Contributor's Opinion South Sudan

Do The Youths Have a Clear Picture of the Way Forward?

By Samuel Reech Mayen,

South Sudanese Jonglei youth declare their support for federalism(photo: file)
South Sudanese Jonglei youth declare their support for federalism(photo: file)

March 05, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– A leading theorist called Betaris developed a theory about behavioral change. His theory is about how our attitudes affect our behaviors which subsequently affect other people’s attitudes and their behaviors respectively. To him, the way we act toward others determines how they respond to us. The Betaris’ Box theory though tilts much toward the managers and their employees fit well in almost every relation.

I do make a picture of this theory this way; when kids are playing on a sandy field, there is this harassing child who picks up a chunk of sand to throw at the fellow kid’s face. The bullied child rushes, picks even more sand and throws it back to the provoker. Retaliation is triggered in such a scenario. But there are times, a good-mannered child may just run to look for water to wash his face and with a gentle voice, warns the attacker not to repeat, or else be reported to daddy. This works well as the kids continue to play for the rest of the day. This is the meaning of this theory.

The origin of our problem is buried for no one accepts the blame. However, what matters is how we can co-exist peacefully in South Sudan. We are imprisoned in endless violence, accusations and counter-accusations. Trust has been lost; everyone looks at the other with suspicion. These states of minds have developed into high degree of illusion and delusion.

In this situation, it’s hard to find a rightful consensus to resolve the conflict. Not only that youths are being used as tools for compromising their own future but also some youths including the ones that have gone to higher institutions of learning are still intoxicated with ignorance and loaded with illusions. Besides, we barely have exemplary leaders to learn from. Therefore, it’s a personal judgment to distinguish between what is right and wrong. A hard choice in the absent of guidance.

As we struggle to make picture of what the youths will inherit from their predecessors in this hopeless state, some youths prove to be optimistic about the future. With confidence and hope, they believe that there are better days ahead irrespective of their upbringings. In the traditional South Sudanese societies, the elders used to be worried about the youths preparedness and abilities to take over the societies’ responsibilities. Today, it has turned the other way round. Youths are worried about the kind of society they will inherit from the leaders who have planted unprecedented legacy of extreme hatred.

The youths believe that the boat is capsizing from the sailing of the elders. In recognition of this threatening fact, informed youths are inspired to end the cycles of hatred to enter a new period of peace.

This week, I chatted with a friend and a colleague who saw what happened in Juba not just as a resident in Juba, but as someone who felt insecure because the political venom was spilling to the civil population. In his own words, he narrated the usual story on how the war started at the night of 15th December. The following morning, he remained at home in Muniki – Hai Referendum with his entire family. He had no clear information of what was happening. The narrator, a Nuer gentleman says his suburb didn’t experience much of the war except the bullets flying over in the air.

But that day, he received several calls asking him and other youths to seek safety as many lives were being lost. For him and his cousins, they were not aware of UNMISS ability to protect civilians. They therefore decided to go to the house of their big man in government; it was from this house that they were told to go to the UNIMSS camp where he spent his subsequent three months before joining studies in Uganda.

Although, he narrated some tears-triggering stories including the manner he lost his nephew, he acknowledges that the SPLA did not tamper with them along the roads to UNMISS camp. He stressed that they met the government soldiers lining up the roads and they did not intend to kill civilians. “Not all Dinkas were killing people, we wouldn’t have reached the UNMISS camp”, he added. This peace-loving gentleman is hopeful that our communities are reconcilable.

On the same note, I have also read articles (and posts on social media) written by some of the Dinka youths who are critics of what they think cannot allow peace to take root in the country. Some of these youths criticize the logic of having Jieng Council of Elders (JCE). Personally, I am neither a fan nor a critic of this body. I am not a critic in the sense that I do not know the exact functions of this body. I cannot comment much on it if it’s purposely meant to hasten peace between Dinka and other communities as claimed.

My comment may have no position too if this body is genuinely meant to present good image of the Dinka at the international level. But I am not a supporter if this body extends its hand in the national affairs for their position is not defined in any of the national provisions.

But this is not the focus of this article. What I am driving at is how peace can be reached by having people from different communities declaring their nationalism above the tribal umbrellas. Among these are those Dinka youths who argue that there is no need of having a tribal organization for it creates suspicions. These youths are not enemies of their Dinka community; they just want their community to maintain its selfless value which is crucial for peaceful co-existent.

After all, a society which is intellectually mature questions its policies toward others. In every country, the citizens are concerned about their foreign policies. The same idea goes down to our communities. We all have the responsibility to regulate how we relate with other ethnicities across the country. Those who criticize JCE are concerned about Dinka’s reputations. These youths believe that all communities are equal stakeholders in national politics despite their prime contribution in the process of liberation. Those critics want JCE to be strictly for social and cultural preservations for the Dinka community.

In the same line, some Nuer youths feel that their community should not live as an isolated tribe in a multi-ethnicities country. They want their Nuer community to stop looking at themselves as a separate entity with a better vision for the nation. These youths feel that democracy is not an issue for a single community. Nuer community is not a political party but instead a community with many educated elites with different political views. To achieve lasting peace, these youth feel that their community should drop the idea of violence and propaganda in the media and join other communities in a meaningful pursuance of democracy.

There are also youths from the Equatorial regions who feel that the people of these states should maintain their principle of peacefulness. These youths believe that all sorts of conspiracies that lead to war cannot solve any problem but rather aggravate the situation.

These voices motivate us that we still have some youths who do not only tell the truth but also want us to live in harmony. It is true, bad things happened. But while we are in dilemmas of how to deal with our situation, it is vital to visit the history of Rwanda genocide; it didn’t start with the 1994 genocide but grew from series of ethnics’ attacks way back in early 1950s to 1970s. With accumulations of hatreds and eagerness to avenge, this situation exploded into the 1994 disaster that saw almost million of innocent lives being lost unjustifiably. People of South Sudan need to rethink to guide against such episode.

We all know that most countries around the world dropped into civil wars after attaining independence. America fought one of the world bloodiest civil war. Indonesia saw her nation drop in a war just after independence. The neighboring Uganda saw lives devastating instabilities from 1960s to 1980s.

But the great decisions these nations took is how they immediately translated the horrors of wars into lasting peace. They embraced peace and built their countries better than ever before. Most countries across the world used the experiences of wars as lessons that must not be repeated. They griped peace as a promise not to drop their nations into bloodbath. Through these inspirations, they became what they are today.

This is what South Sudanese need to do. Despite the influential role of the elders in the Country, youth are the backbone for pacification. To achieve lasting peace, we need to listen to the voice of that optimistic and a resilient youth who spent three months hiding in a dehumanizing, fading hot tent but still hope that South Sudanese are one people; we need to appreciate the views of that youth who questions the logic of having ethnics based organizations in relation to the national affairs; and we need to listen to that youth who condemns wars because it is against their customary values. These voices urge us to improve the image of our nation by embracing peace.

The author is a student living in Uganda and can be reached at: mayenreech@gmail.com or +256 772 727 857

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