Dear South Sudanese people, our peace is with General Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar.
Another day without peace in South Sudan is another day for South Sudanese to mourn for those we’ve lost and worry for our loved ones who are still in harm’s way. The deadline for the agreement has come and gone, and the peace we all have been waiting for was not signed into action. The moment when the peace was not achieved, I felt upset and, and perhaps you did, too. As you all know, this war has robbed us of our country, and it has driven so many of our people into destitution in a country known to be one of the richest in natural resources. With those harsh realities in mind, we cannot be dismissive of the troubles that the war has inflicted on us for over a year now. And so, we must strive to reclaim our rights, but we also must resolve to live in harmony through the peace process. Pursuing peace is the only way to uphold the rights of all people and to bring dignity to the country as a whole.
For now, we must only seek consolation for our losses in peace; once we establish a calm environment in our country, prosperity will follow. For those South Sudanese who are asserting their opinions and beliefs with violent words and actions, we urge you to stop imposing your will on all of us, because we have had it. Recently, I have noticed that those people who are not motivated to change the terrible situation in South Sudan are the ones who end up putting everyone at risk; they are content with the status quo, so long as they can benefit from it. Such folks are known for being dogmatic with their naive political opinions, and I personally believe that these unyielding attitudes are the true roadblock to in the improvement of our South Sudanese society today.
In this crisis, we must all be humble, understanding, and preach peace. You and I both know that the war made people detestable and corrupt, so we cannot afford that to continue in our new country. Most importantly, if we can ensure peace, then the lives of the most vulnerable will change for the better. I am aware that this war was socially constructed; therefore, the people must bring it down. Both of South Sudan’s current leaders have vowed to bring peace to the people. It is important for us to think positively and support that initiative, in order to encourage rational reasoning among the leaders so they can secure lasting peace. We know for sure that spontaneous decisions on the part of the leaders could be counterproductive, which is something we cannot support as a people. Patience will fortify the peace process, so remembered to remain courageous and persuasive in your communities as an endorsement for peace in South Sudan.
We all yearn for peace, but we must also understand and accept the fact that the peace process involves intense and lengthy negotiations. Our leaders are not simply handed papers to sign. The war has squandered our nation’s wealth, people, and seemingly its future, but our hope remains alive in every effort that tries to prevent further displacement of our people. But peace is the only certain way to relieve our distress and the suffering of our people.
War has shaped all of the South Sudanese people, because many of us endured it and members of our families were victims of it. Therefore, it has impacted our attitudes toward everything else, which is, quite frankly, understandable. However, even though war has discouraged us, we still have a shared responsibility to stand up for peace. We the people must be patient, because that is exactly what every negotiation needs—patience and level heads. Give those at the negotiating table room to breathe and function, so they can fairly address our problems. I know for sure that every one of us, regardless of our goals and motives, is proud of what we stand for as South Sudanese people. I can admit to you that I am the proudest of South Sudanese citizens, but I am equally sure that those fighting the government are also very proud citizens of our nation.
For example, recently, the government, Dr. Majak, and Gabriel Duop Lam were involved in the released of three individuals netted by the rebels. As leaders, Dr. Majak and Duop Lam’s interventions in support of non-violence have revealed to us all that peace has been accepted by the South Sudanese people, regardless of our differences. Majak took the rescue of the three individuals personally, so he played a major role in their release. He didn’t have to hold a position in the government or in the opposition to rescue innocent citizens. When he engaged in helping these three gentlemen, it was very crucial moment. I will not forget his commitment to peace, and neither should you. Together, all of us South Sudanese are the backbone of our nation, so we are obligated to support its integrity as we wait for peace to come to our country. If you have lashed out before because you are unsatisfied with the peace process, then now more than ever, it is your duty to cast aside those illegitimate reasons and excuses, and get a grip on what is more important to the overall welfare of our country—peace.
I would be dishonest if I said that I was not annoyed after I heard that both General Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar did not sign the peace agreement, but I realized there have been many peace negotiations in the past that were prolonged far longer than what our people are dealing with at the moment. No one is blameless as the war continues, especially those who have been oddly cheerful in support of further conflict. We must remember that encouraging confrontation may result unpleasant possibilities, such as the loss of a member of your family or mine. Such fatal consequences can have irreversible negative impacts on families and the country at large. We cannot stomach that kind of support of the destruction of villages and families. There are always rounds in establishing peace, and we know that it is a process; it needs time, persistence, and tolerance among ourselves and our leaders. As much as I hate how the violence in South Sudan has made for a treacherous situation, I have the willpower to stomach this peace process.
You and I are victims of a war without cause. We can only subdue ourselves in these violent times with thoughts of peace. Remember that hastening the process can result in reoccurring violence, which we do not want, above all else. We have had enough of war, but it continues to dismantle the families that survived the previous civil wars. How long are we going to endure living in a country without peace?
What we are doing to ourselves is a type of self-humiliation. The war has raised a substantial number of questions for many of us after we witnessed how many people were killed in grisly fashions in a number of areas in South Sudan. Doesn’t that make you worry about the future of our country? I am very troubled by everything war has brought to our people. I worry constantly about what the next warring parties might do, and when their violent actions might mean the loss of members of our families.
Over week ago, I was stunned by the presentation given by South Sudanese Foreign Minister, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin. I was so proud of him because of the way he represented our country in the eyes of the international community. I felt that before his speech, the world didn’t know us as a new nation or understand our many current problems. Dr. Benjamin’s speech convinced me that at least one person was really serious about the way things were going in South Sudan from the perception of outsiders. The international community has been vocally reprimanding our country, and Dr. Benjamin officially told them, “You are wrong on this one.” Even some factions of rebels have accepted his speech as a good representation of the country if we were not at war. But if you think about it, if it wasn’t for war, that speech would have been quite different. Even though a few of the rebels in diaspora were saying jokingly, “The speech was written by Dr. Riek to make us look great internationally,” I thank Dr. Marial Benjamin for his wonderful words. He brought the reality of the South Sudanese struggle for peace out of the darkness and into the light. Following his bold example, the rest of the South Sudanese people must also take up the gauntlet and advocate for an end to violence. We must speak up and let General Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar know that we are waiting patiently for peace.