The Origin of the SPLM/A Revolutionary Ideology: A Response to Malual Ayom

Posted: January 13, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, History, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

“As a result, given the absence of a clear political ideology, the SPLM/A remained a military movement during the conflict while its political organisation was never properly institutionalised. The SPLM, as a movement was really only used as an institutional cover for diplomatic initiatives, for mobilisation throughout Sudan and abroad, and for humanitarian assistance in the liberated areas but not as an ideological vehicle.” —From Malual Ayom Dor’s PhD Thesis, page 54.

By J. D. Garang, USA


January 13, 2018 (SSB) — This note is to correct one false notion being leveled at the original SPLM vis-a-vis the history of South Sudan, especially the casual charge that the Liberation Movement never had any developed political ideology whatsoever. But first, I have said this before and I will say it again: those historians who will be entrusted with producing South Sudanese history have their work cut out for them, for I’m afraid they might end up having a really hard time agreeing on the basic primary sources or even the best approach to writing history as it is, much less teaching our common history to schoolchildren.

Judging by the way things are now if the history of South Sudan is going to be written in the same manner in which the people ran the country aground, I’m equally afraid we are going to have a huge mess, one that could be punctuated by years of political hiccups. Because if the recent proliferation of political writings are any guide, it is safe to conclude that most historical analyses we have seen either miss the mark or are shockingly ignorant, with some that are devoid of historical contexts and/or serious, evidence-based scholarly analysis.

I have always said that the SPLA/M is either a victim of its own success or that the current paralysis is an indication of a political party bereft of hope and governing vision or that it has peaked following the death of its tutelage and ideological leader, Dr. John Garang de Mabior.

For starters, the SPLM had New Sudanism as its core political ideology, primarily to transform the old Sudanese politics along with the country and to bring about a more hopeful, inclusive era of social democracy–one of total economic and political transformation. And for all marginalized people to experience the equality of opportunity, human freedom, and dignity.

Believe it or not, the SPLM vision caught the imagination of masses in the Sudans. It was an ideology informed by political thoughts rooted in the twin political ideologies of African Socialism and Pan Africanism. Eventually, this vision culminated in the independence of South Sudan.

Now, in my opinion, the paralysis that has beset South Sudan in the last 13 years cannot be blamed for lack of political ideology during the liberation era, but rather on the postwar crisis of governance and lack of direction from the leadership and the government of the day. Even more, any serious political observers or scholars will attest that the SPLM had a solid political ideology; it was the glue that held the Movement together for 21 years, notwithstanding that one horrible split.

Now, if you wonder why the SPLM party has been less equipped in managing the postwar/Independence era, well, that is another whole ball game and I bet everyone knows how things started going South, no pun intended.

And, how I wish South Sudanese in their scramble for intellectual pursuits were offering objective critiques without dismissing or denying what worked during the liberation, for it was all the pillars of SPLA/M, including its political ideology, along with the unrivaled valor of our gallant SPLA men and women that aligned together to bring us the country.

It’s worth mentioning that South Sudanese History is our collective story and historians and scholars must always handle it with utmost care as they strive to get it right. Perhaps it will take generations for some people to recognize, accept and appreciate the enduring legacy of the ideology that gave SPLM its ideas and the transformative power of the May Revolution. But let’s just agree the political destiny of South Sudan runs through the original SPLM.

In short, for reasonable South Sudanese to simply resort to writing revisionist history– rewriting history by picking and choosing or by denying and twisting facts through shoddiest academic work or in social media posts, either for the sake of attention or any hidden political motivations–would be to shortchange or obliterate history altogether. It is rather simplistic. And it makes us look so small in the eyes of the world. Plus, the damage to the country as well as to future generations could be incalculable.

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, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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