South Sudan Information Minister: From intellectual to an intolerant, disgruntled man

By Kuir ё Garang

November 9, 2013 (SSNA) — The current minister of information, Michael Makuei Lueth, is trying to take South Sudan to a new low. Besides, he’s embarrassing himself as once an intelligent individual, and the educated intelligentsia all over South Sudan. The educated in South Sudan see one of their own sinking into abyss of heartlessness, indifference, shamelessness, utopia and what the Ugandan playwright, Johh Ruganda, calls in his play, The Burdens, a bootlicker.

It’s okay to be loyal; however, it’s shameful to be so loyal so much so that one is divorced from the realities the average person lives in.

South Sudan is, if I allow myself to be silly, if not religious here, blessed with a number of educated people. We can’t complain too much about lacking educated leaders, strategists and other well-meaning individuals. We have world class theorists and writers like Dr. Francis Mading Deng, award-winning writer/author and polemicist, Dr. Adwok Nyaba, award-winning Engineers and inventors like Everett Kamandala Minga, and the able lawyers like the current minister of information, who’s also the official government spokesperson. The list is, indeed, very long.

However, nothing is going well in South Sudan. ‘We’re still a young nation’ is an escapist dictum being thrown around by our dear leaders. Everyone in the world understands that South Sudan is ‘young’ so reminding people all the time of its age is basically redundant. Anyone can check Wikipedia, if the pain of reading is too much for them, to know how old South Sudan is.

It’s sad to know that that consciousness seems to have entered into the general thought process of our leaders. Not only is the country ‘young’ our leaders thought processes have become really ‘young.’ Dreadfully enough, you don’t need any deep analytic skills to ascertain the childishness and the rawness with which ideas and information are being procured.

Can a mind of an educated adult be young because his country is ‘young’ even if his given task matches his skills? I hope not! The country might be young, however, people would still show that they are educated, determined and doing all they can to help develop the country. It would be limitation engendered by lack of resources and technical know-how that could be cited.

However, what is appalling in South Sudan is not lack of resources and technical skills. It’s that mere mode of thinking and talking, which we take for granted, that is appalling.

Our minister of information, Michael Makuei Lueth, is one official who utters statements that defy logic. On October 23, 2013, he convened a press conference in which he distanced South Sudan from Abyei referendum saying: “Where will they go if the result is not recognised by both Sudan and South Sudan? Even if it has to be an independent state, it needs to be recognised.”

However, this statement contradicted what South Sudan’s Vice President, James Wani Igga , had said a month earlier; that South Sudan would support Abyei’s decision. Is this contradiction allowed because the country is young? The minister will tell us!

To add pepper to a very bad wound, Sudan has made its position very clear by rejecting and mocking the referendum. South Sudan, however, is still thinking of appeasement terms to Beshir, who seems to perennially get more favors from Juba than South Sudanese themselves.

And on November 6, 2013, the same minister lashed out at journalists with profound bitterness and unwarranted anger, calling for all journalists to be [registered]. Asked, like any responsible government, of the due process to follow, the minister angrily and ‘classlessly’ said: “You want to know our policy, come and you will know what we are doing." Is this attitude allowed because the country is young? Is such attitude part of SPLM’s development agenda? Oh dear father Garang Kuir Ajak and Deng Pakeny hear us!

And if you think that’s enough; after the senseless massacre of civilians in Pakeer and Ajuong communities of ‘Twї County’ of Jonglei state, the minister of information lied unashamedly that SPLA troops were deployed and were following the attackers. As the minister was talking, some of us were talking to relatives in the affected places and there was absolutely no sign of SPLA soldiers and police for that matter. Was that lie also because the country is ‘young?’

It appears to me that Mr. Lueth is trying to live up to the way in which Dr. Marial Benjamin twisted the truth to protect presidential faux pas. However, Marial did his truth-twisting (or lying) with class and smile.

Mr. Lueth comes out as clueless, angry and indecently insensitive no matter the situation he’s in, or is trying to explain. Can’t the minister pass his message without anger; that is, with civility and professional composure? Why the anger?

Not only is the minister undermining his own intellect and integrity, he’s portraying educated South Sudanese in a very grim, depressing light. What happens to the brains of people that have been appointed ministers? In the words of my friend and colleague, being a minister in South Sudan somehow ‘debrains the brained.’

Why is the minister embarrassing himself and the government? Is there some stupefying demon in the government; a demon that makes ministers anti-truth, heartless and cold to people’s suffering? Politicians don’t usually say the truth; however, they’re always smart when it comes to how they lie.

I don’t see any difference between the highly educated and the semi-illiterate politicians in South Sudan. Perhaps Kiirist juju (kujur) debrains anyone into brainless Stalinist. In the end, this is what appalls me:

There’s developed a culture of morbid intolerance and it’s being ingrained in our social and political psyche by the very people who’re supposed to rid the country of such malady.

Delighting in uttering lie after lie has become a lofty mountain on which politicians vomit their acrid aspirations. So how do we expect the younger generation to be good when a bad road is being set for them?

Where exactly do the current politicians believe the young would get and copy exemplary leadership?

We now have a nation in which the young are tolerant and caring of the future while the old are intolerant and indignant of any prospect of a better future. (Well, the old give lips service to the idea.)

It’s now high time for our politicians to utilize their human values and virtues if their education is completely useless. The country might be young, but their brains aren’t.

I’m calling on those who consider themselves colleagues of the minister of information to remind him that he’s tarnished and continues to muddy his reputation. Please help him before he either further damages himself or the country. And by the way, what message is the minister passing to the younger ones? That ‘we’ think and talk this way because we are young?

Kuir ё Garang is a South Sudanese poet, author and publisher living in Canada. He’s the author of a new analytical book’ South Sudan Ideologically.’ For more information, visit

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