A Brotherly Advice to Isaiah Abraham and James Okuk

By Kuir ë Garang

April 17, 2012 (SSNA) — I just lost a very close friend so I’ve no energy for a real article. I’ve always regarded the two of you as promising literary and ‘intellectual voices’ of South Sudan. What’s disappointing is the deeper ground level to which you’re all prepared to descend.


Any respected ‘intellectual’, if that word has any meaning at all, should always criticize, acknowledge the achievements of the one being criticized and then suggest feasible solutions to the same criticized individual. Balanced criticism is always a mark of a ‘grown-up’ critical voice.

We need many voices like you in South Sudan. What you should remember however, is solution-focused and corrective writings of a responsible ‘professor’ rather than angry, self-serving polemic of a purely tirade-loving tribalist.

You might also want to remove too much of tribal threading in your writings. Too many tribal references make you appear like some of the Pre-independence Africans who had no idea what to do with their education: Just flaunt it.

‘Freedom Fighters’ should be criticized but the manner of doing so should be responsible, corrective and solution-focused.

So criticism and name-calling should be delineated. Telling someone off on the exact deeds they’ve gone wrong on is a political reality in any democratic institution. However, name-calling and defaming people in the name of political opposition is a self-stupefying political immaturity and irresponsibility. And mind you, such political immaturity and irresponsibility exist in any country even in Canada and the US. Just watch Republican primaries!


What ‘freedom fighters’ have achieved should be acknowledged today and forever. However, this doesn’t mean that ‘freedom fighters’ are untouchable. Their misdeeds have to be told for the benefit of the next generation and as a corrective measure to straighten political missteps. Saying or giving an impression that ‘freedom fighters’ shouldn’t be criticized is a dangerous, counter-development illusion. They can be criticized: whether it’s John Garang, Nyuon Bany, Kiir Mayardit or Riek Machar. What has to be kept in mind is the method in which such criticism is conveyed.

What I’m sad to mention is that most, if not all, the current SPLM leaders have lost the banner of ‘freedom fighters.’ They’ve amassed millions when millions of South Sudanese languish in destitution.

They’ve imported Sudan’s repressive methods. They don’t account for their mistakes and always have someone else to blame. They always have the interest of their tribes in heart. One can hardly glorify such greed as freedom fighting anymore.

SPLA and Aliny

The world (in this case South Sudan) is not and will never be the way you guys see it. It’s not, even if it’s a cliche, clear cut. It’s not either or…all or nothing!!! When will you guys ever grow up and realize that sometimes there’s such a thing as assuming a middle grown. I sound anachronistic and Aristotelian but take it.

Okuk is perennially against anything government and Abraham is pro-government and SPLM/SPLA.

Isaiah, you have to realize that South Sudan has a right to defend itself, but it has to be wise on how it goes about it affairs. It’s no longer a rebel movement but a government with international obligations and that’s why it’s joining or has joined international organizations. You should know that a responsible government (if ours is) should take criticism as part of its functional existence.

On the other hand, Okuk should realize that Abyei is occupied by Khartoum but no meaningful pressure was put on Khartoum to withdraw. Khartoum bombs South Sudan territories but AU, UN and EU look the other way. The government of South Sudan, with little experience in diplomatic circles, resorted to what they know best: I want it, I take it!

Gentlemen, it’s high time for you to realize, as supposedly learned voices, that pointing out errors should also be followed by acknowledgement of what is good in there, and offer the alternative solutions. Criticizing without suggesting alternative ‘how-to-do-it’ calls into mind the biblical gong!

Kuir ë Garang is the author of Carcass Valley (Poetry), Trifles (Novel) and the upcoming Novel, THE PIPERS AND THE FIRST PHASE, and the poetry book, EXEGESIS OF DESPOTISM. For more information, visit www.kuirthiy.info.

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