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The Agony of Nuer in UN Bases in South Sudan

By: Deng Mading Gatwech

April 23, 2014 (SSNA) -- Right after the out break of fight between the presidential guards, the conflict took ethnic dimension where Nuer became the soft target and the Dinka elements who had never had a chance of cocking a gun practiced on the Nuer on the D-Day. The helpless Nuer paid the price very dearly in Juba of the Central Equatoria state between December 15, 16, 17; it was followed by the Door to Door and House to House search of any Nuer residing in the residential areas of Gudele, Gudele 107, Mangateen, Eden, Cameroon, Khor William, Nyakuron, Rock City and Commercial areas where thousand of Nuer murdered in cold blood. Some of these places are marked as no go zone since mass grave protected by the government force located. In no given time, the killing of Nuer by the force of president Salva Kiir spread like a wild fire all over the three states of Greater Upper Nile Region (Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile) while some states experienced minor incidents of arbitrary killing of Nuer ethnic group. On top of the killing of innocent Nuer Salva Kiir declared curfew that would later on pave ways for the presidential guards to execute Nuer, while embarking on the campaign of failed coup de eta fabricated by him, the president.

The only hope at the end of the tunnel appeared to be United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) that would realized the grave human rights abuse by the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit against the Nuer. All the Nuer irrespective of their backgrounds or allegiance to the government ran to the UN base camps in South Sudan including later on army generals and government officials who appeared to have seen no hope in the rebellion as desperation reached to the peak but turned out to be the government agents. A good example is the killing of about 200 and wounding 300 Nuer in the UN camp in Bor of Jonglei state at the watch of the governor Lt. Gen. John Kong Nyuon. With staggering figure of death toll of less than 20 persons the governor only slightly condemn the killing, and here is what the governor has to say, I quoted, “My government condemned this killing of the innocent people and UN peacekeepers in Bor. It is unacceptable", he stressed.

One could imagine the impact of the agony Nuer in the UN camps across all over South Sudan are going through irrespective of their ages. Governor Lt. Gen. John Kong whose achievements in the SPLA liberation struggle unparalleled, made a cowardice statement on the Bor town massacre without reference to Nuer who lost lives and properties but so naïve to call them “people”. Was it a shame for John Kong to call the deceased Nuer so that he identified himself with? Where does the governor hailed from, may be in Kuacjok of Warrap and up to how long will he live in total denial of his origin, a man whose contribution in the liberation struggle unmatched with that of Salva Kiir Mayardit? Lt. Gen. John Kong should prepare himself for answering the hard facts of the genocide of Nuer in Bor town under his leadership. In the same line of argument ironically, governor of Unity State Joseph Nguen Monytuil decried the alleged killing of 200 army groups and army Nuer who are pro-government by the rebels as pointless but hopelessly branded as civillins. Paradoxically, when the pro-government forces executed ethnic Nuer after the recapture of Bentiu in January 2014, there was no utterance from the governor denouncing the killing of Nuer based on their ethnicity. The acts of the two governors showed their true colors proving that they were not voted in by the Nuer but hand picked by the president.

The hope that was celebrated from the onset of the conflict by all South Sudanese from all walks of life to have taken much control of humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is in total failure from the time camps were organized. United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as the world body failed with no doubt to protect lives and properties of the vulnerable group particularly the Nuer as the current state of South Sudan remain at stake. From the capital of South Sudan to the other states where Nuer IDPs are stationed, the killing and maiming has never stopped perpetuated by the government and the laxity of UNMISS to response swiftly base on the Chapter VII UN Charter. For the sake of clarity it is of necessity to revisit a little further the mandate of the UN Mission in light of genocide in South Sudan. It would be great also to look at the reaction of US State Department and that of Government of Salva Kiir.

On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became the newest country in the world. The birth of the Republic of South Sudan is the culmination of a six-year peace process, which began with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which ended more than 20 years of war. The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) supported the implementation of the CPA during the interim period set up by the Government of Sudan and SPLM when the CPA was signed. The CPA also called for a referendum to take place to determine the status of Southern Sudan. It was held on schedule in January 2011, with the overwhelming majority, 98.83% of participants, voting for independence. The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement of the final results stating that they were reflective of the will of the people of southern Sudan.

Following the end of this interim period, and the subsequent independence of South Sudan in July 2011, the Security Council established a new mission, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) with the adoption of resolution 1996 (2011) on July 8, 2011. Having determining that the situation faced by South Sudan continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region and acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council by its resolution 1996 (2011) on July 8, 2011established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) for an initial period of one year as from July 9, 2011 with the intention to renew for further periods as may be required.

According to the original mandate UNMISS was to support the Government in peace consolidation and thereby fostering longer-term state building and economic development; assist the Government in exercising its responsibilities for conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution and protect civilians; and help the authorities in developing capacity to provide security, establishing the rule of law, and strengthening the security and justice sectors in the country. The initial authorized strength of the Mission stood at up to 7,000 military personnel, including military liaison officers and staff officers, up to 900 civilian police personnel, including as appropriate formed units, and an appropriate civilian component, including technical human rights investigation expertise.

Following the political and security crisis, which broke out with violence in South Sudan’s capital Juba on 15 December 2013, the Security Council, by its resolution 2132 (2013) of 24 December, approved Secretary-General’s recommendation to temporarily increase the overall troop and police strength of UNMISS. The interim troop level was raised to 12,500 personnel and the police component to 1,323 personnel, including appropriate formed police units, through temporary transfers from existing peacekeeping operations through inter-mission cooperation.

In March 2014, the Secretary-General further recommend that the Security Council should keep these increased troops and police levels for at least another 12 months, and temporarily shift Mission’s focus from mainly peace-building activities to: protecting civilians; facilitating humanitarian assistance; monitoring and reporting on human rights; preventing further inter-communal violence; and supporting the IGAD process as and when requested, and within available capabilities. The protection priority would be for displaced people sheltering in United Nations compounds and other locations, and would expand once conditions were created for their safe return home, he said, adding that the new posture of UNMISS would be in place until the two sides to the conflict finalized a political agreement.

The upgrading of the UNMISS mandates in the Republic of South Sudan culminated as the nascent state plunged into deep abyss when it failed to resolved the political differences through negotiated settlements rather opted for violence that engulf the helpless civilian population. In light of this, the UNMISS increased its military contingent from 7, 000 to 12,500 personnel and police units of 1,323 personnel to deter any body that would temper with the lives and the properties of the internally displaced persons throughout South Sudan. However, UNMISS became another failed world body to protect lives and properties from the onset of the conflict like the failed state of South Sudan that scholars determined before the independence of South Sudan in 2011, which the then minister of Information and Broadcasting, Hon. Barnaba Marial Benjamin flatly denied by saying it would be the government of the Republic of Sudan that would be considered failed state. The minister reiterated that the government of South Sudan is (would be) viable state even when it’s collapsing at this stage; Barnaba is a man that does not fear hard lies, which in Nuer culture a “TABOO” but with Dinka culture its normal since the man was nurtured as Dinka and knew nothing of Nuer traditions.

The UNMISS protection of the Nuer in all the camps in the Republic of South Sudan can be considered as one of the fake business ever. Since the conflict erupted, Nuer are the soft target in the UNMISS camps starting from Juba UN camp where UN base has been under attack several times and many Nuer died as a result. The shocking news is the recent UN base attack on April 17, 2014 in Jonglei’s Bor by SPLA force where credible source put the death toll at 168 persons (children, women and elderly) and wounding 273 persons; a number UN estimated at 30 persons reported to have died when the personnel at the scene have a chance of physical counts of the dead. What is the motive of the UNMISS to downplayed the number of the dead when it is considered as an independent world body? Was it because the government became critical on the UNMISS accusing of backing the rebels? I am wondering when I heard the UN human rights investigators complaining that they have confirmed that hundreds of civilians were killed because of their ethnicity after rebel forces seized a disputed town in South Sudan last week, the United Nations said Monday putting the death toll at 200 and 400 wounded at the mosque, mainly Darfurians most of which are member of JEM fighters fighting alongside government of Salva Kiir Mayardit.

In the same tone the UNMISS in South Sudan condemned what it called "the targeted killings of civilians based on their ethnic origins and nationality" in Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity state, on April 15-16. It also condemned the use of Radio Bentiu FM by some individuals "associated with the opposition" to broadcast hate speech, even urging "men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community."

Moreover, the government has condemned the attack on United Nations base in South Sudan Bor town. Michael Makuei Lueth told the press in Juba that an investigating team would be formed to look into the matter, Bakhita Radio reported.  He said what happened was unacceptable and that government and UNMISS would jointly investigate the incident, a statement which he would later on contradict. After having slightly condemned the Bor incident Mr. Michael Makuei, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Spokesperson of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan absurdity grow tall when he stated on Friday, April 19, 2014, that the people killed in the attack on the UN compound in Bor the previous day were ‘rebels’ who committed the ‘intolerable’ act of celebrating the fall of Bentiu, which was captured from government forces last Tuesday. He said that before the youth could enter the compound, peacekeepers started firing into the air only to worsen the situation. If investigation properly carried out Mr. Michael Makuei Lueth would be the first person to be seen and tried in the ICC in Hague.

Without prejudice, the United States unlike UNMISS and government of South Sudan strongly condemns the attack on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Bor today by armed individuals that resulted in dozens of civilian casualties. We reiterate our call upon the Government of South Sudan to end the violence and to fulfill its primary responsibility to maintain law and order and provide full support for the UNMISS mission to protect civilians. The United States also condemns the recent attacks and counter-attacks in the town of Bentiu by anti-government and pro-government forces in violation of the January 23 Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement. The deliberate targeting of civilians during these attacks is unacceptable and those responsible for such acts must be held accountable.

These incidents underscore yet again the urgent need for the Government and opposition forces to immediately stop fighting and cooperate with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM). We look forward to the MVM report on the incident in Bentiu. We call on both sides of the conflict to honor the CoH agreement signed on January 23, end all military actions, halt all attacks directed at civilians, and enter into an inclusive, political dialogue aimed at ensuring peace, justice, security and economic stability for the people of South Sudan.

In conclusion, I am here to urge all South Sudanese at large and Nuer in particular affected to the fullest of all forms of inhuman to remain vigilant and observe the preamble on the universal declaration of human rights; Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace as would be prescribed in manifesto of (SPLA/M) “Armed Resistance” and the would be Transitional Constitution of the Federal Government of South Sudan, Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of Nuer and all peace loving South Sudanese, and the advent of the liberation struggle in which all South Sudanese shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people of the Federal Government of South Sudan, Whereas it is essential, if Nuer is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against Dinka tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between communities and nations, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

Concurrently, in recent years, the Council has adopted the practice of invoking Chapter VII of the Charter when authorizing the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations into volatile post-conflict settings where the State is unable to maintain security and public order where South Sudan is not an exceptional. The Security Council’s invocation of Chapter VII in these situations, in addition to denoting the legal basis for its action, can also be seen as a statement of firm political resolve and a means of reminding the parties to a conflict and the wider UN membership of their obligation to give effect to Security Council decisions. South Sudan has undergone the same fate when conflict erupted and invocation of Chapter VII was in order and participation of Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) was the total invasion by another country. In the same vein, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the Security Council adopted resolutions under Chapter VII that only required the aggressor, Iraq, to comply. The complicity of the Security Council in conflict of South Sudan paved ways for UPDF president Yoweri K. Museveni meddling into the affairs of South Sudan but enough should have been said earlier on as a way of putting an end to Uganda hegemony. Therefore, relocation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to either Ethiopia, Kenya and other places deemed safe for the refugees should be the top priority of UNMISS and by and large the US State Department takes the leading role.

Deng Mading is a South Sudanese exiled in East Africa and researcher in the area of “Democracy & Good Governance, Local & International Politics and Strategic Security Studies”. He can be reached at < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >.

Straightening the crooks in a volatile history

By Deng Vanang

April 17, 2014 (SSNA) -- Those who ignore or falsify history do so at their own peril. History repeats itself, quips the adage. While Greek ancient philosopher put it precisely: we see the future through the light of the past.  If we ignore history the nasty events of the past, that should have been avoided, must keep hitting back with the ugliest vengeance. This explains why leaders with a good grasp of history favorably manipulate challenges around them to prolong their stay in power. Failure, in addition, to give the devil his due when history is being written in spirit and letter begets tragedy historians always regard as revisionism, which is an adept refusal to recognize others’ contributions or attributing them to the rest who don’t deserve. And in as much as human beings need food, shelter and clothing so is the undeniable and insatiable human crave for recognition. Most bloodiest revolutions in world history in pursuit to put records right arose from this social prejudice in which past Sudan and on-going South Sudan civil wars are not the exception.

This brings us to the memory of gentlemanly column written by Citizen News paper columnist, Ateny Wek Ateny, now the Presidential spokesman, on Tuesday, 14th of August 2012 in response to the one entitled A leader dealing in hope and so was Dr. John, authored around the same week by Mr. Mading de Yak Choldit in The New Times weekly newspaper. The young author suggested to Ateny why he should be celebrating the lives of other heroes/heroines instead of John Garang. A determined Mading tersely dedicated a lengthy opinion piece to Dr. John Garang following the martyrs’ day, of 30th July 2012 and whose copy  he e-mailed to Ateny, further reminding him rather tacitly of how gravely wrong he was by not dedicating his martyrs’ day column to Dr. John. Martyrs day was initially mooted and committed to Garang’s life and his struggles in early stage of Comprehensive Peace Agreement {CPA}.

But sometimes along the way government thought it wise the day should instead be dedicated to all martyrs of almost two – century struggle of South Sudanese for statehood from 1820 to 2011, a dilution which might have rattled the widow, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior and greater Bor community. The perceived dilution may be the reason why they initially acted in resistance to that Presidential decree by only showcasing their heroes. And I’m afraid how negatively they will react when the anti-Garang’s forces inside or outside the government take over the reins of power and subsequently decide he is no longer the chief of martyrs. What is obviously unchanged till now in their favor, nevertheless, is Dr. Garang being regarded as chief of all martyrs in government official protocol and correspondence.

However, the focus of my article is on one of the last paragraphs of Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny’s column of the same day and I didn’t bother to follow up its possible continuation the next day at the time, that was Wednesday, August 15th 2012 and I quote: Mading is not alone in this. I knew a number of our brothers/sisters within Bor community where Mading also comes, who often get irritated if a hero other than John Garang is mentioned and even more irritated enough if anything is dedicated to other heroes/heroines however trivial. End of quote.

Of great concern here is how bias martyrs’ day has become and made a day of agony rather than that of joy for several South Sudanese ethnic communities who fell have been undeservedly wiped out of annals of history although many of their sons and daughters sacrificially lost both lives and limbs in the course of struggle. Apart from localizing and exploiting the persona of John Garang by some Bor community members, Martyrs’ day is increasingly becoming a day that is used to humiliate others as well as it is becoming a source of disunity rather than a day to remember our past struggle in togetherness and love, both of which helped us gain our hard won freedom. A day in which others are told openly they contributed nothing in the past struggle by displaying almost only portraits of Bor community and other Dinka clans alleged heroes or heroines in all strategic city high ways and corners.

Especially when clans, in particular Bor community takes charge of Martyrs’ day celebration committee as it does every year. Denying somebody’s contribution normally puts a sharp strain on the national unity and social relations between communities that compete for genuine citizenship rights in a given country. Since rights depend on duties {responsibilities}, those who are told they didn’t participate in the slaughter of the elephant, could not even think of having right to claim any piece of the meat. And if any, they are only doled out of sympathy. It also creates inferiority complex in those said to be good for nothing since they didn’t participate in the national call to duty - the liberation of South Sudan. That bias notion if heeded effectively hands on silver platter the country, resources and leadership to liberating tribes and clans. If Martyrs’ day is defined in such narrow assumptions, then it cannot be regarded as a national day by any standard. For what is national is inclusive of all ethnic groups and clans. That again reminds me of my past casual movements around the city, Juba which make me feel much more annoyed about how some groups and individuals in South Sudan have been working around the clock to underrate others, destroy the relative peace and freedom we painstakingly achieved, especially through their own alienating words, perceptions and actions. These illicit behaviors have come to explain that some South Sudanese didn’t know what they were fighting to achieve in the first place and why unity, which is perquisite to stability and development, is important.  By regarding others as worthless creatures is not only a moral attack on their integrity but also the highest order of ignorance for nobody God created is useless, whether blind, crippled or maimed.

As it is said in English every dog has its day to celebrate, there is always a time when any of those physically challenged can help us out of desperate situation, for example blind and crippled are naturally endowed with unsurpassed intelligence as is the deaf with physical strength. To be individually selective on who is hero or not at random as demonstrated in the martyrs’ day every year, particularly when showcasing Kerubino Kuanyin Bol and Arok Thon Arok’s portraits among heroes while John Kulang Puot remains a condemned criminal although both defected from SPLM/A and died behind government battle lines is quite prejudicial. The same can be said of Akuot Atem’s picture which was displayed from obscurity for the first time in 2012 Martyrs’ day leaving out the picture of his friend and comrade - in - arms; Samuel Gai Tut is rather more ridiculous. What differentiates Akuot from Gai when they both rejected Garang’s leadership and went in a separate way together to challenge Garang? And what could make Gai a traitor and Akuot a hero if it is not pure bias?  Or is the killing of Akuot by William Abdullah Chuol on charges of being Garang’s mole within Anya-Nya Two can now be ascertained as a foolproof? Too, people need to be reminded none can be a hero unless supported by other. This is enough to say if somebody has helped the other to become a hero he is as well a hero too. Also labeling other South Sudanese as non-producers of heroes against what is obvious save for some clans or tribe is flagrant moral down grading that will never allow peace to reign in our land.

The bug of blame doesn’t stop with the stated groups who think it is their legitimate right to lord it over others with crude impunity. The government partly abets this prejudice as well for failure to gazette the heroes/heroines whose lives deserve to be commemorated at national, state, County, Payam and Boma levels during the martyrs’ day depending on the strength of each one’s contribution in the liberation struggle. Its laxity is taken advantage of by those who are busy sowing and watering seeds of ethnic sentiments as is the case now in South Sudanese society when some people are forced to celebrate the lives of certain individuals as heroes who during their life time robbed them of their women, parcels of land and even chickens. It is quite harsh! Yet again village heroes shouldn’t have been allowed to grace the national day in the first place in capital city Juba. By allowing such vice, government is not merely abetting injustice, but also desecrating what is sacred, the martyrs’ day. Not only the government to take the blame, too, the media have to take some beatings since they are the memory centre of the nation from which the country’s history is written and should assert their an alienable editorial right in guiding those writers and reporters who either unintentionally or deliberately try to falsify history in favor of some and at grimmest expense of others.  Personally I’m not against John Garang as somebody I highly respect for being one of great South Sudanese who are no body’s fools with self-confidence in their own leaderships and with audaciously enigmatic zeal to fight for their rights and rights of others. But to eulogize Garang as unblemished may not be sincere as some are more often than not trying to portray. Garang was like any other mortals who by very nature of their creation have beatitudes as well as faults in them. He was no god. To his credit, Dr. John as known to many was undoubtedly charismatic and equally accredited with success of our struggle due to the above mentioned attributes. But even still he can be blamed for not taking us straight to the Promised Land in which we are today. Instead, he alike Moses led us meandering around Egypt we wanted to leave as quickly as possible through his impractical new Sudan theory which caused deadly divisions in Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army.

The same internal conflicts went along way to prolong the war with Khartoum Arab based-successive regimes. His gifted charisma also deceived him he could flash his weird concept he ever conceived of down our throats. His routine rituals of sacrificing innocent lives of dear comrades in struggle for graduating battalions in Bonga and Bilpam cannot go unchallenged. Although those who were closest to him regard Garang as very generous person and merely blame his wife Madam Rebecca Nyandeng for corrupting him, he can be partly faulted for current corruption unknown in pre- civil war South Sudanese traditions that has plagued our society and flunked our otherwise filthy rich country, South Sudan, into an abysmal poverty and protracted inter-ethnic feuds. The genesis of current endemic corruption and hatred can be traced to the way Garang ruled SPLM/A as personal property whereby he with his wife Madam Nyandeng and trusted aides could globe - trot in soliciting funds for arms without revealing sources of funding and neither could he provide transparency and accountability to his senior commanders in the field. This lone ranger behavior prompted Uncle Lwal Diing Wol in late 1980s by asking Garang this question: who should manage to retrace sources of SPLM/A arms supplies and funding if he suddenly died on the plane? Fortunately Garang died after accomplishing his mission of liberation.

This allegation became a rallying call in a dossier bombastically entitled ‘’why Garang must go now’’ as authored by SPLM/A Nasir splinter group in 1991 when it quipped: Garang believes he is the movement and the movement is him. Similar scathing attack on Garang’s autocratic style of leadership was repeated by the then second deputy Chairman and Chief of general staff of SPLM/A, Salva Kiir Mayardit in a bitter showdown after his near fallout with Garang in November 2004 in Rumbek. Kiir emphatically said in a packed hall of bewildering audience that Garang always carried the movement in a briefcase with him on his foreign trips and as deputy he never used to leave him in charge and neither anybody else he {Kiir} might have known of. He could even secretly leave for overseas without informing his field commanders and some close aides, several people alleged. And one more mind boggling question that sent everybody reeling with a rib cracking laughter was eloquently posed to eye-popping Chairman Moa by one no nonsense commoner. Boldly driven home to him still to be identified guy irritated by ever fattening animal called corruption in yei around 2003 in a heated public debate as to why everyone who went outside South Sudan liberated areas returned with a big pot belly in the midst of other bonny individual members of the movement? He said it is up to those with pot bellies to answer where they got theirs from, but for his he had to explain the source. Garang said he got his big belly from a string of foreign dignitaries who played him host as a quest while mobilizing support for the guerrilla movement. He then threw the ball back to those with big bellies around him to explain where they got their ill-gotten pots from. He was a role model to millions and even more to those closest to him. Like a tree planted in fertile soil and favorable weather, he produced numerous fruits and no any sane person according to the law of nature can imagine a tree producing fruits different from its own kind. That is today corruption has its origin in the way Garang ran SPLM/A which he generously bequeathed to his surviving good boys and girls. And should anybody erroneously think Salva Kiir is the only problem is dead wrong, although of course he has elevated the endemic financial and political corruption a notch higher. His guilty is his cross to carry alone and shouldn’t be used to shield in any way people who have been deemed to have long term opportunity in becoming governors, Ministers, County Commissioners and Parliamentarians with a free hand over immense resources in their respective constituencies, but only succeeded to enrich themselves, families and close associates.

As a further proof everybody is significant, Madam Rebecca has a very good side she deserves being credited for. For ever since 2006 she saw a developing monster in Kiir others closest to him never did. While most of us have been praising Kiir, winning and dinning with him, Mama Nyandeng has been crisscrossing the width and breadth of South Sudan warning us of impending danger we chose to ignore at our own peril. But of great importance here is the urging desire for us to understand history as a continuum that repeats itself and the ongoing rebellion against Kiir and his government as the golden opportunity to right the wrongs once and for all in order to stop cycle of violence from recurring every ten or so years later. That is through the proclamation of a viable constitution with the entrenched checks and balances while independent institutional watch dogs are instituted to safeguard against executive excesses.

Deng Vanang is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Heed the cry of the Southern child, Mr. Obama!

By Kuir ë Garang

April 16, 2014 (SSNA) -- I’d assume there are many, bigger challenges you are dealing with: Russia-Ukraine, Syria, Palestine-Israel, selling Obamacare …etc. I’d also assume the mentioned problems are more important that the Sudanese mother and child lives. And I know there are times when you have to do exactly the very same thing your conscience tells you not to do…because you are in the ‘White House.’

I know you are a humble man and you respond to issues some people may assume to be beneath your personality and stature of presidency. However, should this message reach you, then, I know, young South Sudanese will really appreciate you talking directly to them.

I don’t beat about the bush because leaders understand critical issues better when presented to them in non-traditional methods. I don’t spare leaders when I feel their performances do little to save the lives of innocent civilians. However, I’ll spare you for a lot has already been said. And you aren’t a South Sudanese leader! I might contradict myself in the process and don’t spare you as such! Who knows?

South Sudan suffering Civilians

You’ve already signed an ‘executive order’ to open way for possible sanctions against South Sudanese officials, who’re obstructing IGAD-brokered ‘Peace Talks’. Thankfully, you’ve been putting pressure on South Sudan president General Salva Kiir Mayardit to end the violence and bloodshed. So why am I repeating to you things you’ve already done or are already doing?

I’m an African man and people would assume that I would support you for who you are rather than what you do. I’ve never been a fan of your policies but I like your humble edge and your being as a people-person (if honest). That’s one quality I admire. While all my colleagues were enamored by the idea that an African was at the helm of the American power base, the sound of your policies made me very sceptical. Sadly, some of them have now joined me in that scepticism. And that scepticism, sadly, tells me you care little about the African Child. Well, you do talk about them in your speeches!

Leadership is about leading not ornamental speeches! Lead the world and safe the Southern Child!


I can’t say much about this because you’ve failed these people. You slept on their suffering. Part of why the American public embraced you is your persona as colorlessly and painlessly American; your heritage being secondary or even irrelevant. While you are an American first and foremost, I think you’ve taken your Americanism to the extreme and this is costing Sudanese and South Sudanese a great deal of suffering.

With no question, I understand being too focused on African issues can arouse the spiteful passion of America right and give them some postprandial gossip’s flavor. Sadly though, Darfurians have died in their thousands in your watch. They say: “We wish Bush were here!”

And to this day, they are still dying! Some people (and Americans) may ask why I bother a foreign leader instead of my own leader! It’s the very same reason why American soldiers and spies are in almost every country in the world that I ask Obama to heed the Southern Child!

Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Congo, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt, Libya…America is there!

Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile

President Beshir continues to butcher these people while activists and humanitarian voices call for your leadership in relation to this matter. As has become your tradition, you turned a blind eye on them. The likes of George Cooleny present virtual evidence of Khartoum’s murder machine on the innocent people of Nuba Mountains. The request to initiate a no-fly-zone fell on deaf ears. You supported that in Libya and that makes Africans in Sudan wonder if their lives are less that others’.

My Worry

Having seen the way you let down the people of Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile, I have absolutely no reason to believe you’ll do anything in South Sudan. Over 10, 000 innocent lives have been lost, cities obliterated, over a million displaced and over 3 million in dire need of basic needs. Sadly, you are aware of that!

Your envoy, Donald Booth, seems to be playing a spectator role at the IGAD’s brokered ‘Peace Talks.’ You need to play a more practical role than the symbolic threats of sanction South Sudanese leaders will just laugh off.

You’ve done little to nothing in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile. Please don’t let the people of South Sudan down! How many more need to die? How many more generations need to be lost to illiteracy? How many more skeletons need to flood American TV screens for you to be practical enough? Hear the cry of the Southern child!

President George W. Bush is regarded by the world as one of the worst leaders America (or even the world) has ever produced; but if you ask South Sudanese, they’ll tell you he’s ‘The Best American President’ for the role he played in making sure the Sudanese second civil war ended. He’s admired in South Sudan for having helped end that brutal, genocidal, ethno-religious war; and he’s admired in Africa generally for the role he’s played ( and continue to play) in the fight against HIV-AIDS.

You’re admired in Africa for your eloquent speeches and for being the first ‘Black’ President, whatever that means!

I understand Africans will remember you for what you represent rather than what you did! And Bush will be remembered for what he did rather than what he represented.

Displaced people are eating roots and leaves of plants. They are also living in squalid conditions. That’s the job of South Sudanese and Sudanese leaders, some may say! America is the world power and that nullifies the previous statement!

You’ve played some role in making sure South Sudanese referendum and independence comes to fruition; however, thousands have died in Sudan (North and South) during your presidency. And by the way, you were just finishing what Bush had already started!

Please, listen to the wail and the cry of the South Sudanese mother and child!

The Dream of the Southern Child

Very dark and wretched, I’m very visible, Mr. President
Emaciated and sick, just acknowledge me in the present
Souled or soulless, there’s a tree to spare for my shade
I’m been commercialized…I’m just calling spade and spade
You came with hope and dreams with little for me to see
You’ve compartmentalized your passion just next to me
I don’t want to be like you…I just need a grain to swallow
Avian crowds above hold their breath, my dream is shallow
I don’t want to be like your daughters…I just want school
Sit with the men burning my dreams…I’m not a fool
I don’t want to travel abroad…just security on the Nile
I want to drink virgin Nile waters with no fear for a while
I want no gun on my mother’s neck… not vacations
I’m thirsty and hungry…and this isn’t just an occasion
No hospitals, no food, no schools, not water…I’m a child
Deprived and chased…am I a child of the wild?
Just self-hypnotize and imagine me your own
You’d feel beautiful love that’d forever be known
I’m just a child with simple dreams
I have passions that can bring worldly steam
There’s no tree to sit under as all have been burnt
There’s no voice to console me as I’m also a hunt
So spare me some time and see me for once
The Southern Child appeals to your deepest you
Hide your true self no more and dispel the assumed spew
My blood is filling the Nile day and night
My tears are flooding the savannah and it ain’t right
Scour your soul for what brought you there
It’s the change you wanted that made you stare
And dream of a beautiful, safe world of peace
I sound naïve but that’s me; a mere broken piece
Just help me go home: That’s the Southern Child Dream!
I just want food to eat: That’s the Southern Child Dream!
I just want a clean clinic nearby: That’s the Southern Child Dream!
I just want guns to be silent: That’s the Southern Child Dream!

Kuir ë Garang lives in Calgary, Alberta. For contact visit

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