The Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) is populated by many socio-cultural groups; with myriad of cultural norms and traditions; plus heterogeneous modes of production with their commensurate socio-economic, cultural and political determinants and limitations, albeit that these human persons are all African Peoples. Historical and colonial factors have managed to group together these various socio-cultural groups for good or for the worse that is a different issue. Romanticisation and sentimentalisation of these facts aside, these human groups have lived same political, economic and social experiences; a fact that produced same sadness and happiness at both universal and relative positions. If these lived experiences can be promoted to qualify as unifying factors; with socio-cultural and political consequences, a proposition that is scientifically difficult to sustain, then, it can be claimed that, there is a homogeneous human population in the RoSS. However, the factual position is that, the peoples of the RoSS are an amalgam of various tribes complete with their ethnic variables.
The fact that the peoples of the RoSS experienced the same hurt and agony does not produce in them a homogeneous tribe with common cultural heritage; complete with anthropological mechanisms for the resolutions of conflicts that beget society from time to time. This therefore means that, there are conflicting interests existing within the framework of the human population in the RoSS, notwithstanding the fact that, South Sudanese went to civil wars several times to claim civil, political and economic rights from the Sudanese State. Dying in the same trenches even failed to produce a homogeneous tribe in the RoSS. While in the same combat trenches, tribalism and ethnicity succeeded in making South Sudanese to murder one another, and this has exacerbated the population heterogeneity in the RoSS. This is a serious socio-cultural and political factual situation; and there is no amount of political rhetoric and sentimentality that can erase these characteristics of disharmony; within the framework of South Sudanese population.
The reasonable thing to do is to admit that, there is a political recipe for disaster in the RoSS, and the South Sudanese themselves ought to come to their mature political senses and address it. It is a sign of political maturity and bravery to identify potential sources of conflict before they actually produce the conflict that is then confronted with some political and other forms of violence in order to resolve it. When issues like these are raised, it should not be construed that, those who raise them are antisocial or some ill adjusted individuals who thrive on societal and human instability. The reverse is true. Those who persistently raise issues like these care so much about social stability and in most occasions, they are rather extremely reasonable above average. The peoples of South Sudan care so much about the prevalence of peace in the RoSS. However, they also want to become owners of the same peace without being classified into liberators and the liberated.
They do not want some of them to be put in a position whereby, the peace prevailing in the RoSS become a privilege to them rather than a right. This is a very dangerous position if it is entrenched into a socio-political culture in South Sudan. Every South Sudanese wants to belong by right; to the crucible of peace in the RoSS. Nobody wants to be treated as an invitee to the party of peace in the RoSS due to the fact that, an invitee’s licence can be withdrawn and she/he is asked to live the party altogether. How do we then make sure that all the peoples of South Sudan become owners of the RoSS? Well, for a considerable period of time, I have been among those others who have preached the urgency for National Dialogue (ND) as the foundation of peace in the RoSS.
I have always argued correctly that, the recently ended civil war in the hitherto united Sudan; and which led to the secession of the RoSS from the rest of the Sudan; has not been solely caused by factors existing between the Sudan and South Sudan only, as many people would like us to believe. Many of us know that, the civil war broke out in 1983 as a result of factors pertaining to political differences among South Sudanese themselves as well as issues of national politics. It must be reiterated that, ND is not meant to undermine the efforts made by those South Sudanese who effectively managed the ended civil war and how they gallantly pursued the war to its final conclusion vis-à-vis the peace agreement. While these particular South Sudanese did managed the civil war without necessarily entering into the quality of management, they did so on behalf of all South Sudanese who in one way or another participated in the war effort.
Therefore; ND is a healing and reconciliation process among all South Sudanese so that, all sectors of peoples in South Sudan can feel at ease with the war leaders and with themselves. ND is a process of inclusivity within the framework of South Sudanese political praxis. ND is a mechanism whereby some hitherto wayward and inwardly looking participants in the civil war process can be inculcated with some nationalistic logics within the remit of South Sudanese political coexistence notwithstanding our socio-cultural heterogeneity. ND is meant to create a seamless political cohesion within the South Sudanese political paradigm, a paradigm that is to become the bulwark for the much sought after homogeneity in South Sudan. ND is meant to be the political crucible within which, all those factors that lead to the civil strife within the context of current South Sudanese politics are cogently and transparently interrogated.
ND is also the process through which; the South Sudanese can gallantly and coherently protect the RoSS; for the interest of all the peoples of the RoSS; and the RoSS which is to be presented to the whole world as the symbol of international peace and coexistence of peoples of various cultures and religions. ND is the mature approach to processes of forgiveness among brothers and sisters in South Sudan, so that, solid development foundations are laid for posterity and whereby, they shall not have to resort to armed conflict in order to solve their issues of underdevelopment and marginalisation. ND is a process of allaying the fears of others within South Sudan, so that those others identify with the achievement of peace that has been realised in the image of the RoSS; without feeling threatened by the momentum of political change that is charged with socio-cultural and political emotions, in a territory dominated by and saturated in tribal and ethnic allegiances.
ND is a political process whereby, all South Sudanese shall demonstrate to the wider world including our neighbours the Sudanese brothers and sisters that, we are politically mature and sophisticated to the extent that, we cannot allow trivial political sentiments and squabbles to undermine our internationally recognised achievements within the remit of the RoSS. ND is the most politically civilised fashion of laying down development priorities in South Sudan based on principles of equity and norms of equality as regards degrees of participation in decision-making processes, and especially decisions that shall affect the lives of the bulk of the peoples of South Sudan. This is intended to nib the culture of marginalisation in the bud, whether it is intentionally or negligently induced. Within the process of ND, all South Sudanese shall be able to find a common denominator for the resolution of most if not all of their socio-political problems and thus creating a new culture of conflict resolution in the country, and a culture that may be adopted by the rest of Africa.
These are not my political polemics, but rather, true feelings engendered by lived experiences of a South Sudanese; who has witnessed the hurt suffered by his people. I sincerely feel vindicated by the admission of the SPLM/A leadership that, ND is now an urgent matter within the framework of South Sudanese politics. I have written extensively on this issue to the abhorrence of others who feel that, I loathe the SPLM/A; and that; I am only after the destruction of the entire SPLM/A. How absurd. Here is the whole might of the SPLM/A telling the entire world that, ND is part and parcel of the South Sudanese political process within the framework of the RoSS.
It is my duty to rebuke some of these political upstarts who have nothing to contribute politically rather than calling serious thinkers names and such like. The decision of the SPLM/A to publicly announce to the world that ND is important is extremely politically refreshing and it ought to be applauded by all peace loving South Sudanese. These are good signs of political leadership and they ought to be commended. I am calling upon all political forces in South Sudan to begin formulating those cardinal political issues that ought to be interrogated in the process of ND so that, the perennial mistrust that lived among South Sudanese can be put to rest once and for all, and then we all open new chapters of general development. We must do this to avoid becoming the politically sick peoples of Africa. Those who have nothing better to offer to our people must not detract us. To be a nationalist and a positive contributor, you do not have to necessarily bear an AK47, as many others would like us to believe.
There is this silly political believe that, those who did not go to the bush ought not to talk about ND, nor should they even say a word about the RoSS. This is a kinky political reasoning and one that should just be ignored without any logical thought. What about those displaced peoples in the RoSS and in Khartoum for example? Have they not contributed to the war effort by literally living under the Sun with no shelter for nearly twenty years? Have they not any right to contribute in any ND process. It is this kind of thinking that ND wants to treat. Those who think like this are political simpletons with no sense of what real politics are. A successful politician is like an expert hunter who kills an elephant on his own but allows all the villagers to have some meat, even those who hates him. For those of you who believe that some South Sudanese should not have space in the RoSS; because they are not real supporters of the SPLM/A, all that I can say to you is that, you are to be forgiven. All South Sudanese of good will are invited to take part in ND because our future depends on this important process of political reconciliation and nation building.
The RoSS is like a newly born baby, which needs proper nurturing and caring. ND is the process by which we in South Sudan can nurture and care for this baby. The SPLM/A has recognised this fact and has come out openly in support of ND. Those of you who are against this process, you are like those evil midwives who suffocate infants during birth. What is wrong on earth if we South Sudanese can talk to our Sudanese brothers for this long time to reach various agreements, can we not talk as South Sudanese for even one week to concretise the same agreements? Why are we afraid of one another? Or is it raw blind loathing to the level of a brut that is consuming you. Some of you call yourselves nationalists. True nationalists have the capacity to forgive because the prime issue is the nation not the selfish self. While all are agreed about the importance of ND within the political framework of the RoSS; I think that it is also imperative to suggest some important points that should be considered while the going is hot.
These are not issues of power sharing in South Sudan but rather those important development problems that ND ought to tackle. However, any development work takes place within the remit of socio-economic, political and cultural institutions. It is worthwhile to point out that the end results of ND ought to be a balanced socio-economic development in South Sudan. A successful process of ND ought to produce the environment within which, all institutions including civil society institutions are endowed with those capacities that can enable various communities in South Sudan to carry on with development efforts without any actual and potential hindrance from the government of South Sudan and the associated States therein. This will then truly represent a democratisation of the development process in South Sudan. However, this does not mean that, the consequences of ND shall be detrimental to the efficient functioning of governmental institutions in South Sudan.
It is very obvious that, many South Sudanese are genuinely concerned with the level of participation in decision-making processes not necessarily at constitutional level posts, but rather at all grass-roots and other levels whereby, they can take full charge of their daily affairs that are truly local and intimate to their daily survival. These are the levels of political participations whereby, ordinary folks feel that they truly own their own freedom to express themselves, and freedom of expression does not only mean verbal or written expressions. It also tangibly means the freedom to produce what you want to produce, or the freedom to build where you want to build as long as the land belongs to you, and you do not cause any public or private nuisance to others. These are issues that ND ought to consider. Other important issues shall include the right to one’s own property to the extent that, no agent of the RoSS government nor that of any State government therein have any right of possession and ownership of such property in South Sudan, without the express consent of the owner and without any direct or indirect influence or pressure.
ND shall also consider issues of hurt feelings and pride within the remit of reconciliatory process to enable those who claim to be the victims of such acts to carry on with their lives. If such damages are established regardless of the perpetrators, the government of the RoSS ought to be able to avail reasonable remedies. These are not acts of witch-hunting of wrong doers; rather, these are attempts within the remit of mature ND to ameliorate sufferings among the peoples and at the same time, try to lay the foundation for a peaceful South Sudan where the sustenance of peace shall be possible. Other issues that shall also be conducive to peaceful South Sudan include overt expression of heroism to humiliate other South Sudanese to make them feel inadequate as societal members.
These acts must be addressed openly in various ND sessions and openly denounced as being antisocial and an incitement to social and political conflict in the South Sudan. Unless this is urgently done, the RoSS shall be divided into a society of heroes verses non-heroes, and this shall then polarise the RoSS into the owners of freedom verses those who are invited to share this freedom, and this is a recipe for socio-political conflict in South Sudan. It is as stated above, politically refreshing for the fact that, the SPLM/A have openly announced that ND must become an integral part of governance in the RoSS. This must be applauded and commended by all South Sudanese. It is a new mature approach to political management by the government of the RoSS, and it is extremely pragmatic and enlightened. We cannot do without ND because it is the reasonable path to South Sudanese unity and reconciliation.
By Prof. Wani Tombe, 9 hours 3 minutes ago
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