By Kuir ë Garang
April 25, 2014 (SSNA) — Pathetic and excruciatingly sad! That’s what I’d say about what is happening in South Sudan. I’m sorry for only a small number of South Sudanese will like this article.
No one in South Sudan can assume a moral pedestal. While some people/tribes may carry more blame than others, it’s not presumptuous or erroneous to say that we are all to blame; one way or another! And I’m going to be unprecedentedly harsh to everyone in South Sudan. I’m going to offend people I shouldn’t, perhaps, offend. However, I’d want every South Sudanese to know that this is now our problem. Initiated by the weak and incompetent leadership of President Kiir and exacerbated by Riek Machar’s ambition for power, the problem has now become an inconvenience or a fatal danger for everyone.
Some Jonglei State residents are now in the Equatorias and causing inconveniences to the local residents; Nuer people feel insecure in areas controlled by their own government; rebels are slaughtering civilians like chickens, and the government has absolutely no interest in either ending the war or protecting civilians.
Those who know a little about South Sudan, its historical struggles and inter-tribal relations will agree with me that almost all tribes in South Sudan are wretched tribalists. All tribes in South Sudan have this strong sense of cultic significance of one’s own tribe. Opinion writers from all tribes exemplify this. And I bet you the response to this article will prove that to you.
The Jieeng and Nuer people have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are capable of unspeakable savagery. With indisputable facts, they’ve slaughtered women, children, men, elderly and the sick in cold-blood.
Yes, the Jieeng proved their savagery in Juba after December 15, 2013 mutiny where they slaughtered innocent, and unsuspecting Nuer civilians in their hundreds. Only the closed-minded, destructive tribal die-hards among the Jieeng would deny that such a savagery took place. And the recent incident in the Jonglei State capital, Bor (April 17, 2014), proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Jieeng people are capable of savagery of unspeakable proportions. Admittedly, the storming of UNMISS compound and the cold-blooded murder of unarmed civilians is a savage and cowardly act we should all condemn. Well, a few who’ve shelved their brains would see this otherwise. And we can’t blame them! That’s the mentality of the savage!
In which country on earth do you see ‘peaceful demonstrators’ carrying guns? Why couldn’t the youth know that those in UNMISS compound are there for safety and any angry crowd approaching the compound is regarded as hostile? Those in the compound are being protected; what part of protection is difficult to understand? Memos are delivered to decision-makers in the UNMISS leadership not to the ‘safe-hub’ shelters!
And Nuer people are not to be outdone when it comes to savagery. In the same manner, they’ve proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are also capable of savagery of equal proportions. With no doubt, the Nuer people have proven in Bor, Akobo, Bentiu and Malakal that they can be skilled savages like their cousins, the Jieeng!
The Jesh Meboor (White Army) obliterated towns and massacred innocent Nuer (they believe support the government), Shilluk civilians and Jieeng civilians. Chief among all the savagery executed by Nuer was in Bor and Bentiu where elderly women were burnt inside the churches; the sick raped and murdered in cold-blood on their hospital beds. What human being would rape and murder patients on their hospital beds? And these patients were not just ordinary patients but elderly patients who couldn’t escape. Only a savage mind would do such an unspeakable act!
And some Nuer people are quick to argue that the killing of Jieeng people couldn’t have happened had the government armed mercenaries not massacred Nuer civilians in Juba! That sounds like a reasonable argument! But why kill innocent civilians instead of the soldiers who carried out the heinous act in Juba? Whatever the motivation, the act was still outright savagery.
Psychological and Attitudinal Savagery
While other tribes in South Sudan want to claim a Moral Pedestal, it’s prudent to remember that they are not any better. I admit these tribes have not fallen into the Jieeng-Nuer kind of savagery. However, the opinions, comments on social media and the general sentiment on the ground among these tribes in South Sudan is nothing but authentically psychological and attitudinal savagery.
What’s the conceptual difference between the Nuer and Jieeng who want to butcher themselves to a finish and someone else who wish these two tribes do exactly the same? A person who’d want to see the two tribes kill themselves is as savage as the ones killing themselves. Given an opportunity this person would do exactly the same thing. Spare me moral self-righteousness!
South Sudan is composed of more than 60 tribes and what are these tribes doing to help save the nation? Are these tribes so helpless that they can’t do anything to help ease the tension? If these tribes are tired of Nuer and Jieeng and want to stand by and watch as the two finish themselves, then they shouldn’t assume any Moral Pedestal. They are, to a good extent, as culpably savage as the murderous and genocidal Nuer and Jieeng people.
Many tribes in the three southern states of South Sudan always assume being civil, amiable and more peaceful than Jieng and Nuer. Some even use the word ‘civilized’ to describe themselves. What’s ‘civilized’ in standing by and letting your fellow South Sudanese kill themselves? What’s ‘civilized’ in wishing that two major tribes massacre themselves to a finish? What’s ‘civilized’ in being unable to act as a mediating voice in drafting ‘peace models’ to bring the two tribes together?
Where are the esteemed tribal chiefs among the ‘civilized’ tribes of the southern states? Why can’t they be vocal and exude their civilization in bringing in the two ‘savage tribes’ to peace? Stopping the war might be difficult but saving innocent lives is something the chiefs can initiate.
The sooner South Sudanese realize that savagery has gripped us like a viral malady, the better things would be for us. You might not be savage in your actional processes, but your thoughts, opinions and wishes, can just be as savage.
Jieeng and Nuer have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that their savagery can bring about an end to this nation. It’s high time the other tribes initiate grassroots level peace initiatives through chiefs and local members of parliament. Among the proven ‘savages’, there are eared and souled saints.
The Soulless Leaders
Conscientious South Sudanese would agree with me that Dr. Riek Machar didn’t start the crisis. And I‘d assume too that some of you would agree with me that this crisis was exacerbated by Dr. Riek’s rebellion and his alliance with the white army. One can assume he ran to save his life but one can’t comprehend the obliteration of towns and the senseless massacres of innocent civilians by Riek’s forces. And Riek has no decency to express regret for the lives lost. He has pledged to continue fighting even as civilians continue to die. That’s soullessness!
We all know that President Kiir’s refusal to convene the Political Bureau meeting, his attempt to manipulate the election of the party chairman and all he did to sleep on the demands of the members of the Political Bureau caused the current crisis. That still gives Riek no excuse to pay no attention to the death and suffering of South Sudanese and to take us back ten years.
And the government of President Kiir is as equally soulless as the leadership of Riek Machar. Displaced Nuer civilians are living in squalid conditions in the same town the president lives in. They are insecure in their own National Capital from their own government. It’s hard to imagine a credible government that can’t protect its own citizens; a government that isn’t initiating credible modalities to end the war.
- Is only interested in the protection of oil installations to fuel the luxurious lifestyle
- Has no interest in protecting the civil population as they continue to die
- Is unable to assure the security of the Nuer civilians in Juba, the very National Capital
- Has no internal, strategic plan to end the war and create inter-tribal understanding and trust-building
- Believes, like the rebels, it will win militarily as exemplified by the appointment of Malong Awan as the Chief of General Staff of the SPLA
- Is not serious about ‘Peace Talks’ while it continues to pay lips service to being ‘serious’ as shown by their reluctance to go to Ethiopia for the next round of ‘Talks.’
- Continues to air inflammatory statements while calling for ‘peace!’
Until leaders who care about lives of South Sudanese; leaders who can actually express condolences and speak directly to the bereft, come up, the current soulless leaders (government and rebels) will continue to endanger civilian lives, fuel genocidal attitude and savagery, and bring the country to complete failure.
The sooner we see it as ‘our’ problem rather than ‘their’ problem, the better things will be for us.
Kuir ë Garang is the author of “South Sudan Ideologically” and “Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?” For contact visit www.kuirthiy.info.