equatoria region southsudan


The time has come for us Equatorians to end our fraternity in the hell that is South Sudan and to start work on our Equatorian nation.

South Sudan is dying. The New Sudan Vision has failed. Its executors did not deliver it in Sudan or in South Sudan.

It has been almost twenty years, starting from 2005 to the present, that we Equatorians have been in South Sudan. Twenty years is a generation. An Equatorian generation has therefore been wasted in our time in South Sudan.

This waste of an Equatorian generation has not been caused by Equatorians leading the nation. Our contributions to it have been by omission and cultural disposition. It has been our hesitancy over the past twenty years to explicitly identify ourselves as Equatorians and to defend Equatorian interests without compromise. In that period, others in the South Sudanese state put the interests of their tribes and regions first and pursued them ruthlessly. Another of our contributions to our lost generation in South Sudan has been our commitment to co-existence in the face of continued marginalization and discrimination. Our reasoning and peacefulness in a South Sudanese environment of wanton ignorance and violence have also been to our disadvantage.

The foundational myth of South Sudan excludes us Equatorians. At the heart of it is the designation “liberators”. It is a myth that says that the liberators are the only ones with a birthright to South Sudan. Although it is a non-sequitur, the liberators use the myth as justification to impose a hegemonic tribal rulership over the whole of South Sudan. It is a hegemony characterized by ethnocentrism, land occupation and resource grabbing, population displacement and demographic expansion, intimidation, marginalization, harassment, rape and coercive marriage, violence, murder, imprisonment, torture, and disappearances.

Our Torit Mutiny of 1955, our tending to the South Sudanese liberation struggle in the years prior to 1983, and our significant contributions to it in the post-1983 period, are all fiction in the eyes of the liberators.

The belief that we Equatorians did not contribute to the fight that liberated South Sudan is the crown jewel in the box of degrading beliefs that non-Equatorians in South Sudan harbor about us Equatorians. I used to think that this was due to genuine historical ignorance on their part. I don’t think that anymore. The proliferation of this belief by the educated and uneducated alike has made me realize that it is a fundamental part of the cultural complex of non-Equatorians in South Sudan. Its possession and word-for-word reproduction by members of tribes that number in the millions tell me that it is a part of their cultural education about us Equatorians.

As the non-Equatorian makes it out of their community and encounters the Equatorian in the South Sudanese national space, they already have a dehumanizing cultural upbringing about the Equatorian, an upbringing that tells them that they are more entitled to South Sudan than the Equatorian and that the Equatorian is in fact not South Sudanese. And since he supposedly did not fight in the liberation, the Equatorian is also a coward. 

These beliefs set the terms of non-Equatorian and Equatorian engagement in South Sudan, with the non-Equatorian using them as legitimacy for mistreating and marginalizing the Equatorian. The injustices inflicted on us Equatorians again and again in the name of this dynamic have reached the point of redress. It is time to act. 

Having established that we Equatorians are excluded from South Sudan’s foundational story, the Equatorian who fights to be South Sudanese and to remain in South Sudan is engaged in an exercise in futility, even self-sabotage. By insisting on being South Sudanese and fighting for South Sudan, such an Equatorian is insisting on and fighting for the abode of Equatoria’s continued domination and marginalization by the liberators.

By their fiat declaration of themselves as liberators, the liberators view themselves as the only owners and drivers of South Sudan’s destiny. We Equatorians are never to own or drive South Sudan’s destiny because we have no birthright to do so since we did not, according to them, liberate it. Our purpose in the South Sudanese state is to be objects of domination and exploitation by the liberators.

Equatorian politics in South Sudan today respect this arrangement. It is characterized by spineless Equatorian politicians, military men, and state apparatchiks perplexingly helping the liberators to rule and dominate them and Equatoria. The liberators give them token compensation, inconsequential positions, posts, and responsibilities, but at no point do they allow them to be in full control of the true levers of political, security, military, cultural, educational, economic, or financial power in the South Sudanese state.

The insidious thing about our Equatorian fate in South Sudan is that if we protest and speak the truth about our marginalization and exploitation, we are labelled as “separatists”, “anti-nationalists”, “rebels”, or “tribalists”. We Equatorians are put in a double bind. We are marginalized and exploited in South Sudan because we are not liberators, and we are gaslit and silenced with ad-hominem attacks if we raise concerns about our condition. Furthermore, we are expected to suffer in silence and to simultaneously go overboard in professing our allegiance to South Sudan. It is a ridiculous situation. It is a means of holding us Equatorians hostage in South Sudan to be exploited and dominated by the liberators.

You could say that Equatoria today is to South Sudan what southern Sudan was to Sudan. The liberators transplanted the worst of Khartoum despotism right into our Equatoria, discrediting themselves in the process and the justification they gave in 1983 for embarking on the overthrow of Khartoum.

It is time for us Equatorians to exit the South Sudan of the liberators before their menace and failures destroy us and Equatoria more than they already have. Chief among their targets of exploitation, defilement, and conquest is our Equatoria. They are deliberately and systematically conquering and resettling Equatorian land. We have not seen any developmental returns on the resources and revenue they have taken from Equatoria. Their South Sudan and its institutions, which they have fully weaponized for tribal domination, expansion, and thievery, are out to suppress us Equatorians and to dispossess us of our lands, resources, and livelihoods. 

The land occupation and demographic replacement of Equatoria by the liberators are our generation’s existential threats. They should be the main points of Equatorian political activity and agitation in South Sudan. Everything else that has to do with our existence in the country called South Sudan is secondary. Nothing about being South Sudanese or being in South Sudan as an Equatorian makes sense without our land and people. Everything starts with our land and people. Without them, there is no us and there is no Equatoria. And the restoring of our land and people will not come from the South Sudanese state. It will only come from us Equatorians. Any Equatorian who believes that there is a South Sudanese state out there that exists to safeguard his life and property is being dangerously naïve. They are leaving themselves vulnerable to the wrath of the liberators and their imperialistic designs in South Sudan. 

Ingrain this in your mind as an Equatorian: South Sudan is not your friend. It is your enemy. It is not a nation in the truest sense of the term because it does not consider you, the Equatorian, a part of it. What it is instead is a structure, a mechanism for the liberators to dominate you politically, economically, financially, academically, professionally, culturally, linguistically, demographically, territorially, militarily, and security-wise, and to ultimately displace and erase you from Equatoria altogether. 

South Sudan, in the eyes of the liberators, is their personal property. It is a land, a group of people on whom liberator dominance is to be imposed. July 9th, 2011 is proving with each passing year not so much the date we became an independent nation as the date of the coronation of the liberators as the conquerors of the territory called South Sudan and the people called South Sudanese. And we Equatorians helped them achieve this. True to form, as shooters of our own foot, our Equatorian politicians and military men are still today in the service of the liberators, although the liberators treat them as non-liberators and a conquered elite. They are still abetting the liberators in destroying, looting, terrorizing, raping, imprisoning, disappearing, killing, and occupying Equatoria.

The SPLM has turned out to be a vehicle for conquest and plunder by the liberators. How we Equatorians missed the fact that this was the nature of the movement is a devastating oversight that our future generations will curse us for if we do not fix it by leaving South Sudan and establishing our Equatorian nation. This is our only way of putting right this historic Equatorian political catastrophe of handing over Equatoria to the liberators. It is the only way of redressing all the injustices we have suffered and continue to suffer since we allowed the liberators back into Equatoria after Nimeiry’s regionalization in 1983. There is no Nimeiry today to pass another decree for redivision to address the domination, humiliation, land occupation, lawlessness, and loss of life and property we are experiencing in Equatoria at the hands of the liberators. It is up to us Equatorians to put an end to it. 

Their mass raping and forceful marrying of our women during the “liberation” struggle, their victimization and massacring of our civilian populations, their emasculation of our men, and their killing of our leaders should have jolted us into an understanding of what the liberators were and are about. But we missed it all. They came in, hijacked the reins of South Sudan’s liberation, proceeded to erase us from it, and are today presenting it as if it started in 1983, and they are its progenitors. 

I want you to entertain a thought for a second. Imagine that the liberators do not look like us. Imagine that these were a different race of people who descended on our Equatoria and proceeded to commit the atrocities, institutional dominance, demographic expansion, land occupation, and resource grabbing that they did and are still doing. Would we not have rightly diagnosed this as a foreign invasion and colonization, revolted against it, and defended the sovereignty and dignity of Equatoria? We would have, and we must today. We picked up arms against the Turks, British, and Jallaba for much less than what we are enduring today under the liberators and their South Sudanese state. 

No genuine nation-building will ever take place in South Sudan because that was never the goal of the liberators. Time is proving that their goal was the tribal conquest, domination, demographic expansion, and plunder of the whole of Sudan. They only ended up with half of the country, but the project is still the same. 

Going by their total control of the state institutions and natural resources of South Sudan today, their demographic engineering and expansive occupation of the community lands of others, their continued victimization and extermination of “liberated” civilian populations, and the association in the region and the globe of South Sudanese culture, ethnic identity, and even physique with them, it can be concluded that the liberators have succeeded in their ethnonationalist project in South Sudan. The history of South Sudan henceforth will be about their perfecting of this success. 

Equatoria cannot continue with this. We cannot afford another twenty years, another lost Equatorian generation in the South Sudanese hell of the liberators. Their lawless, greed-driven, non-functioning, and non-nation-building South Sudan can continue somewhere else. The next twenty years in Equatoria should be about actual state and nation-building. This begins with us Equatorians marshaling the entirety of our Equatorian nation: church leaders, intelligentsia, artists, traditional leaders, politicians, military and security personnel, professionals, students, businesspeople, civil servants, civil society, elders, youth, adults, and everyone and everything else for the task of recovering and securing the territory, community lands, and demographic integrity of Equatoria, and after that for the declaration of our Equatorian state.

Presently, all these avenues of Equatorian power are deployed to buttress and give life to the dying South Sudanese state. They are scattered and rendered insignificant in advancing and defending Equatorian interests. They advance and defend South Sudan instead, the dwelling of our continued domination by the liberators.

South Sudan is not the hope we Equatorians entertained in the decades of struggle against Khartoum. It is today a killing, ransacking hellscape, and the liberators presiding over it are committed to keeping it that way.

Our Equatorian values and way of life can never blossom in the South Sudan of the liberators. They cannot reveal themselves to the world. They can only do that in an Equatorian nation where we control the state institutions. By continuing in South Sudan, the state the liberators are constructing in their own image, our Equatorian culture, identity, Juba Arabic language, land, wealth, communities, lives, demography, history, memory, statecraft, and nation-building are doomed. The shameful national culture and despotic governance the liberators have erected in South Sudan are what we Equatorians will continue to be identified with and confused with in the region and the world.

Equatorian independence is the last station that every single Equatorian will eventually reach, no matter how romantically attached to South Sudan they are. This is because what we are dealing with in the liberators is an extreme in-group ethnic bias that is maladaptive to co-existence with members of out-groups. They are a people with the usual regressive characteristics of extreme in-groupness: claiming victimhood while victimizing, an inability to empathize with the condition and position of an out-group, the employment of vicious violence and humiliation when in a dominant position of interaction with a member of an out-group, revenge culture as opposed to a culture of justice, and the use of sophistry, rhetoric, denial, deceit, groupthink, doublespeak, deflection, or manipulation in defending reprehensible acts or advancing in-group interests. 

It is a sociological profile that produces people who act as parasites in need of a host to live in, destroying said host in the process. This is exactly what is happening to our Equatoria today. We are a host that is giving life to the liberators, and they are destroying us for doing so. Our profile in Equatoria is the antithesis of who they are. We are a people who are well-adjusted to coexisting with out-groups, as can be attested to by our tens of tribes in Equatoria. We are also a people who are settled on our land. Being of the marauding parasitic type, the liberators do not have a notion of a fixed home. As such, they cannot build a nation. That is why they have failed abysmally as the ruling elites of South Sudan. They do not respect the properties and lands of others. They do not understand boundaries. Not only that, but they need to move into the lives, lands, and resources of others to survive. This means the domination, destruction, and erasure of those they are moving into.

As I have stated earlier, they have already formulated the dehumanizing narrative they need to justify disenfranchising us Equatorians in South Sudan for their survival needs. It is our supposed lack of fighting in the liberation of South Sudan. This disenfranchisement will frustrate the Equatorian who continues to commit to and contribute to South Sudan. Everywhere they turn in the South Sudanese state, they will encounter reminders, abuse, humiliation, and marginalization from the liberators that tell them that they are not South Sudanese and have no birthright to South Sudan. After going through this again and again and exhausting all their justifications for continuing with the South Sudan of the liberators, the Equatorian will in the end come to the position of Equatorian independence.

Since this is where all of us Equatorians will eventually end up, the sooner we get to it, the better. The survival and flourishing of Equatoria are at stake. Our present Equatorian generation and its centres of power therefore must be singular in purpose: the pursuit, establishment, and building of our Equatorian nation, an independent Equatorian nation that we can be proud of. A nation where our lives, lands, properties, human dignity, and civilizational outlook are honoured and protected. In the act of doing this, we would have established a nation and state whose foundational myth is of our own Equatorian making and belonging, unlike the South Sudan of today, whose foundational myth excludes us Equatorians.

By Emmanuel K. 

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