When will South Sudan’s distress end to reaffirm our hopes?

When will South Sudan’s distress end to reaffirm our hopes?
An Internally displaced girl stares at a severely malnourished man in Unity State’s capital Bentiu (photo credit: Getty Images)

Just 10 years ago, our flag was hoisted while tens of thousands of South Sudanese, heads of state, government representatives, regional body members, religious leaders, celebrities, and other dignitaries beheld it with elevated expectations, hopes, and outlook.

Tears were rolling down the cheeks of many South Sudanese as they sang heartily the words “for justice, liberty, and prosperity” in their national anthem. A whoop of joy was heard from widows, orphans, and most loudly, from those who lost their beloved ones to the struggle, thinking that for the first time in history, they would have a country and a safe home to live in, where their children would have access to education, if not free, at a reduced cost.

The hopes of youth employment and women’s empowerment were shooting up into the stratosphere from the minds of the citizens, thinking that women’s voices would be loudly heard and innumerable jobs would be generated. There was also the hope that the whole population would be resilient to all forms of economic and financial frustrations.

Freedom fighters and many other citizens were standing on one leg with walking sticks in both hands. Others with none of their hands seen fixed on their shoulders and others on wheelchairs with no legs, completely lost to the struggle, shouting the liberation anthems, thinking that they had lived to see the country they fought for. But the general population was led by their imaginations to a “little heaven,” a picture of post-independent South Sudan where roads are in place to access the furthest distance in the north.

They dreamt of traversing the Upper Nile and Bahr-El-ghazal from the South (Equatoria) without any insecurity interference. But what happened? Are we there yet? These are questions that have remained unanswered for a decade.

 I often ask myself a lot of questions, like, what would have been the outcome of the 2011 referendum when South Sudanese went to cast their votes in large numbers for secession? Had they known that voting for an independent South Sudan would not pay as soon as it was portrayed?

Could the apparent half a million helpless inhabitants affected by the recent floods in Jonglei, North Bahr-El-ghazal, and the Upper Nile have voted overwhelmingly for political divorce, had they known that life like that of “Noah and the flood” would descend upon their houses, fields, and ruin the future of their children in the aftermath of the event? And that no authorities appear to be putting their rescue at the top of their priority lists?

Or what would have inspired and influenced the millions of displaced South Sudanese living in the refugee camps and all over the streets of the world to vote for separation, or even to celebrate when the results indicated a win for political autonomy, had they known a vote for separation could mean a vote for displacement from their ancestral homes? What would have stopped those who lost their beloved ones from voting for a united Sudan if they had known that going for an independent South Sudan could mean losing more of their beloved ones?

Where are the answers

The answers to the above questions would certainly mean that should a contrary outcome have happened, we could have remained in a strong political marriage or if it would still be advantageous for the south to separate, then non-impressive and overwhelming figures could have occurred.

One should be forgiven for thinking that I’m against the success of our political autonomy or don’t understand the importance of sovereignty, because if I do so, it means I don’t adore and appreciate the precious sacrifice offered by our great pioneers and those whose blood cemented our nation. However, it’s vital to also comprehend that, it is nearly useless to be called independent when there is a deep valley of incompetence and unwillingness to prove why we yearned for political independence from some of those who make the major decisions for our country.

In other words, why is being independent important when the general life of the people in a country does not correlate with it? Where is the promise of living as first-class citizens after voting for a new political dispensation?

Why are our institutions not empowered but under the control of some clique of people? Why are pregnant women dying every day because of inadequate health services and unpaid salaries for medical workers in some parts of the country? How do our leaders feel when citizens deep in Kolyang, Akobo, and Pibor cannot afford to pay for their children’s education in the cheapest schools in the country? How do they feel when those citizens deep in Tombura, Yambio, and Ezo counties who overwhelmingly voted for secession cannot afford to pay their health bills in our local health centres because there are no policies enacted to elevate their economic status.

How do they even sleep at night when the lives of those in Renk, Latjor, and Ayod are daily threatened and insecure, when some of those in Loch, Yirol, Aweil, and Awerial cannot afford a one-day meal and safe water to quench their thirst?

To lead South Sudanese out of this crisis, perilous situation and weed out the gauntly grown regrets in their mind, the government must act in favour of the citizens by prioritising social service delivery, economic elevation through economic empowerment and financial support.

The government should encourage institutions to work independently but with a huge emphasis on integrity and accountability and most importantly focus on setting a ‘safe home’ such that those South Sudanese roaming and taking refuge on the streets of the world return home and have a sense of belonging.

Emmanuel Taban is a South Sudanese studying Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance at Yukon University in Canada. He can be reached at emmanueltaban880@gmail.com or via phone at +12505329486.

DISCLAIMER: All comments and opinions appearing on this website are those of the authors and do not represent the editorial view of The City Review Newspaper.