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People should be cautious in the ongoing rebellion in South Sudan

By Jacob K. Lupai

July 7, 2014 (SSNA) -- The advice for people to be cautious in the ongoing rebellion in South Sudan is not a matter of taking sides. It is rather advisable for people to be objective and realistic in approaching issues that have been unfortunately seen contributing to the rebellion. The advice is especially to those who are enthusiastic about federalism. Those people should not be carried away by the euphoria of federalism. Without a rebellion federalism was coming. Even the hardliners against federalism were softening up. Federalism was therefore gaining ground where it was at first shunned.

Equatorians will always stand up without fear for equality, justice and prosperity for all in South Sudan regardless of ethnic and regional diversities. This is in contrast to the highly pronounced nouns above as lip service since the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 that ended the North-South war that lasted 22 years. The lip service had its contributory share in the eruption of the violent conflict on 15 December 2013.

Equatorians and indeed peace loving South Sudanese are advised to take their normal position of high moral ground by not joining blindly the rebellion on the pretext of fighting for federalism. This advice will not make peace loving Equatorians cowards but their perspective of life follows their culture of respect and the love for peaceful co-existence.

People may not like to acknowledge it openly that Equatoria is the anchor. Without Equatoria there may hardly be a viable South Sudan. Equatoria should therefore help to resolve the conflict without taking sides in what seems to be an ethnically charged war for leadership of South Sudan. On ethnic dimensions of the conflict the South Sudan Human Rights Commission Interim Report on South Sudan Internal Conflict December 15, 2013 – March 15, 2014 seems to confirm this. One wouldn’t like to replace hegemony with another abhorrent one.

Federalism cannot be imposed by the use of force. A peaceful environment is needed to assess the viability and relevance of federalism to diversities in South Sudan. Besides war in Equatoria to impose federalism means the people of Equatoria will be killing themselves and dying for no good reason in a senseless war only for the benefit of others. This will be contrary to the perception of Equatoria as the most peaceful. In addition, in the communiqué that followed the Equatoria Conference 2011, Equatoria asserts in clear terms that: “Mindful of the suffering of the people of Equatoria in the past decades, we will no longer accept Equatoria land to be used as a battle ground for any senseless bloodshed”.

Causes of ongoing conflict in South Sudan

The ongoing conflict did not just come out of the blue. There must have been something that triggered it. We may therefore need to be searching for clues that led to the start of the conflict.

For our search we may not need to go that far but to refer to the South Sudan Human Rights Commission Interim Report on South Sudan Internal Conflict December 15, 2013 – March 15, 2014. We may also need to refer to The Truth about the Aborted Coup of Dr. Riek Machar and his group of the 15th December 2013; documented by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (7th January 2014). The two mentioned documents highlight the genesis of the ongoing conflict.

The problem seems to have started when Dr Riek Machar as the Vice President openly expressed his desire to challenge President Salva Kiir Mayardit for the leadership of the ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The response from President Salva Kiir Mayardit was to make a major cabinet reshuffle, aiming at dropping his Vice President, Dr Riek Machar.

The earlier campaign by Dr Riek Machar against President Salva Kiir Mayardit for the leadership of the SPLM and in addition to the cabinet reshuffle helped to precipitate the ongoing conflict. According to the Government own version, at around 5 pm on the 15th December 2013, a group of uniformed soldiers allied to the former Vice President Dr Riek Machar opened fire at Nyokuron Culture Centre where the SPLM National Liberation Council meeting was taking place.

On the surface the campaign against the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the cabinet reshuffle that appeared to be aimed at the removal of the Vice President, Dr Riek Machar and the subsequent gun fire on the 15th December 2013 in Juba seem to have been the causes of the ongoing conflict. However, there seems to be a deep-seated dissatisfaction with service delivery and the style of leadership.    

Unnecessary armed rebellion for federalism

The incident of December 15, 2013 in Juba has become a full blown armed rebellion led by Dr Riek Machar who is citing federalism as one of the reasons for the rebellion. Initially Dr Riek Machar claimed he escaped from Juba for his dear life. Soon thereafter he was the leader of a rebellion, mobilizing to march on Juba with the intention to usurp power by force of arms. To halt the advance of Dr Riek Machar, Uganda intervened while the Intergovernmental Administration and Development (IGAD), the African Union and the UN sprang into action to stop the rebellion turning into something like a destructive wildfire.

The IGAD Communiqué of 25th Extra-Ordinary Summit of South Sudan in part: Urges the Parties to fully comply with and implement Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Agreement and its Implementation Modalities as well as show their political will and commitment to end the war, and take all necessary measures to encourage the Parties to abide by the Agreement; and Reminds the Parties to negotiate in good-faith guided by the spirit of give and take, tolerance and accommodation and respect the politics of zero-sum-game.

In part the IGAD Agreement to Resolve the Crisis in South Sudan Addis Ababa 9 May 2014, the Parties:  Agree that a transitional government of national unity will offer the best chance for the people of South Sudan to take the country forward; and that such a government shall oversee government functions during a transitional period, implement critical reforms as negotiated through the peace process, oversee a permanent constitutional process, and guide the country to new elections; and thus direct our respective representatives to the IGAD-led peace process to negotiate the terms of a transitional government of national unity;

It can be seen that everything possible is being done to usher in an era of peace and stability in South Sudan. The ongoing armed rebellion is neither in the national interest, regional nor in international interest. The sooner the rebellion comes to an end the better for the country that is witnessing senseless loss of innocent lives and wanton destruction of rudimentary infrastructures and property.

In the context of South Sudan the armed rebellion is unnecessary because federalism is already gaining ground among those who were hostile. The armed rebellion is also unnecessary because there is always a peaceful means for regime change through the ballot box instead of senseless bloodshed and fueling of ethnic and regional polarisation.

Ending rebellion in the national interest

The IGAD and AU and the UN are all doing what they can to resolve the crisis in South Sudan. However, the SPLM-in-Opposition may be an obstacle because anything that does not guarantee a regime change may not be of interest to the SPLM-in-Opposition.

In the best national interest and to avoid South Sudan sliding down dangerously as a failed state, what is so special about being elected while elected governors are removed probably without second thought? The people of South Sudan must act in a peaceful manner on how to end the destructive rebellion.

The youth have a crucial role to play. The women, civil societies and the communities in South Sudan must prevail on the youth because they may be vulnerable. The rebellion is basically to effect regime change with no guarantee that there won’t be despotic leadership.

The youth of Equatoria may be especially vulnerable because of the crafting of federalism onto the rebellion agenda. The advice is that originally the rebellion had nothing to do with federalism. It is nothing but a clever way to attract support from Equatoria.

The youth are advised and reminded that the opponents of federalism are now becoming positive and are endorsing federalism as a system of government for South Sudan. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done by way of articulating clearly the type of federalism suitable for South Sudan. We need a consensus to move forward. A rebellion for federalism is therefore unnecessary.

In a public lecture on federalism in the history of South Sudan in the University of Juba, the discussants highlighted the relevance of federalism to South Sudan. One discussant used statistics to show the extent to which South Sudanese would prefer federalism to a unitary system. This suggests that South Sudan does not need a rebellion to impose federalism.

A peaceful adoption of federalism is ever possible. The youth are therefore advised that they should better get engaged in a debate on the merits of federalism instead of joining a rebellion with the mistaken belief that they are fighting a just war for federalism. Without a rebellion federalism will find its way into the permanent constitution of South Sudan. There is no time limit to rebellion when the permanent constitution is silent about federalism.

Adoption of federalism solution to South Sudan problem

In a nutshell the problem of South Sudan can be identified as absolute poor service delivery to improve the quality of life of ordinary men and women in terms of equality, justice and prosperity. Some people argue that the priority now is peace and stability. However, before the rebellion was there no peace and stability, and how then wasn’t the problem addressed?

Arguably federalism is the solution to the problem because it will bring peace and stability. This is because those who claimed to have joined the rebellion for federalism would turn their back against the rebellion after realizing federalism was being adopted. The continuation of the rebellion may probably be for something else, for the leadership of South Sudan. However, the IGAD, AU and the UN are involved in the realization of an appropriate solution.

Conclusion

The public lecture on federalism in the history of South Sudan was presented by Professor Douglas H. Johnson, the author of the book, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars. What specifically captured my attention was when Professor Douglas H. Johnson said, “Kokora is not Federalism”.

In my articles on federalism I have been arguing that federalism is not kokora but I have never been taken seriously. I have even been viciously attacked. Asked why people equate federalism with kokora one discussant answered that it was the fear of the unknown. I am now vindicated and those who were and are fearful of federalism as kokora should now relax and do not need to be full of anxiety.

The next step should be a debate on the type of federalism South Sudan should adopt. I reiterate that we have to build a consensus on the type of federalism suitable to the peculiarities of South Sudan with its ethnic, cultural and regional diversities in fostering national unity. Federalism is not now a taboo but an openly accepted system of governance for a diverse South Sudan.

In conclusion, the question now is not why to adopt a federal system but when should it be adopted and the sooner the better as a solution to volcanic tensions in South Sudan.

The author can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

SPLM, a curse to South Sudan

By Elhag Paul

July 6, 2014 (SSNA) -- This thing called the SPLM is a curse to South Sudan. Built on contradictions in 1983, it frequently implodes violently and morphs into different SPLM factions. In doing so the off shoots hog the mother organisation’s name defensively but differentiates themselves with mini adjectives without any clear identity in terms of what they stand for. 

Now the SPLM has given birth to four SPLM factions namely: SPLM Oyee, SPLM-in-Opposition, SPLM DC and SPLM G11. Previously, in early 1990s there were other two which have now died out. These were SPLM Nasir faction and SPLM United. At least the latter two had a clear vision of what they wanted for South Sudan which was self determination contrary to what Dr John Garang wanted. It is important to highlight here that the idea of self determination was neither the creation of Dr Riek Machar nor Dr Lam Akol. This was a vision laid down by the leaders of Anyanya One in early 1960s when both Riek and Lam were perhaps in primary school at the time. 

So Dr Machar and Dr Akol picked up the idea and asserted the wish of the people of South Sudan against Dr John Garang’s clearly stated objective of a united Sudan.  As for the four SPLM factions now combining both groups with their opposing ideologies, no one knows what they really stand for since South Sudan is now an independent country. The issues of secession and unity are largely irrelevant now. The crucial issue now facing South Sudan is how it can be managed for the well being of its citizens and the reality is that all these SPLM factions have no idea of what to do.

Now the SPLM and its off shoots are to all intent and purpose confused without any identity of what they stand for. This confusion reflects the minds of the so called leaders of these various SPLM groups. It manifests itself in the lack of clarity in these groups. They do not know why they maintain the name SPLM which does not rhyme with the name of the new country they have violently imposed themselves to chaotically lead. It also manifests the clouded mind of their leaders who can not see that they are confusing their organisation with the country, South Sudan. For instance, the flag of the SPLM/A has been imposed without consultation with the people of South Sudan as a national flag. By default, this imposition assumes everybody in South Sudan is an SPLM/A. This fusion of organisation and country creates a detrimental enmeshment in the country.

Another off shoot in the Sudan (the country north of South Sudan) calling itself SPLM North also uses this very flag in their country. The rebels there wear the SPLM flag on their uniforms which also is the flag of South Sudan posing potential risks for a mistaken identity that could flare up in a conflict between the two countries since the army of South Sudan wear similar uniforms. Another anomaly also lies in the fact that the army of South Sudan continues to be called SPLA. What is really going on here? Do these people not know that South Sudan is a different independent country and bigger than their party? 

Until this confusion in SPLM/A and its mini groups is cleared out of South Sudan, our country will always remain unstable and confused. As South Sudanese descended into Addis Ababa for the dialogue, it was hoped that the participation of the stakeholders would be able to deal with these serious issues. Unfortunately, the symposium held in Addis Ababa at the beginning of June 2014 turned out to be a total farce. The reality was that the government in Juba violated the 9th May 2014 agreement. President Kiir’s security unconstitutionally denied the opposition travel to attend the meeting in Addis Ababa. Unbelievably, neither the IGAD, nor the African Union, nor the Troika intervened to correct the oppressive action. IGAD by not intervening ended up colluding with the government of South Sudan and in the process it violated the very agreement it helped to broker.

Had the talks been inclusive, the stakeholders would be able to speak on behalf of the oppressed people of South Sudan thereby injecting a varied perspective that might help in reaching a positive outcome for the country. As it is now the talks are actually between the SPLM factions while the real victims (the people) of this crisis are excluded. 

SPLM G11 call themselves SPLM leaders. On which grounds are they leaders? President Kiir, the SPLM chairman stripped them from their positions in the SPLM party which means they no longer hold any positions of influence. This further means they have lost authority and influence in the party. How then can they insist to call themselves leaders? By which authority are they calling themselves leaders? It is about time they accepted their predicament which is that they are now ordinary members only like any other members. 

A good number among them must also know that they were appointed by their tormentor President Kiir to the parliament and positions of influence against the wishes of the people. Most of them failed to win any seats in parliament during the general election of April 2010 in the Sudan. The best they can do is to form their own party under a different name. They should forget the madness of hogging ‘SPLM’ because apparently “it is a historical party that brought independence.” SPLM whether it brought independence or not is a party rotten to the core. Its name is tarnished beyond retrieval. The earlier they get this point the better for them and South Sudan.

As for their claim to being leaders – this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Leaders are people who care about the masses. They spearhead useful programmes of developments in society. Manage public resources prudently and frugally for the benefit of all. Do these so called “leaders” have any characteristics of leadership? Have any of them displayed such qualities? The evidence point to the contrary. For full understanding please see:

Tear down the SPLM http://allafrica.com/stories/201209030002.html

Power struggle in the SPLM http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/editorials/power-struggle-in-the-splm

Cattle camp” imperialism in RSS http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/editorials/cattle-camp-imperialism-in-rss

Corruption saga: The SPLM five big guns or quintet squirrels http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/corruption-saga-the-splm-five-big-guns-or-the-quintet-squirrels

If and when you have read the articles referred to above, would you still take the claim of SPLM G11 of leadership seriously? Think about it and you be the judge.

Having been rescued by Dr Machar from the jaws of the shark, the SPLM G11 disgracefully kicked their saviour in the teeth. Opportunistically, they distanced themselves from him in the hope of grabbing power with the help of IGAD countries. This is another point that discredits IGAD as mediators in the South Sudan crisis. Please see, ‘Former detainees discuss South Sudan crisis with mediators ‘ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51021

Pagan Amum said, “As SPLM leaders, we are going to participate and engage first and foremost the two parties to stop this war and the conflict, so that we proceed with the negotiation to develop and agree on programmes to urge South Sudan into a transition to peace and democracy.”

Pagan goes on, “His team will fully participate with both parties in restoring peace and democracy in South Sudan as well as in shaping in every future of the country.” Was South Sudan in peace and democracy before this crisis? If so, does Pagan remember what he said in December 2013 prior to the implosion of the SPLM? Was Pagan not the very person who shouted loud that President Kiir was becoming a dictator and South Sudan a dictatorship? Memories seem short. 

What future of South Sudan does Pagan and his group want to shape?  Where is their Blue Print? Have they told the masses what they intend to do differently for the country than what they have been doing for the last nine years? Is the current mess not of their own collective making? And above all, how do they intend to shape the country? Under what ideology and programmes do they want to shape the country? Why did they not do so in the last 9 years?

Since coming out of their incarceration, have the SPLM G11 spoken about the suffering of the people? Have they spoken about their failures collectively in mismanaging the country?   Have they spoken about SPLM’s massive neglect of the country since 2005? These people are not serious. They are only interested in their stomachs. They lie to the people and themselves with speeches like, “The G11 have decided not to side to either party arguing no role in the ongoing conflict.” Really? 

These are not leaders. Leaders must have “the capacity to care because this is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.”  These are the words of Pablo Casals, the gifted musician. So far in the context of South Sudan such virtues are possessed by the silent leaders of South Sudan and in my view it is these leaders who can rescue the country. They may enable South Sudan to experience what it means to be governed appropriately and fairly based on the rule of law.

Presently, the shoddy transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan is a redundant document. It means nothing at all to the people of South Sudan. The president and the SPLM refer to it when it suits them. Otherwise, overall everything done in the country is based on the advice and recommendations of the Council of Jieng Elders.

SPLM regularly commits crimes against humanity with impunity. For example, the ethnic cleansing of the Uduk people of Upper Nile in late 1980s, the fratricide of the Nuer/Jieng of early 1990s, the massacres of the Didinga in late 1990s, the massacre of the Chollo from 2008 to the present, and the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer from mid December 2013 to the present. In all these horrendous cases there have never been any enquiries or accountability. 

As I write, President Kiir and the SPLM are seriously planning to commit another pre-meditated ethnic cleansing.   This time the targets are Equatorians because of their legitimate call for federalism. An extensive hit list reportedly signed by the president lists the governors of Equatoria, Equatorian party leaders, Equatorian officers of the various organised forces, Equatorian intellectuals and businessmen. At the moment the Chief of the Army, General Paul Malong Awan is busy deploying army units predominantly composed of President Kiir’s tribesmen to the three states of Equatoria in preparation for this evil culling plan.

Although this information is now in the public domain, some naive people in Equatoria (together with the sell-outs) minimise its seriousness. The recent publicity of this vile plan of ethnic cleansing may save the lives of the governors but people like Peter Sule remain highly vulnerable in Juba.  The planned targeting of Equatorian leaders is a deliberate thing to decapitate the Equatorian body politic. It has a far reaching ramification in terms of the future identity of Equatoria, but also for South Sudan. The Equatorians must now seriously think about this very real threat to their own existence in South Sudan. They need to devise a plan to confront and respond to this threat appropriately. Those planning this criminal act should know that they will not get away with it and that they will be brought to book.

The troika and Human Rights Watch have already been alerted and should anything happen the responsibility lies squarely with President Kiir and the Council of Jieng Elders formulating and supervising these evil culling plans.

With the coming of peace in 2005 up to now South Sudan has been under the rule of predatory sharks. SPLM/A does not care about the country and the people. It does not believe in the common good but rather in advancement of its elite members only. If these so called leaders (including President Kiir and Riek) had “the capacity to care”, South Sudanese would not be dying like flies in their hands. They would have humanely managed the country with services adequately provided to the people in the pivotal sectors of health, education, housing, employment, and security. But what have South Sudanese got on their hands? Ethnic cleansing, entrenched tribalism, orgiastic corruption and continuous empty rhetoric.

The contest over the name SPLM/A irrational as it is, is itself a fight against Jieng tribalism as well as a fight for power. The multiple factions of SPLM in different forms and shapes hogging this name do so because they believe SPLM is the centre of unassailable power and also it is associated with the glory of liberation. They apparently want the timelessness of liberation and heroism associated with them. 

The Jieng in their endeavour to wholly accumulate the glory of liberation have falsely convinced themselves that they own the SPLM. To them, since the formation of SPLM is attributed to Dr John Garang and Garang having hailed from Bor, SPLM to them is a Jieng property. Hence, the declaration of the Jieng in a document of meeting in Ark hotel in Kampala, Uganda in 2009 stating’ “‘The Dinka are the SPLM/A and the SPLM/A are the Dinka’ The two are the two faces of the same coin”. Their motto is that ‘He who wins can not be in the wrong’. www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/benign-intervention-is-the-way-forward-for-republic-of-south-sudan

Now that SPLM is the centre of power associated with the liberation of South Sudan, according to them the Jieng are the liberators of South Sudan and the glory is theirs. This anomaly makes the Jieng to crow “We liberated you.” “We are born to rule” hurting the feeling of others. They commit heinous crimes with impunity freely as with the case of the Nuer in December 2013. Unfortunately, they appear to draw pleasure and satisfaction from this barbarity.

This of course is not true for the following reasons. First Dr John Garang did not form the SPLM. He simply is an appointee of the Ethiopians into the SPLM/A. Please see ‘Dr John Garang was an appointee of the Ethiopian to the SPLM’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/dr-john-garang-was-an-appointee-of-the-ethiopians-to-the-splm , On this fact alone the Jieng claim to ownership of the name SPLM falters. 

Secondly, although the Jieng through Dr Garang dominated the organisation, many South Sudanese from other tribes played a very crucial role in SPLM’s success. For example, in mid 1990s SPLM/A was practically defeated by the Arabs. The forces of President Omar Bashir captured most of South Sudan from the SPLM with it (the SPLM) pushed to the extreme periphery in Nimule. If it was not for the Equatorians, SPLM/A would have been smashed by the Arabs and there would not have been an independent South Sudan now.

From this alone, the independence of South Sudan without argument is an outcome of contribution of all the tribes of South Sudan and the Diaspora. So the puerile nonsense of “We liberated you” the Jieng brag about is at best garbage and at worst utterance of lunatics. 

But the foregoing should make South Sudanese question the basis of SPLM’s power. This is important to know if the people are to liberate themselves from this monstrous organisation. SPLM is not the true centre of power in South Sudan. The real power lies with the people of South Sudan. If only the people can grasp this crucial point and its psychological dynamics, SPLM could easily be discarded. The people just need to withdraw allegiance and membership and the SPLM would be nothing. The power they crow about would evaporate in an instance.

So the intimidation that President Kiir metes out to the supporters of federalism is sustained by the Equatorian allegiance and membership to the SPLM which indirectly gives the Jieng power. The irony is Equatorians are fighting themselves. They empower SPLM and the Jieng and then they fight what the SPLM and the Jieng impose on them. This is madness. Just quit the SPLM and begin to organise to build a new centre of power to realise your objectives and interests. Any South Sudanese who wants federalism should quit the SPLM today. Dr Riek Machar’s maintenance of the SPLM name psychologically gives credence to SPLM Oyee granting it higher status which feeds the psychological image of Jieng being invincible.   This is turn makes President Kiir to feel unbeatable and thus make irrational demands. For example, admonishing Equatorians not to talk about Federalism.

Thomas Schilling in his book, ‘The strategy of conflict’ tells us that when certain parties adopt an irrational position and fiercely guard it, it is because they have a reason. Often when this is seen from their perspective it makes sense in that it actually serves their intrinsic interest. So, the hogging of SPLM’s name irrational as it is for the country, it actually perpetuates and massively promotes the interest of the Jieng. This is why President Kiir preferred to plunge the country into chaos than to transfer power to Dr Riek Machar which to him would by default mean ceding power to the Nuer. Thus if President Kiir were to change the name SPLM the only people who stand to lose are the Jieng. So, all the other SPLM groups follow this logic. At the heart of this hogging of the name SPLM lies a false glory and an imagined fixed absolute power in SPLM. Every one of them wants this supposed power.

This believe in the invincibility of the SPLM has nurtured a culture of abuse and impunity over the years with the members becoming disempowered to the influence and working of the organisation itself. For example the unfortunate events of mid December 2013 mostly affected the SPLM (the organisation and the members), yet the victims like Dr Machar still fights tooth and nail to identify himself with an organisation that decimated his own identity. Do you see the pathology griping the SPLM and its members? After what has happened, why should anybody desperately want to associate with such a dysfunctional organisation? Dr Machar now is in a better position to ditch the name SPLM because South Sudanese joining him are doing so on principle of ousting the murderous regime of President Kiir and not because of the glory of SPLM. Further Dr Machar would help the Nuer to heal psychologically faster by ostracising the organisation responsible for their ethnic cleansing. If Machar did that he would eventually emerge clean from the cyclical mess of SPLM with a new organisation formed by him lifting his stature and image.  

SPLM is so dysfunctional an organisation that it is no longer good for anybody and the country. When an organisation has an entrenched destructive culture that can not be influenced by its members for better, the best thing to do is either to overhaul it or to dismantle it and form a brand new one with a new name. This is what the SPLM members need to do if the destructive culture of SPLM is to be gotten rid of.

Therefore to remove the confusion in South Sudan politics, and for the members of SPLM to liberate themselves from their mental enslavement to an organisation that only benefits a section of one ethnic group and allows this group to abuse the others, they need to throw their membership away and find something else.

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wake Up Equatorian Man

By Emmanuel K. Emmanuel

July 6, 2014 (SSNA) -- It is absolutely inexcusable that Equatoria did not take a harder political and military stance against the central government right from the start of the events that are currently transpiring in South Sudan. They said they were going to finish with the Nuer and we were next. We heard it loud and clear. We did nothing. Our procrastination is proving a fatal mistake judging by the moves the central government is making against Equatoria at the moment. We are at a complete disadvantage to the government.

Troops are taking positions right now in Terekeka. And apparently the leaders there are saying, “That is the government army, and we have no problem with the government”. Our Equatorian brothers got killed in cold blood in Maridi for speaking openly about their political wishes. And what do our leaders do? That’s right, our governor shows up to calm things down instead of being furious about what happened. And they are forming “a task force” to investigate. Look around you Equatoria. Does it look like the time for calming down and creating investigative committees? Our officers, soldiers, and populations are getting disarmed. And who is getting armed and gets to keep their weapons? Look around you Equatoria. Does it look like the time to not have a problem with the government? Really look around you. This has happened before. Do we still think we have or ever really had a central government that is working for us or a country that catered to us? Are we free or safe in South Sudan? These are dire times for us and for Equatoria. If we are to get caught sleeping it is only us to blame.

Equatoria is still not taking these harder positions even up to now nor are its people acting as a cohesive and coordinated unit in the interest of Equatoria. There is no mobilization or a spirit of action by the youth. At the same time, most of the elders who should be leading us in these ominous times are still inexplicably standing by the central government when it is clear that this central government has declared war on Equatoria. As for the youth, I don’t know if it has to do with the distraction of the World Cup or any of the other distracting consumerist spectacles, trappings, and gadgets that have taken over the life of man twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and fifty-two weeks a year in the modern age. I don’t know if it has to do with the good living, the flow of beer and liquor in South Sudan. For the elders, it could be the flow of easy money in South Sudan and the “every man for himself” attitude it has engendered.

Maybe it has to do with responsibilities. Putting the next meal on the table. Looking for school fees for the next term. Finding the budget for that family house under construction. Scrambling for that dowry the in-laws are reminding you of all the time. Perhaps there are more pressing issues at hand. It could also be our now legendary reputation for “peacefulness and reasonableness”. An attitude and a reputation that continue to lull us into deep sleep and get us closer and closer to slaughter by this regime.

Or it has to do with this idea of a global community that is presently being fed to the youth throughout the world, an idea that is as far removed from the true nature of man as there ever was, an idea that has made young men find fluffy comfort and identity in a global citizenry at the expense of their concrete local realities. It has made man lose his strong nationalistic sentiments. It has become a copout for inaction and daring. It is an idea that has turned young men into evangelists of such lofty ideals such as peace, liberty, harmony, freedom, justice, and tolerance while at the same time stripping them of the fortitude and stomach for the difficult course of action that has to be undertaken to achieve those ideals. Instead they have morphed into creatures of passive-aggression, hash-tags, NGO and NPO engineered slogans, and faux outrage. It is an idea that has turned young men into proponents of “a global village”, while making them lose context and affinity for their local own. They have defaulted to the “big picture”, while becoming apathetic to the small one. They are the practitioners of political correctness, at the expense of being honest and pragmatic in their immediate vicinity and making the hard choices needed to achieve a more meaningful and fulfilling life locally.

It could be that the Equatorian identity that is the bedrock of my argument on here is as mythical and nonexistent as the purported South Sudanese identity and nationalism. The lack of serious collaboration and collusion in the Equatorias right now could be a sign that Equatoria as an identity is a figment of my imagination. This lack of collective intent, of acting as a unit could be the reason Equatoria has always been exploited politically and economically, treated as makeweight, easily played and nullified because it already exists in pieces. It could be that this lack of a united and fighting front this very hour, this delaying to act or react as signs of horrible things are showing up all around us is what has, to its detriment, rendered the region toothless.

But the lack of an existing Equatorian identity and solidarity does not add up to the storied history of coordinated Equatorian action in the past of both Sudans, a record of exploits and audacious leadership that existed in Equatoria before this lethargic and fragmented phase defined by political opportunism and individualism befell the region. It does not add up to the strong brotherly and sisterly love that exists amongst Equatorians. Why this very real and strong Equatorian identity has not translated into a unified leadership in present times defeats me. It could be all the reasons I listed. I don’t know for sure.

But something is definitely amiss in the Equatorian man of today. Something has made him indifferent. He is indecisive. He lacks the instinct of a man who is in possession of his wits. The Equatorian man, like the global man of today, seems to be divorced from himself. Slights against his dignity do not seem to affect him anymore. Invasions on his persons do not seem to rile him up. He is more interested in the injury report of his favorite professional team than he is of the butchering and circumventions being done to his constitution. He has more passion invested in the fortunes and misfortunes of teams in the World Cup than he does in the fact that his media houses have just been told to not publish anything about federalism, the hottest issue in his country right now, an issue that should be consuming every fiber of his being and any maneuvers by the government to stifle it should be a declaration of war. He is not worked up by the fact that his central government has denied this allegation of press intimidation but then the very next day this same government showed up at one of his daily newspapers and confiscated the paper in whose pages federalism was discussed. . Instead, he posts about it on the internet and feigns outrage and then follows that post with a funny meme and then it is all forgotten.

The man of the today hears that hundreds of his girls have been abducted by some lunatics. Instead of showing up in the thousands to sign up and go fight them and bring back his girls, he instead retweets a hashtag. An exercise that peaks on that same day and flattens off right after. The man of today seems unable to really get mad anymore. Instead he watches a movie clip on YouTube about a scene where a man is really really mad and is rallying up a whole nation. Then he tweets it. The man of the moment gashes at Charlie Chaplin railing against the evils of the world in “The Great Dictator” but he himself can’t seem to rise to such heights of emotions and sentiment. The man of today seems all intellectualism and nothing more. He is all consumption. He is not a man of action.

You would not be mistaken to think that the enslavement of the future, which in fact is already the enslavement of the present by the look of things, will not be man in chains. Rather, it will be a man so thoroughly programmed into consumption and compliance that he has no interest anymore in the great matters of the heart that have always stirred men. He becomes tolerant of tyranny and oppression because he has lost the ability to actually recognize them and lash against them. He will not care. Instead, these grave things become even more fodder for polite chatter and intellectual posturing. The man of today does not seem to feel things deeply anymore. And I wonder if the Equatorian man is also suffering from this disease that is affecting the man of today.

The Equatorian man seems more interested in the fact that team so and so in Latin America or in Europe has black players so and so instead of the fact that four South Sudanese where just stopped from boarding a plane for a UNMISS training abroad because of being from tribe so and so. He is more interested in the exploits of the “black” president of the United States than of the fact that his own Equatorian leaders are being intimidated and harassed with impunity right under his nose. Things are not about life and death anymore to the man of today. I wonder if it is the same case for the Equatorian man.

I wonder because life-threatening things are happening all around the Equatorian man but there is no reaction. Egregious things that should have made him fight back by now. Things that tell him that his government is working against him. He does not seem to have his pulse on what is happening. He lacks the awareness of all the pieces moving around him. At the center of this absentmindedness are our so-called Equatorian leaders. I frankly do not know if there is any strategy to what our Equatorian leaders are doing at the moment. I do not know if they have options for Equatoria and whether they are preparing Equatoria for these options. I do not know if they have contingency plans for our region, whether they have different ways to maneuver Equatoria in and out of what is going on in South Sudan and even the world right now. I wonder if they have the acumen to capitalize on the present climate in South Sudan and do so for the interests of Equatoria.

Take Iraq for example. Watch how the numerous pieces are acting in the recent developments in that country. More specifically, focus on the Kurds. The Kurdish region is not just sitting around being the “peaceful ones” and not reacting to the moving pieces. They are working on declaring their independence. They are selling their oil on their own. They are taking advantage of the new realities in their environment. Are our leaders in possession of such situational political thinking? Are they in complete grasp of what is happening to our beloved Equatoria? Talking and talking and talking some more does not deliver results in times of tyranny. You cannot reason with tyranny. You end up only giving it more time to consolidate its grip and to annihilate you.

The more I survey the landscape of Equatorian leadership, the more I cry for our region. What we seem to have for leaders are good people. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as they were in the clergy or something. They are good in the sense that they always default to peace, non-violence, unity, not pushing the issue, and definitely not shaking things up. Having these as the only weapons in one’s political arsenal is signing one’s death certificate and that of his people. Being completely good in politics is a death sentence. Our Equatorian leaders are not political animals. You do not see calculations in their eyes. You do not see instinct. You do not see political animals acting in the interest of Equatoria. But turn around and look in the eyes of the leaders from the other regions of South Sudan. You see people who are acting firmly in the interest of their people and of their regions. Our Equatorian leaders on the other hand can always be counted on to be the peaceful ones. They can always be counted on to not be a threat. They can always be counted on to be for South Sudan first and Equatoria last. They are a liability to Equatoria. They are sacrificing us in broad daylight for the sake of South Sudan. 

Our leaders are slowly but surely leading us to the slaughter house. The desperate tones they have been striking in the past few days betray a group of men caught between two minds. I wish I could make them realize that they are up against something completely evil and capable of anything. I wish I could tell them we are hosting a murderous and dangerous central government in Equatoria. Yes, it is us keeping the government of South Sudan alive. Yes, it is us giving them sanctuary, not even their own people. But why exactly are we doing that? Why are we propping up a country and a regime that is completely against us? Why are we hosting a country and a regime on our land that is completely working to destroy us?

There is one idea that is the cause of all Equatorian social politeness, political anonymity, military inaction, economic inactivity, tyrannical tolerance, and cultural insignificance in the world. It is an idea that I wish I could go into the minds of every single Equatorian and cut out. This is the idea of South Sudan. It is this idea of South Sudan unity at any cost, even to the disadvantage of Equatoria, which is the root of all our problems. Out of all the people in South Sudan, we the Equatorians seem to be the ones who have wholeheartedly bought into this idea of South Sudan. And it is absolutely destroying us. It is killing us. It is burying us. It is taking us for a ride. It is abusing us. It is mixing us in situations we should not even be involved in. It is an idea that we have given our region to as the sacrificial lamb. Yes, the other regions also profess their love for this idea of a united South Sudan. But they do it in words only but act in their tribal and regional interests and use South Sudan to the advantage of their people. Only we Equatorians seem to express it both in words and deeds. It is an idea that as long as we still carry and nurture in us, as long as we still adhere to and tolerate, it will continue enslaving and subjugating us. We will be worse off for continuing to hold onto to South Sudan.

Our leaders believe in South Sudan too much, at the expense of Equatoria. And for some odd reason they still believe in this central government. I wonder if it is due to fear at this point because their steadfast and fanatical declarations of allegiance to this government, this country, and its despotic leaders are worrying. It betrays anxiety. The fact that they feel the need to come clean about everything to this government and the fact that they feel the need to qualify themselves all the time does not bode well. The government is not doing the same for Equatoria. It is not giving us signs that its allegiance is with Equatoria. This is a government that has shown that it is willing to contain Equatoria by any means necessary. It is not showing that it wants to work with Equatoria. This is a government that says we should not talk about federalism. Why our Equatorian leadership still thinks it can articulate things with this government or work with it towards something beneficial to Equatoria is baffling. This is a government that has blatantly resorted to using any trick in the tyrannical toolbox to repress this debate on federalism.

The level of doublespeak, glaring lies, and moves against Equatoria by this government should tell us that we are in the middle of a deadly dance with this central government. It might be getting to the time that Equatoria cannot play it both ways. It will risk getting caught unawares. Either Equatoria makes a decisive move and creates a third block in this conflict and goes for what it wants or it resigns to colonialism and continue being an accessory to this tyrannical regime.

If you study closely the identity and region of the people who are opposed to federalism, you will find that they are also the ones who constitute the elitist class in South Sudan at the moment. They are the ones writing and retweeting articles such as “South Sudan is not ready for federalism” and “Federalism will bring disunity”. As if there is already an existing unity in South Sudan. And there counter argument to that is that we should build a national unity first before we embark on federalism. The point they always purposely avoid to make when they make these circular arguments in the federalism debate is that the very obstacle to a South Sudan unity is them. Their policies, behavior, and handling of South Sudan made it impossible for a strong and united country to be built. Hence the call for federalism by the people they have marginalized. They demonize and ridicule the opposition or anyone that challenges the government while ignoring or explaining away the deeds of the government. They preach for peace and South Sudan unity while their people in the government commit atrocities against the other people of South Sudan. They are the disciples of the lies, doublespeak and containment strategies of the central government. They want the status quo and present set up of South Sudan to continue because it benefits them. They are not preaching a South Sudan brotherhood and unity because they actually believe in it as a tool for equality of all peoples. It is because they are the ones running the show.

I am proposing we get out of the South Sudan arrangement. Forget federalism. Things have deteriorated so much that any clear thinking Equatorian knows even federalism will do nothing for Equatoria. As long as we are still entangled in South Sudan, in any shape or form, we will continue being the battleground for the other two regions. It is time to get out of South Sudan. We got out of Sudan for much less. What is happening to us in South Sudan is stuff Bashir could only dream of. It is time for a daring philosophy in Equatoria. We have become so caught up in this business of being “the peaceful ones” that we seem to have forgotten the ability to think for ourselves. It is as if the motto of the Equatorian in South Sudan is “Keep Calm and Love South Sudan”. Even though he is at the bottom of that South Sudan, it does not matter, as long as he does not get to lose his “peacefulness” tag. It is as if that is the only thing the Equatorian can draw pride from in South Sudan because he has been stripped of everything else. He has nothing in South Sudan but at least he is the peaceful one. It is utterly mindboggling. The Equatorian does not know that his continued peacefulness keeps him from fighting for and getting all the other things he has been stripped of.

It is time for a daring philosophy in Equatoria like I said. It is time for the Equatorian man to wake up. Pieces are moving all around you young man. When will you move? Or are you waiting to get caught asleep and defenseless? It is time we got out of South Sudan. The current actions and threats by the government over our call for federalism should be enough to show us that as long as Equatoria is still a part of South Sudan this is how we will be treated. We will always be delayed, intimidated, postponed, and thrown the scraps. We will always be the region to be contained, not the region to play a big role. We will be the region to be played with. We really need to get out. I cannot stress this enough. These are the kinds of political options that our leaders need to have. These are the contingency plans that I am talking about. But everywhere you look in Equatorian leadership, there is nothing. Only talk talk talk. I don’t know if they are aware that they are talking to a tyrannical government that does not think much of Equatoria or its people.

Our Equatorian leaders should not even be talking too much at this point. These are treacherous times. The government is working in overdrive as it tries to keep its tyrannical grip. It is working in overdrive to repress Equatoria. Our leaders also need to be working in overdrive in the interest of Equatoria. Equatorians need to be on the battlefield fighting for Equatoria and not for the opposition, the government or for South Sudan. Instead of rushing to join the opposition we should be creating a third block that is entirely in the interest of Equatoria. We need to create an Equatoria which is detached from everyone and acts only for Equatoria. Pieces are moving around in South Sudan like I said. We need to be reacting to them and doing so decisively. We should not be members of anyone’s camp but our own. We should only be acting for ourselves. But alas, our leaders seem completely clueless to such things. “We are the peaceful ones we are the peaceful ones blah blah we are for unity we will continue talking we don’t like fighting blah blah”. Sure, continue talking and see if it will produce anything substantial for Equatoria.

There has never been a more tyrannical gesture in the annals of history than the disarmament of a particular group of people in the security and defensive organs of the state. It is the clearest sign that the state is in the process of rendering that particular group completely defenseless and put it entirely at its mercy. It has always spelled a declaration of war on the people being disarmed and has always resulted in an immediate rebellion and a fight for independence by the disarmed people. But again, Equatoria is not reacting. The next stage will be the targeted killing of our people that the central government deems a threat. Then, if we let them get away with that, indiscriminate mass killings will follow. These are things that have happened before. And it is happening in slow motion right before our eyes but for some reason we seem to be oblivious to it all. We are not reacting to all that has happened nor are we anticipating what will happen. We keep continuing to profess our allegiance to South Sudan as it quietly goes about the business of eliminating us. 

Rumors or no rumors, it does not need to take the internet for us to start thinking seriously for ourselves. It does not need to take the internet for us to start defending ourselves. It does not need to take the internet for us to pick up arms. We should have already been working on all those options. Why we are still the ones completely for South Sudanese unity and neutrality is ridiculous. South Sudan does not care about us. South Sudan exists to make Equatoria irrelevant. People are spending all their energies trying to distance themselves from internet rumors that say that this government is plotting against Equatoria. Well, isn’t the government doing exactly that? Forget what seems to be over the top rumors on the internet. Isn’t what you are able to see for yourself and what has been confirmed as fact enough to raise the alarm and make you realize Equatoria is a target of this government? Are confiscated newspapers internet rumors? Are repressions of the federal debate internet rumors? Are disarmaments of your people in the army internet rumors? Are the killings of your people for exercising their constitutional right to political opinion internet rumors? Are conspicuous government deployments in your communities also internet rumors?

In fact, Equatoria should be preparing for an armed defense before it gets put in a position where it cannot fight anymore because it has been disarmed and surrounded. It is now becoming clear to everyone that this “peacefulness” and neutrality was a mistake. The actions of the central government against Equatoria are getting more blatant and more daring by the day. I think all Equatorians are now realizing that they are fools for thinking peacefulness and the toleration of mistreatment by others are great strategies for survival.

At this point, a military confrontation between Equatoria and this central government is inevitable. The soonest we start planning for it the better. This is a government that is capable of anything. I know December 15th seems like centuries ago in our twenty four hour news cycle and refreshing timelines but this is a bloodthirsty regime and we should not kid ourselves thinking we are exempt from its savagery. Whenever this confrontation happens, of which I am confident we will make quick work of this government because all that is sustaining it is really just fear and intimidation and not military might, we should come out of it as the independent Republic of Equatoria. At the end of this military confrontation we should quit South Sudan and get on with creating a meaningful life for ourselves in Equatoria. There is absolutely no reason to sacrifice Equatoria for the sake of a united South Sudan. What good is unity if it means you a slave in it? What is the benefit of being bigger as a country if it means Equatoria is lost in it? Any continued arrangement with the other two regions will always keep us marginalized and get us mixed up in other people’s instabilities.

But we cannot keep waiting for our political leaders to bring Equatoria to fruition. They are taking too long to come around to us. This is the time for the youth of Equatoria to take on the responsibility of Equatoria. We cannot let Equatoria be destroyed for the sake of South Sudan. The central government and South Sudan has declared war on you Equatoria. You are at war. Start acting like it. Start defending and liberating yourself. Distractions have always existed throughout history. More pressing issues have always occupied man. But when it comes to his liberties and the protection of his people from tyranny and oppression, man has always put everything aside and risen to the call of action.

All the signs are showing us that our liberties and our people in Equatoria are in danger. All the signs are showing us that our very livelihood and that of Equatoria are in danger.

Ignore them at your own peril.

The author lives in Juba, South Sudan.

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