Why we should rather be Farming than to Continue Fighting the Destructive War

Posted: May 18, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Apioth Mayom, Economy, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Apioth Mayom Apioth, WA, USA

farm in Bor, Jonglei state

Abel Majur Leek’s farm in Mareng, Bor, Jonglei state

Friday, May 18, 2018 (PW) — There are no better quotes that capture the current dire political arena in South Sudan than the following two excerpts: “Where you are roasting your sweet potato is also the place where the devil is also roasting its sweet potato of destruction” (African proverb), and “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap” (Napoleon Bonaparte). The late famed singer Nyankol Mathiang sang of how God brought us John Garang so he would strategically align us with the dream of having our land (Canaan=South Sudan) from the shackles of persecution in the not so united Sudan.

In the SPLA bush war, serendipity brought us John Garang and the devil also brought us Salva Kiir Mayarkor. We would go on and spent 21 challenging and trying years with the supposedly anointed and visionless Joshua(Kiir Mayar), not knowing that he would one day lead us into the war of destruction. His latest outburst was how he went ahead and freed the former SPLA detainees (the leaders) from imprisonment in Juba to an exiled political safety in Nairobi. To Kiir, he still regrets setting them free when he should have snatched the last breath out of them while he was at it.

This recent accusation led Ajak Deng Chiengkou of SBS Radio to have wondered as to why he would rather commit such a treasonous crime. This is one area where Dr. John Garang was way ahead of his peers when it came to matters concerning futuristic and shrewd strategic planning in sowing seeds that will bring the bountiful harvest in the not so distant future. The reason why John Garang always made sure that the Lost Boys of Sudan (who were also the core of the Red Army of New Sudan) were so often ferried to safety and properly trained and disciplined in soldiering and education was because in case the SPLA bush war dragged on and on for quite some time, then this newer crop of highly militarized generation of soldiers would take over from the former generation, and keep the flag hoisted high.

The former SPLA detainees are the next group coming right after those of Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. Why would we need to leave a political vacuum, if not that the insecurities surrounding Kiir have gone haywire? Furthermore, Salva Kiir compares the latest peace negotiations to an era when we were negotiating with Khartoum for our independence. The northern Sudanese were enslaving us, and up to this very moment, we still have our brethren and sisters who were freed from the shackles of slavery in north Sudan. We were fighting a war against a regime who were regarding us as inferior and second class citizens.

The natural empathy and having a compassionate feeling toward your fellow compatriot has been replaced by a sheer apathy by the political elite led by Salva Kiir and his cronies. So instead of negotiating on the good premise and faith that we are all South Sudanese and of one race and one nationality, our own government treats us as if we are Nepalese citizens. Our political elites have been blinded by the so-called hunger for power that in the last 4 years of civil war, it has been the Troika countries and the international community who have been at the forefront of trying to broker a peace deal between Juba and the Opposition.

The United States alone spent close to $3 billion trying to make the warring factions come to their senses. And now the US wants to pull the rug out of those who were supposedly enjoying their comfort at the expense of the South Sudanese populace. The US is saying we need to review our funding initiatives for South Sudanese government and see whether we need to continue on pouring in resources to the government whose refusal to bring peace to its own citizen is blatantly quite apparent, or cut out the entire aid package altogether: the choice is on Salva Kiir to choose which path to tread this time around.

 “We tend to focus on things that divide us, rather we should pay attention more to those unique things that unite us” (Barak Obama). Mobuto Sese Seko whose reign caused the current malaise in the Democratic Republic of Congo used to divert state resources for his personal pleasures leaving the vast and expansive land for dogs to scavenge on. Laurent and Joseph Kabila inherited a totally corrupt system where every person has the right to fend for himself/herself just to see another day. Mobuto was used by the CIA to get rid of a remarkable leader called Patrice Lumumba, who had a much greater potential to put the nation on the right course for eternal prosperity.

DRC and South Sudan have few things in common: we had two charismatic leaders in Patrice Lumumba and John Garang, and the devil came and took them away from us and replaced them with clueless individuals in Mobuto Sese Seko and Salva Kiir respectively; second, these comparable countries have some of the highest illiteracy rates in the world with DRC rating at 30% and South Sudan sadly standing at 73%; and last, but not the least, Juba is probably becoming more like Kinshasha, because in the end if nothing changes this order of things, then the rural areas of South Sudan will become the new wild west and Juba will become more protected by the the government and other UN bodies, leaving the rural communities an arena for a perpetual and cyclic hit and run profiteers of unfathomable ideology of downing the rotten Kiir’s regime.

Since the year 2005, we have had numerous insurgencies starting from the likes of the late George Athor Deng, Peter Gatdet, David Yau Yau, Riek Machar, Thomas Swaka and Joseph Bakosoro. Before the onslaught of the current political crisis, Kiir’s military solution to renegade generals was to quickly integrate them back into the mainstream South Sudanese military, because he didn’t know the proper way to create a conducive environment so they won’t be able to return to the insurgency and create a fertile environment for newer militant insurgent groups. We have got to change our ways of doing things since we have no responsible leadership in Juba to lean on in time of need.

The demonic evils that urge us to commit senseless crimes against our fellow South Sudanese must be controlled so we may experience a serenic and calm environment of peace once again. With Salva Kiir leading the presidency, tumultuous discomfort becomes the order of the day since he has no natural urge to cater to all the ills that may afflict us. The responsibility to control the insecurities in our communal communities fall on our shoulders. Salva Kiir loves power and it seems things will stay that way for a very long time. The reckless phenomena of the unknown gunmen in our towns need to be looked at with our eyes all wide open.

Once an unknown gunman murder an individual from this side of town, then tomorrow another murder happens in the same scenarios, and it follows the same trajectory and it spreads like a contagious virus from one town to the next, and before we know it, this becomes a cultural habit we can hardly free ourselves from. South Sudan is totally mired in an unprecedented cycle of poverty; sending your neighbors to their early graves at gunpoint is not the best way to bend your anger at our failed leadership in Juba. Your neighbor may be as food insecure as you are since we all know the sad reality of economic affairs in the country.

You may rob your neighbor today, and tomorrow your best friend may rob yet another neighbor of his and if this madness becomes the order of the day, then there would be no more South Sudanese on the face of the earth: we would be fighting each other to the finish. South Sudan is the 20th largest country in continental Africa and 43rd largest country in the world in terms of land size. Our population which is about 12 million is similar to tiny Rwanda. Since our population is this small, compared to a hemorrhaging population expansion that may confront our future generations, shouldn’t we be living in total harmony with each other?

We are blessed with an abundance of land, and yet we continue to make no progress towards a peaceful nation we all dream of. Nigeria which has just taken the crown of becoming the largest economic power in Africa is seen time and time as rejecting offers by other African trading blocks in that they see themselves as better than everyone else. They have a potential of a humongous population that could bankroll economic projects of unprecedented scale. A few homogenous tribes like the Zulu, Igbo and the Yoruba are over 30 million apiece. While in the land of Joseph Lagu and John Garang, there are 64 tribes which amount to only 12 million.

While we can never blame ourselves for the destruction brought upon us by the 38 years of the first and second Sudanese civil wars since we all know we were fighting a racist regime in Khartoum; we can all blame ourselves for the utmost destruction we put ourselves through after the eruption of the current conflict in December 2013. The Anyanya and SPLA bush wars took our beloved people from us and there is no need to continue disrupting all possible paths to making our name in the world. We may not compete with the Nigerians and South Africans any time soon, but we can get a head start by refusing to be drawn to newer rebellious movements by the supposedly new liberation heroes.

We must stop creating more National Reformation Movement (NRM) by Goch Paguerek (possible new rebel leader), South Sudan All People’s Movement(SSAM) by Both Gach(another possible new leader), and South Sudan Progressive Movement (SSPM) by Lado Lasu. After Mobutu Sese Seko exited the presidency in 1997, DRC has remained very much the same 21 years later; DRC has gone through two presidencies in Laurent Kabila and the current playful president Joseph Kabila, who is fond of playing video games from time to time. For 43 years, DRC has been lying dormant, waiting for the right candidates to steer her to newer heights of glory.

Similarly, our supposed president Salva Kiir is fond of doing nothing to confront insecurities wreaking havoc to South Sudanese common people. The man in cowboy hat loves the throne and the power that comes with it like no other. He so much adores the entourage and countless individuals that visit him every so often so he could give out a little cash. We don’t want our people to continue to be the laughing stock of the world, do we? As South Sudanese, we can’t continue on treading the same path of the Anyanya and SPLA who took up arms to bring total independence to our nation.

If someone wants to get a higher ministerial position, you get to start climbing the ladder of your career by starting on the lowest position possible; you necessarily don’t have to start a new armed movement to make your case relevant. All these unnecessary acts may filter into the mainstream South Sudanese culture and may take us some time to get out of it, not to mention the countless lives that may be lost for no apparent reason at all. On the other hand, we also have to guard ourselves against blurting out hateful ethnic speech on the social media at all times so we could safeguard our nascent democracy from going astray.

Mark Zuckerberg was on trial recently, because he failed to put in place the mechanisms that could protect democratic institutions anywhere in the world. It is possible that social media and tech giants like Amazon and Google may be gone after fifty years. The Kenyan people living in urban towns and cities are beginning to pay no attention to which ethnic group you hail from. These are educated Kenyans and they come from all walks of life: they may be entrepreneurs, engineers, or environmental scientists for that matter. An educated Kenyan may ask: “Why would I discriminate against a Luhya just because her cultural background is different from mine? Isn’t she highly qualified in this engineering profession like I?”

There is nowhere else in the world where any tribal member can name their child a Taban or Sebit, except our South Sudan. We have lived in the same geographic location for thousands of years, giving us the invisible common national identity we currently conform to. It is about time we start harnessing those cultural practices that unite us than dwell on those that tear us apart. It is always our inability to tolerate our differences that keep us apart from becoming part of something greater than each individual units of ourselves.

By fighting among ourselves or starting a new rebellion, we get to give out a reason to legitimize Juba government’s hold on power and further their outrageous atrocities against our common people. Some of our people are saying that peace will eventually come after the current liberation generation has gone to join our ancestors. We may achieve a total lasting peace eventually, but it is possible it would take us longer than normal this time around. “Responsibility for yourself means you don’t fall for easy and shallow solutions” (Adrienne Rich). Even before the eruption of the civil unrest in December 2013, commodity prices were out of control in South Sudan; the living standards were unbearable making some people to return to their former homes in the refugee camps.

Smallholder farmers produce much of food commodities in Sub-Saharan Africa; before the onslaught of the political instability, agricultural infrastructure was beginning to take shape, and the last four years have taken us back to square one. Our people have got to start letting go of any interests in joining military groups so we could start rebuilding our livelihoods once more.

I applaud the artistic endeavors through AnaTaban and South Sudan Young Leaders Forum (SSYLF). Guns and killing machines would do us nothing substantial of economic important. It is through sustained civilian protest that we will eventually remove Salva Kiir and his bootlickers from power.

The author, Apioth Mayom Apioth, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, USA. He is an Admission Counselor from the University of North Dakota. He can be reached at: agutkeu@gmail.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 Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website 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.

  1. SPLA OYEE says:

    Brother, before South Sudanese took up arms for fighting the North, our people had ever since be farming the land using their strengths and hoes. The South was not fighting the north such that people can cultivate using primitive means. The South Sudan government is the one to begin making big agricultural schemes that can employ people in thousands. The harvest is to cover the whole country to eliminate hunger. I think nobody can refuse that. But, putting public monies in pockets and telling people to cultivate with their own hands, is not different from what the northerners used to tell our people before.
    Thank you.


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