By Mayen Kuol Mayen, Juba, South Sudan
Friday, June 19, 2020 (PW) — Our History is a modern fairytale. So unlikely was it that when we brought the bloody Khartoum regime to a stalemate, the world, especially the west, was bewildered. With our poorly trained, poorly equipped army, the odds were against us considering the military strength of the well-placed North that had the support of the Arab World and in a way, China, who was then eyeing the crude oil. A period of Twenty two years is such a long time for anything to gestate, yes, yet no one saw our victory coming that ‘soon’. The 1955 Torit mutiny had ignited a war that lasted seventeen years but in the end, the witty Arabs lured us into the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement and before we knew, we were back to where we started.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement curtain-raised our victory. Our hopes were once again lifted for we would soon decide, through a referendum, our fate. But there was a sweeping fear across the southern region. Was the CPA a replica of the 1972 Adidas Ababa Agreement? Were the Arabs hibernating? Was it something they were masking with peace this time round? A myriad of questions ran on our minds. Clearly, there was a distrust and uncertainty as to what would happen in the foreseeable future. The founding father’s untimely demise was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We all know that Garang was the difference between the two sides. And with him gone, Arabs would reconsider other options but peace. Luckily, they didn’t.
On the 9th of July, 2011, under the wise tutelage of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, together with his SPLM leadership, we reached the shores of the sea that we had been tossed in for generations. The Republic of South Sudan was born out of both the military might of our soldiers and the intellectuality of their leaders, in addition to the civil populace’s unwavering support, who, in various ways effected the Liberation struggle. At long last, the dream that had cost us millions of lives became a reality. Finally, we had our envisionedcountry, an all African nation, to be exact.
Many countries and various organizations extended us an hand in the name of Goodwill. Who wouldn’t want to be in ‘goodwill’ with a naturally blessed nation as South Sudan in this world of capitalism and imperialism? The Nile, the crude oil, unexploited business opportunities, the Kopoeta’s gold and the cheap labour our uneducated mass can offer. Donations and grants started falling from all directions and in a split second, we were drowning in cash. Hard cash. United States Dollar to be exact. We felt blessed for the excitement of the day had clouded our eyes from seeing the effects it could bring tomorrow.
Donations and grants, at the time we hadn’t firmly grounded our feet in this fast changing world, were appropriate and healthy for a start. But their effects in the long run can be detrimental. The truth is we had carved out of Africa a country that would be our home til the last day. We are expected to have before us a blueprint of what we shall make of it to cope with the day’s dynamics and the future mysteries. And certainly, our future is being threatened for no nation on Earth has ever advanced socially and technologically through them. No. Never. The United States is not where it is because of donations. Getting our Independence much later, at the tail of other African countries, has put us at a disadvantage. We could easily be exploited by both the west and some of the opportunists here on our continent. Yes, it is both a blessing and a curse to have been the last country to shackle off her chains. Blessing, in a way that if we learn from the past mistakes of other countries, we won’t repeat them. And curse, in that, it is hard to learn our lessons any other way but experience.
The truth is ‘donations’ can prostrate a nation’s economy. They are curses in disguises. Any nation that depends on them is doomed to fail. And so to say, it is a tragedy that our masses look outside for good schools, modern health facilities and disaster’s responsiveness.
As we all know, donations are given as goodwill by well-off nations to establish a relationship with the third world countries. Relationships that, in most cases, are not symbiotic. More often than not, the so called donors sit down and identify their interests first before they extend their hands. They would then build an embassy in the name of international diplomacy. And then exploit ourresources and dominate our markets while paying negotiated taxes to our government to reciprocate their ‘goodwill’. In addition to that, they would pay our labour, who work longer and harder, with next to nothing salaries.
Moreover, donations promote unethical traits among leaders like corruption and greediness. As they are done behind closed doors between representatives of the involved nations, donations can easily be diverted into personal accounts instead of their intended purpose. The citizens will not ask for accountability as they would be in the dark. And as there are hardly follow ups from donors, donations will end building individuals instead of a nation. And how would that matter to the donors if the intended purpose is achieved? All they want is for borders to open.
Our dream was not just to be a nation state. No. We definitelywanted more than that. We need better services for our populace and a bright future for our children. And yet what stands between us and our desired future state is the fact that we haven’t taken the responsibility of building this promisingly great nation by our selves. While putting one step ahead, we look over our shoulders for a foreign aid. Does it ever occur to us that no country in the world has the moral obligation to build another country unless otherwise?We must forego of the donations and instead work on our economyprecisely Agriculture, oil and human resource.
International relationships are good and recommendable. But they must be regulated. We have to weigh what we are gaining against what we are losing before we dive into them. As I write now, there are thousands of foreigners working within the borders of our nation with or without working permits while the dear citizens watch on the sidelines yet the concerned authorities do nothing or little to address that problem. Why? Because we don’t want to spoil ‘our relationship’. The truth is that’s plain stupidity and a show of our noviceship. Those foreigners are well placed and greatlyexperienced than our people and as a result, we have lost out on Jobs.
I applaud the former Egyptian’s post colonial supreme leader Abdel Nasser not only for bringing the Aswan High dam to life but for constructing it to completion with funds garnered locally throughout Egypt a country that was arid in value, then, compared to South Sudan, now, whose climate is suitable for large scale agriculture.The tale of the Dam and Abdel Nasser should be an inspiration to Africa, as a whole, and particularly South Sudan. It is a telltale that Africa can build itself without external support.
When the fire of nationalism was blazing from the tip to the horn and across, White supremacists claimed that we won’t stand on our own. That we hadn’t evolved yet to make concrete decisions for ourselves. And that we had been colonized to be civilized. In their minds, our hands were not yet steady to hold the steering wheel. Those seemed like made up lies then. But a look at Africa now confirm those claims as legitimate. Instead of building our own economy and finding solutions for own problems, we look upon the west for hope. And shamelessly asking for donations. Five decades after we were left to ourselves? Why did we need to stand alone, in the first place, if we knew our limbs were this weak? Africa!
Yes, the world is one under the umbrella of the United Nations. Yes, we need to help ourselves and stand shoulder to shoulder against natural and man-made disasters. That is ideal. Life is nothing more than living for one another. But what raises my eyebrows is the fact that we are always the ones being helped and being donated to. Daily, on the Television and the Papers, you would learn that the UN has done this in Angola or the Democractic republic of Congo or in Somalia. Was the United Nations founded to meet our unending needs? When will Africa ever stand up and help the rest of the world?
Africa as a whole and my country, South Sudan in particular, should start considering themselves as competitors instead of benefactors if they are to fair in this world. The world is not ending tomorrow. Or in the next decade. Or even the millennium. And we shan’t live then as now. South Sudan should sit down now to draw a strategy for the future. We must build our populace especially their strengths to expliot our resources for our own good. Educate the children. Invest in a sound economy and exploit the blessings the nature has endowed on us. The truth is everything nation will first solve its problems before it solves others’. Like Masters, only the crumbs that fall off from their children’s mouth will be our feeds.
The History of conflict of interests among nations is as old as creation. And a naturally-rich country like South Sudan may attract many conflict entrepreneurs who come disguised as donors in most cases. These conflict entrepreneurs will use politicians that identify with them. And in most cases, arm them up for a civil war. Where do you think our poor politicians get the warfare? Take the diamond-rich DRC for example. Neocolonialism is colonialism, no less.
I forewarn, donations down a nation!
The author, Mayen Kuol Mayen, is a South Sudanese literary enthusiast, who is currently working on a novella (first draft as of now) As of now, in Juba, South Sudan. He can be reached via his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the
writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not
PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article,
commentary or news analysis, please email it to email@example.com.
PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material
before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email
address, city and the country you are writing from.