“The power we discover inside ourselves as we survive a life-threatening experience can be utilized equally well outside of crisis, too. I am, in every moment, capable of mustering the strength to survive again—or of tapping that strength in other good, productive, healthy ways.” ― Michele Rosenthal, Before the World Intruded
One empty rhetoric that I always hear as a presentation of our problems is that “The future of South Sudan is doomed.” The future that we just started 5 years ago should not be plagued with hopelessness and pessimism, but rather, be embraced with an optimism and unending quest for prosperity. The people of South Sudan have the power to change the future.
Currently, impediments exist, some bigger than we could ever imagine. The best way to deal with them is not giving up. We have to slowly point out our challenges and deal with them accordingly, one by one.
On the other hand, I have a belief that soon, the youth of South Sudan will stand together and make a significant change in regard to the prosperity of our nation. Youths play a fundamental role in shaping the important course of development, taking into account the anticipation for their positive actions to realize the proud image of their country as well as well-being of all citizens.
The economic recession and the insecurity that the country has been plunged into is putting the bright future of South Sudan in doubt. But I tell you, South Sudan is not the first and will not be the last to experience such barriers and overcome them with time. What is happening in our country today will be no more in the near future.
In support of the above statement, the United States of America – one of the greatest and most powerful nations in the world – underwent the issues we are facing today a few years after her independence from Britain in 1776. Below is the demonstration of how the U.S history relates to ours:
In violation of the peace treaty of 1783 ending the Revolutionary War, Britain continued to occupy forts in the Old Northwest of United States of America. Similarly, in violation of the 2005 peace agreement (CPA), North Sudan continues to occupy “Panthou or Heglig” which belongs to South Sudan.
The United States remained with a huge debt from the Revolutionary War and paper money issued during the conflict was virtually worthless. Though this does not wholly equate to the situation in South Sudan, it is important to note that our pound has been so severely devalued and made worthless.
Spain refused to recognize the United States’ southern and western boundaries. In the same way, Kenya to the East of South Sudan is refusing to recognize our borderline with them; North Sudan is refusing to recognize Abyiei as a South Sudan’s territory.
In summary, the United States had no federal court system, no organized forces, no tax collection system, went to civil war for four years and had a generally weaker government in her first years of independence. But over time, the U.S government and her citizens came together and worked hard and set their country to the path of what it is today.
Furthermore, almost every country in Africa has once or twice been in a civil war and an economic recession. All East African countries have been in such situations. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi have all had economic recessions and been involved in civil wars in one way or the other. However, what is important to point out here is that the aforementioned countries have battled their way back and prospered in a way that has made life better for their people. Many of us study in East Africa and we can attest to those changes.
Another issue that I see with us is impatience. Many of us think that the system of governance in South Sudan has to be like the one – in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, among others – just after 3 or 5 years. To be realistic, that is impossible. Any system must first be strategized and worked upon piece by piece. On this note, I am certain we will soon put aside the liberal democracy fantasies and work towards a real change in our country.
To take you through history of a governance system a little bit, it took Kenya 29 years to be a democratised nation with its first multi-party presidential elections; it took Rwanda 38 years to be a democratised nation with its first multi-party presidential elections; Uganda held its first Presidential Elections in 1996 (after 33 years of independence); and it took Tanzania 34 years to have its first multi-party presidential elections.
We should be proud that our country had a multi-party presidential elections in her first year of independence, and what should be more important now is bolstering the existing institutions. The agenda of destroying them in quest of having better ones does not make sense.
We still have a distance to cover in order to have a genuinely democratic South Sudan. I am not saying that people should not have high expectations from their government, but rather, I am interested in driving people to realise the fact that our nation is still a baby that has just learned how to walk. A baby can’t crawl, walk, talk, run and work on the same day. Putting a system in place is a process that needs time, and taking up arms is not the resolve.
In that regard, we have to embrace peace so that we as people of South Sudan can be able to operate and positively contribute to the growth of our country without fears of war (ethnic targeting at the forefront). I believe that South Sudanese can make South Sudan a great country for themselves and a country of significant growth & prosperity in the eyes of other nations when they unify their efforts and avert the ongoing mess.
I strongly disagree with those that say “the future of South Sudan is doomed.” South Sudan is a nation blessed with abundant resources (ranging from talents-academics-natural resources-etc). Our country will overcome its challenges just like Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda did. The problems the country is going through are a lesson to us and the future generations. They are not any bigger than the country per se.
I appeal to all my fellow countrymen and women to realise that war is worthless. Let’s embrace the National Dialogue and brighten our future. Today, we have no peace because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. The time to come together is now.
“And all the books you’ve read have been read by other people. And all the songs you’ve loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people; and that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing ‘unity.’ ” – Stephen Chbosky
By Arol Dut Jok
The writer is an International Relations student and can be reached via – firstname.lastname@example.org