Contributor's Deng Vanang Politics South Sudan

As Kiir Controls the Grounds, Machar Seizes the Alters

By Deng Vanang,

From left to righ in front seated are: FVP Dr. Riek Machar, President Salva Kiir and VP James Wani Igga posed for a group photo after the swearing in ceremony for the new TGoNU cabinet; (Photo credit: supplied/file)
From left to righ in front seated are: FVP Dr. Riek Machar, President Salva Kiir and VP James Wani Igga posed for a group photo after the swearing in ceremony for the new TGoNU cabinet; (Photo credit: supplied/file)

June 07, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —- What happened in St. Emmanuel Jieng Parish is reflective of shifting politics, from the podium to the pulpit. Ahead of Machar’s return, Kiir forewarned him against holding any political gathering.

To Kiir, reason for meeting people is obvious. To announce his mighty return loaded with politics of war and its outcome. Untold details are where the devil lies for Kiir not to allow Machar to hold any meeting.

By simply ensuring his armed guards take over all Juba open grounds to make it extra-impossible for Machar to hold his prohibited rallies.

Place only seems safe for Machar’s political rallies cum peace sensitization campaigns becomes the alters.

Where he softens value loaded political rhetoric into that of reconciliation and healing to suit the venue, Church. Kiir realizing is outwitted by Machar entering the Church, he then ensures again the same place for Machar peace rallies is no longer safe as previously thought.

Kiir extends his hold to block Machar from continuing with crusade by placing the Church under attack of hired goons. This time not armed with guns but placards and posters featuring the pictures of Machar’s dead victims.

Prey slipping through into the Church, makes enough justification to follow him there as the reason we have political activists hiding in St. Emmanuel Jieng Parish to lay Machar in ambush.

If it is the question politics has indeed been dragged kicking and screaming onto the sacred alters, it is not first time it happens anyway the two leaders can be blamed for.

Since the merger between religion and state, podium and pulpit for that matter has taken its roots a long time before in South Sudan as both justified and sanctified by liberation theology.

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During our war with the north, Priests and Pastors partook in preaching against oppression inside the four walls of the Church, in international conferences and through relief services delivery for those affected by war.

In any political gatherings, clergy were well represented dressed in their flowing robes and loosely hanging skull caps. To open them and give their lengthy summons which suited the occasion right until this day.

Came independence referendum when politicians were torn between their own contradictions to campaign for either separation or unity, they then delegated the Church, media and civil society to run their errands by mobilizing people for separation that successfully saw the birth of a new nation on earth.

From similar script Priests on politicians’ behalf continue to pacify discontented flock against the state into obedience as established authority in proclaimed will of God. Rebellion against corrupt state is then equated to rebellion against God.

To pay back, politicians became shareholders in this highly privatized corporate enterprise, the Church. With politicians sharing state budget with the Church through huge and questionable cash offerings and tithes during worship services.

When our post-independence politics degenerated into conflicts and wars, Priests and Pastors turned politicians’ foot soldiers to dup their rivals back into stranglehold via lopsided mediations.

There we saw Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul mandated to lure late General George Athor rebels back to Kiiir’s government. Similarly, Bishop Paul Yakusuk and Clement Cannon Jada who doubles as former priest and current politician had their services procured in reconciling rebellious David Yau Yau back to Juba government.

In the same vein, those who distracted Machar from preaching peace in St. Emmanuel Jieng Parish could as well be on hire by the same rival politicians, but with uncalculated negative repercussion to end the initially agreed peaceful collusion between the state and the Church against the people of whom the group is part and parcel.

Much as it is not the first time a politician is verbally manhandled in there by the same group. Mama Rebecca Nyandeng became first victim to fall on the sword’s sharp edge of St. Emmanuel Jieng Parish’s Damocles.

Those who attacked her and Machar, no wonder, are also likely the same people who once prayed in sweat and tears for peace to return.

Yet they wanted peace they prayed for to return minus Machar, leave alone running away from returning peace they were interceding for on bended knees.

Likelihood, they didn’t mean to pray for peace and Machar’s return, but the lost and good tidings that might come back along with him.

Again, the group is unwittingly in the wrong place as holier than anybody else, since Jesus needs only the unholy to be there. For it is only the sick in need of doctor to get healed like sinful Machar in dire need of healing and salvation and not the group.

What they failed to know as well is that the Church is not even theirs from which to bare anybody. Even pastor in charge who resigned under their pressure did something odd to be re-instated. For it is improper for him to abandon the house of God or holy call for none believers to desecrate it.

Too, this Church is headed by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul who is also entrusted to reconcile the people torn apart by ravages of conflict in this country.

Him carrying that holier title has been the reason he is entrusted with such a huge responsibility. And now that the mobs have taken over the Church through which he has been mandated to reconcile people, so goes his title and that noble role.

Other political affiliations’ members getting discriminated against attending that Church in which they are shareholders, that too bares him from going places to preach peace that is not allowed at his own home.

The placard carrying Mading Ngor heading Church protests have likely attracted legal suits against himself.  First can be disciplinary action by South Sudan Union of Journalists in Juba for continuing to sow seeds of discord at time of peace while posing as a journalist he pretends to be.  Once found guilty, he should be banned for life from practicing his checkbook journalism in South Sudan.

Second is to have date with yet to be formed hybrid court on South Sudan war crimes. His crime is in pledging allegiance to those suspected three military generals killed in their killing spree in battle field long after they innocently and summarily executed countless elderly, women and children in their deep sleep in Juba.

Deng Vanang is a political scientist, journalist and author. Reachable at:dvanang@gmail.com

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