To the victor, the spoils! Such is the reasoning of the Generals now controlling the government of the Republic of Sudan. Considering the billions that have been pumped into the military and the security apparatus that have through the decades propped up the NCP, it is only reasonable for them to expect a return on this investment. Such a return was dealt a serious blow with the cessation of the South. Our new Republic, emerged blinking into the international community, nascent yet saddled with the original sin of denying the NCP the spoils of a civil war that was clearly unwinnable – namely unconditional use of the wealth of Southern Sudan without discussion, without equivocation and without remorse.
“Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. They claim it as their own and none can keep it from them” – Kwame Nkrumah
For over 50 years, South Sudan has seen no investment save that which was sufficient enough to enable its wealth to be transported elsewhere. Whilst Khartoum blossomed – tarmac roads like roots spreading throughout the arid soil, buildings blooming like desert flowers and the vast oil wealth, that sweet nectar, flowing into the pockets of only a select racial few – South Sudan languished, impoverished because of its wealth. Juba was but a collection of tukuls and mud huts until self governance brought with it the opportunity to spend local wealth locally. No wonder the peoples of South Sudan seized the opportunity for cessation wholeheartedly, catching the Khartoum elite by surprise. Smarter folk would have realised that the six years leading to the referendum could have been used to woo the peoples of South Sudan into accepting unity with the North. All it would have taken was a realisation that a people other than ones own can have aspiration, can dream of a future beyond the daily struggle. But locked into their own unshakeable world view, the Khartoum elite was indeed caught by surprise and the dawning realisation that cessation was inevitable was like a fish bone swallowed, scraping down ones throat and made more distressing by the knowledge that it will cause further discomfort as it makes its inexorable way through ones system.
Khartoum would like to imagine itself Rome reincarnate. All roads lead to Rome. The spoils of war transported on those very roads to adorn the streets of the eternal city. Its patricians (the governing class) living in spectacular luxury whilst its peoples, the common plebeians, struggled and scraped just to get by in the squalor of the city’s tenements – but still proud enough just to be a part of the glory that is Rome, that single beacon of civility in a so called sea of barbarity. Where Rome thought to make the whole world Roman, the Khartoum elite thought to make the whole Sudan in its own image – Muslim and Arab. Khartoum, under the NCP, is a city state whose empire and hunting ground encompassed what once was the largest nation in Africa. And the spoils of that empire could only be guaranteed through continued aggression. The elite in Khartoum built an army and security apparatus whose sole purpose and direction has been to commit barbaric acts of aggression against its own peoples – ensuring that tribute was paid and wealth continuously flowed to the city in the north. What else can explain an army that has seen near continuous war for the last half century, whilst never having been significantly engaged in an international conflict. Aggression in South Sudan, where over 2 million died. Aggression in Darfur where hundreds of thousands have died. Aggression in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State, where many thousands have died, and many thousands more – forced from their homes into the hills and the bush – will die quietly from hunger and easily preventable disease.
It was quite telling when Bashir dashed hopes of peaceful settlement and announced that the Government of South Sudan understood only “Guns and Ammunition”. Herein lies the phenomenon of projection, where one imagines their own opinion in the minds of others. The NCP, vexed by the cessation of the South, incensed by the loss of wealth that South Sudan offered and utterly confused as to how to proceed, turned to their only known mechanism for governance – aggression! Faced with a challenge to their hegemony, the Generals in the north responded with their only solution – kill everything! As with the Romans, they create a wasteland and call it peace.
Truly, the strong do whatsoever they want, whilst the weak suffer what they must. And there was a time when South Sudan was once weak, divided by tribalism, opportunism and a lack of vision and hope for the future. Those times are well and truly behind us. For one thing does more to unify our nation than anything else – and that is a grim and certain determination never again to bow under Khartoum’s yoke. Having tasted freedom, there can be no return to servitude. Having broken the cycle of abuse, there can be no acceptance of suffering. Having secured our democracy, there can be no deference to tyranny.
I salute our brave men and women in uniform. They are the guarantors of our liberty. Through their continued sacrifice, our countrymen and women can continue to aspire to justice, liberty and prosperity whilst dreaming of a better future, free from the casual and rapacious oppression of the northern warlords. As the late Father Saturnino once recounted:
“The lambs of sacrifice for a nation are the best of its sons”
Victoria Certa Est! Victory is Certain!