People need to acknowledge failures, to succeed

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

July 19, 2013 (SSNA) — It is a universal fact that people do not celebrate failure. And one is considered a pervert should they roll out drums, and slaughter fine bulls in honour of failure. What people normally do is not only to bury failure, but also consciously work hard to deny it.

In an attempt to remain optimistic, people don’t eulogize failure. It is not given a funeral, for funeral celebrates a life, to immortalize a memory.  But failure has to be forgotten through a burial. This was exactly the official reaction all across South Sudan, since the US based Fund for Peace rated the country fourth amongst the Failed States.  

During the recently held 6th speakers’ forum held at the National Legislative Assembly in Juba this issue of South Sudan being categorized as a failed state, was terribly rebuffed by the senior SPLM officials. The Hon Wani Igga refuted this classification and went on to say, and I quote:

"We are not [a] failed state comrades. How can we be a failed state and we just became an independent country. We are just two years from independence. How do you expect a two-year-old child to do what [an] adult does? [Do you] Expect a child to start walking and run simultaneously? Igga asked, amid applause from audience.

"No. It is not possible, unless you want us to perform miracles", he added.

Well, we cannot blame the Hon. Speaker and the rest of the SPLM apologists, for Man naturally hasten to forget failure and its bitter pills. But he glories in success. It is normal. He is primed that way by default. Only a perverse appreciation of existence, celebrates failure amidst pomp and pageantry.

Is it not what we see, at least on superficial level and yet underneath our disguises lies an insurmountable paradox; namely: that success is predicated always on deeper appreciation of failed attempts, and its festival of lessons?

Ironically Vice President Dr. Riek Machar wasted no time in joining his colleagues in denying the country’s deservedly 4th position amongst the Failed States, given the multiple failures of SPLM’s governance style that came along with their rule, and rightly predates the country’s independence from Khartoum, he too could have simply acknowledged this failure without having to give some unnecessary excuses.

Machar said that he was not acquainted with the criteria used to reach to this conclusion, but thank God, he suggested that the ranking was a challenge brought about by the weak institutions of governance. Let him be advised that, the country that he dreams of turning into the ‘African Tiger’ can only be so when its top leadership becomes well versed with what makes a state fail. Otherwise it will all become just like sailing in unchartered waters.

But by later acknowledging that corruption is rampant in South Sudan’s government contracts, tax collections, land sale and misuse of money meant for provision of services to the various institutions, one cannot understand why this “new president in the making”, finds it difficult to swallow the bitter taste of reality, and accept that the country under their presidency with his boss president Salva Kiir is indeed a failed State.

Is what he said below not characteristic of failed states? If not, then what is?

"Our tax revenue collection basket has been leaking", he said, adding that he believed only one-tenth of the revenues collected from the country’s borders and internal trade reaches the government’s chest,  while the rest is pocketed by individuals”.

Insecurity, he said, was also responsible for taking the chunk of the nation’s budget as provision of security takes priority in the budget allocations every year for the last eight years. [Machar, 6th Speakers Conference, Juba – Sudan Tribune July 18, 2013]

We should not underestimate that the appraisal of failure reveals its peculiar ability of spawning a chain reaction, which forcefully compels its cognizance. It shocks the mind back to a rethink of its shallow assumptions, in a way that success cannot.

It is a known fact that one failure can have such concentric effect for all other endeavors in its environment, as to forcefully warrant its imprisonment of our attention. In this situation, failure then rises to be appraised; in order to serve as a critique of the present, and a launching pad for future success. Here, then, failure becomes a catalyst to success.

And it is only in this light, that we should look backwards on the battlefields of our history which is littered with the fractured and fragmented pieces of our peoples’ dreams.  Hence there is an urgent need for us to appreciate the history of our failures, to explore the lessons that are imperative if we are ever to escape this present predicament, and bequeath a future to our posterity.

Some may find relief in that the African continent is littered with our types – the failed states. Most of these states are economic backwaters, social apologies and political ruins. This landscape runs from the Casablanca to the Cape Town and from The Horn of Africa in the East to the Island of No Return in the West Atlantic.

Looking critically at the African states, South Sudan included, most of these states true to type were the creatures of imperial convenience. To that end, and in the absence of any visionary leadership, they were meant to serve a purpose after which their ontological legitimacy or raison d’ etre would then expire.

On their expiration dates, these states, naturally not designed for self-propulsion; were condemned to tether on the brink, and finally implode upon the inglorious weight of their inherent contradictions.

Of course colonialism designed and inspired all the needed problems to make sure that, except for the few  infrastructures they have left behind, these states remain what their were when first drawn on paper, if not worse.

Maybe we should……………maybe we shouldn’t, blame the colonialist for everything bad that is currently being inflicted in Africa, by Africans and on Africans.  Sincerely speaking the real decadence of each African country is since then driven by a horde of native pirates; trained in the fine art of piracy.

These set of political actors are rogues personalities, weaned on selfishness. They are brilliant students of klepocracy and political perversity.

In South Sudan, in about less than a decade these former freedom fighters and their local area boys have completely outclassed colonial perfidy and bested them in thievery. 

Who amongst our poor downtrodden people can look around themselves and not say that, the “liberators” have indeed inflicted a huge damage and probably an irreversible one, especially so on the values and the social fabrics of our societies and communities.

They have done an inglorious job of mismanaging our country, so much so that she is today the laughing stock of the world.

So instead of these comrades holding meetings after meetings, and yet are unable to see for themselves what damages they have so far inflicted on the country, they need to learn one thing or two. And I ask to myself why they don’t use the SMART criteria to guide them if their adventures are to make any sense at all?

SMART is a mnemonic, giving criteria to guide in the setting of objectives, for example in project management, employee performance management and personal development. The letters broadly conform to the words specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

The first known use of the term occurred in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.

SMARTER gives two additional criteria evaluate and reevaluate, intended to ensure that targets are not forgotten.

If they do this, then President Kiir will either choose to finish his remaining months in office either busy packing to ‘quit without return’ or talk and promise things which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound, and must also be evaluated and reevaluated.

Besides all these maybe the least this government should learn to do, is to have a huge billboard with boxes in front of real projects that it intends to achieve e.g. roads, clean drinking water, electricity, schools, hospitals, money recovered from the stolen $4 b dollars, ….etc and tick them whenever a project is achieved.

When many boxes remain un-ticked, then even a grandmother in the remotest parts of the country knows how to vote come the elections. And for our friends in “coats and ties”, they do not have to tell us that they have failed as a government, nor wait until someone across the Atlantic tells us. Does this seem any humiliating to the proud corrupters?

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba can be reached at: [email protected].

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