By Kuir ë Garang
The death of Isaiah Abraham is disheartening. What exactly did we fight for? What would a person like me hope for in South Sudan? More often than not our leaders lean on the ‘age’ of South Sudan: we are still young! Oh, give me a break!
No country is too young to put down governing modalities. A government is only cited as young in terms of developmental expectations. However, putting down governing strategies, developmental modalities and investment catchment areas and ambiences doesn’t need the country to be ‘old,’ whatever that means.
A colleague of mine, Nhial Tiitmamer, once put it wisely that ‘the country might be young but we are not!” If such wisdom comes from a young person, what in the name of hell are old men doing by not setting up peace-abling modalities and sentiments.
The young journalist, Mading Ngor Akech, hosted a popular radio show in Juba to help South Sudanese air their opinions as one way of enjoying the fruits of independence. He was constantly reminded of how intolerant our ‘freedom fighters’ have become. He was constantly reminded not to criticize the government! What?
Dr. James Okuk, Dr. Jok Madut etc etc have faced intimidations or humiliation in the hands of South Sudanese security agents. Opinions don’t bite. They should serve to bolster ones determination in doing good. Just prove someone wrong by doing something good.
Opinion writers have become targets. What has to be noted is that an opinion is an opinion and what one has to do is to disprove the opinion in the same method it was delivered in, or one has to disprove it through deeds, good deeds that is.
I disagreed with almost everything late Isaiah Abraham wrote, but I wrote opinion articles criticizing him. But what business does one have killing a young person who was using his brain-pen power?
The president went extra-judicial by calling for the arrest of young journalists, who wrote opinion articles against his daughter’s marriage to an Ethiopian immigrant in South Sudan. If the president does that then why wouldn’t anyone go after journalists and political analysts?
One has to bring charges before the judge decides whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant jail time. The police only have a short window to make their case whether to charge someone or not. They have no authority to send someone to jail. However, in South Sudan, one is arrested and jailed by the police and then the judge is asked to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant one’s release from jail.
If we have lost leaders to corruption and greed in South Sudan, then where the hell are elders? Where is the wisdom of elders in South Sudan? Have we also lost our elders to corruption? Or have we lost our elders to fear of the ‘freedom fighters.’
If we have poverty of leadership in South Sudan, then we need the wisdom of South Sudanese elders to start doing its function. We need someone to tell the former freedom fighters, who have now become freedom stiflers, that their heads are stuck deep inside corruption pot.
Some leaders talk of ‘I’m clean…I’m not corrupt’ but if you look at their entourages, you come to realize that they have people from their own tribes or relatives with them. Sometimes state visits feel like family visits. Even someone who is one of the least corrupt in South Sudan, Wani Igga, isn’t immune from the fact that his state visits looked like a family visit.
Note, I’m not saying that Isaiah Abraham was killed by the government of South Sudan because I have no evident to support that; however, I know one thing for sure. The government is not putting down strategies that’d make sure such extra-judicial murders don’t happen.
When government officials go abroad, they talk of how great they are doing, how young the country is and that they should be given time…and how enormous the task of national building is. However, they don’t tell us clearly how the problems should be tackled.
Even if I don’t know, by now, who killed Isaiah Abraham, I still point my fingers at the leadership that is doing nothing to fight extra-judicial killings. Extra-judicial murders and political intimidations are the order of the day in Juba.
It doesn’t matter how long it takes, we’ll get you: the corrupt officials, political assassins…We’ll get you even when you’re 90 years old and frail.
I’m calling on people like Majak D’Agoot, James Hoth Mai, Oyay Deng Ajak, Pagam Amum Okech, Deng Alor, James Wani, to know that as much as you think you’re doing your best, your silence will push this country off the cliff.
We are not asking you to build Washington D.C in Juba in ten years; that’d be a stupid and impractical expectation, however, we are asking you to put down visible and workable modalities that can guide the nation into peace and development.
R.I.P Isaiah Abraham! We’ll keep writing.
Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudanese poet and author living in Canada