Who Contributed to the Independence of South Sudan?

By Wesley Kosa,

June 14, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — Prior to the independence of the Sudan, the people of Southern Sudan had started to witness how the northern Sudanese were preparing for the country’s Independence without paying much attention to the concerns, expectations and aspiration of the people of Southern Sudan. As all the northern political parties came together to push for the independence of the Sudan and to discuss the future of post-colonial Sudan, they neglected the much broader participation of the southern Sudanese. These raised serious questions amongst Southern Sudanese about the post-independence unity of the Sudan and the system of government. This was the beginning of mistrust amongst the Sudanese people which compelled the Southerners to demand a federal system of governance before independence to maintain the unity of the Sudan, but their demand was rejected by the northern elites. As an alternative to the confederation, the government in Khartoum swiftly introduced an Arab-Islamic orientated system of government which angered the southerners and made them to view the unity of Sudan as unacceptable, very costly and unattainable.

Southern Sudanese wave flags and cheer at the Republic of South Sudan's first national soccer match in the capital of Juba on Sunday, July 10, 2011. The game, played against Kenya, comes just one day after South Sudan declared its independence from the north following decades of costly civil war. Today, South Sudan cannot even afford to send its soccer team to attend regional games in neighboring countries as effects of war take over(AP Photo/Pete Muller)

Southern Sudanese wave flags and cheer at the Republic of South Sudan’s first national soccer match in the capital of Juba on Sunday, July 10, 2011. The game, played against Kenya, comes just one day after South Sudan declared its independence from the north following decades of costly civil war. Today, South Sudan cannot even afford to send its soccer team to attend regional games in neighboring countries as effects of war take over(AP Photo/Pete Muller)

Southern Sudanese wave flags and cheer at the Republic of South Sudan’s first national soccer match in the capital of Juba on Sunday, July 10, 2011. The game, played against Kenya, comes just one day after South Sudan declared its independence from the north following decades of costly civil war. Today, South Sudan cannot even afford to send its soccer team to attend regional games in neighboring countries as effects of war take over(AP Photo/Pete Muller)

Right after the independence, the northern Sudanese never worked for the unity of the Sudan, they preached unity but their actions were completely contrary to what they preached. They assumed the ownership of the Country which was clearly manifested in the way central executive positions were allocated. All the executive positions were only occupied by the northern Sudanese people, yet they continue to preach unity which failed to yield good result. They even attempted to rewrite the history of the Sudan, erasing the nationalistic contributions of the Southern Sudanese people during the colonial era. For the northern Sudanese, the people of Southern Sudan were not nationalistic enough to contribute in the Sudan’s search for independence. The intentions of the northerners were clearly to dishonor the contributions and sacrifices made by the Southern Sudanese during the struggle against the colonial regimes. After the independence of the Sudan, the successive regimes in Khartoum blocked all options of governance system that would accommodate, recognize and embrace the Sudanese diversity, which forced the southern Sudanese to launch the Any-Nya political movement with a formidable military force to fight for the independence of Southern Sudan. This was the beginning of the long hard walk to the independence of South Sudan.

The Anya-Nya Movement begun in Equatoria Region, and later on other people from the two regions of Southern Sudan joined. People from every tribe and all walks of life in the Southern Sudan contributed during the Anya-Nya Movement. Though it was founded in Equatoria, the people of Equatoria never claimed the ownership of the movement or ownership of the Southern Region after the Addis-Ababa Agreement. This was purely displaying the spirit of unity among the people of Southern Sudan and this spirit was witnessed during the time of Southern Region which triggered the Khartoum government to divide the Southern Sudan into three regions subsequently into ten States. After the Khartoum government dishonored the Addis-Ababa Agreement, the people of southern Sudan launched Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army/Movement which was initially fighting for a democratic secular Sudan. The core founders of SPLA/M were Dinkas and non-Dinkas as well namely: William Nyuan Bany,Salva Kiir,Arok Thon Arok, Dr. John Garang, Daniel Awet Ako,Kerubino Kuanyin and earlier in the beginning of the movement they were joined by Dr. Lam Akol, James Wani Igga, Dr. Riek Machar,Yousif Kuwa, Kuol Manyang Juuk and Gordon Kong Chuol. These became the first Political Military high command of the movement. Each of the three Regions in the southern Sudan was represented to reflect the national unity. As Khartoum government continued to press on with its divisive policies of Arab-Islamic Sudan, it forced many southern political figures to join the movement, that includes Eliaba Sururu, Joseph Oduho, Alfred Lado Gore, Samuel Abu John, Dr. Richard K. Mulla not to mention but a few. In 1992 Thomas Cirillo Swaka and Augustino Jadala mutinied in Juba military headquarters, which resulted to Juba massacre. This atrocity forced many youth from equatoria to join SPLA. Both the divisive policies of the Khartoum government and the national platform of the SPLM/A encouraged many southern Sudanese from all walks of life to join the struggle for freedom. The SPLM/A national agenda also attracted people mostly from marginalized areas in the northern Sudan; this made the movement to become one of the powerful movements that the World has ever witnessed. It was one of the brutal and the longest conflict of this century. As a result not a single person will claim he/she has not lost a dear one during this struggle and it’s unfortunate to dishonor those who paid the ultimate price with their own blood by saying Dinkas liberated South Sudan. Such a statement not only dishonors our martyrs but endangers the very existence of South Sudan.

People in rural areas contributed mightily with food items, offering their children to be recruited in the army and when the enemy showed up, the people in the village would never take them to where the SPLA was camping. People in Cities and Towns participated by sending youth to join SPLA and also contributing money and other critical viable information to the movement. These efforts were taken by all the tribes of Southern Sudan. The Southern Sudanese in Diaspora also came together to contribute money and create awareness to bring the plight of Southern Sudanese to the attention of the international community. Along the way over 2 million people died as a result of this war and war- related causes. They are all our martyrs. It was a struggle that no one tribe can claim the victory all to itself because it was a collective effort. During the referendum for self-determination, all the 64 tribes participated in excising their democratic right by voting for the independence of South Sudan, it was their collective action that today South Sudan is a sovereign state.

But unfortunately the Jieng elites in South Sudan today are turning their blind eyes on those facts and deliberately denying and dishonoring the contributions of all the people of South Sudan by claiming that Dinkas are the only ones who fought for the independence of the South Sudan. Some of those non-Dinka fighters are serving in this current government in Juba and some are still in an active duty in the South Sudan army. Such negative statements dishonor their contributions during the war and even their current participation in the government. The Jieng elites are saying any other tribe is not nationalistic enough to contribute for the independence of the South Sudan. Even though President Kiir had other tribes under his command during the struggle, he has kept quiet so do other SPLA Dinka commanders. This illustrates how divisive Kiir’s government is; it’s taking the country to a total collapse. 

As the elites in Juba, are actively trying to rewrite history, they are destroying the very fabric of our national unity just as the northern Sudanese had done which resulted in the independence of South Sudan. The Jieng elites are trying every trick possible that the successive regimes in Khartoum applied on the Southern Sudanese. But they have to know, for every action there is always equal reaction and whatever will take place in the nearest future, the government of President Kiir will be held accountable by the people of South Sudan. South Sudan’s independence was a collective effort of the people of South Sudan and this is the fact and no one will deny and change. All those tricks the successive Khartoum governments tried  but it never worked for their benefits instead it energized the momentum for separation, and these were the very reasons why the people of southern Sudan fought for separation to gain an independent sovereign state only later to squander their victory and much coveted prize.

Wesley Kosa is the Secretary for Information of South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC). For more information, you can reach the author through email at bkosa@hotmail.com

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