Category: Opinions Written by The Nation Mirror Admin
By Kuyang Harriet Logo Mulukwat
ven in terrible times like the one currently faced by South Sudanese – our independence remains our single greatest achievement. The chants of ‘free at last’ filled the streets of Juba at the stroke of mid night. It was 9th July 2011 and it was Independence Day!
The euphoria that day summarized South Sudanese’ struggles of more than five decades by a less known underdog guerrilla force led by the SPLM/A. When Africa’s 54th state was born, it was a miracle. The Author was in Juba and witnessed an out pour of emotion, ecstasy and a talk of deceased gallant Southerners, whose blood was shed in the course of the rebellion. It was unbelievable that Southerners had broken free of Arab domination. Friends of South Sudan in Juba, especially within the UN family celebrated in style and it was so liberating when UN staff from all walks of life formed a choir and proudly sang the maiden South Sudanese Anthem!
In a column of brand new Mercedes Benzes, African and world leaders joined the celebrations – one brave arrival was that of El Bashir, the Sudanese president who witnessed the lowering of the Sudanese flag and the hoisting of the South Sudanese one. The world stood with South Sudan and on the eve of independence, all partners worked round the clock to ensure that essential legislation was in place for the new nation to take off and remain stable.
Before long, the expectations of South Sudanese started to dwindle amidst unprecedented corruption, weak governance and uncoordinated leadership –ironically this reminds the author of George Orwell’s timeless book, the Animal Farm – where, after the rebellion, the pigs forgot the very essence of their rebellion and took to mimicking their oppressors’ traits! Now embroiled in a civil war, South Sudanese are helplessly looking at their sacrifices and hard work crumble right before them – many are in IDP camps and many more have embraced refugee status in neighboring countries once more, as they helplessly wait for a peace whose chances of being signed are minimal.
Voices of South Sudanese are firm on their independence – it is a part of their history which can never be regretted, because just like in Animal farm, their lives are better and they work for themselves – the master with the whip is gone. The future is bleak with the ongoing insecurity, including rape and other forms of violence committed by both parties to the conflict. The greatest hope lies in knowing that the citizens will never regret having attained independence. The one single hope lies in reversing the current catastrophe. The lessons of the long and difficult experience of domination, decades of civil wars should serve as a reminder to the leadership and those actively engaged in the conflict of the price tag of our independence. It is time to look towards a brighter future with optimism. With the task of creating a new nation done, there are daunting challenges and obstacles to be encountered in building a united nation – which would require an end to the ongoing war and violence and adopting a stance which recommits the leadership towards finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict, adopting reconciliatory methods in a bid to rehabilitate the communities most affected.
In a meeting with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on sexual violence in conflict – it became clear that the whole world over is overwhelmed with the unraveling situation in South Sudan. She made a commitment during her stay, to call on the leadership of both the warring parties to heed the advice and propositions to end the war and open a new chapter. Ms.Bangura noted that her office and the entire UN system will do all they can to help the warring parties and South Sudan to implement the measures required. But she was quick to point out that the solutions cannot be imposed from the outside, rather every citizen and particularly the leadership must invest in putting an end to the conflict.
This years’ 9th of July was different and conveyed a silent message to the leadership – only a handful of people, mostly senior government officers and the army graced the occasion. The rest of us stayed home and flew our flags at half mast, because there was nothing to celebrate! Citizens were engulfed in sorrow at the unraveling security situation. Ahead lays an unprecedented opportunity to end the violence so that those in the IDP camps can return to their homes and embrace their old lifestyles. The blood that was shed, was not shed in vain – it was poured selflessly, symbolizing a human yearning for liberation and freedom. All of that should always be the greatest reminder to all South Sudanese who love this nation unconditionally.
The author is a South Sudanese lawyer and senior consultant, a continuing legal scholar and writer on Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law and lectures at the College of Law, Juba University on a part time basis.