In Memory of Isaiah Abraham: He Lives Forever!

By Elhag Paul

December 4, 2013 (SSNA) — Sometime in the last quarter of yesteryear late Isaiah Abraham wrote two crucial articles invoking the principle of realpolitik visa viz the oil shut down and the border issue of Mile 14 in Northern Bahre El Ghazal state.  Isaiah’s main aim seemingly was the interest of Republic of South Sudan above all.  To him, the ideology of SPLM and its off shoot in the Sudan could be sacrificed for the well-being of South Sudan.  Truly, a bold thought of a South Sudanese patriot at a time of real crisis triggered by the idiocy of SPLM Oyee.

When he wrote those articles that cost him his life, it appeared that Isaiah was no longer a committed Oyeeite.  He had become a pragmatist and this could be seen from his thinking in those articles.  In a sense he was right to emphasise action in relation to the interest of the country.  The SPLM decoders must have sensed the developing shift in Isaiah’s overall ideology which must have irked them.  In addition to this, Isaiah was openly pro Riek Machar.  It looked like Riek was his role model.  In his writings he made subtle reference to Rieks’s intellectuality as a justification for taking over power from president Kiir.  This must have been the last straw and sadly “they” decided to end his life for the greater interest of the Jieng which is to maintain power at all cost to execute the project of Jienganisation spoken about by Mabior Garang the son of late Dr John Garang in his interview with Pan African Vision of 22nd August 2013.

On 5th December 2013 Isaiah will have been gone for a year.  All his contribution to SPLM Oyee and South Sudan meant nothing to president Kiir and his organisation.  They just disposed of him as if he was not a human being with rights to life simply for taking a patriotic stand in his last two articles.  Dreadful, is it not?  But the most painful thing is that 8 month after killing him, president Kiir embarked on the same path recommended by Isaiah.  So Isaiah was right after all.  It is now obvious he was sacrificed for nothing.  President Kiir now is being pressured and squeezed by Bashir and the international community to cut ties with SPLM North and worse still he appears to have sold out the border areas of Mile 14 including Abyei silently to Khartoum.  What a waste and utter incompetence!

Isaiah Abraham’s assassination is a classic case of Jieng on Jieng violence that does not serve any purpose other than advancing crude terrorism to silence critics whose unintended consequence has led to loss of valuable land and resources to Bashir.  The message was that if the Jieng could do away with one of their own, then they could do away easily with critics from the oppressed groups.  Hence, the list of death cleverly issued out through Wandit of security immediately after the killing of Isaiah Abraham, please see ‘Salva Kiir’s Death List’  and ‘Republic of South Sudan – a Rotten Society Mismanaging Itself Into Self Destruction’   

Some of us in that list accept that the Republic of South Sudan is ruled by criminals headed by an oafish president and whether the list was unveiled or not, like everybody else in RSS no one is safe in all form or shape.  So, death does not faze some of us.  After all who does not die?  All of us biologically are programmed by nature to come to an end.

President Kiir’s abhorrence of opinion writers is a wrong stance.  Invoking violence including killing and terror will not cow the people down into submission.  Unfortunately for his government things do not work like that in the real world.  When powers that be silence people, the silenced will find other means to express themselves.  It was the iconic Ernesto Che Guevara, the leftist guerrilla fighter of South America who noted elsewhere that, “Silence is an argument carried out by other means.”  Basically meaning no one can stop people from expressing themselves.  It is easier to control people who freely speak out and express themselves than those who are silenced and forced to work underground.  The latter is more lethal for when they strike back, their blow totally crashes the adversary.  The system in Juba should take note of this point because it is the same principle that swept the regimes of oppression in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya etc.

The West is able to develop and maintain peace because they manage the various freedoms appropriately.  For example, they receive critique positively to help them improve governance and the image of the party in power.  They disarm the opposition by quietly doing what the critics point out if useful and strategize on the other ideas they do not want.  So they do not need to resort to extreme violence or killing of critics but rather to harvest their ideas which then allow the country to develop.  With such management everybody becomes a winner from the individual citizen to the country.

President Kiir and the SPLM Oyee failed to learn the art of human management from other countries with experience like Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa.  They have all along been content with their militaristic culture tearing the country apart.  If only they had acquired human management knowledge and skills they could have avoided their current predicament.  It is this gap in human management that sadly led to Isaiah losing his life at the hands of his own comrades in the believe that he was being silenced to secure the government.

But, have they really silenced Isaiah?  This is a very important question whose answer will remain to haunt his killers.  Think about it.  I thought deeply about this question to satisfy my own curiosity and what I have concluded is that killing does not help in anyway but actually works to bring the killers down.  It is a self-defeating exercise of idiots.  Killing Isaiah has not silenced him.  Although Isaiah is physically dead, he still lives and communicates with us and he will continue to communicate with generations to come.  Further, Isaiah lives in his children and family, he lives in the body politic of RSS and most importantly he lives in the various papers where he opined.  Isaiah’s writings interact and will interact with us, with many other people of different races and nations and with the future generations.  Unlike his killers whose exit from this earth will certainly mean death in real sense of the word.

However, Isaiah as now and unlike his killers will continue to be remembered for his writings.  This underscores the point that the pen used appropriately for advancement of human rights and freedoms immortalises the writer.  When people write and quote or refer to Isaiah’s work like I have done here, he automatically springs to life and instantly speaks to us through his written work and work of others.  So the bullet that took away Isaiah’s life has not taken away his mouth.  Whether his murders like it or not Isaiah continues to speak.  Whoever killed him, please take note of this point – bullets and violence have a limited effect.  These are the weapons of cowards who do not have the courage to confront the opposition.  Bullets can not silence those whose intention is good and spread with the pen, the mightiest of swords that ever existed in the world.

To drive the message home, let us think about this point in relation to the case of Dr Martin Luther King.  Dr King wrote and spoke out against injustice in the USA and he was killed by the dark forces of his time.  Since his killing, he has become more of a formidable force in inspiring generations after generation in struggles for human rights.  Thus although Dr King is not physically with us, he continues to speak, inspire and lead us to fight for the greater good of humanity.  What about his killers?  Are they remembered? 

Again, look at the written work of the enlightenment philosophers like Jean Jacque Rousseau, Marquis de Condorcet, Baron de Montesquieu, Rene Descartes etc done centuries ago which have influenced the world considerably and continue to do so.  The work of these noble people was done in a hostile environment full of censorship, but these thinkers persevered and persisted.  Some thinkers such as Rousseau had to flee from France into exile in Geneva for their lives.  As you can see this is not different from the atmosphere in South Sudan now.  The important thing is that their pens immortalised them.  

Isaiah indisputably was the strongest asset of the SPLM.  He was its most articulate defender in the blogger-sphere.  He capably stood out butting any criticism directed at the organisation.  He deconstructed the written ideas of SPLM opponents to defend the indefensible.  For that from the depth of my heart I respect him not for his robust defence of his organisation only but for his unwavering commitment to what he believed in – a man of principle.  Isaiah was the symbol of the maturity of the SPLM.  He was proud to be an SPLM member in spite of all its weaknesses.  To date it beats my mind why the SPLM could not see how invaluable Isaiah was to it.  What a tragic thing!  Gut wrenching but that is the brutal nature of SPLM.  By killing Isaiah SPLM killed itself and blew off its last hope.  It is now an empty shell that makes a lot of noise without any substance.

The culture of violence that Dr John Garang constructed terrorised the entire SPLM/A and South Sudanese in the liberated areas which enabled him to build his cult of personality.  This resulted in the appalling worship of Garang and his ideas thereby destroying any foundation for growth of good leadership structure in the SPLM and arguably South Sudan.  When Garang died, South Sudan had to make do with under par Kiir as a leader.  A person without any capacity to lead a country.  Kiir’s inability clearly can be seen in how he is mismanaging his party and our country.  The Grapevine has it that he has unknowingly been manipulated and converted to become a South Sudan Democratic Forum member as the principles and ideology he now follows are of this latter party whose leadership together with Telar Deng and Aleu Ayieny Aleu guardedly surround the president and isolates him from all other groups including SPLM party members.  This possibly could be the reason why president Kiir appears not to care about the well-being of SPLM Oyee anymore. 

As I write there is a serious confusion and power struggle going on in SPLM with the country remaining unmanaged.  It is not known who is to be believed.  Do the people have to take president Kiir serious or to take his deputy Gen. Wani Igga serious?  Both are issuing statements contradicting each other with regards to management of the party.  President Kiir says SPLM structures: the politburo and the National Liberation Council are dissolved and a new body would be formed.  On the other hand, Igga is saying the meeting of NLC will take place on 9th Dec. 2013.  Which is which and who should be believed?  It appears that Igga is challenging Kiir’s leadership subtly by dismissing what the president has said.  While this is going on, Riek is hedging his stall.  With all this, honestly should this hopeless criminal party still be leading the country?  This is a matter that needs urgent attention from the people.  Precisely, it is this confused, irrational and destructive management that has made accountability impossible in the country.  Isaiah’s case is somewhere lost in this chaos.

Sometimes I wonder what Isaiah would have made of the current situation in South Sudan. 

In reflection when Isaiah was killed, the senior members of SPLM reacted to his killing by promising a swift investigation with justice.  At one point it was announced that the FBI, the American body responsible for criminal investigation, would be coming to join the South Sudan Police to carry out the enquiry.  This was wildly drummed up misleading the public that the case would be taken seriously.  It is one year now since Isaiah death and there is no sign of the investigation or findings.

What type of human beings are we who can not value and fight for a man who was in the trenches; in the relentless open rains of south Sudan; in the heat of battles facing the Arabs; in the tough desert of Jonglie on the way to Buma Hills; a man who contributed to South Sudan?  Those who promised justice during Isaiah’s burial have conveniently disappeared from the public space.  They need to be reminded because the fact that Isaiah’s case has not progressed should spur them into action.  Therefore, those who forcefully proclaimed their support to get justice for Isaiah’s family should look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves whether they were honest with their declarations during the burial.  Please see,  ‘Tribute to Isaiah Abraham: Verbatim from the Memorial Service of Isaiah Abraham’   

If these powerful members of SPLM knew that they could not live up to their words, why did they promise a dead man’s family justice?  Why did they lie to a dead man’s family, friends, relatives and the country at large?  Where is their humanity and integrity?  It is not too late for them to bring the killers to account if they truly want to.  For essentially the case of Isaiah is a case of the state against his killers. 

Unfortunately the killers seem to be the very people charged with the affairs of the state.  Thus it is abundantly clear that if any justice is to be achieved for Isaiah and all the other victims of SPLM Oyee there needs to be a change of the status quo.  Since the coming of SPLM in 1983 into the political space of South Sudan, justice disappeared in South Sudan.  There is no accountability of any kind in any area of life in the country.  Truly South Sudan is a lawless jungle.  Until when is South Sudan going to bleed and continue to be run like a monkey colony?

Let me conclude by saying that on this first anniversary of Isaiah’s death I have spoken about his tragic story, what his work means to society and where his work situates him in relation to existence.  I personally want to remember him first and foremost as a human being, a son of a deeply hurting mother, a father, a husband, an uncle, a nephew and cousin.   I want to remember him as someone who bravely fought for the emancipation of South Sudan.  Though we wrote furiously from distant opposing perspectives we thought one outcome for our country: a functioning peaceful democracy.  It is not important which perspective was/is right but the act of involvement itself with the intention to be part of a solution is what mattered.  In this Isaiah most unfortunately paid with his dear life and worst still his family has been denied justice like all the other victims of the system.  RIP

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]

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