We’ve to start preaching the culture of Openness and Tolerance

BY: Apioth Mayom Apioth, South Sudan, JUL/2018, SSN;

First and foremost, I am thanking Salva Kiir for having swallowed his ego and pride in accepting Riek Machar and other opposition political alliances into the fold of South Sudanese politics.

South Sudan, as a nation, would make no progress when our people are stuck in the vengeful mindset of the past. Our past should only act as a memorial cautionary tale by which we can only remind ourselves to never embark on such a tragic path ever again.

We should also congratulate ourselves for having struck a peace deal sooner rather than later. It would have been too costly on all of us if we had protracted the war for no apparent reason.

Millions of South Sudanese go to bed hungry every night, and the peace deal came at the right time to start stitching things back together.

Some people never wanted Kiir and Machar to work together again, but hey, South Sudanese politics was never about Kiir or Machar for that matter in the first place; it was about putting the interests of South Sudanese above everything else in the realm of politicking.

The bigger than life task at hand has more to do with the unity of South Sudanese; that is why we have to be more inclusive more than ever to bring an eventual lasting peace.

In 2002, John Garang brought all the SPLM/SPLA factions together for a possible reunion. He knew in his guts that a complete lasting peace was never going to be achieved without cementing one solid foundation by which we can all stand and cherish all the fruits that a just peace might bring.

It would have been ill-conceived if we had Riek Machar in his own camp alone and John Garang in another camp and all are campaigning for the betterment of all South Sudanese.

Coincidentally in the same year 2002, the Kenyan political parties joined hands together to bring an end to a dictatorial regime of Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi. When the next election came in 2007, there was no apparent interest to strike a super alliance party again because the rotten beast was thrown into the deepest pits of Hades.

On the same token, we have to come together this time around and continue to cater to our healing wounds, bodies and souls until the election day in three years’ time.

We have three political giants in Salva Kiir, Riek Machar and Taban Deng Gai who wield enormous amount of power and may potentially create another tragic civil war if they don’t curtail their political ambitions and align them with the economic interests of South Sudanese populace.

Let’s say Taban Deng Gai decides to play second fiddle to Salva Kiir for an up coming election; or the same Taban Deng Gai switches sides and becomes Riek Machar’s running mate; would that be a reason to take up arms and declare war on ourselves?

No! No one in his/her right mind would do such a thing just to cater to the needs of a warmongering politician.

The success of our peace deal may also depend on an honest integral dealing of our politicians.

A politician who decides to wear a bow-tie instead of the lengthy neck-tie is not guilty in any way to be kicked out of the Parliament since a bow tie also fits the category of a neck wearable clothing even if it has no bodily length.

Our president did that to Mabior Garang in the short-lived peace deal of 2016. Paul Mator Manyok (South Sudanese pastor from Kentucky) recently stated that this war was going to happen no matter who was the president of South Sudan.

These tribal divisions keep on cropping up and every time they rear their ugly heads, we keep on regressing back to the primordial and primitive ages of an underdeveloped Africa.

In our war of liberation against the Jellaba of Khartoum, we turned on our ourselves, and shortly afterward, Bashir started to capture the profits we won with the blood of our people; and in 2013, the same episode came back to the fore and tens of thousands lost their innocent dear lives.

As South Sudanese, it is time to start preaching the culture of tolerance toward a vast array of cultures and people who might hold different political views.

There is no where we can send the Kechipo people of Boma state; for because the land was divided amongst all the people of Africa during the Scramble of Africa in the 19the century.

The Kechipo are South Sudanese by nationality through birth and every alienable right sanctioned upon them by all the International Organizations that deal with sovereign rights of people and nationalities.

We can’t send Nyangwara people to the Democratic Republic of Congo, because the Nyangwara belong to the nation of South Sudan.

Our tribal pride can’t be any reason whatsoever to subject anyone who may come from a different tribe to any disrespectful inhumane crime of terrorism; it is about time to start accepting that every South Sudanese national has a right to life, and that right must be respected no matter which tribe that he or she may hail from.

For all our 64 tribes to coexist peacefully, we must respect the existential relevance of other tribes, to put it another way, we have a need to tag along with them even knowingly that they practice different customs and cultural norms.

In just four years after the December 2013 onslaught, we turned our country into the land where the vultures could easily get a free meal.

“It is said that power corrupts,” but it’s actually more true that power corrupts the corruptible. The sane are actually attracted by other things than power” (David Brin).

South Sudan is a broken nation. We are still nursing the wounds of the liberation war era when we were busy finishing ourselves off when in reality we were supposed to be pointing guns at Bashir.

And barely eight years later, after a sweet return home in 2005, we started the whole internecine war all over again.

Shortly after his arrival during this round of peace talks in Khartoum, Kiir openly stated that he needs to keep an open mind so peace may come to South Sudan once more.

What David Brin meant by the above quote is that if there was too much evil in you then it is possible that you may end up as a temple of the devil where it can easily spit every unspeakable venom to the passersby.

Now that the peace deal has been struck, some of our most corrupt politicians are going to start campaigning for an election that is three years into the future.

William Arap Samoei Ruto, the current Kenyan Deputy President is running coast to coast and from north to south campaigning for an election that is 5 years away.

He is not dealing with the recent mercury poisoning of a sugar import by an Indian businessman. What he cares about and what he cherishes only is the Kenyan presidency itself.

What our politicians must start doing from day one until the end of the Transitional Period is to keep channeling our energies into reconciliation initiatives and matters concerning forging a national identity.

The reconciliation and conflict resolution efforts may be too much for some of our contemporary politicians because the issues at hands were decades in the making and they won’t be so easily swept under the bed.

South Sudanese politics is changing everyone from the common person to president Kiir himself. If that is not the case, then why change of hearts all of a sudden and decide to make amends with the SPLM-IO and SSOA?

The current peace deal sways leniently towards the power base of GOSS and SPLM-IO, but we must also realize that since 2016, much of the battle has been fought in the Greater Equatoria region, so very much the first two years of the war were fought in the Greater Upper Nile region and then the last two years of the war were waged heavily in the the Greater Equatoria region.

The situation is evenly spaced out and keeping an open mind must be the sure way to start stitching back our lives together.

A great political thinker should know how to play his/her cards of wins and losses shrewdly, and he/she must also know how to control the political sentiment.

An intelligent political thinker must first and foremost play his/her cards of wins and losses very well; he/she must at all times knows that she would never win all her initiated games; that is why it is always essential to be a shrewd schemer whose game plans are hard to shake off.

Political sentiment is another emotional animal that must continuously be fed by consistently doing good deeds to the general populace.

We are a nation that needs rebuilding from the ground up and from north to south and west to east.

When the election comes into play after the Transitional Period, the politicians who will bag the most votes would be those who were the best servant politicians during the Transitional Period.

There is no going around it, or cutting corners about it; otherwise, we would just keep going back to square one where we keep on fighting ourselves when in reality we should starting on taking responsible leadership for our actions and preaching.

*****Apioth Mayom Apioth has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA USA. He is an Admission Counselor from the University of North Dakota. He can be reached at: agutkeu@gmail.com.