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Wednesday, Sep 03rd, 2014

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Good citizens make for good leaders

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

August 23, 2014 (SSNA) -- This country came off to a false start. At first the new plane seemed to soar into the sky beautifully, but then it crashed. Why? I think our crew had no idea where it wanted to fly. There was no chart.

How were they selected? According to their war credentials, no one asked them if they had a pilot’s license. Now the old crew is tired and worn-out. They have had their day. Let them rest.

Crowds of equally unqualified crash pilots are surrounding the grounded flying machine, trying to get it off the ground — for another crash?

We must not allow those worn-out veterans to anoint their successors. The current system allows the party hierarchy to select candidates and impose them on the voting public. That perpetuates the rotten system.

That gang at the top gives us selfish jobseekers. Instead we have to work from the ground up with a new “fire brigade”, men and women ready to risk life and limb for the sake of the nation as whole.

So many shun “politics” as a dirty game and refuse to get involved. We do not just need a new type of leader, we need new citizens. Only citizens with a sense of responsibility for public affairs can choose one of their own as a leader. People who deny they have a public duty should not be surprised if the crooks take over.

“Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation” (Pope Francis). Put bluntly: If you have a child in school, you cannot leave her at the mercy of the Minister of Education. If you are a caring person you must have a voice where the decisions are made. Just making a little cross on a ballot paper once in four years will not make a difference if the candidates on offer are self-serving careerists, not servants of the people.

A true citizen has a wide horizon. He looks at the country as a whole. If he sees a woman selling tomatoes on the street he says: “She is my sister. Why is she reduced to such a state?” A caring citizen has a vision for the nation as a whole, not just for his class, party, tribe or clan.

A citizen takes pride in his country and has self-confidence. He is not a defeatist excusing himself: “There is nothing I can do, I won’t make a difference anyhow.” Such timidity makes it easy for the professional power-seekers to take over and be in control.

They try to restrict freedom of assembly so the voice of the citizen is not heard. But there are many assembly points and market places where thinking citizens can articulate themselves and their voice can be heard. Citizens never allow themselves to be gagged or silenced by propaganda. They think for themselves and are not spoon-fed by nannies doing the thinking and talking for them.

Only if the voters are citizens of quality will we also get leaders of quality. Only if fathers and mothers, workers and professionals, farmers and engineers, nurses and doctors, teachers and pastors stand up and show that they care about the future of their children will we get better leaders.

Only if the citizens show moral courage and insist on their constitutional rights to speak up despite police harassment, will there be another liberation.

Such self-confident, daring citizens will eventually produce leaders who have the moral courage to challenge the powerful by speaking up for their powerless, voiceless brothers and sisters.

Leaders of moral courage will challenge even their own voters and supporters on behalf of those members of society who do not seem to count, but possess human dignity nevertheless. They will risk their career by throwing in their lot with the unborn and the dying, prisoners and prostitutes, immigrants and outcasts, the handicapped and the unemployed, considered a nuisance and disreputable, but human beings of the same divine origin nevertheless.

Religion can easily be abused in politics. Certain leaders like to give themselves a divine aura. They are not serious. But what responsible citizens and their chosen leaders should be serious about is the well-being of everyone without discrimination. They will have to answer for their decisions and give an account of their doings. The one asking has a definite bias towards those in the shadows of society.

We have accepted religious tolerance. There is freedom of religion, and the State does not identify with a particular faith. And yet, the State needs some glue for citizens to stick together and not slaughter each other, women need to be protected from abuse and wholesale rape, life must be sacred, the family is vital for the existence of the State as its basic building block. This glue is normally called morality. We have to accept the way we were made and our given nature.

The Christian Church, having the largest following, needs to talk about good citizenship and inspiring leadership. Just hymn singing is not good enough. Not that the Church should identify with particular parties.

It should keep out of political strife.

But through the ages it has seen nations rise and fall, flourish and decay, so it has a role to play as a consultant, an adviser, even at times a referee. Needless to say, it has to improve on its own leadership, too, at all levels.

The Church needs to talk to other faiths. In our African situation, first of all to the heirs of tradition who honour the ancestors, then to Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, and to secularists who are not without morality and values either. Any tradition with reverence for the Creator and/or positive community values needs to be respected by the State as a constructive force.

We need honest leaders, men and women who “do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8). This will show up in their deeds, not in dressing up in church uniforms. Only citizens happy to serve in a lowly position will give us leaders who remain humble even when they have reached the top.

The author is a student of political science living in Egypt; you can easily get Him through his Email address This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Blind leaders afraid of those who see

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

August 23, 2014 (SSNA) -- Our 2011 Constitution states that “every person has the right to freedom of expression”, and that “every south Sudanese citizen or permanent resident . . . has the right of access to any information held by the State…

The Constitution acknowledges that free communication is vital for a “democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom”.

But our media legislation speaks a very different language, i.e., the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA). Media laws in this country are an expression of the great fear those in authority have of a well-informed people who do not swallow party propaganda, but answer back on the basis of facts.

The Constitution and the media laws contradict each other in spirit and letter. Why are the laws not adjusted to the Constitution?

Since “broadcasting and other electronic media of communication have freedom of establishment, subject only to State licensing procedures”, why are south Sudanese citizens, who are also voters and taxpayers, denied the freedom to establish their own citizens’ radios (also called community radios)?

Why are our leaders afraid of a free flow of information in our country? Why do they shake in their boots when confronted with free citizens asking their own questions?

The powerful themselves do not want to know all that much. They prefer to forget. They do not want to know that spending money that did not exist was the beginning of our economic decline. They do not want to know that even today there are behind the death of our great JOURNALIST Isaiah Abraham still squatting in exactly the same kind of shacks government wanted to do away with in 2013.

They do not want to know that you cannot develop trade relations without respect for the rule of law. They prefer to play the blaming game. It is so much easier, and intellectually very lazy, to blame the “Western powers” (no innocent angels, true).

Decision-makers work on the basis of accurate information, facts and figures. You cannot spend money you have not got, you must know the economy. But if you gag the media, deny them access to information, threaten journalists with arrest and imprisonment, the very sources providing you with that information, you are likely to be a “blind guide”, a misinformed bungler.

Intellectually sharp politicians should welcome critical voices, forcing them to delve more deeply into political options and calculate the long-term effects. These critical voices they find in quality media (not tabloids), but also in encounters with observant citizens who see things with open eyes: community radios could be such a source of “grassroots” information.

Too many of our representatives in Parliament and government see in the media only as adversaries. They cannot follow an argument presented by a well-informed economist in a newspaper column. All they know is their party line and ideology which they swallowed 9 years ago.

A good leader is not afraid of the truth; he guards against self-deception and narrow self-interest. He cares even about people who are not potential voters; the fact that they suffer is enough for him to worry about them, e.g. south Sudanese in East Africa threatened with eviction, or fellow citizens overseas who cannot come home even to bury their parents because as “illegals” they would lose everything.

Prospective leaders promise their voters that they will create jobs for them, but have absolutely no idea how to do that in a devastated economy.

They may know how to knock out a rival, but in an argument about the best economic policy for creating wealth and work for all they have little to say. They are not interested in a “reading culture” that would give them competence and judgment. Newspapers and TV programmes interest them only for the propaganda value of their own pictures appearing.

Like politicians who fear for their positions of power, so ordinary people fear for their lives. Desperate to restore their fortunes, they turn to dubious business-minded “prophets” who promise them economic miracles.

They no longer seek rational answers to our malaise, but find relief in “faith”, paying lots of money for comforting illusions. It is not genuine faith whose light is also seen by reason, but the spiritual sugar-coating for our pilfering “get-rich-quick” culture.

If you want to survive you must be prepared for change. “Life is change, and to have lived is to have changed very often.” Genuine prophets who warned kings and governors that their rule was facing ruin lived dangerously and died in disgrace.

When Galileo Galilei revealed that the earth was not the center of the universe, but merely a little planet in the solar system amongst a myriad of other stars, he encountered much hostility. If you tell an autocrat that he is not the center of the universe, do not expect to fare any better.

In this situation we need free media that confront us with reality.

We need intellectual challenges that force us to think and come to viable answers. We need a countrywide platform for dialogue and a local exchange of information where there is no hiding place from the real world.

That we are denied this openness and this exposure to what pains people in countrywide or local media, is a disservice to the nation.

But hopefully our journalists may eventually get a chance if only a new leadership takeover the rotten and decayed system.

The author is a student of political science living in Egypt; you can easily get Him through his Email address This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Rumbek: Another Side of the Burning Home!

By Deng Mangok Ayuel

August 20, 2014 (SSNA) -- Just as the country is wavered by rebellion where individuals lost their beloved ones, bulk displacement of people, where others are almost starving in the camps, yet our people in Rumbek are still killing themselves amid crisis in South Sudan.

In Rumbek, past events are forwarded to the present. The weight of the past, the traditional ways of doing things is massive. The past tension of 20th century is forwarded to the 21th century. He who killed my uncle in the past is still remembered as an enemy when compensation and reconciliation were done. Why do we reverse the past gears? I like the way Agar people act politically, but partially hate their individualistic approaches to their local issues as Agar and clans.

The wrongs of the past should be forgiven. And if we look to the past, let’s do so for the lesson it had taught us. An act of revenge increases the problem to hopeless sense. However, there is no smoke without fire, but people should stop revenging because all of us are one. There is a need to sit down and solve our own problem.

I have been anticipating for years to see politicians from Lakes state coming forward as leaders or the sons and daughters of Lakes states to condemn the tragedies that have had been rocking Rumbek for years if some of them have never been the part of the insecurity in the state.

Many of us in South Sudan have social, political problems or grievances to be spoken but not the nature of Rumbek’s. There is solution to everything, and the people of Rumbek should say enough is enough to their own problems. I am not saying that my Agar people – who are Dinka are not good. I love them and wanted them to live peacefully. Buka ye puot e rot. Tetke aleei wiic wek yeeth, {literally translated: do not fight. Wait for an enemy to invade you!}

Former governor, Daniel Awet Akot tried his best to forge calmness but the situation increasingly intensified during the time of Chol Tong and Matur Chut. And again, those who are asking for governor Matur’s removal are yearning for the worst. Governor Matur came to stay. No surprise. Just tell them. It’s you – the ordinary people who are the problem to yourselves – nature or mentality not the governor! And if it’s the governor who is the problem, then let it be known than trouble innocent people.

During the opening ceremony of Mayardit Hospital in Rumbek, President Kiir urged the people of Rumbek to stop fighting. He also added that people are not killing themselves in Aweil or Twic in Warrap because they have lost many people during the protracted civil war in Sudan. There is no need for people – same family to kill themselves. The crowd listened to the President’s speech at Rumbek freedom square – and after a week, a paramount chief was killed in Rumbek. What is really forcing people in Rumbek to kill each other?

They state authority had sacked some paramount chiefs when Engineer Chol Tong was the governor but the same problem is still yearning. People should respect the law. As community chiefs, local leaders tried to solve the problem but invincible, I urge the youths to reconcile, live together. The civil society, youth organizations and woman groups should join hands and critically look into the problem. The research institutions should also carry out studies to pioneer the root causes of the problem for a lasting solution.

While Bishop Deng Bul is in Rumbek – urging people to obey the law and work together as one people, however, the problem lies within the people. These people should be asked to speak out their minds before featuring solutions, lest the problem shall not stop. Did they stop doing the obvious in Rumbek when President Kiir begged them to cease killing each other? Will they stop fighting when Bishop Deng leaves Rumbek?

Those who are thinking of solving anything in Rumbek are supposed to begin with the youths where the problem kept starting. When the house is on fire, neighbors see the smoke and begin coming for rescue. Many people fight fire with water, sand soil, and green leaves of trees. And if the house is burning and we began asking the owner of the house for the root cause of the fire than pour the water on the fire, then are we helping to stop the fire? Our people know how to fight the fire with water, oil and sand. However, we must decide which method is the right method to stop the fire burning the house, lest the house will be burned into ashes. In other parts of the country, youths or individuals have been politicized by politicians to act against their rival fellow politicians, is it the case in Lakes state? The Youths in the cattle camps shouldn’t be political camps cattle herders.

The social intimidating complexity by the people of Rumbek deserves brotherly actions, concrete thoughts based on grass-root consultation with local community or chiefs. The problem is from within – cohesively needs law-enforcing agencies to take proper measures against ring leaders. Moreover, people sometimes don’t obey the law when favoritism, interference are done by individuals within law-enforcing agencies, in which others may feel their cases seemed to be vulnerable and think of revenge as the last solution. All in all, Rumbek may need law-enforcing agencies’ forces from different states in the country for fairness and social neutrality.

Deng Mangok Ayuel is a South Sudanese columnist and blogger, lives in Aweil. He can be reached via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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