Opinion: The paradox of South Sudanese: ‘You are only good when you are dead’

Dr. Oyet Nathaniel Pierino , SPLM-IO former Governor of Imatong state and party representative to National Constitution Amendment Committee(Photo credit: Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

Dr. Oyet Nathaniel Pierino , SPLM-IO former Governor of Imatong state and party representative to National Constitution Amendment Committee(Photo credit: Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

June 14, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – World over, very few people would suggest to take their own lives. They say Death has no Friend, but in South Sudan, the reverse seems true. There are those who are friends with death.

When you are living, and doing your things, your work, ideas would be opposed and fought. Today, you are a friend to some people but an enemy to others; when you are sick you are left to fight for your life. If you make it, nobody cares; if you do not make it people now care.

Now see, after you are dead, everybody; enemies and friends unite and assemble together to bid you farewell chanting; a great man has died, a hero has fallen. I do not get it. But you are a friend to my death.

Take for instance, Cdr. Edward Lino after he died in exile, he was given state send off and burial. When Edward was living, to some he was a great man, to others he was not; Hon. John Luk Jock, after his death, he was given a state send off and burial; when John was living, to some he was a great man, to others he was not; but when they died, friends and enemies assembled for their dignified burial. All else were forgotten. Yes, it is a good thing to forget what divides us. But why after death?

Take at the level of SPLA/M, The former colleagues, friends, members who lived part of their lives together and worked together for liberation of South Sudan are now scattered everywhere. Some are in government while others are in the opposition and or frustrated in their houses. While they do not agree on how to run the country, but there is a silent pact that regardless of their political affiliations, they agree that death is the only unifying factor. It is written on their faces, and silently they admit that they want to be equal in death; accorded love, respect, honor and a state burial when one dies. At death, the government is very good, as long as it can facilitate a state honor. While to the government, the deceased was a good man and a hero because he died in struggle and he is no more.

Even at the community or family levels, such paradox exists. People have little sympathies or regards for you when you are still alive but shall make contribution to buy your coffin, or a suit for your burial. Something they could not do to buy you a pain killer.

There are those who are still at large, (I am not talking about you or me) if anything happens to them, they shall then become heroes and heroine but now they are negative people.

We could also say, some cause of death, being celebrated today, could be related to how you were treated by fellow men when you were still alive. You were denied your love, rights, privileges, opportunities, entitlements, or even persecuted, which could have extended your life expectancy on earth. You were then left vulnerable or forced to succumb.

Unfortunately, you are not there to invite who comes for your burial, or contribute to facilitate the lavish funeral procession. In the neighboring Uganda, a deceased wrote in his will, long list of people that should not step in his funeral. This was vehemently violated. There was no remedy.

This leaves me to conclude; As you live, those you perceive as enemies or friends, good or bad shall at the end be good or heroes when they passed on. And those you perceive as friends or enemies shall unite over your death when you shall not be there to resist them. You are just wasting your time.

Reconciliation and healing with the living and not with the dead is virtue.

In Memory of Fallen Heroes and Heroines!

The author is a senior member of the Sudans People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) and the group’s acting governor of Imatong state.


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