By Deng Bachech
“An author who was afraid to tell the truth about the ugliness of the regime and who tells about its viciousness after the regime had fallen off the throne shall be a dog that barks after the hyena had already gone. So the author should reflect the visions of a nation to the systems that reined at the time and not the government that comes after it falls.”
March 15, 2014 (SSNA) -- Let me briefly stress something important related to this topic. As South Sudanese writers or would-be-writers (commentators or columnists), we are afraid of telling the truth. It’s sometimes understandable to fear because of strange circumstances. But a write with guts wouldn’t fear the consequences of his/her writings if he/she is constructive and objective, regardless. Naturally, a writer writes what he thinks is morally right and just, and he should mean it. As such, our job is to correct things, and to expose the ugly and praise the beauty of government. Full stop!
Currently, we are in crisis but there are grounds for this. Anyway, I don’t wish to exaggerate the danger and I don’t wish to underestimate it at the same. If we may recall today the lessons of the war (from 1983 to present), it’s not because we seek retribution for the past, but because we are deeply concerned for the future. The vital interests of all peoples in South Sudan demand that there shall never again be any possibility of violence. We want peace so badly.
The Causes and Consequences of Dictatorship
This country, we called South Sudan, is a highly prosperous country with an immense amount of both tapped and untapped resources, (be they human, physical, or economical); but it is tragically vulnerable to all attacks by an evil regime. This regime mechanically or deliberately creates a society of lame, docile, submissive and acquiescent citizens with no ambitions. Citizens thus become mere onlookers.
For many years, these people have been ripped of their natural potentials such as talents, knowledge and capacities against their hearts, desires and conscience; and ultimately turning them into cogs of regime’s political wheels of an endless vicious cycle. Therefore, the chains of problems in our country are unending.
Briefly, Salva Kiir’s dictatorship is the source of immeasurable calamities and suffering of our people. It breeds violence and incites hatred among diverse ethnic communities. It also encourages police brutally; strengthens state security apparatus to intimidate and kill innocent citizens unlawfully. It’s also blamed for the squandering of immense resources for the regime and its cohorts’ private gains. It utterly suppresses democracy and constitutional orders; adopts more crafty and refined methods of exploitation, deceit, manipulation, and false propagandas; and uses selective arbitrary arrests of specific citizens. It creates a wider miserable social gulf between the elites and ordinary individuals; and neglects, ignores and abuses people of human talents. Most ominously, the regime’s foreign relations with the outside world have become so corrosive and confrontational.
Therefore, things like these are graver threats to our young nation than we can imagine. Politically, the regime really meant business to plan and apply devious means of engagement so as to erode core SPLM party’s principles from within so that any resistance or questioning would be viewed with contempt. As a result, many may enter into party politics with rather hazy ideas and fear about how to solve problems, which disturb them. Hence they became passive and indifferent. Supposedly, before and during Liberation Council or Political Bureau convention, the conducts of business of the party meetings should have been respected such that members would participate and cooperate on equal footing with wider publicity which would make it possible to keep all members constantly informed. This would have looked a bit democratic, open and transparent. Because political discussion or forum is all about exchange of opinions and views as well as of charting a policy that makes fuller accounts of the interests of people and enabling members to fight actively for their interest. Also, even though the party members had seemingly diverse interests, in the discussions they should have applied this cool principle of: “we can disagree without being disagreeable”. But nothing like that in the political world of this Salva Kiir regime.
The Birth of a Revolution
For how long shall we be silent? For how much longer shall we remain onlookers? But can we do it now? These are central questions that we must answer bluntly and critically.
I often hear people say, “It isn’t right time now for revolt”. Yes, you may set an alarm clock of your house-watch on your choosing and convenient time. But time for a revolution isn’t and can’t be set with precision or for conveniences. It’s unpredictable and untimely. When its time arrives, you can’t rewind the clock or delay it. Revolution is a historical phenomenon that, when triggered due to social injustice, it’s difficult to control. In the light of this, Martin L. King said, “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Again Lenin once wrote that: “in those days the machine of state was, resting on a volcano, there were great stirrings in the depth of people’s consciousness and the air was becoming charged with electricity which unavoidably had to bust forth in a cleansing thunderstorm”. So it’s now right time. We can’t wait any longer while the regime is perpetuating, and continue to perpetuate, cruel practices, sinking the ship of liberty of the people into the abyss of despair and misery. Enough is enough.
Therefore, the flames of the revolution which, ignited in the Presidential Guards’ Tiger Battalion in Juba, surely enveloped the entire country spreading like wildfire to the remotest areas wasn’t just a mere political squabble between Salva Kiir’s loyal soldiers and Riek Machar’s loyal soldiers. The issue was bigger than that. It signified a profound social and economic upheaval. Yes, power-struggle was one of many key issues that played a great role; but it never would have been the immediate trigger of the revolution. The fundamental issue was a “quest for democratic transformation” of the South Sudan society.
For the last few years, there were a great deal of debates within the SPLM on how to go about effecting a democratic change through peaceful process; but the President and his cliques didn’t allow that. So the unexpected happened ostensibly orchestrated by the President himself. Thus pushing the suspected democratic reformers to the edge—the Revolution. A blessing in disguise, I would say. So now the chapter of dictatorship is closed. The real revolution occurred with all its might and commitment, and still gaining momentum as witnessed throughout the country and around the world.
The road to democratic revolution is now clear, necessary and inevitable for rebuilding of the country. As a result, the date December 15, 2013 will go down in history books as a day of freedom.
However, I am well aware of the scale and complexity of the tasks ahead. That revolution is a historical process. It has no short cut, even if the victory is won in a day, still building a ruined society anew is not easy. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. Because in the course of revolutionary action, there will always be certain setbacks, temporary retreats and even defeats are possible. Even the gallant freedom fighters and supporters of the revolution are too aware of the costs and benefits. Therefore, we know that, we are in for a tough but promising ride. However, that the quest for freedom, justice and equality are the most important moral ideals of a democratic society worth fighting for.
Moreover, I have not even the least of doubts that the sparks of December 15 incident were not only the flames of violence, but also the rekindling flames of patriotism, loyalty and unity. This event marked a sharp turn in the history of South Sudan. Our revolutionary success will rest solely on mutual trust, respect and unity of all people, with no exception or exclusion. Unity is a necessity and a cornerstone of our democratic society. Hence our efforts to bring about political change in the country are very promising. We (the public) have denounced this brutal regime and its atrocious acts and policies. The dictator, Salva Kiir—the perfidious enemy of democracy—will be defeated by a sober political genius with creativity, pragmatism, sensitivity, determination and selfless readiness for attaining a democratic success.
On top of that, in the meantime, we will reorganize our dear party (SPLM) after the overthrow of the unpopular regime and to bring about a stable, federal political system. This is our prime goal.
Unfortunately, there are few pessimists who often comment on the print and electronic media that a quest for power using violence is uncalled for; that one ethnic group can’t and couldn’t engage, confront or overthrow an elected government; or can’t fight a government composed of diverse ethnic groups in the country and that it is suicidal and impractical.
Well, the concerns and doubts of those pessimists are somehow legitimate. But first, for your info, experience teaches us that there had never been in world history that a tyrant can let-go power through peaceful means. And Salva Kiir is an absolute tyrant. For example, the US, France, and the British had taught their tyrants great lessons, that’s why their countries are democratic to-date. So in our case, every South Sudanese (who still hears and sees) knew the facts. And even within the SPLM party itself, members (big and small) had inexhaustibly tried every effort to convince Salva Kiir to reform the party, but to no avail. So what could be the solution while the society was almost decaying and the country was on the verge of collapse? The solution was to pay him with his own coins. I hope, this answers your first concerns.
Second, it is not the majority who can stage protest but a select few whose conscience are aroused and who understand and feel the pangs of the beast’s cruelty, and those who are politically conscious and have the nerves and guts to confront a dictator regime head-on. So “it’s not a big body that fights, but the fight in the big body”. In other words, in war it’s not the numbers that count but it’s the courage of the fighters that count, Therefore, the Nuer had a right to revolt and fight against unjust government with unjust laws; because this unjust regime abused them. And not only that, the Nuer were the first to start and join in a big number the past two rebellions of Any-Anya 2 (I972 & 1983). It’s a history repeating itself because they naturally don’t like injustice and humiliation.
Nonetheless, a regime change against the government isn’t specifically a Nuer issue but for all. Because the success of democracy and its fruits will benefits everyone, every ethnic group.
In addition, the Israeli Jews in 1948 fought hard to get the State of Israel and built it with the efforts of only very few individuals, who had love and loyalty, and the commitment to bring their nation into life. So now what it takes to make a change is not necessarily the efforts of multitude, but the efforts of a few determined individuals.
The Change at the Door
So comrades, save the nation from destruction! This is a wake-up call. South Sudan is a country full of wonders. So it’s the duty, responsibility and obligation of its nationals with sense of belonging to this nation to solve these chronic problems. The nation is now full of frustrated, hopeless and helpless youth and women. People always live in fear, with broken hearts and spirits. Let’s fight this evil government with all our might and determination to act against it (injustice) in unison; while united in our hearts and spirits.
Let’s not be discouraged. The fall of Salva Kiir regime is nearing completion.
We are not cursed by God or anything. Don’t develop such degrading psychological thoughts in your minds. We are born optimists. It is this regime that crippled human consciousness; drained and wasted the intellects of the learned young South Sudanese—making them strangers, jobless and criminals in their own God-given land.
I can assure you that, all peoples of South Sudan of all ages and social standings have similar intentions, hopes and aspirations to live in peace and harmony. Time is now. It was at first a matter of who could daringly carry the torch of freedom-light to brighten the darkness of Tyrant Empire. Those of you who are now in Addis Ababa, Kampala, and Nairobi gave up their privileges and money from your offices in Juba, Bor and Malakal simply because you wanted to help your country. It wasn’t because you’re coward, but fled to neighboring countries for safety reason, and later organize and fight back.
Also the Diaspora, who are disappointed, frustrated and angry because of bad governance and senseless killings of the innocent lives, have devoted the time, energy and knowledge for revolutionary struggle. Their efforts are remarkable and appreciated.
Together, we need this generation to unearth their buried or hidden treasures—skills, knowledge, experiences and abilities—to achieve excellence of their efforts and use all their resources to create a universal, democratic transformation. We can’t leave this burden and passed it on to the next generation. But to accomplish this, it needsour unity to make a change. For examples, the United State of America isn’t famous in the world for nothing but unity of its people. America is now an expert on how to bring and retain “best brains” of people from all over the world. That’s why it’s famous and powerful. But sadly, here is in our country South Sudan, the best minds are labeled as strangers in their own land. And they often flee the land—and consequently, their minds are used in developing other countries. It’s a common knowledge that: “when men are incapable, they conspire against the wise”. This is true of why the country is divided and in ruins. So I must emphasize that, this current mess in the country is (was) a struggle between “the ignorant and the learned”, although this factor has been ignored by most analysts. Put it differently, the ignorant major rules over the learned few.
It is true that South Sudan as nation, in this current situation, has cost many lives and properties unprecedented in history. But it’s the leadership to blame for this. The country is divided, confused lost its mental compass, and obviously heading toward its own destruction. It’s therefore now a right time to rescue the situation but not by retaining a dictator nor the intervention of the foreign agencies but by our own efforts and promises of a regime change.
Already, the December 15, 2013 Incident was the beginning of an end to country’s question. It evolved into a ‘Creeping Revolution”. So let’s embrace it and choose the road of wisdom and travel in unity to make this revolution as a success. “You will lose direction as long as you doubt”—Dertogada, Yismake Worku. We are fighting a Just War because our Cause is Just.
Knowing that a genuine road to democracy isn’t always straight and smooth but rough, like life itself; there are many challenges ahead of us. Some of you know that our country’s challenges are attributed to regime’s political dishonesty as well as the citizens’ lack of awareness of grave situation.
At this moment, the dictator regime has full engaged in smear and scaring tactics to tarnish the reputation of the revolutionary leaders and to paralyze the activities of the freedom fighters; and also to deceive the public at large of what truly going on in the country. In fact, it devised and applied sinister methods and mechanisms: First, the government-controlled media is fully loaded with historical falsifications and distortions of facts with regards to nation’s affairs.
Second, the regime has engaged in a confrontational diplomacy with and hostile attacks on foreign entities and their diplomats—an attitude which is bizarre and pitiable. This negative attitude towards the West (esp. the US) and the UNMISS is very disappointing, at least to us (citizens). It’s like “biting the hand that feed you” attitude. Third, they constantly spread baseless attacks, propaganda and slander of our revolutionary forces. Fourth, they instigated the fanning of ethnic hatred and killings, and intimidation, blackmailing and harassment of ordinary citizens. These menacing tools reveal the obvious ------------facts—social and political contradictions—and expose the regime to the world as morally and politically bankrupt.
Therefore, we will overcome those challenges by addressing and remedying country’s social ills, because we have a vision and dream. There is no dream that can’t be made true or a vision to be realized, though it may take time. All it needs is a unity of people and of brains; and good leadership.
Once in power, the pressing national issues will be solved prudently. More importantly, we will establish cordial relations with foreign bodies; and our foreign policy will be consistent in content and in spirit based on the principles of mutual interests and understanding between nations.
With regards to current peace talks in Addis Ababa, the SPLM-in-Opposition’s stand is very clear and their demands are firm. That the differences will be settled tactfully whenever and whenever they occur by peaceful negotiation in a tranquil atmosphere. However, at the moment, we can’t express or guarantee any breakthrough by now given the prevailing attitudes of the regime.
Notwithstanding, the December Revolution’s foundation is rock-solid. And the road to freedom is becoming clearer and wider in every hour. Guided by the principles of pure federal democratic system; protected by the laws of the land and international laws; convinced of unwavering mass support; defended by strong, committed and brave men in uniforms; supported and advanced by men and women of brains; assisted and motivated by people of goodwill; and led by Dr. Riek Machar Dhurgon, then it’s imperative that victory is near.
Dr. Machar is a professional driver, driving the vehicle of democracy with full gears (not missing a reverse gear) to our destination (destiny). He was and has always been a passionate believer in South Sudan’s independence and who always wanted to utilize his experiences and expertise to change things for the better for average citizens. In all fairness, among other achievements and credits to him, Dr. Machar will enter history as the architect and champion of self-determination for the independence of South Sudan. As a leader, he possesses rare qualities of leadership among in South Sudan politics. He is a political genius and a natural liberal democrat—visionary, creative, dynamic, sensitive, likable and understanding; and above all, a man of common sense and brilliance of intellect.
For this reason, our revolution is in a safe hand and on the right track.
A month ago when I was in Malakal town, I keenly observed striking military maneuvers and formations of freedom fighters displaying courageous and daring acts of pride and invincibility which was magnified with battle songs. I felt emotionally moved and electrified by their valor, simplicity, endurance and commitment. I solemnly saluted my comrades-in-struggle and we chatted much more, with closing phrases: “This is a Revolution. No turning back. Only way forward. Only one option: No onlookers, Free Riders or Neutral—either you are with the Revolution or against it. No other way round. Victory is certain!”
The author temporarily lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is reachable at