|Picture: New York Times|
Late Dr. John Garang de Mabior once said that if we promise civilians things we can’t deliver than the civilians would drive us [leaders] into the sea (1.38). Perhaps it’s time for South Sudanese to drive these useless politicians into the metaphorical political sea. What are these politicians for if they can’t provide?
The civil population doesn’t always know what it wants if it’s mentally buried in ideological infatuation. This happens everywhere in the world. Poor conservative Americans voted for Donald Trump even when they knew his policies benefit the rich and the powerful. The mere feeling of belonging, of standing up for something, make people embrace self-destructive, mischievous causes. This might be an unfortunate case of Stockholm syndrome. President Trump lies but his supporters don’t care.
However, in richer countries, the effect of such blind support of causes that are destructive to oneself isn’t as bad as in poorer countries. While advanced democracies have checks and balances that make sure that dictatorial leaders don’t bask in or benefit from the epistemic challenges of the masses, in struggling democracies, leaders take advantage of citizens’ lack of information.
Without check and balances, callous leaders use such ignorance or nativity to take the citizens for granted. Internal divisions are politicized and politics ethnicized in order to prevent citizens-citizen unity against the corrupt establishment.
In countries like South Sudan, this support for killers has dire consequences. It makes sure that citizens identify with leaders from their tribes even when leaders' actions kill them instead of identifying with other civilians from other tribes who suffer like them. Without any unified, multi-tribal voice crying against corrupt, tribalized governance, destitution will continue to grow. And the sufferer isn’t the politicians but civilians, no matter the tribe.
Famine, insecurity and diseases will not affect South Sudanese based on tribe. It’ll affect the country based on power and socio-economic status. A civilian in Aweil will suffer as much as a civilian in Akobo. A farmer in Torit will suffer in the same way as a farmer in Malakal. However, a politician in Torit will not suffer in the same way as a civilian in Torit. Politicians are a TRIBE of their own. They are a tribal species that should only be valued based on their deeds on behalf of the people not on their mere existence.
Given the way the Ruweng people stood up against the removal of their governor, Thomas Deng, and the way they stood up to the leadership in Juba, perhaps it’s time the people of South Sudan realize that they have more power than the politicians.
Politicians in Juba have always seen themselves as more powerful than the citizens. That’s the reality that needs to change. What if South Sudanese all over the country flooded the streets of their villages, towns and cities and demanded an end to war and imposition of leaders on them? Would President Kiir order his forces to shoot at them like they did in Wau in 2012? Juba can only intimidate a small group of people. However, if the whole country shouts ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’ then the leadership would listen.
The arrogance and the sense of entitlement of South Sudanese politicians is a result of civilians abdicating their power to the corrupt politicians. It’s time for South Sudanese to stand up to the leaders. Take back your country! Hold the leaders accountable. Have you ever seen the politicians suffer the way you suffer? Have you ever seen their children go to school in South Sudan? Have you ever seen politicians going to the same clinics or hospital you go to? So what makes you stand up to people who don’t care about you?
Tribal pride can’t feed your children, build schools, or provide security! Wake up!
It’s time South Sudanese civilians realize that their problems are politicians not ‘other’ tribes. Nuer civilians are suffering in the same way Jieeng civilians are suffering. Moru civilians are suffering in the same way Lotuko civilians are sufferings. Nuer civilians have more in common with Jieeng civilians than they have with Nuer politicians. Nyakong in Akobo has more in common with Deng in Rumbek than she has with Riek Machar.
Wake up South Sudanese! Take back your country from politicians who are ruling you like an occupation force. They don't care!