|Photo: The Atheist Freedom Wall|
American renowned novelist, Virginia Woolf, wrote in her novel, Orlando, about society’s perception of women, arguing that “As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.” Indeed! Societally, we tend to embrace things if they benefit us; and we ignore or dismiss them otherwise. This is a common feature among our diasporic communities.
Undoubtedly, there are many South Sudanese living abroad, who have this factually fallacious idea that living abroad makes them better than those living in South Sudan. Some unashamedly blurt it out while others insinuate the sentiment. Such a state of mind is not only poisonous to our togetherness and prospects, it also shows that we have a long way to go and that we should do a lot to self-assess if a better South Sudan is to be realized.
In this short article, I’m going to go through a number of things, which I feel are issues South Sudanese who live abroad should pay attention to or change.
We tend to give this false impression that tribal divisions are only in South Sudan when we in the diaspora don’t even see eye to eye. We conduct our weddings and other social functions in the seclusion of our tribal groupings and yell on top of our lungs that “they are tribalists!” Yet we are quick to point out what is wrong with South Sudan. This is shameful.
WRANGLING FOR COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
Like the infamous infighting within the SPLM, many South Sudanese living abroad have a knack for fighting over leadership. Some even refuse to leave office when their terms of office have expired. However, these people are the first to criticize SPLM leaders when they [diasporic communities] are doing exactly the same things the SPLM did or is doing. This is hypocrisy that borders on foolishness
PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTHS
Having community programs that can make sure that our young people are taught community and traditional values within the community is indeed invaluable. Young people also need rehabilitative programs that can help these young offenders avoid reoffending. If young people have something to admire within the community then these young people usually end up being people of substance. However, the very people who fail to initiate programs within their diasporic communities will be the first to criticize the failure of leadership in South Sudan. Yes, President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar have failed as leaders. But haven’t you also failed? Putting on a tie and a clean suit to address community gatherings isn’t the measure of leadership. Leadership is in the deeds one performs for or in the community.
LOOKING OUTSIDE THE COMMUNITY
We tend to admire what’s not ours. How do we expect other communities to admire our community when we shun the very things that can make other communities admire us? Communities aren’t admired because they ask people to admire them. Communities are admired because they have something inherently beautiful and admirable within that community, something which stands out.
I encounter people who are so certain that what they are saying is the truth. They profess their assumptions so fervently that one who’s not informed about that given subject matter would believe such a version of ‘truth’ and ‘facts.’ However, one might rationally ask this question: “But who can know whether or not a given person is not knowledgeable about that given topic? Who’s this person who can claim to know things such that he or she can determine whether or not others are knowledgeable in that given topic?” The answer is simple! Research! If a person professes something which cannot be corroborated, or something that is factually out of place given available facts, then it’s wise to tell such an assumer to go back and research.
INTOLERANCE TO OTHERS’ OPINIONS
There are many diasporic people, who become so much offended by other people’s opinions so much so that they assume a fighting-mood. Instead of countering other people’s opinions with their own opinions, or countering an opinion with factual analysis, they brood over the fact that Mr. X or Ms. Y has the nerves to say such a thing. That opinions are opinions and can be freely debated no matter how ‘strong’ they appear, has escaped some of our brothers and sisters.
How can we change society if we can’t change our states of mind where we live?
*Kuir ë Garang is the editor of 'The Philosophical Refugee'