South Sudan National Anthem: Think Big

Posted: July 29, 2019 by aljokd in Junub Sudan, Malith Alier, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

“If you have nothing to do, don’t do it here” unknown

By Malith Alier, Sydney, Australia

Monday, 29 July, 2019 (PW) —   I am aware in South Sudan that you can be put behind bars arbitrarily if you say something that touches the raw nerves of the “big men.” Dr. Biar Ajak is behind bars in Juba. Michael Christopher of Al Watan Newspaper is behind bars in Blue House for merely writing about Sudan under cruel Bashir.

Nobody is immune from illegal actions of the few who have arrogated it to themselves to be the accuser, the judge and the executioner. The unlimited power they have made them to have four eyes projected at four directions of the universe. What they think or perceive is the total reality, no second opinion or third may make a difference.

Currently, we have the debate over who must exclusively take control of the three national symbols of Anthem, coat of arms and the national flag. It is absurd that the issue of the symbols is politicised instead of being viewed by legal and cultural perspectives. It’s either you are supporting it or opposing it depending on what is said or unsaid in the political discourse. A third category of people thinks that the apparent usurpation of the national anthem can cause no harm to individuals or the ordinary citizenry. Therefore, it’s okay for it to be appropriated by those who will not “abuse it.”

The country’s council of ministers a week or so ago decided, based on the abuse mantra to impose a blanket ban on individuals or groups indulging to “praise and glorify God for his grace on South Sudan.” They collectively reasoned that If any person must sing the national anthem, the president must be there! In real sense, it inadvertently places obligation on the president to attend every occasion thus organised.

The alleged abuse of the anthem is central to the decision. Nobody has conclusively defined what constitutes abuse of the anthem and other symbols the country has?

The current national flag has been in existence for more than 30 years. It was the flag of the rebel movement, the SPLM/A until July 9, 2011. One wonders whether there was a law in place, which is not cited by the council, that defined how, where, when, and why it should be used. If there was no law or regulation, the best thing the council should have done was to initiate a law through the National Legislative Assembly instead of rushing as if there was an imminent danger to the country for the supposed abuse.

On the abuse charge, the office of the president may not be the best place to prevent the abuse of national symbols. This is based on the fact of the past sagas that occurred over the years closer to the centre of power. The latest was the chief administrator, Mayen Wol and John Agou usage of the letter head with the coat of arms and the very signature of the president to defraud the country of 14 million US Dollars and 30 million Pounds in 2015. If that is not abuse, I may be lost for words of what abuse really means in this country. The president’s autograph is his own symbol but alas, it was not taken good care of.

On the eve of July 2014, I consciously placed a banner on the Toyota Lander I was travelling on. I then travelled to Jebel Market where I found some people who also unconsciously urged my good self to rid the car of the banner only meant for July 9 celebrations. They thought that I was impersonating the president.

I had different ideas but their unrestrained thinking was overwhelming. I audaciously ignored the advice to remove the banner until after the end of the following day.

In the old Sudan people were taught not to be proud of using the national flag in any way. It was thought to be for the president (rais) and exclusive use of rais only. In the same old Sudan individuals were not supposed to dine with hats or caps on. It was often claimed that one was “eating the government.” I have no idea how people came up with such weird thoughts. The real people who are eating the government meanwhile, go scot-free.

Modern democratic thinking is different. In Australia for example, one can freely use the national flag as they patriotically wish. One opt to fly it on the flag post at home even if you are not a government official. There is no law that prevents citizens from displaying the flag. That is what liberty means. There is no harm to the country if citizens merely display the flag at their homes at any time or occasion. Also in Australia, the coat of arms is used by all government departments. This makes it easier to identify government property no matter how large or small the government department is. It is simply the same government with various departments with no distinction.

Coming back to abuse claimed or harm caused by singing the national anthem in bars, weddings, birthday or on the streets. Can any one quantify the harm? Is it economic, cultural, ideological, or political harm. If a child is born and the family decided to sing the national anthem, which one is more important, is the child or the anthem?

I am of the opinion that the anthem is for the benefit of the child but not the other way round. When Jesus was asked by the scribes why he healed a man on the Sabbath against the dictates of the scripture. His reply was, who was more important; the man or the Sabbath? The man was not made for the Sabbath but it was the Sabbath which was made for the benefit of the man and mankind to worship God.

Therefore, without a child being born in South Sudan, this flag will have no meaning at all. Without these people in the bars and on the streets, the country would be a lifeless land. If bars are that bad why the government simply not ban them? Why collect taxes from the bars? Think big!

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 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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