By Apioth Mayom Apioth
Feb 12, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — The rise of Salvatore Kiir during our times in the bush fighting Khartoum would not have gone unchallenged had his rivals not been overly ambitious to topple their leading colonel, Dr. Garang de Mabior. The likes of Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Arok Thon Arok, Lam Akol, and Riek Machar, were talented enough to have replaced Dr. John when it was time for him to hang up his boots.
At the time, things weren’t straightforward as we would have like them to be; every one of these men was arrogantly coveting the top seat, and no doubt each and every one of them was saying, “What does Garang have that I don’t have?” In the end, all of them lost their way; with some switching to the enemy’s side; both Kuanyin and Arok met their deaths in the midst of those confusing times. In the beginning, not many people knew whether Dr. Garang had the leadership capability to lead SPLM/SPLA; the Movement was a collection of southern Sudanese fastidiously lumped together to fight for a common cause: The liberation of southern Sudan from the marginalization practicalities of the Khartoum’s ruling elites.
Indeed, many of these compatriots were starting to get to know each other while they were putting together the Movement. As we looked back now, no one can point a finger at these compatriots, for they were rightful candidates in their own rights during the few years of the Movement; at the beginning of the 1990s, they should have back down just a little because they had the luxury of having seen what John Garang was capable of, during his short stint in power. As things were, these camaraderie kept on calling for Dr. Garang to leave the Movement so as to put in place democratic reforms; however, they failed to have understood what they were dealing with in the first place: a guerrilla Movement.
SPLM/SPLA was indeed a progressing Movement; but as things stood while we were in the bush, there wasn’t any spacious room to practice liberal ideologues of a democratic nation-state; a lot of things dictated the smooth flow of commandeering. Dr. John de Mabior wasn’t that bad a leader as some people might have falsely made to believe; after the departure of Kuanyin Bol, Arok Thon and others from the Movement, he took in Nyuon Bany and the stormy friction that was commonplace when the likes of Lam Akol and Riek Machar were sharing the spotlight with Dr. John was gone. I have a gut-feeling that Dr. John de Mabior was the right man to lead us back then, and even at these confusing times, his top-notch leadership hasn’t still been surpassed. His great workmanship with Nyuon Bany have time and time again shown that he was willing to work with anyone as long as they were willing to follow his lead because obviously his talents were superior than everyone at the time.
Things would have been different now in South Sudan had any of these compatriots waited patiently for his turn to take the top seat; the race for leadership that took to the fore in the nascent beginnings of the Movement finally plunged our nation into another war zone in December 2013, culminating in the deaths of thousands of our citizens. I hate to say this, but let the truth be told: Dr. Garang was using both Kiir Mayar and James Wani because all the others wanted to bring the house down; a house that was sheltering the dreams of countless successive generations of South Sudanese. Garang’s intentions in using Kiir and Wani were for all our betterment; creating a nation we could all call home.
Here is how the governing house of Kiir Kuethpiny went haywire on him. Sometime after taking power, he began to surround himself with his closing aides. Rather than having the final say and putting in all the final touches to briefings he received, he was always willing to take the words right out of the mouths from his closing associates unaltered and without questioning how those decisions were going to affect the masses of the common South Sudanese. Kiir’s African “big man” leadership is unlike many of the typical strongmen of Africa going back to the time of Toroitich Arap Moi to the present Robert Mugabe. Once similarity though, is the use of force to quieten their opposition forces.
Other than that, those of Moi and Mugabe were (Mugabe is perhaps still) preoccupied with accumulating wealth from day one at the expense of their subjects. Kiir, on other hand, perhaps wanted to share his leadership with his people. He probably had too much love for his people and mistakenly thought his leadership was for charity. He took it as though the leadership was a great wine to be shared among close friends. His leadership has been like a great wine being shared among friends and when everyone is in the wineroom, no one has the upper hand to dictate what every attendee says. Their utmost intention for being there in the first place was to relieve themselves from the stress and have a good time, a wonderful time to forget the daily grinds of the world. As things took shape, and since he was legally sharing his leadership among his closest aides (according to him), he was taking an advice from Anei Wol today and the next day, he switched to Ring Biar.
Events went haywire before his eyes by not taking precautionary measures to take what he was receiving from his advisers and let them pass through a filtration sieve; he had too much respect for them though, almost as though they were co-presidents with him on the throne. He was supposed to synthesize and make improvisations on the briefings he was receiving from his advisers. Both Daniel Moi and Robert Mugabe have been thus far better than him on one thing: They put in place an orderly security apparatuses to prevent their people from butchering each other, and in reality, their leaderships have been a one-man show; it was either a Daniel Arap Moi’s world, or a Robert Mugabe’s world; whereas in South Sudan, perhaps there were also President Telar Ring Deng, President Malong Awan and President Salva Kiir Mayar, all ruling at one go. This was what brought the chaotic dysfunctional downfall of our nation. There were way too many people stirring the soup, creating a messy, murky situation.
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