July 9th, 2021
Statement on South Sudan’s 10th Independence Anniversary
“If we don’t take responsibility of what happens to our society, then no amount of Independence can improve human condition.” Abhijit Naskar.
While we celebrate our 10th Independence anniversary, we ought to reflect on its importance and the mechanisms with which it was achieved. From our independent deductions we can accurately conclude that the independence of our country is a product of our collective efforts directed for this grand goal. Our Independence is a product of our togetherness and tenacity as a unit seeking for liberty. History is not silent on this.
On July 9th, 2011, the world stood by us as our nation was born. Tears of joy flowed from the eyes of people in expression of gratitude for the enormous achievement as all South Sudanese wherever they were danced ceaselessly out of excitement. Our independence was received with utmost joy but we betrayed it three years later. The product of our independence would have been prosperity but we quickly exchanged that with desolation.
The “Desolation” was invited when our leaders, drunk with pride, love of power, hatred, corruption and little vision for the country subjected the country to uncalled for war. South Sudan leaders until today are reeling in their pride. They planted discord and enjoy the fruits of corruption while subjecting the citizens to immense suffering and self-destruction.
What lessons have we learned from the madness of this magnitude? We are actually refusing to learn. It is upon this that I am expressing my inner reflection as I call for change from our old ways by thinking differently. We must not be typical South Sudanese all the times. We must accept to move on.
On this, I would like to express that while recent conflict has planted discord amongst us and impacted on us negatively, it will always be genuine to accept that we have learned wisdom from it. The wisdom learned is that if we are a sensible society, we must avoid by all costs the recurrence of what had transpired. We must acknowledge and repent that subjecting ourselves to unforetold destruction was a mistake in the first place. The destructive thoughts and deeds must not be repeated in the future.
On this we have to work together towards achieving renunciation of war. This is the highly-sought after virtue for our country. It is an enormous requirement for our country and must be enshrined in our permanent Constitution. If South Sudan achieves this, vowing to avoid any future wars within itself and work towards the honour in letter and spirit of such covenant, it will then pick itself and challenge for its growth.
No nation is too small to prosper. If we avoid conflicts, we can grow into a big economy within the region and in the world. Land-wise, we are bigger than most of our neighboring countries but with certainty I can say that such nations are already annexing our lands. We are being robbed because our focus is on self-destruction on small matters, basically our focus is on power and the struggle for it.
During this 10th anniversary of our Independence, I bow my head for the souls of our martyrs. I deeply reflect on their loss souls and feel the pain for such a tremendous lost while sincerely expressing my condolences to their families and including to myself for my fallen mother among many other relatives who lost their lives in the pursuit of our liberty.
It is indeed true that the quest for liberty by South Sudanese has resulted to the loss of over 2 million lives during the course of what many call the longest war in the continent of Africa. Our martyrs died not only from exchange of fire, others have also died while on duty under harsh conditions including the climatic extremes, disease and starvation. The people who died under such conditions were not foolish, they sacrificed their souls to guarantee a brighter future for us and the generations to come.
Following our independence, many bad things had happened as a result of bad leadership, we subjected ourselves to all cruelties that we cannot even described. It has happened and we cannot reverse it. Honestly, we cannot reverse all the offenses towards each other. Instead, we must build a brighter future. We must pick the broken pieces of our history and build a lasting foundation.
Anchoring our hope on tribal divisions and tribalism is but a refusal to walk away from protracted suffering. We can always grow together. Let us look at the bigger picture. We must rise above sentiments, above hatred, and above offenses inflicted on one another. When I reflect on what has occurred, I only feel the grief but that does not stop me from enhancing and embracing unity and achieve peace.
Achieving peace is a core principle and it is what we can freely enjoy. Nobody enjoys hatred and it must also be noted that war is the maker of all sorts of sufferings, so we must think of ways of walking away from it and even refuse to never use it as a last resort. We need to sacrifice bitterness as that would be one of the best possible ways to mitigate conflict and achieve peace.
The South Sudanese must underscore that, while all the destruction has occurred, we must now work to rebuild ourselves and accept that tolerance must become our new anchor.
Dr. Emmanuel Sunday de John
Chairman, South Sudan United Front-Progressive