March 10, 2015 (SSNA) — The London Evening Standard paper recently ran a full page advert by Vice News asking: “Who will help South Sudan find peace?” file:///C:/Users/Rosemary/Downloads/Vice_news_advert.pdf (after accessing the link, please minimise the advert to see the whole advert)
Looking at this advert one can not miss concluding that the soldier appearing in it must be in some form of a transport vehicle on his way to a mission. Clad in light brown camouflage usually worn by western armies operating in desert terrain, this dominant soldier looking directly at you with squarish solid face reveals emotions of anguish. He holds the object of his trade, an AK47 with the barrel facing downwards presumably for safety reasons. He is surrounded by “comrades” to his right and back with one standing whose head is cut out of from the advert.
The bottom of the advert carries the print: “YouTube/Vice news + 974,066.” Another message in large print, partly in red and partly in black stands out on the right hand side saying, “You don’t just watch the news.” Careful study of the advert reveals two main messages. The primary purpose is business. Vice News is advertising itself to increase readership and expand its share of the media market.
The message that may get imprinted in the readers’ mind subliminally here is that Vice News will keep you informed by bringing you the rarest of news from the remotest and dangerous spots of the globe. So, don’t miss out. Subscribe!
The second message which luckily is highly noticeable is the enlightenment of the Western masses about the plight of South Sudan. While Vice News is certainly promoting its business interest it is also doing a very good service to the people of South Sudan. The question, “Who will help South Sudan find peace?” alone will prompt readers to research what is happening in that part of the world and hopefully they may be able to help by writing to their members of parliament for the issue to be taken up and looked at appropriately.
Vice News’ question has come at the right time. It coincides with the failure of IGAD in mediating the peace talks in Addis Ababa. It is now abundantly clear to the people of South Sudan that IGAD will not bring any peace for numerous reasons. Please refer to, ‘IGAD’s inadequate strategy in South Sudan’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201404140864.html
One complete year has now been wasted by IGAD in the erroneous belief that the re-unification of the rotten SPLM party will bring peace to South Sudan. This poorly researched if ever and baseless objective has now failed as expected with IGAD remaining discredited. This failure is likely to intensify the depressed state of affairs in South Sudan. One could argue that the current South Sudanese society in its collective is a disempowered society. The abuses it has undergone over the decades in the hands of Arabs of the Sudan and the SPLM in the latter part has deeply injured it and fragmented its constituent parts.
Independence in 2011 was looked at both locally and internationally as a chance to allow the society at last to have a healing space. Unfortunately, SPLM’s short sightedness coupled with its criminal mind and appalling behaviour pushed South Sudan into a very serious crisis in December 2013 leading into massive loss of life and displacement of nearly two million people.
Typical of SPLM leaders, President Salva Kiir, Dr Riek Machar and the entire SPLM machine do not care about the suffering of those displaced (within and without the country), especially those in the United Nations protection camps. What matters to them is their relentless pursuit of power. This is what preoccupies them. They are happy to destroy their tribesmen by arming them and unleashing them on each other in this endeavour without any concern for their safety and well being.
This senseless pursuit and vicious struggle for power combined with IGAD’s lack of creativity, lack of objectivity and poor mediation skills condemns South Sudanese to further destruction. Socially and psychologically broken, South Sudan’s confidence is taking serious blows from the bleak environment created by the massive failures of the three witches: SPLM-IG, SPLM-IO and SPLM G-10.
The loss of confidence in IGAD (and the international community) inevitably removes any hope the people of South Sudan have in the global structures to deliver peace. Those displaced people imprisoned in the UN Protection camps due to their ethnicities and political affiliations, and those in government controlled areas policed by the brutal security system are likely to suffer deep depression with the vividly disappearing hope.
Essentially the current system under SPLM/A as always only produces a state of paralysis, state of fear and powerlessness. The people basically are cowed down through violence to allow the beneficiaries of the system to loot the coffers of the state with impunity. This state of affairs further exacerbates the disintegration of the already broken social system.
The downside to this relentless SPLM’s terrorism (which has been going on for three decades) may lead unexpectedly to a violent uprising. All the things happening in South Sudan now are the classical ingredients of revolutions. The literature on revolutions point out that all revolutions start by decay of authority, misery and suffering of the people. South Sudan indisputably is fast moving into that direction with the masses gradually shading their fear. Note, fear is the very food that nourishes terror and enables the SPLM to prevail. The moment the people stop fearing, that will be the end of SPLM/A in South Sudan.
The prospect of peace and stability in South Sudan indeed looks bleak under the SPLM. Even if the IGAD talks were to succeed in reconciling President Kiir and Dr Riek and re-unifying the SPLM, that would not bring the yearned for security and stability in South Sudan because essentially it would be the entrenchment of the pre 23rd July 2013 alliance of Jieng and Nuer responsible for the status quo: a vicious tribal dictatorship. All the reason Vice News asks the crucial question: “Who will help South Sudan find peace?”
This question from the outset appears to give the impression that the help must come from outside and this means the international community. True to a point, but the international community through IGAD has clearly failed and so far the world powers seem to have no appetite in decisively and conclusively sorting out South Sudan. For if they truly wanted to help they could simply set up a new mediating body or better still a new facilitating body led by the imminent persons as already suggested in appeals to the Troika. Such a new initiative should then bring all the stakeholders to the table to hammer out a lasting solution for South Sudan.
The United Nations Security Council could easily do that but unfortunately there appears to be no will and the possible reason for this could lie in the historical interaction of Europeans and Africans. If the ethnic cleansing and the naked abuse meted on the South Sudanese people by the SPLM was outside the continent of Africa, the probability is that the UN would have invoked all the powers it has to hold SPLM to account with peace enforced as in the former Yugoslavia.
So, the real answer to the problems of South Sudan lies with the South Sudanese themselves. But as stated above, the people have been abused and disempowered. However, all is not lost. No need to despair. With or without peace agreement among the SPLM/A, South Sudan as stated above is already ripe for a change one way or the other. The silent majority without doubt is disgusted and fed up with the SPLM tribal dictatorship.
What the people are missing now is the managed connectedness. The conversations that affirm togetherness, the sharing of information and ideas among the oppressed, the articulation of what the people want in this thing called South Sudan, which will provide the fuel for political action. This should now squarely fall on the Diaspora and the silent leaders to facilitate if SPLM is to eventually be banished once and for all to achieve real freedom, peace and stability in South Sudan.
Which brings us to the diabolical project of SPLM reunification? This fiendish idea has all along been spearheaded by the Jieng because they stand to lose if SPLM is dismantled. Initially it was Luka Biong who bugled it with the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa and then the Ethiopian People Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPDRF) as healers. This went nowhere as it hit the buffers. Then the Jieng think-tank known as Ebony waded in with the support of foreign nongovernmental organisation (NGO) resulting into the Arusha SPLM meeting. South Sudan Nation website has published a brilliant and incisive editorial piece on the issue. Please see, ‘Towards SPLM unification, again? What a tragedy for South Sudan’ http://www.southsudannation.com/towards-splm-unification-again-what-a-tragedy-for-south-sudan/
However, it is important to try to understand why IGAD leaders give such a daft idea huge significance. Most if not all the countries of East Africa are led by mass political movements. For example, the National Congress Party of the Sudan, the Ethiopian People Democratic Revolutionary Front of Ethiopia, the National Resistance Movement of Uganda, Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania and so on. These political movements/parties have a false belief that they represent all of their people in their countries. They are unable to separate a country from a party. This belief persists even when the evidence is glaringly in the open.
Take for example in Uganda, in addition to the NRM, there are more than 3 credible parties with varied ideologies yet this fact is ignored. Though this perspective is important in understanding the problem, it is a topic by itself and I will not dwell on it in this article. Suffice to say that for the purpose of this piece, the attachment element in it is what matters.
The real problem blinding the countries involved in brokering peace in South Sudan is the issue of attachment or sentimentality developed between the liberation movements in Africa and the people. This allowed these movements to achieve a politically unassailable status such as the Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania. Because SPLM rightly or wrongly is seen as a liberation movement, the members of IGAD have taken it for granted that it represents the people of South Sudan and therefore it should not be allowed to perish.
In a sense the issue has become psychological and it depends on the subject of change and loss. The IGAD countries are terrified of change in South Sudan that sweeps SPLM away. The thought of SPLM atrophying scares the IGAD leaders because it exposes the vulnerability of these so called revolutionary movements. Thus it is seen as a contagious disease like Ebola which may infect them. Look at it; all the movements/parties leading the IGAD countries have got their own problems and if they are to continue ruling they need to maintain the myth of invincibility. Therefore, SPLM must not be allowed to disappear and the best they can do is to patch it up.
As aging movements with mushrooming problems within them they are afraid of SPLM’s war with itself becoming a catalyst for speeding up divisions in their own movements/parties forcing a wider change in the region. This is something that the dictators of East Africa do not want at any cost. To them if a “liberation movement” like SPLM can destroy itself without it being supported to unite and restore normality, it follows that their own movements may face such fate. This is a scary scenario for the dictators. Thus they do not want to see SPLM’s demise acting as an inspiration to their own citizens who may be enduring oppression like the South Sudanese.
Every change comes with a new situation which sweeps the old order away. What the new order brings to the dictators and their supporters is loss of power together with the unknown. The unknown generates or evokes a state of uncertainty and fear. Fear disables people and this is what makes change unwelcome to them, especially when what is coming or replacing the old order is not mentally imagined favourably.
Change always comes with loss. The system being thrown out is a loss to its leaders and supporters (beneficiaries). Loss comes with its own difficulties. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1926 – 2004) and others argue that loss occur in various situations. In death, and in separation of any sort temporary or permanent, it is met initially with denial, anger, and then blame before the final phase of acceptance when the inevitable is acknowledged. This is the bereavement process.
Now there are bereavement like situations that happen before the real loss. For instance, when somebody is struck with terminal illness like cancer. The moment the expected loss is announced, the intense pain resulting from the unexpected news bursts into denial, anger and blame and this may go on until the loss itself happens for the final part of the process of bereavement to be completed.
In politics such situation is very common because regimes and their supporters tend to know when their movements/parties’ decline and lose support of the masses; and also when the masses hate them and call for change as in the situation of South Sudan. When they sense this they basically sense atrophy of their beloved organisations and bereavement sets in. They first begin to deny the reality and then angrily they move on to blame everybody for their predicament. This behaviour is now so common with the SPLM and its supporters. Just read the various comments in the South Sudanese websites to make full sense of the SPLMers bereaving. Their party is terminally ill and its health is fast deteriorating to death.
Therefore, the project of unification of SPLM started by Luka Biong and followed up by Ebony supported by IGAD is the initial process of bereavement. All of them are in denial of what is coming to SPLM as a “liberation movement”. They are in denial of SPLM’s already slow death. They are in denial of the fact that SPLM does not represent the people of South Sudan. They are in denial that the people abhor the SPLM because it is a murderous organisation. They are in denial that the SPLM is a criminal organisation. They are in denial that the SPLM is divisive and has failed to govern. They are in denial that South Sudanese have other credible parties with capable leaders and so on and so forth.
Everything and everybody is to blame except the SPLM. This is the real problem of South Sudan under the mediation of IGAD. Unfortunately, IGAD and the other African countries like South Africa and Tanzania may not be aware of this blind spot because it is emanating from the unconscious mind of the organisation. They can not see it and they remain ignorant of it.
So, what can be gleaned from this behaviour of IGAD? The entire IGAD as an organisation may be depressed by the developing bereavement which may be affecting its ability to act rationally and objectively. People familiar with knowledge of organisations as living entities afflictable by pathologies may easily see and understand the dynamics playing out here. This is the psycho-political perspective.
There is another perspective and that is the economic one whose core argument rests on the countries involved pursuing their own national interests only regardless of what happens to South Sudan. Please see ‘We must not hold South Sudan to ransom’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201410240119.html and ‘IGAD’s inadequate strategy in South Sudan’ whose URL appears above. Both perspectives appear not to offer South Sudan any hope as they do not take into consideration the welfare of South Sudan.
Given the above, IGAD should be pushed aside and a new body created to take the case of South Sudan forward. IGAD clearly is a pathological organisation needing help itself and should not be allowed to play havoc with fate of an entire country of approximately 8 million people.
Therefore, “Who will help South Sudan find peace?” The answer as stated is simple. South Sudanese have to help themselves to find peace. To understand why they must help themselves, South Sudanese need to familiarise themselves with ideas of Frederick Douglass (the American social reformer)in his historic speech, titled, “West Indian Emancipation” presented at Canandaigua, New York in 1857. For ease of reference here is the link http://www.blackpast.org/1857-frederick-douglass-if-there-no-struggle-there-no-progress[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.