What is the yardstick for determining peace in South Sudan?

Posted: December 11, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Yanta Daniel Elisha, Juba, South Sudan


Tuesday, December 11, 2018 (PW) — Waging war is voluntary just like peacemaking so it is not surprising that peacemaking is gaining momentum in South Sudan. However, determining that there is relative sustainable peace in South Sudan is still very difficult because the yardstick seems too short to measure it instantly.

Peacemaking and war waging depend on people’s will. How do we measure the will of the political leadership or management of South Sudan?

I am coming to answer such a question and more, later in the discourse. For now, let us understand what yardstick is and what peace is. Is peace a concrete noun to be measured by a yardstick? What is used for determining an abstract noun like peace?

Yardstick according to the Wikipedia is a straightedge used to physically measure lengths of up to one yard (3.0 feet or 0.9144 meters long) high. Yardsticks are flat boards with markings at regular intervals. In the metric system, a similar device measuring up to one metre is called a metre-stick.

Nevertheless, generally a yardstick is synonymous with standard, measure, gauge, scale, guide, guideline, indicator, benchmark, rule or test. It is on this connotation that I used the word in the title of the article.

Besides that, my name Yanta is synonymous with a yardstick. In my own setting, I have interpreted my name as Yardstick for Affection versus Affectation, Nobility versus Notoriety, Truthfulness versus Truthlessness and Altruism versus Antagonism (YANTA). A contrasting life, you can discern. No surprise, life is full of contrasts so we must strike a balance. In life, you must have a virtue to strive for as the Greeks strive for wisdom, Jews for righteousness and Romans for glory.

Which virtue at all do the South Sudanese strive for as others do?

As a world citizen (a person who sees humanity as one and does not like the idea of nationalism, patriotism, racism, or any segregating ideology) I strive for Affection, Nobility, Truthfulness and Altruism as a yardstick for myself. What yardstick are you for good or evil? The Judgement Day is there for us.

What is Peace?

Peace is simply freedom from disturbance of whatever kind. Peace is a state of harmony, order, accord, goodwill or friendship, calmness or silence.

In silence, of course there is Speculation, Imagination /Internalization, Listening / Learning, Eagerness / Energising, Newness /Novelty, Conceptualization / Concentration and Exploration/ Expectation (SILENCE).

In peace, there is Prosperity/ Patience, Empowerment /Education, Access /Ascendancy, Calmness/Courage/Confidence and Expectation/ Excellence (PEACE).

In war, of course there is Worry, Arrogance and Revenge (WAR). All the three elements of worry, arrogance and revenge are very destructive thus give birth to untold suffering of all living things like animals, plants and most of all the humans.

So far so good, that is the observation of the implementation of South Sudan Revitalized Peace Accord, 2018.

Right from October 31 visit of Dr Riek Machar Teny to Juba for the celebration of the signing of September 12, 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the political weather seemed to be calming down from the extreme South of South Sudan in Kajo-Keji and the extreme North of South Sudan in Maban. It seemed to be calming down in the extreme East of South Sudan in Kapoeta and the extreme West of South Sudan in Tombura as shown in the beautiful map.

Sad to note, however within the same period was the barbaric murder of a catholic priest: Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo on November 15, 2018 in Cueibet (Lakes State) in the central part of the country.

The cantonment of warring forces is unfortunately behind schedule. What this means is still subject to interpretation. Is it financial constraint? Where is the finance for funding the war?  Is funding war not the same as funding peace? What is less costly, peace or war in terms of lives and property?

The Joint Monitoring &Evaluation Commission (JMEC) has recently reported that peace implementation is gaining momentum in South Sudan. That is very good news indeed that the displaced and anxious South Sudanese yearn to listen to or read about actually.

The United Nations’ Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Head, David Shearer has confirmed the relative calm in the country and spontaneous return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees from neighbouring countries to their deserted homes.

The Episcopal Diocese of Kajo-Keji recently participated in peace and reconciliation efforts bringing the warring forces together in western and southern parts of Kajo-Keji.

Confirmed reports have it that, refugees continue to pour in large numbers to South Sudan from different border points to see whether the abstract noun in the name of ‘peace’ has been restored in the devastated country. They want to verify whether there is prosperity or patience, empowerment or education, access or ascendancy, calmness or courage/confidence and expectation or excellence in their own home country.

Is there prosperity in South Sudan? Is there patience? Is there empowerment or education? Is there access or ascendancy? Is there calmness or courage/confidence to say or do something? Is there expectation or excellence in South Sudan to mean peace prevails?

Is there expectation for peaceful transition of political power through free and fair elections in South Sudan? How bold is, the return home or it is tiptoeing like that of tortoise in the story: What is justice in the animal world?

It is a common practice in the animal world for the tortoise to be consulted about the future, the present and the past. I desire to have the tortoise wisdom as a small animal with outwitting intelligence. So what is the yardstick for determining sustainable peace in South Sudan?

The ardent will to conduct necessary political, security, economic and social reforms for peaceful transition of power through credible democratic elections is the yardstick for determining peace in South Sudan.

In will, there is wisdom, intelligence, legacy and lesson for others to learn.

One may ask what I need to learn after passing through the first stage of life, education, second stage of sensation and experience, third stage of power and now advancing to the fourth and final stage of immortality.  Learning like human development in psychology is a continuous process, which begins from the time of conception in the womb of the mother and continues until maturity according to S.S. Chauhan: Advanced Educational Psychology, Six Revised Edition.

How do we initiate and develop the will to do something? How do we acquire wisdom, intelligence, legacy and lesson to learn? What is will in the first place?

Various scholars including the author of this piece agree to define will in this context as the mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action. It can be simply defined as diligent purposefulness or determination. Will in this context is self-control or discipline in determining what to do intentionally. It is about attitude toward others or something.

How does will come into being? What shows there is will to do something?

Education is the answer to the questions in point. Education of whatever kind is valuable, being it formal, informal or non-formal. With empowerment, development, universalism, consolidation, accentuation, teaching, inculcation, organisation and neutrality realized through education human will to uphold virtues is possible.

The scrutiny of words, speeches, thoughts, expression of feelings and actions determines the will to do something.

What do the words, speeches, thoughts, feelings and actions of South Sudanese leadership and masses show about the will to reform and transit power peacefully through free and fair elections? What is the validity and reliability of our words, speeches, thoughts, feelings and actions?

The overall determiner of will is attitude. Attitude according to Dr Herbert Harris’ The 12 Universal Laws of Success is as a great circle with 360 degrees whereby half represents 180 degrees positive and the other half represents 180 degrees negative. The difference between positive and negative thinking about realization of peace in South Sudan lies in the feelings of the people.

Feelings seem to matter more than thoughts in politics and so are the cases of falling in love with even strangers or first time acquaintances. Yet trust as a feeling is a fragile emotion. “In God we trust” is the motto of the Americans. That means they look up to God for whatever they say or do.

South Sudanese must look up to God in what they think, say or do to resemble American greatness. “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”, Proverbs 9: 10. This is the only positive fear: Fearing to offend God and His people. This reminds us to revisit our mindset and change for the better.

Positive thinking about something like peace realization is focused on knowledge, understanding, courage and faith. Where there is faith, there is no doubt. Where there is faith, there is walking on water without sinking. Where there is faith, wild storm calms down as it happened in the bible story.

Negative thinking about something like peace realization in South Sudan is focused on people and leadership’s feelings of ignorance, fear and doubt.

Negative thinking emanates from fear of poverty prompting greed and cling to power, fear of criticism prompting allegiance to ill-fated associations, fear of loss of love prompting submission to corrupt practices, fear of old age prompting egoism, fear of ill health resulting from disappointments at work and at home and fear of death prompting execution of counter-insurgency.

In nutshell, the implementation of the revitalized peace accord is a process. It is still too early to conclude that sustainable peace prevails until the fateful day of the test of the political will to change Juba state of affairs. “We will cross that bridge when we get to it” as the common idiom puts it.

In Kuku, the similar expression is “A male tortoise is identified on fire”. (Kidobok luwale lo gbuluwa i kimang).

The fire is the climax of the will to relinquish power peacefully through free and fair elections if any will ever happen.

The author is a seasonal South Sudanese journalist and educator reachable through yantadaniel@rocketmail.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.

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