Friday, August 24, 2018

Germinating a Mandela in South Sudan

By Akut Francis*
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"For as long as we celebrate power by elevating our tribes above all the rest, for as long as our children partake to a whitewash education system that only works to make them subservient to a bourgeoisie class and its descendants, for as long as our leadership is firmly anchored in the mantra of 'them versus us' from the micro to the national level, for as long as we continue to be loud and frothing in hypocrisy and quiet and blind to premeditated oppression...."
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Just when we, the people, the endangered citizens of country code SSD211 thought we were through with guns and bad leader|ship (seceded from the Sudan), and celebrated our independence, the power wrangle scourge set in at our yards and we were tossed by our very liberators to be the cannon fodders and pawns of cold wars in Upper Nile and most parts of Equatoria and Bhar El Gazal regions.
Early in 2012, I made my pilgrimage (online) to Mandela's Soweto house, now a museum. It is just off Vilakazi Street, in Soweto. Just there. You take a few turns and you are there. Earth red house. And this is where he walked off from one day to join the struggle leaving Winnie Mandela with the kids. A struggle he didn't know would tow him through the dungeons and jaws of the apartheid government, through to the throne. This, he achieved through a decision. Humility. And determination. And a genuineness of leadership.
So, p-residents, crybabies, 'users of the youth', revolutionaries, dictators, murderers, cops, haters, oppositionists, crackpots, saints and even 'bany ke bith' (Translation, Spear Masters), slay writers and readers, all have had their say about anything and everything regarding Mandela. Others have called him a saint too! Even the blonde and that fairytale London witch thanked him for 'his' speech titled 'I Have a Dream'. 
Alright. So let me say something too, Mandela is gone. Inevitably. May his soul rest in peace!
I can only reflect on Mandela from my local experience. The passing of a Mandela calls to my mind Dr. John Garang de Mabior, Comrade Kuanyin Bol, William Nyuon Bany, Justice Martin Majier Gai etcetera. Except that (some were failed, betrayed by colleagues to not capacitate their leadership) or  to be no more for the challenge. But would these living 'Mandelas' of South Sudan measure up to this man? Would I invest much admiration and mourning on these as I did with/on Mandela?
For Mandela led an inclusive government, anointing Mangosuthu Buthelezi 22 times as acting President; Mandela led for a single term and then passed on the baton! For Mandela articulated his vision and a people's struggle with quotable and memorable clarity and commitment, didn't Mandela embrace the youth, graciously accepting that he had played his part and needed to let go of the lead role and occupancy? 
How then do I embrace the Mandela in our own as they cling to not letting go, not giving the next generation a chance, accumulating praise names left, right and center and propping only the dinosaurs of their generation at the expense of new energy and life?
Didn't Mandela, divergent reactions of the world towards apartheid notwithstanding, embrace foes and friends internalizing and understanding the inter-dependency that we all have with each other and the need to move on progressively and respectfully and, so embraced President George W. Bush as he hugged Fidel Castro and walked hand-in-hand as he rode with the Pope?
Nelson Mandela
Photo: New York Times

Why then can't our own stop fighting over a cup of tea - armed to the teeth with sharp tongues, chest-thumping and isolationism, the active transfer of individual, personal challenges into a national challenge and the condemnation and rabid biting of the hands of benefactors and friends while holding hands with their deputies whose double-speak is only the stuff of the amazing? Mandela was no all-round saint but a human who understood and appreciated and worked the concepts of freedom and leadership. So, to reflect on him is to mourn the dearth of leadership in our country, the missed opportunities for bonding South Sudan into a united force benefitting from its admirable diversity and potentials.

For as long as we celebrate power by elevating our tribes above all the rest, for as long as our children partake to a whitewash education system that only works to make them subservient to a bourgeoisie class and its descendants, for as long as our leadership is firmly anchored in the mantra of 'them versus us' from the micro to the national level, for as long as we continue to be loud and frothing in hypocrisy and quiet and blind to premeditated oppression, for as long as we accept that the beautiful rainbow of South Sudan can only be projected in one color and tongue at the expense of the other 64-plus communities for as long as we can celebrate the distant Mandela with a straight face as we simultaneously 'preform less to create our own', then we shall continue to grovel in shameful backwardness, real bad leadership and squalor. 


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"It is a sickening pity that what I feel for he,
who wasn't my President, I can't similarly project to
he who is my President." 
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See, tomorrow you won't be amongst the glitterati in dark suits and black goggles and tax-payer funded jets and a million bodyguards competing for a vantage point on TV with the big man's casket. You know who will be there. But this much, I hope that the death of Mandela is the proverbial 'unless a seed dies', and that with it, South Sudan will probably get, ultimately, the leader(ship) it desperately deserves. He was no saint but he committed to some admirable ideals and achieved genuine success in liberation, forgiveness, leadership, unity, perseverance, sanity and love that's the current working and beautiful republic of South Africa.
May Mandela find eternal peace!

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Akut Francis is a third-year Information Technology (IT) student at St. Paul's University - Kenya,. He's a hobbyist writer, a story developer and also an active member of Anataban Art initiative - South Sudan
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Editor's Note: The ideas expressed in this article don't necessarily reflect the position of 'The Philosophical Refugee' but of the author. 

ON CULTURAL IDENTITY & BELONGING

Dear Melbournians, the South Sudanese people to be precise. Do you think we have seen it all? Do you think we have seen that: I mean in the aftermath of yesteryears, in regard to our culture and the notions around identity and belonging? Do you think we have seen the true reaping of what we sowed years ago? Do you really think so? After all, did we really sow anything like seeds and that there’s something to be reaped? Did we really live it out well to be seen today?

I am sorry to have bothered you, my potential readers, with questions regarding our social, economic, and political location in our host society: Australia. I think we have not seen it all and as a whole: The idea that people are bound by certain values and beliefs of significance to them. This requires cooperation and role-specific obligations on the roles of every man and woman across a given people and their society.

TOLERANCE & INCLUSION


While it is possible for us to racially discriminate or judge people we know, the chances of judging people we know diminish significantly the more we know them. An easy example of the importance of understanding others is the attitude people develop when they want to harm others or when they want to deny them something valuable. Essentially, before you fight someone, you insult them. Insults are attempts at diminishing the value of people, an attempt at estranging them, as Toni Morrison argued in The Origin of Others. It is easy to discriminate against strangers or make others strangers or dehumanized in order to discriminate against them.

Transformational Leadership, Inclusive Institutions and Service Provision

Leadership, given what is happening now in South Sudan, and generally in Africa, fascinates me. And it fascinates me not in a good way but because of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic ills facing the African continent and most of the so-called 'Third World.' To me, South Sudan, now, is a classic case.

Rebellion by disaffected politico-military leaders and repression by the government of South Sudan in Juba have stunted institutional development and leadership growth. This has made service provision almost irrelevant as political survival has taken primacy and supremacy. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

‘Black’ as an Identity Oversimplification and Mockery

Black as a universalized cultural identity of the African Person (AP)* is a residual effect of slave and colonial mentality; a racial/race paradigm. It is a malady I call, conservatively speaking, stuck-in-the-past syndrome of color constraints. Black could be an on-the-street ‘social identifier’ of race figures not a meaningful phenomenon of deep cultural identification on a universal scale.