Today is South Sudan’s fourth independence anniversary and it is my last day of work here in Juba as far as my current contract with the New Nation newspaper and the Sudan Advocacy for Development (the NGO that runs the newspaper) as such. It is therefore a public holiday and the folks here will be largely celebrating, but s for me, I will be busy making my final reports and packing my bags ready for the journey home tomorrow.
I went to bed last night with a bit of trepidation, kind of expecting the repeat of the “carol of the guns” of December 15, 2013, for the South Sudan’s former vice president Dr Riek Machar had given President Salvar Kiir an ultimatum earlier in the day to resign by midnight Wednesday or be overthrown. He asserted that the president is solely responsible for the current mess in the country and the only way for a return to peaceful nation would be by the president resigning. But like one analyst in Nairobi said on an International TV, “that ultimatum would come to nothing,” and indeed I woke to a quiet morning except for the sound of jubilation at dawn from some citizens celebrating independence.
Some in South Sudan would say they have no reason to celebrate since the country is in turmoil and deep economic crisis which has brought much suffering to the people of South Sudan. But I would beg to differ, for despite the current civil war and the untold suffering it has caused many civilians, for those who can, there is good cause to celebrate, for the yoke of oppression by the Khartoum/Arab masters and forced Islamization is now a thing of the past since July 09, 2011. I believe that the people of Darfur and Abyei would largely agree with me and arguably envy the people of South Sudan despite the current civil war.
To me conflict between brother is much simpler to resolve than foreign oppression or exploitation. The Biblical Jacob and his brother Edom (Esau) fought but had to talk again. Joseph’s brothers sold him to Egypt but he forgave them and took them beck into his arms. My son and daughter often fight but soon or later get back to play together. And if you mess with one of them, you will have to deal with the other in the manner of the brothers and sisters in the movie “Ours, Mine, Yours”. (I hope I remember the title well). Like the author of the book, The Secret of Happy Families said ,” You will always have to deal with the very siblings you disagree with.” (paraphrase mine). This is my hope for South Sudan, that the brothers will come to their senses and come together again for the good of all.
The Europeans fought each other for many years before they made peace with each other and now they have the European Union. That may explain the passion with which they are dealing with the Greek financial crisis. Even the former so-called “Sick man of Europe”, you know whom I m speaking of, wants to Join the EU.
The Americans fought each other after throwing off the British yoke but finally came back together and thus there is the United States despite the fact that some whites still want to keep their African brothers in subjugation who God created in equal.
I still believe there is hope for South Sudan to avoid the path of failed state despite some disturbing signs. I took bod-bod ride back to office from the field last week and the rider told me that all that they the youth of South Sudan are growing up for is war, and that they will bring down all the big buildings the ministers are building now while the rest of the people wallow in poverty. He went on to say that they know that President Salvar Kiir whom he also blamed for the current troubles of the nation is still in power because of President Museveni support and time will come when Ugandans will suffer for it. I shuddered at what he said and wondered if he knew he was carrying a Ugandan passenger? I had just watched the movie, “Into the Woods” with my kids the previous week back home in Entebbe before returning to Juba, and I thought that this boda-boda is like Mr Wolf who said to the little girl with the red cape that you are talking to your meal – this guy could kill me if he had the opportunity. That is possibly the reason I went to bed with bit of trepidation last night should Dr. Riek’s threat come to pass anyway.
Well, God willing, I will be going back to my America tomorrow for that is the place where I will always return to like Spirit of the Cimarron.
My village Kwapa, whose name incidentally means my land in my local dialect Ateso from Tororo, Eastern Uganda is what I refer to s my America. I started referring to it as such lately. whenever I could sit with my wife to watch TV and we would be bombarded with images of African immigrants drowning in the Mediterranean Se trying to cross to Europe and may be to the rest of the Western World for better life, either because they ere fleeing political persecution or extreme poverty from home. The other images on the TV which seemed to have overtaken ISIS beheading were those of police brutality in America on unarmed African-American men, which to me made the feeling of that often quoted American dream very remote from my mind. Thus I would say to my wife, “As long as there is peace and economic opportunities here in Uganda, I will never ever dream of any other place better than home. So, my rural home where I can literally do anything that I can conceivably do is my America. Of course I get depressed by the leaders of the AU who never seem to have the issue of Africans immigrants high on their agenda. An Italian woman in Lampedusa said that with her small brain she has tried to give help which could to the African immigrants but she believes that the leaders back home in Africa with big brains who can help these people. She wondered why the people with the big brains cannot help their own people? I too, can only wonder? My be it is selfishness.