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By Prof. Peter Adwok Nyaba - 1 Nov 2018

Opinion: Felicitations …Congratulations, and looking beyond the celebration [1]

 I was lucky to have watched the SSTV beaming of the celebrations in Juba of the revitalized agreement on the resolution on the conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCISS). At the level of its organization and discipline was remarkably superb; many of the ignorant volunteers who usually jammed up the stage and protocol were visibly absent, and the bodyguards were orderly this time.

All to the credit of Abdon Agau Jok and his team. It is commendable that the cloud of mistrust and suspicion that characterized the process leading to the agreement is slowly ebbed and President Kiir’s signature statement “Peace has come to stay” underscored his shrewdness. I cherish that the kind words in form of statements by South Sudan’s foreign dignitaries who graced the occasion will embolden the leaders to honour and respect the agreement they sealed.

Let the people NOT be disappointed again. In this connection, I commend the courage demonstrated by President Salva Kiir for keeping his words, and Dr. Riek Machar, Dr. Lam Akol, Hon. Gabriel Changson Chang and other opposition members for braving it to Juba. The people of South Sudan deserve more than the words uttered during the celebration. They must translate into deeds and material benefits that will improve their lives.

The words should translate into security that will enable the refugees and the internally displaced people not only return to their homes to recreate their lives but also to create wealth and build a vibrant economy. It is now time to develop the national productive forces. South Sudan is endowed with enormous natural resource potential the point is to transform them into actual wealth. The celebration [on 31 October] of R-ARCISS marked a fresh beginning in the long journey to peace, stability and social harmony in the Republic of South Sudan.

 The hope generated by the event must now translate into a strong movement for forgiveness, reconciliation and national healing. The apology to the people of South Sudan, which President Salva Kiir Mayardit mentioned in passing during the celebration, must come out clearly not only from him but also from the other leaders in and out of the opposition, and from the ethnic and regional barons who have in one way of the other exacerbated the conflict and its escalation.

This must be done in the good African tradition of accepting guilt as a way to reconciliation and peace making. The stage is now set for public social and political discourse to chart the way forward. This requires foremost a correct understanding, knowledge and recognition of ourselves as people of South Sudan with a common destiny. It goes without saying that as people who have a common history of more than two hundred years, we have shared values in addition to what we share as part of the human species. I underline ‘shared values’; they are the basis of this public discourse I mentioned above. The shared values, which I may summarize around three important principles of freedom, justice and fraternity are important factors in the struggle for rediscovering the common ground among the political leaders and the masses of our people.

 In this way, the principles of freedom, Justice and fraternity (solidarity across ethnic, religious and provincial contours) become mediating principles to enable us to navigate the crossing point(s) or intersections of parochial partisan or individual ambitions for power and wealth on the one hand and the wide national interest and goals on the other hand. These shared values are not new innovations or my invention; No, they are embedded in the constitution we drew up in the run up to independence in 2011.

 In fact, we just ignored those values and that caused the implosion. The reason is simple. The CPA and the tragic death of Dr. John Garang were a major disorientation. The abandonment of the concept and vision of the New Sudan was a negation of liberation process itself. It led to cessation of individual and/or collective contribution to the ‘common good’- essence of the war of national liberation. The resultant psychological make up then was ‘each for self’; no common good. Suddenly, we realized that instead of ‘giving’ to, we were ‘taking’ from the common good, and this resulted in a system that engendered and entrench ethnicity and provincialism. As we give ourselves another lease of life, it is imperative that we deepen our understanding of the historical evolution civilization in order to posit our current context. We do this by a process of ‘learning’ and ‘unlearning’. Yes, and particularly for those who want to assume leadership positions in society and state they need lessons in political economy and related disciplines.

Public discourse on the future of South Sudan and its people can only obtain when we are in possession of knowledge of our situation and a projection of where we desire to be. South Sudan entered the stage of national democratic revolution (NDR) immediately after 9 January 2011. This is a stage any people that have struggled against colonial domination or internal repression [political exclusion, economic marginalization and social discrimination] enter into.

The main strategic political objectives and programme of this stage include inter alia: Consolidation of the national independence implying a complete break with the colonial political economy and relations in order to build a national democratic state with institutions and instruments of public authority commensurate with the aspirations of the people for freedom, justice, fraternity and prosperity. The launching of a cultural revolution with the express objective of moulding a South Sudanese personality unfettered by archaic traditions and customs in complete negation of the colonial doctrine of ethnic immutability.

These were SPLM/A’s raison d’êtré and should have been from 2011 the focus of our socioeconomic and political development trajectory. It is not too late; we cannot compensate for the time and opportunities lost. The anticipated R-TGONU is a basis for launching the national democratic revolution assuming that it comprises different sections of our people. (To be continued).

The author is a prominent South Sudanese academic and politician.

The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.