By Daniel Juol Nhomngek
February 3, 2014 - It has never been a surprise to me. I expected such thing to happen since 2011 after the independence based on the nature of our politics, which is much concerned with wealth and power than wellbeing of the citizens our politicians represent.
Most of our politicians are much concerned with wealth and power more than improving ordinary citizens’ lives. This has been exposed by the recent attempted coup which was executed by its plotters blindly and as a result many citizens of South Sudan lost their lives.
The attempted coup revealed the true colours of Riek and his group.
"Dr" Riek and his group were and are still very much concerned with power than observing what was on the ground. Any wise person would have not planned coup in such a fragile situation like that was prevailing in Juba.
In Juba the situation by then was very dangerous. There is a volcanic like situation that was going to erupt at any time if there was any slight trigger, which found its way through weakness of Riek.
The episode confirmed the reservation I have about Riek’s leadership.
Riek is not a true patriot, neither is he a good leader and I do not think whether he will ever make a good leader because he does not reason before taking an action. Such leaders who believe in taking power by force were good in history but not relevant for South Sudan now.
As I have stated that Riek is not a wise leader, if he were a wise leader, he would have assessed the conditions on the ground to assess the feasibility of his plan before planning and executing such deadly plan. Now, thousands of people are dead, thousand more displaced while the country divided along tribal lines. Whom is he going to lead is the question of the day.
The action of Riek and his group has raised more questions in my mine than answers. One such question is whether Riek a patriotic leader who love South Sudan or does Riek loves South Sudan because he benefits from South Sudan?
Moreover, the most important question among those questions and which is the subject of this article is that has been disturbing since the occurrence of attempted coup on 15 December 2013 is about South Sudanese politicians in general and the question is: are South Sudanese politicians really patriotic? This article is an attempt to answer such a question.
In order to answer the above question, the starting point of this discussion is to explain what is meant by words "patriotic" and "patriotism" respectively, in order to make clear the subject matter of this article.
To make clear the subject matter of this article I have to emphasise that the subject matter of this article is whether South Sudanese politicians love South Sudan as a country or they love it because they are benefiting from it materially.
In brief, most of the South Sudanese politicians do not love South Sudan because it is their country but they love it simply they want to gain from it. Such materially motivated love makes them behave like mercenaries within the country, misappropriating resources according to their desire.
Most of our politicians are not patriotic enough. Being patriotic as I have stated above to be the subject matter of this article comes from patriotism which means "love for one country." In other words, patriotism is the special attachment one has for his or her homeland or a country, a person shows unconditional love towards his country.
Unconditional love for one’s country implies that a person loves the country not because he or she is working in or with the government but he or she naturally loves the country and is ready to make personally sacrifices for it. The country becomes holy land for one; a sacred land which one treasures above all.
This brings me to the most important point of differentiating patriotism from nationalism. Patriotism means loving one’s country, which does not end with the love of the country per se but it involves loving citizens of the country, defending the image of the country, work in the best interest of the nation, leaving a positive legacy behind for the country like what Nyerere of Tanzania and Mandela of South Africa had done and living moral lives. Living morally means avoiding corruption and all its manifestations and instead being ambassador in wherever one finds himself.
While patriotism is the love of the country one has towards his or her country as explained above, nationalism means strong feeling towards one’s country. Although both terms have one thing in common since both involve sacrifices for homeland or the country, but they differ in a way that patriotism has something to do with love, which is permanent and a part and parcel of a person while nationalism involves only feeling, which can dissipate easily when there is a serious temptation affecting the personal life in relation to the country. In most cases, our politicians show nationalism towards the country not patriotism.
South Sudan has been calling such politicians in its long history. In history of South Sudan most of the politicians that did not have the true love for South Sudan did not see the Promised Land.
Hence, South Sudan is likely to call those politicians who do not love the country. Some of the politicians like Riek Machar and others in South Sudan do not have any patriotism towards the country but instead causing death of all the citizens will be asked by the land of South Sudan for their betrayal. They are behaving like mercenaries acting on behalf of occupier. They do not love the country but they only want to benefit from South Sudan, putting a burden on citizenry in general.
Their mission as the attempted coup exposed is only to get as much wealth as possible and if they do not get enough they have to climb to the top of the government and if denied because it is not yet their turn then they must use force to achieve such brutish dream at the expenses of South Sudanese citizens. That is very unpatriotic of them!
Riek Machar, for instance, only believes that his destiny is power and he sees himself a less citizen unless he becomes the president of the Republic of South Sudan. If such unbridled dream is allowed to be realized by a person like Riek, how many politicians in will use force to become presidents, vice presidents or ministers in South Sudan?
Many, if not all; many of the politicians will struggle to ensure that they become like Riek Machar and the question such uncouth behaviour a raise here again is: are South Sudanese politicians really patriotic?
Of course not all of them. From the explanation of the difference between patriotism and nationalism as given above, it very clear that not most of the politicians in South Sudan have the spirit of patriotism but they only have the spirit of nationalism in the absence of patriotism. This is explained by the recent attempted coup of 2013.
The attempted coup by Dr. Riek Machar and his group to me is the summary of the behaviour of the majority of the South Sudanese politicians. Their true colours came out from the coup. It is very clear now that some of our politicians love the government and the country as long as they are in the government but as soon as they are relieved of their duties although it was due to their faults they will start fighting against the government that they used to praise.
Since the attempted coup occurred, I have never been comfortable with politicians in the country and I began to suspect and doubt all of them as to what extent do they love South Sudan and this brings another question which is: Do we love South Sudan because we are in the government or is it because it is our country which many people gave up their lives for?
Most of our politicians as I have been repeating it in this article love the country not because they love it but because they are benefiting from it. This is a behaviour rooted in history of South Sudan and it was one of the major causes of the corruption in the former government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) immediately after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and which has set bad precedent in our governance system.
Immediately after the signing of peace agreement that was followed by the formation of the regional government in South Sudan the politicians became like crocodiles corrupting the country while crying at the same time about corruption. Hypocrisy! Who are you betraying with kiss?
Due to unpatriotic nature of some of those politicians who were in the government then and some of them are still there now, the government of Southern Sudan was not able to control corruption due to fear that if those corrupt politicians are apprehended and brought to books, they would defect to northern Sudan, hence, destroying the referendum that was going to be conducted.
As a result, the aspirations of the people were held hostage by the unscrupulous politicians and millions of dollars were paid as ransom to hijackers through the unchecked corruption. The corruption increased at a terrible speed and South Sudan became a self-help nation.
The politicians became corrupt to the extent that they lost African morality of fearing dead or anything associated to them. For instance, million of dollars were almost coffin out of the country under the theme of the dead person carrying in a coffin. This was a highest degree of corruption that no any nation in the world has ever done.
Symbolically, South Sudan was dead and was carried in a coffin to Uganda and Kenya. It was killed by the politicians who love the country not because it is their country but because they benefit out of it. After burying South Sudanese moral integrity in a coffin due to greed and social blindness, the politicians forgot why South Sudanese fought such a long bitter war.
Corrupt politicians took advantage of the situation and became so bold that they could silence any person who talked about corruption. If I can remember well, there was a standoff when the plot of stealing money was discovered because the mastermind of the plot was not happy when money was stopped from crossing the border to the neighbouring countries in a coffin.
One funny thing was that army who fought the war for independence of South Sudan was forgotten as those in charge of them began establishing themselves and their families. Many of those in charge began replacing the true soldiers with their relatives because there was no threat externally any longer and the army became a lucrative business.
The army became a source of income and those politicians who love the country because of the benefit they get from it began removing the real soldiers and replacing them with their own kinsmen and women.
The strength of the army was lost and the army as a profession became a usual business; a business that almost destroyed South Sudan two and a half years after the independence as was witnessed with the outbreak of coup on 15 December, 2013.
Despite such rampant corruption, the government was not able to do anything because of the fear that such politicians would defect to northern government and destroy the referendum if not allowed to feed on national resources uncontrollably. Such was a bad sign for the new nation.
As ordinary citizens complained of corruptions those hypocritical politicians that pioneered the government of South, and some of who are still in the government now and in prison were shedding crocodiles tears as they feasted on national resources.
Those politicians only preached very nice things how much they loved the country and how much they would like to build the nation yet their actions portrayed their true intentions towards the country. Their words became a poem of building a nation.
The intentions of these politicians as were portrayed by their actions were to personalize the national offices and used the national resources as much as possible for their own benefits and that of their families. Hammers were bought for their sons yet the ordinary citizens in rural areas were living below the poverty line.
Moreover, these kinds of politicians destroyed the country’s resources under the cover of loving the country. However, their inner motive was not to go unnoticed. As Jesus stated that what is done in darkness would be exposed in daylight, the same thing happened in South Sudan in 2013.
The superfluous love for the country by some artificial politicians in South Sudan has been exposed by the recent attempted coup which answered the question this article is trying to address which is: Are South Sudanese Politicians Really Patriotic? The answer as explained above is some are not.
Some politicians like those who planned coup and some who did not come out openly do not have the spirit for the love of the country. They love the country as long as they are in the government while others do not show the love of the country unless they become presidents. Is that a true love?
The true is what is with the army of South Sudan. The armies of South Sudan except those who are intoxicated with tribal feelings love South Sudan unconditionally and they must be given credit for that.
For instance, the armies of South Sudan until the recent announcement from the president of increasing their salaries had been paid very little amount of money not because the government does not have enough money to increase their salaries but because their salaries were reduced by those who love the country because of material benefits.
Despite the fact that they were paid very little they are still able to defend the country as seen recently. The army has shown a greater love to South Sudan than any governmental department in South Sudan.
Instead of robbing the country like what many politicians do, they sacrificed everything they have including their lives for the country.
This is a true love that Jesus talks above in the Bible that no one can love his friends to the extent of laying his life for them. The army has shown a true love for sacrificing their lives for the benefit of South Sudanese and South Sudan.
South Sudanese must learn from the army of South Sudan who love the country unconditionally. I have been repeatedly mentioning the word "unconditionally" to emphasize the point I wanted to make that to love the country one does not need to be paid or have any some kind of benefits but instead there is a need for personal sacrifices to save the country. Love of the country is a natural love which is part of one’s right.
The right to belong to a country is enshrined in the international law, especially, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right to belong to a country is an inherent right protected by law. This is the right individuals defend and it comes automatically as the natural love of the country.
Therefore, any person who loves the country because of some hidden motive will always meet with some fate. Most of our politicians who fought the war for the independence of South Sudan did not fight up to the end because they did not have a true love for South Sudan but were motivated by greed and strong feelings against Arabs.
As a result, such politicians did not fight up to the end because they did not know the reason why they were fighting for the liberation war or the independence of South Sudan.
No matter how much one can pretend to love the country, the pretense will be exposed with times when things become tough. This is what happened to Riek and his colleagues.
Dr Riek and his colleagues have been pretending that they love South Sudan, however, their actions were exposed, which meant that they did not actually love South Sudan because it is South Sudan but they loved South Sudan because Riek wanted to become president while others could become vice president and ministers. Is such a true love?
The writer is a student of Law in Makerere University School of Law and he can be reached through the following Contacts firstname.lastname@example.org