An open letter to President Salva Kiir Mayardit

By Gabriel Matut Maliah 

Dear Mr. President,

South Sudanese members of prisoners of war and political detainees holding hands after their release in Juba, South Sudan(Photo: file)
South Sudan President Salva Kiir attends a South Sudan peace meeting as part of talks to negotiate an end to a civil war that broke out in 2013, in Khartoum, Sudan June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

May 21st 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – Beyond my sense of patriotism, it is my civic responsibility to write to you and register my solemn advice for the sake of posterity. First and foremost, I would like to appreciate and congratulate profoundly you for your act of kindness you demonstrated by revitalizing the peace agreement signed last year to return the country to normalcy.

You are a man of goodwill and no one, few if any, can question your passion and commitment to make South Sudan not what it is today but it could be, which is Singapore and South Korea. However, there are a few elements in our society who continue to play the ethnic cards to derail your effort to build a nation characterized by political stability, political will, tranquility, unity of purpose and improved environment for sustainable development and investments.

I’ve wondered what it must always look like to live in a really tribal society. How do you live peacefully for years among ones’ fellow South Sudanese citizens and then find yourself suddenly engaged in the mass murder of fellow human beings? It is because We are being Destroyed by Hatred and Tribalism emerging from ethnic chauvinists who hide behind the banners of “council of elders” and “opposition leaders.”

Setting up in Juba a group of highly educated and experienced politicians in the name of “Jieng Council of Elders” only amounts to a national lobby group on behalf of the Dinka ethnic community. What is the danger of this? The power the council wields from it presumed close proximity to the presidency and could send signals of bias to other communities with dire consequences to our social cohesion. Since its inception, Jieng Council of Elders has been rightfully or wrongfully suspected, and in some cases blamed, for being the mastermind behind any decree you declare including but not limited to your decree to expand the states from ten (10) to twenty-eight plus (28+) without a structured national dialogue on the governance wishes of various ethnic communities in a united Republic of South Sudan.

To rubbish the call for a national debate on this matter, using President Bashir’s action to divide the South to ten (10) states without a national dialogue, is not only being blind to fact that we were forced to accept this decision but also an insult to you and your compatriots’ struggle that saw us delivered from the Khartoum’s oppressive regime. How about giving the council a national outlook by making it a national organization of leaders?

Some opposition leaders have also hide behind calls for “democratic elections” to rally and frustrate tribalism and corruption head on. While calls for democratic elections cannot be overruled because of their importance in ensuring citizens participate actively in government decisions, your critics have demonstrated by words and deeds that they are motivated by the politics of the next election. They have ignored the journey you have set the world’s youngest nation, a journey of peace, love, unity and prosperity. Indeed, J.F Clarke once said,

A politician thinks of the next election; a Statesman thinks of the next generation”.

The infamous “Kiir-Machar political rivalry” has seen many innocent people lose their lives and millions displaced in the conflict that erupt[ed] as a result. However, despite all these, you’ve have exhibited your commitment to creating a united country by going over and above the bounds of individual interests and political parties to extend an olive branch to the opposition leaders. Your devotion to implement the country’s peace deal saw you and the opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, travel to the Vatican for a “spiritual retreat.” It only takes courageous and brave leaders to choose to set aside the selfish interest around the Presidency for the greater good of the Nation. It is upon you and Dr. Riek Machar to bury completely the deadly rivalry for the interest of all South Sudanese and drive this great nation to durable peace.

Your Excellency,

I associate myself with the words of Nelson Mandela who at the opening of his defense in the Rivonia treason trial in April 20, 1964 said this:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THERE ARE A FEW ELEMENTS WITHIN YOUR INNER CIRCLE WHO ARE NOW CONVERGING AND REGROUPING TO ISSUE THREATS AGAINST YOUR COMMITMENT TO A UNITED SOUTH SUDAN. They ride on ethnicity which has provided a lens through which power struggles have been shaped throughout most of our recent history. All they do is to squander and waste their national leadership, experience, education, and talent on cheap, self-centered and opportunistic gains for their immediate families, themselves and sometimes for an ethnic community that is considered to having both the wealth-sharing and national power.

South Sudanese freedom and interests have been made the interests and freedom of their immediate families and relatives by those tribal political leaders. They don’t see the sufferings of the citizens of South Sudan because their immediate families are happy, and their children are in the best schools and universities in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and the UK. Do not listen to their cheap interests and mind the bottom line of your leadership.

I am once again reminded by words of Nelson Mandela who while addressing to the UK’s Joint Houses of Parliament in July 11, 1996 said:

“Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as sub-human, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods.”

I believe the greatness of Unites States and other great nations on earth lie in their diversities. People from across the world converge in those nations, with diverse and unique talents, and contributed to their unimagined development that is always seen by the third world peoples as godly made. South Sudan should not be different. The diversity of South Sudan should be a blessing rather than a tool for exploitation by elites for political gains and tribal agendas. 

Your Excellency,

The impacts of hatred and tribalism include but not limited to:

  • Inability to Fight Corruption; 
  • Politics of Division;
  • Lack of trust and promotion of ethnic division;
  • Lack of constitutional reform/suppression of justice;
  • Encouragement of resource control;
  • Lack of national interests and promotion of tribal agendas through tribal organizations;
  • Compromise of political will and nationalism;
  • Lack of creation of unity of purpose and global competition;
  • Lack of vision and exercising strategic leadership;
  • Promote formation of political tribal parties that do not support strategic alliances and diversity;
  • Appointment of influential and powerful political positions to tribemen and women.


Your Excellency,

The perception of tribal domination and hatred pervading the South Sudan governments and parties since Anyanya II has been a serious threat and will be a serious threat in the upcoming governments if it is not fought publicly once and for all.

Enough with lamentations, for this country to be great like those great countries in the world, it is your absolute responsibility to declare war publicly against hatred and tribalism by dismissing those tribal politicians and other political brokers around you or else they sing the same song of fighting tribalism and hatred with you for this country to be great otherwise all is waste of human capital. While some of your inner circles and misguided politicians may issue all manner of threats dubbed as “dire political consequences”, I urge you to stay focused and soldier on with your peace building initiatives. Command those who subscribe to unethical type of leadership to align their politics to the vision of your strategic decision. This will realign the entire country to follow in tune otherwise.

Your excellency,

We want diversity of thoughts… we want diversity of styles, we want to be ourselves by doing the right things and admit when we are wrong and have the courage to change. As the president of this great nation, you need to sit down alone, reflect back since the time you became the president and look forward. You will find that you have the responsibility and power to move this nation forward without considering the motives and personal interests of those tribal politicians around you.

Above all, you need to be very careful with your LEGACY as the first president of the Republic of South Sudan and the Joshua who brought this country to independence on 9th July 2011 from Khartoum’s oppressive regime. For if you continue compromising the bottom line of your leadership, even this revitalized peace agreement will not bear fruit and your presidential era will go down in the history of South Sudan as one of the worst presidential periods on earth.

Your Excellency,

Building a great, prosperous and lovely nation is not an easy thing and this requires the contribution of everyone, especially the political leaders, the youth and other informed south Sudanese to join your efforts in fighting hatred and tribalism with the aim of burying it completely. While delivering his inauguration as South African president in Pretoria in May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela said:

“We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.”

For our country to be GREAT given the vast natural resources under its belly, we need true leaders obsessed with greatness of this beautiful nation. However, without your solid stance and zero tolerance on tribalism and hatred, we will remain as one of the states in the world that will never experience sustainable peace and development. Crack the whip NOW.

Your Excellency,

In conclusion, for South Sudan to experience real peace and sustainable development, it needs to embrace all the ethnic groups and utilize the individual talent for the benefit of all, I always argue that intelligence is not confine to a particular tribe this is what this country need, those with technical knowhow in whatever sector they belong.

The hatred, and tribalism of Dinka and Nuer need to be uprooted and abolished publicly by their political leaders, especially you, Mr. president and Dr. Riek Machar. This country has been brought down to its knees by the continuous cycles of violence by the two tribes for decades and it is time to stop them. We have enough resources for all of us and there is no need for struggle to control such resources. In less than ten years, we would be like Singapore, and Malaysia given the abundance of our resources if we apply rule of law and develop our human resource capital because our well- educated human resources are the only source of global competitiveness.

As change agent, you need to take responsibility, make hard decisions and stick to them and declare it nationwide that the epidemic diseases know as tribalism and hatred are not needed any more in South Sudan and whoever is found practicing them will be punished and brought to book.

Let everyone understand that our tribe is South Sudan, South Sudan and South Sudan and with this, we will build great and prosperous Nation!!!

Thank you for your kind attention and solemn consideration of this letter. I remain a dedicated Son of South Sudan and an advocate of your dream for this great country.

The author is a concerned South Sudan citizen and can be reached via: matutmaliah@ymail.com

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