First off, let's remember that the elders I'm talking about are not the REAL ELDERS, but the dollar-intoxicated, Prado-Driving, educated political 'elders' in Juba. I'm not referencing the real elders in Jieeng Villages!
By Kuir ë Garang
November 19, 2015 (SSNA) -- Elders, the world over, are supposed to be the voice of reason and wisdom. They should be the people to calm down a young and fiery generation, who are always interested in solving everything through myopic physical means. However, this is not the case in South Sudan as the nation has had every order of things turned upside down. Elders have lost wisdom and reason as they are the first to beat the drum of war and division. Personal benefits are put above the health and long term well-being of all citizenry! It’s very sad but there seems to be no end in sight. We are free falling!
Undoubtedly, it's no secret that South Sudan is a tribalized nation and it will take a seasoned, self-sacrificing strategist to formulate a long-lasting and acceptable panacea for the chronic malady of tribalism. So far this strategist is either not given a chance to help save South Sudan, or she/he doesn’t’ exist.
Since 2005, after the death of late Dr. John Garang De Mabior, South Sudan continued a downward spiral toward failure, naïve tribalism and unbridlef corruption. The saddest part of all this affair is that the perpetrators of the problems don’t seem to realize the danger they caused and continue to cause.
Since the days of Sudan African Nation Union (SANU) with the likes of Father Saturnino, Joseph Oduho, Agrey Jaden and Deng Nhial, tribalism has always been a problem. Tribalism also caused Oduho to form Azania Liberation Front (ALF) and Agrey forming Sudan African Liberation Front (SALF), all of which short-lived. Tribalism also dogged the Southern Sudan Provisional Government (SSPG) with Gordon Muortat and Agrey Jaden. The formation of Nile Provisional Government (NPG), the Anyidi Republic and the eventual takeover of the liberation struggle by Joseph Lagu resulted from both personal ambition and tribalism. After the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement, the power-play between Joseph Lagu and Abel Alier was an epitome of instrumentalized tribalism. Energies and resources were focused on tribal rivalry as development was shamelessly ignored.
In a word, tribalism isn’t something new in the South. However, one always hopes that past historical mistakes be corrected in an attempt to create a helpful way forward. Unfortunately, in South Sudan, past mistakes are reimagined, reformulated, and instrumentalized for power and wealth. This brings me to the infamous Jieeng Council of Elders (JCE). Instead of making sure all tribal elders in South Sudan come together to not only help children understand tribal values, histories and historicity across tribal lines, but also make sure they institutionalize tribal wisdom in a helpful manner, JCE has become a divisive, boot-licking, dirty group bent on making South Sudan a Jieeng republic!
Jieeng are supposed to be peace-loving people, people who try to bring people together. It’s either I was wrong, or our elders have changed. JCE, headed by the likes of Martin Majut Yak and Ambrose Riiny Thiik, has become a great liability to South Sudan. Where on earth do you find young people advising elders not to be divisive and hawkish? Where have the Jieeng values gone that I can clearly see the danger they are causing South Sudan when they can’t see it? If these are the elders we have then South Sudan is doomed to fail beyond the current failure-pit level. Are these the elders young people should consult for wisdom?
Martin Majut recently told a Jieeng radio presenter [SBS Radio] that Jieeng liberated South Sudan so we [Jieeng] deserve to be the rulers. Are these the elders we should admire? Why do I know that such a statement is wrong when an elder can’t see it? Ambrose Riiny Thiik recently admitted that the idea of the unconstitutional 28 states was their idea. It’s no wonder the president accepted it without putting any thought into how dangerous the idea could be.
How did we, the Jieeng, become this callous, greedy, divisive and short-sighted? Have Jieeng values become completely eroded that elders are now behaving like children? A nation where younger people advise elders to be wise, conciliatory and inclusive, are a nation whose values have been eroded. How can Jieeng elders allow Nuer to be massacred in Juba? Where is the wisdom of Jieeng in making sure Nuer are safe in Juba and out of UNMISS camps?
It’s no surprise that President Kiir has no elders to give him wisdom to lead. His being advised by corrupt, myopic, blood-thirsty, greedy old man who’ve abdicated their duty as elders is taking us to the grave.
This erosion of cultural values has resulted in South Sudan being seen as Jieeng property. The country is shamelessly Jieeng-dominated, but it’s only young people who can see such domination. The elders don’t see it. Where does that happen? The country has been shamelessly Jieengized but we still believe South Sudan will be a country in which all the 60 plus tribes can coexist.
Almost all ambassadors are Jieeng, most state commissioners are Jieeng, SPLM as we’ve seen recently seems Jieeng-dominated, most influential ministers are Jieeng, people who speak on behalf of the government and South Sudan are Jieeng. This is a sad reality our elders find funny but it’s very dangerous. The president is Jieeng, his spokesperson is Jieeng, the minister of foreign affairs is (technically) Jieeng, the spokesperson of foreign minister is Jieeng, the government spokesperson is Jieeng, the chief of general staff of SPLA and the SPLA spokesperson are Jieeng, the defense minister is Jieeng, the the police Inspector General is Jieeng, the government peace delegation is basically a Jieeng entity. How the hell do we expect South Sudan to prosper?
How come my elders love war when I, a young person, don’t like war? How come my elders are tribally divisive when I don’t like tribally divisive policies? How come I realize that Jieeng domination of South Sudan is dangerous for our collective future when my elders don’t?
I’m not saying we [Jieeng] are the only tribal people in South Sudan. Every single tribe is divisively tribal. However, the government is led by one of our own and it’s imperative we show South Sudan that we are not this divisive and incompetent. South Sudan is now a complete failure and the leader is Jieeng! South Sudan is now at war and the leader is Jieeng! I know the damage to Jieeng values and integrity has already been done; however, it’s not too late for the elders to stop ‘eating’ and instead bring back Jieeng wisdom and voice of reason if we actually had it.
Kuir ë Garang is the author of ‘South Sudan Ideologically” and “Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?” For contact, visit www.kuirthiy.info.