By James Okuk, PhD
“If we make the average of mankind comfortable and secure, their prosperity will rise through the ranks” (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
December 31, 2011 (SSNA) — If asked to retreat in order to remember the most profound past events (i.e. retrospect), there is no doubt that many South Sudanese will tell you that it is the event of the referendum for self-determination process, which has led to the inevitable declaration of the Independence of their new country on July 9, 2011. If you asked them whether they would vote overwhelmingly for succession of South Sudan if the history is rewind, still the majority of South Sudanese will give you a firm affirmative answer except for few who have got disappointed these days.
But why would South Sudanese repeatedly adore their independence with pride? Because history of their struggle against the injustices of oppression and marginalization has taught them to be who they are and who they want to be within the chain of dignified continuity for posterity.
The South Sudanese have resisted the invasions and oppressions of Turko-Egyptian and Anglo-Egyptian colonialists (1820 – 1956). They have also resisted the Arabized Sudanese oppressions and marginalization (1956 – 2011). Not only this, but also they have heroically confronted the evil acts of themselves against their own well-beings as Southerners in the course of the struggle. This is bitter but a nostalgic retrospect worth memorable for pursuing the prospects.
Many means have been used to arrive to the end where the Republic of South Sudan is standing today. Some of these means were good and right but others were evil and crooked. Hence, goes the argument that the end has justified the means and the chapter has been closed with the independence verdict, followed by international recognition of South Sudan as equal amongst other established countries in the world.
As a result of this declaration and recognition, South Sudan stands today as a sovereign state ruled by a transitional constitutional government categorized into legislative, executive and judiciary branches. It stands as a state with a declared geographical territory (with all the contained resources including oil and arable lands) supposed to be demarcated as it stood on January 1, 1956, though some parts of these borders are still contested by the Sudan within the perspective of post-independence pending issues that should cease pending sooner or later.
Also South Sudan stands as a state inhabited by individuals and communities who are diverse in their cultures and traditions but who should be united as South Sudanese people on values of liberty, justice and prosperity. It is a state, which is supposed to have a free and independent press and social media.
Notwithstanding with its existing government, territory, people and press, the Republic of South Sudan is faced with many challenges of transition into a matured nation-state capable of managing its own affairs without interventions/interferences from outsiders. It is facing the challenge of good governance in the government institutions where there seems to be a clash between egoistic loyalty and altruistic meritocratic professional qualifications.
It is also facing the challenge of utilizing efficiently and managing honestly the resources available within its geographical territory in order to promote the common good of its population with affirmative attention to the needy poor ones; including stoppage of usurpation of their land by big investors without genuine consultations/compensations. It is also facing the challenge of keeping its population secure, peaceful, stable, cooperative, tolerative, hardworking, efficient, productive and self-reliant.
Respect for press and media freedom is also another challenge facing South Sudan as the critics of government leaders have been perceived to be enemies rather than public eye-openers. The social media has tasted the consequences of exposing institutional inept show-cased by many of those holding top-decision making offices of the government of South Sudan as if it is a reward price. There is no great doubt that a number of those entrusted with custody of government authority and power in South Sudan seems to be analytically defunct and lacking contemporary rig our and nuance required for conducting the national duty efficiently; a fact they hate to hear from the press and social media.
In short, the new Republic is facing a lot of challenges of state and nation building where there are tendencies from some of its leaders and their supporters to fulfill what the Nobel Peace Price-Winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, said: “the national culture can become a bizarre graft of carefully selected historical incidents and distorted social values intended to justify the policies and actions of those in power.”
Nevertheless, wisdom has put it categorically that challenges are unavoidable part of human living, but what makes a prudential difference is the courage to confront and generate sustainable solutions to the arising problems and pressing issues.
Yes, South Sudan closes the Year 2011 joyfully but also with challenges of being and continuing to be an independent successful state. But for the year 2012 to be a happy one, the leaders and their supporters should resolve in sincere retrospect to designate realistic prospects for prosperity in the land of great abundance where the availability of the basic needs, rights and liberties of all its population becomes daily norms founded on the following Rawlsian Principles of Justices as Fairness:
With these principles, John Rawls would advice South Sudan thus: “avoid the region where the marginal contributions of those better off are negative, since, other things equal, this seems a greater fault than falling short of the best scheme when these contributions are positive. The even larger difference between rich and poor makes the latter even worse of, and this violates the principle of mutual advantage as well as democratic equality.”
From 2012 onwards, South Sudan needs a brighter guiding star to the future, built on cemented national foundation and protected well from internal or external harms. This futuristic visionary leadership should embark on the quest for genuine national healing process, and building of trust and confidence through continuous dialogue for preserving the dignity of human person in individuals, families and communities. It should ensure that the new Republic is firmly hinged on:
The year 2012 should be the time to revisit what Dr. John Garang, the late Chairman of the SPLM/A, said in foreword of the pamphlet “SPLM Strategic Framework for War-to-Peace Transition” of 2004 that the priorities for Southern Sudan are:
Most significantly, plans need to be made and serious actions need to be taken on revitalization and improvement of the old transport systems and infrastructure along side other initiatives:
In summary, for the people of South Sudan and their friends to have a happy 2012 and beyond, the following pivotal policies need to be emphasized with concrete results-oriented actions achievable in short, medium and long terms:
In conclusion and as we say goodbye to 2011 and other years below and embrace 2012 with other years a head, the government and people of the Republic of South Sudan should move out of the past hangovers by adopting a virtuous circle of holistic development strategies where aspiration for social, economic and political prosperity trickle down from mere ideologies and political rhetoric to concrete actions. This move could yield fruits, especially if done in sincere partnership with international and regional organizations who may be interested to help South Sudan overcome vicious circle of poverty, using MDGS targets or other strategies. Notwithstanding, the government and the people of South Sudan should know that outsiders will not bring ready-made independence dividends as it could be done by the nationals themselves.
Time for past is gone. It is high time for future, starting with best wishes for a Happy New Year 2012 for the nascent Republic of South Sudan!
James Okuk lives in Juba and could be reached at [email protected]