“Today is the day to take off our hats in saluting and honouring our martyrs, heroes and heroines. It is the day to ponder how much Dr. John Garang De Mabior, founder of our nation, and all our martyrs whose blood has cemented our nation, and all our martyrs whose blood has cemented our national foundation, have done for us,” President Salva Kiir’s maiden speech on July 9th, 2011
By Ateny Wek Ateny, Juba, South Sudan
Commander John Garang and Commander Salva Kiir in Rumbek, during the war of liberation struggle
October 17, 2016 (SSB) —- I am tempted to ask the above question in what I hoped, if discussed intellectually would settle the dust once and for all. The question whether Dr. John Garang de Mabior was or not the Father of the Nation has always been a subject of serious debate amongst South Sudanese as whole. To some, the answer is “Yes” in a manner that even undermined the roles played by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the First Lady Mary Ayen Mayardit in the establishment of the Nation of South Sudan– hence Madam Nyandeng claims of the title.
Of course, for the people of a country that just came to being some five years ago, the question of who should be considered to be having the title of Father or Mother of the Nation could be inadvertently confusing. It is even worse, when the majority of people of South Sudan have either having no stamina or has been made throughout the years of marginalization in the Sudan not to appreciate the different between the SPLM and the Nation.
Therefore, the two are used either synonymously, or ignorance of what it mean by the nation is on its advance stage, nevertheless. To some extent, Mr. Kiir’s adversaries often intentionally referred to Dr. John and Madam Nyandeng as Father and Mother of the Nation, in an attempt to belittle him and his wife Madam First Lady. Sometimes, it is understandable. No adversary that can praise the one to whom he/she opposes to. Even on orthodox truth the adversaries are always on the opposite.