscience raisers;


While the majority of the users are not on the ground themselves, they effectively:


·         Attempt to build positive bridges between people;

·         Attempt to make peace;

·         Attempt to present alternative visions to the people.


While the majority of the users are not on the ground themselves, they effectively:


·         Defame a tribe or collection of tribes;

·         incite hatred;

·          create fear among people;

·         create an environment of mistrust between people;

·         encourage people to keep on fighting;

·         Freedom fighters;

·         Interceptors;

·         Saboteurs;

·         Liars (propaganda);

·         Rumourmongers



The time period it takes to overthrow the government


·         Advantage, if short and people like the change


·         Disadvantage, if long and people don’t like the change



After defeating the government


·         In control of the country


·         Not able to win the hearts and the minds of the large section of the society;



After defeating the rebels


·         In control of the country


·         Not able to win the hearts and the minds of the large section of the society;



Comparing the sum of the losses during the struggle period with the sum of gains throughout the period they will be in power.


·         In control of the country;


·         Human losses are far greater than the gains;

·         Material losses are far greater than the gains;

·         The impact of war on the population is far acute than the healing services that the new regime would be able to offer people to cope with their current and future conditions;

·          may attain what they want but may alienate vast majority members of certain tribe or tribes;



Setting a precedent for future governments




·         Setting a negative precedent for the people who may want to overthrow the governments in the future

The Tension between Hope and Despair

Here is a Jieng’s proverb: “Don’t warn a person who is traveling a road that leads to danger.  The person wouldn’t listen to you. Rather, warn him when he is returning, then he will surely listen to you.”

I wanted, in the past, to apply that wisdom to our situation, but then I thought, “What if the actions – social media propaganda – of some of us are going to cause the death and the suffering of our people?  What if those who are traveling this road aren’t going to come back?

What if the divisions between our sub-communities here in Melbourne and our sub-communities in other parts of the world are going to reach a level that would permanently paralyse us and stop us from laying a strong foundation of our unity?”  I, therefore, decided to keep on warning my fellow South Sudanese saying, “Be careful what you say and write!” and, “Here is a light; let us use it to find a better road.”

The light I meant is Construct Our New Identity (CONI).  Then, the person looks at me with eyes that made me feel as if I’m an old, rugged prophet who is saying things that are irrelevant to our present day (night) situation.  He keeps traveling the same road, leaving me sad and speechless!

Thiik Mou Giir, Bachelor Degree in Education from the University of Alexandria, Egypt; Post Graduate Diploma, from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.  He can be reached via his email contact: 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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