By Steve Paterno
August 7, 2014 - The recent visit of President of South Sudan Salva Kiir to the USA tested the level of how much polarization exist among South Sudanese. While the war rages in South Sudan, its reverberation is more evidence among the Diasporas. One cannot help but notice how shapely divided South Sudanese are by following postings in social media. In February of this year, after monitoring the chatters of South Sudanese in social media characterized with a lot of hatreds, the USIP convened a workshop in Washington DC, involving influential South Sudanese personalities with aim of mitigating hate messages, especially online. The USIP took the task seriously, since it could potentially lead into carnage. However, the online hate messages tend to be more rhetorical than actual representation that depicts the spirit of South Sudanese people relating to one another. The visit of the president to USA captures this essence in an incredible ways.
The president was welcome amidst a huge crowd of supporters with a slogan, “One People, One Nation.” Among the presidential supporters were those with opposing views or rather the people who dislike the president and his government. Nevertheless, people from both opposing sides mingled and shared ideas in respectable ways. The welcoming of the president was two days later followed by opposition rally against the president, conducted at the same spot where the supporters of the president did previously.
Likewise, the true spirit of South Sudanese prevailed as well. Though in that occasion there were some unruly individuals hurling insults and throwing stuff against the supporters of the president, once again the people of opposing sides mingled and discussed at individual levels. The best example was a meeting involving the chief financier and organizer of the rally against the president with the presidential envoy for peace. The two gentlemen conducted themselves as brothers, embracing each other. In short, the spirit of South Sudanese living side by side prevailed. Therefore, the chance of living together is much greater than living apart. Rhetoric aside, the people of South Sudan can get along very well. That is if they maintain that spirit of getting along.
Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org