Thursday, July 30, 2015

What Would it Take to Rebel in RSS?


Rebelling in South Sudan is as simple as saying the word itself. In this simplicity, attached to an action that has disastrous consequences in the long run, I suppose if a Junubi (South Sudanese) key personality avails in front of you an itinerary, stating that he would pay a visit to his very important government official in the morning for some money, then go buy groceries and returns home in the afternoon to his family with the shopping or money in cash, or rebel that same afternoon if he fails to secure the order of the above itinerary, you would better believe him. Explanations about grievances leading to rebellion are usually unreal when stated, but the decisions to implement them are dead serious. 

In that respect, it is, therefore, important to ask the question, what would it take to rebel in South Sudan? Given the fairness of the question, the questioner would be keen to hear a long list of political grievances that, if achieved, might lead to a stronger foundation of the republic so desired. However, many politicians, warlords and key personalities of our time do not frame all grievances on firm nationalistic attitude and conviction, but on a simplistic itinerary. We will find out shortly the kind of grievances that would be topping their lists. However, if the same question is put to commoners, the citizens, those whom services are aimed, the answer would be different.

The ordinary South Sudanese at the grassroots are likely to give pragmatic answers as to why they would want to pick up weapons against the country they call home. Their answers would include, among other things, basic necessities to life itself: food, water, health facilities, schools for kids, roads; and necessary training so that they could work their lands for maximum production. Virtually, nobody can say that he or she has a life if basic necessities are deficient and/or non-existent.

Put the same question to the intellectuals of the land, or rather, listen in to their grievances and some issues of rebellion will confound you when their intentions have been made a reality. A recent defection of Brigadier, Gatwic Puoc, of the 11th Infantry Division and Agel Machar, former National Youth Leader, attracted a very important press conference for the SPLM-IO in Nairobi. The conference was convened at the Methodist Guest House. Among the opposition speakers were Agel himself, Gatwic Puoc and Mabior Garang Mabior. From among the three, I chose to listen to Mabior first following their order of seniority in the coldness of the bush as rebels.

Mabior had his position clarified many times. He maintains that the people's movement had been hijacked, momentum reduced, vision deferred and aspirations dashed. It is a solid position that he shares with many others dissatisfied by inaction of government on matters of corruption and slow pace in service delivery to the people - the beneficiaries of independence. The only problem with his position lies in the terms of reference. You may ask what has the 'movement' got to do with an independent country of South Sudan, or why would inexactitudes of the 'movement,'- first movement headed by his father - which automatically self-transformed into a political party after independence, are to be corrected through rewinding to its former military glory as supposed by the second 'movement' in which he is part of? But the young Cuban trained (communist? socialist? socialist-communist? whatever he may call himself) has spoken plainly. He is wrestling with ideology and he ought to do so. He has seen it clearly in Castros’ Cuba how an ideology must be nurtured by all means, with the rider of 'the horse of ideology' maintaining persistent resistance to dismounting orders whether the horse gallops through the mists or fire till a destination is reached - whatever the destination. Mabior Garang de Mabior is an interesting pawn to pay attention to in this raging South Sudanese conflict, and the projection of the remaking of a nation (from opposition point of view).

For once, it would be difficult to differentiate him from Salva Kiir, the man his dad baptized with guerrilla ideologies. It was his dad, Dr. Garang who told Kiir Mayardit boldly that 'a thorn is removed using another thorn' when Kiir cautioned that peace had come to the Sudan but there were still some thorns that required careful tread in the South Sudanese ever-narrow paths in the shrubs. Today, with Kiir using the thorns he feared to solve his thorn troubles, and Mabior, using another third thorn category to solve the troubled thorn blessed by the Legendary Dr. Garang, you got to get your head spinning a bit in this forbidding 'dethorning' exercise of liberation. In the press conference, Mabior was not the first or the second speaker but a character to think about. 

The first speaker was Bragadier, Gatwic Puoc, who helped narrowed down his list of grievances to his lack of promotion and insulting promotions of junior officers to positions above him in hierarchy. At this point, it will be interesting to know who is elder between Gatwic Puoc and Simon Kun Puoc, his brother and governor of the Upper Nile State. But that is aside. A rebel brother and government agent brother will always be connected by the stream of common blood flow in their veins. What is important to underline is that the Chief of Administration and Logistics and former big belly Intelligence Officer in the Government of National Unity, GoNU, has taken up arms against his country for lack of promotion. He is not the first or the last South Sudanese to be radical about these bureaucratic by-passes in promotions. Major Kerubino Kwanyin Bol, the man who shot the first bullet in rebellion that led to the SPLA/M in 1983 would too call such bypass a 'disrespect and insubordination!' Many say Kerubino would be out of control at that point. From the positions stated, there is no doubt that Gatwic Puoc commands experience. As a former teacher and an administrator, he knows how to get through the system to be promoted than anyone had he chose to do so. His rather reluctant statement rings some bells in the head and you can start to count one from here.

Then came Agel Machar, former National Youth Leader of the republic, a fast spoken young man, and possessing a sense of intelligence that you can easily admire. He thought quickly, spoke quickly and blinked quickly. His new boss, Dr. Riek, blinks similarly under pressure. He poured out his rather ingenuously crammed national ailments which he spoke less and less while in office until he reached the point of taking up arms. His defection, he said, was to 'offset the balance' in the narrative that Warrap, his native State and that of the president, was controlling the country and was, therefore, better off with the status quo in the country. You can take the count down to two at this point.

Like anyone who wanted to save time, you can conclude vaguely that the cheapest thing you must not bet a RSS revolutionary intellectual, a politician or a key personality, is whether or not, he or she would rebel over anything petty and beneath the basic necessities of life. Strictly adhering to this gives an insight that you have cracked the code!

After all, at the height of Nasir Faction, battled by stress and strains, it took Professor Bari Wanji, a fiery man at that, a few seconds to storm out of the meeting and out of the Nasir Faction altogether following a bitter quarrel with Dr. Lam Akol whom he accused of taking his camera and failed to return it. Who knows, but that camera was frankly not a basic ideological necessity, but a necessary ingredient for rebellion.  

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