If we ought to live, we must let go tribal warlords

By Philips Al-Ghai

“For heaven’s sake, we should start realizing that the parasites sucking the life out of S. Sudan are not those tribes we frequently keep pointing fingers at… They stroll right in the corridors of the parliament buildings in Juba, discussing when to put the next iron yoke on the necks of the poor to ensure they remain subdued! Yes, they want us to blame ourselves for our problems when they are exactly the problem. If we need to change the painful history of S. Sudan and rescue the interests of the common S. Sudanese then we must choose to stand together against these bloody flukes, lest we all perish in the aftermath of tribal politics and the rest becomes history.”

May 12, 2014 (SSNA) — Those were the dying lines of my first opinion ‘Tribes are our Diversity; Greedy Politicians are our Common Adversity” published by South Sudan News Agency website on May 9, 2013. Barely eight months elapsed before they [politicians] set the nation aflame. Soldiers turned against their comrades. Neighbors were out for each other’s blood. And tribal identity instantaneously became a curse amongst common S. Sudanese. How sad their dirty actions never lie!

Looking back on five months of raging bloodbath, rape, and displacement of innocent S. Sudanese, one can’t help but shake his head in dismay.

The most abhorrent part though, perhaps the most worrying and a potential threat to any lingering thought of a better future, is the reaction of S. Sudanese youths. Most of them, instead of standing against the idiocy that was long unfolding before our eyes, took a rather sycophantic stance; identifying themselves as pro-Riek or pro-Kiir. In every corner of social media you see them too upbeat about the war; cheering the capture and re-capture of towns, spreading tribal propagandas, and [shamelessly] trying to justify, by hooks or crooks, the atrocities of their tribal murderers. How pathetic! Without a shadow of doubt, most of these youths have either lost a parent, a sibling or a relative in the historic Sudan wars and ought to know a thing or two about the effects of any war. Moreover, most of them have been to peaceful countries and ought to know payoffs of tolerance. One would, therefore, expect everyone to denounce this war unequivocally. If these experiences are not enough then the nature of the conflict per se should suffice our perceptual consciousness. Except on tribal grounds, neither president Kiir nor Dr. Riek is a victim of the ongoing skirmishes. One might firmly argue Dr. Riek’s innocence considering the ghost ‘coup’ narrative, but his subsequent actions make him no different from Kiir. Of course either is just as iniquitous as Lucifer and as murderous as Hitler. So, rallying behind them does not only betray the near a hundred percent votes we casted during the referendum, but also sacrifice the lives of innocent people we ought to stand for.

Sadly, it appears we’ve nurtured a culture of undiscerning allegiance to tribal political figures, and former Lakes State governor Hon. Chol Tong Mayay was at hand with these wise words, for S. Sudanese youths, on that historic SPLM conference on December 6, 2013: 

Let not a leader lose his position and go back to mobilize his tribesmen. I’m sure you out there you don’t share his fat salaries; the salaries we get. The situation you are in…. we [in reference to his comrades] who are sitting here all, you know that all our families, all our children are eating ice cream, are playing with toys. And you down there…. he/she who has no person in the government, you don’t know what is called ice cream, your child doesn’t know what is called ice cream, your child doesn’t know toys, and I do say always that we’re foreigners ruling you. Because we don’t know the state of hospitals; because our women do deliver in very good hospitals… When we get headache, we go to Nairobi and Uganda… and this is the state of affairs we are in.”

Hon. Mayay, a member of the group often smeared as ‘disgruntled’ simply for speaking out the putrescence within the SPLM, was not oblivious to issues of relevance that conjure up critical thinking. Even for flatly dead brains. Although he still identifies himself with the failed SPLM, he rightfully observed that their performance since the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement deserves nothing, but qualifies them as bunches of foreigners ruling us. That’s exactly what we have witnessed in the last eight years or so. It is no brainer. This is further substantiated by the negligence shown by both Kiir and Riek in the face of the ongoing ethnic butchering under their noses. As the nation bleed, Kiir unwittingly found it fitting to lament about his image: “If you just kill people in my name, then my image will be gone,” he moaned as reported by Gurtong website, January 2014, 2014. Dr. Riek, on the other hand, went silent altogether and had no official order discouraging ethnic cleansing by his troops rebel controlled areas. Neither had a word of solace to the distraught nation whatsoever, let alone visiting those affected. Had we heeded Hon. Mayay’s advice no S. Sudanese soldier would have pointed his gun barrel at a civilian or a comrade, no Nuer or Dinka would have spilled the blood of his countryman, and no youth would have accepted to carry out atrocities on behalf of Riek and Kiir. Still, if we take Hon. Mayay’s words with a grain of salt, Riek and Kiir would be asked to account for the innocent blood in their hands.

As things stand, it is apparent that there is no military solution to the conflict. The rebels will never shoot their way to Juba, and the government will never flush the rebels out of S. Sudan. Either is possible only in imaginations and you need not burden yourself hoping unless you are that guy…

President Kiir and Dr. Riek will predictably shake hands and dine on the same table some day. Maybe soon. Yet they are wasting, in senseless battles, the very men [SPLA] –rebels or government soldiers –we need to keep the claim of our borders with Sudan, Uganda and Kenya relevant in future. Painfully, the orphans of their cooked conflict are bound to flock the garbage bins and waste dumping sites for food and shelter. Widows struggling to make ends meet will be forced to sell themselves to afford treatment for their ailing kids. Young men robbed of livelihood and recruited into tribal militias [without pay] will morph into a new generation of indiscriminate killer gangs. Summarily, before our own eyes, they have nipped S. Sudan in the bud. They have ripped the heart off our great nation. Is this what we proudly support Riek and Kiir for?

Lest we start seeing S. Sudan beyond tribal warlords, we are all bound to sink to the nether regardless of whether one is a staunch tribal pro-rebel or a tribal pro-government.

Philips Al-Ghai is a proud S. Sudanese and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ Al_Ghai211.

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