By Deng Bior Deng.
Any war will always bear blame and praise for it’s disadvantages and advantages. The war for South Sudan had inflicted many known and unknown-untold disasters and suffering to the people of this country since it’s history immemorial. Displaced and dispersed all over the World by wars, the South Sudanese return to their country after independence seems to be as difficult and hard as when they fled the Country.
This personal opinion is an attempt from my own perspective and experience, to cast a picture about the difficulties and the dilemma of our country’s diasporas who may or may not want to return home. A prelude from my own stand point is worthwhile to start with how I became a refugee, how and why I returned after war and what experience did I gain in exile and on my return ; perhaps some may share my experience.
1982 was ripe for South Sudan to go back to war when President Nimeiry abrogated the Addis Ababa accord of 1972 with the first South Sudan liberation fighters known as Anya-Nya under the command of General Joseph Lagu. Each and every South Sudanese was unhappy in his own way but the South Sudanese Army officers in a special way. In Sudan, by then, we lived as relatives, families, a community, Society, and a political unit in our own right being South Sudanese. This gave us an undeclared unity of purpose.
One day in December 1982 at Malakal, I approached Major Arok Thon Arok and ask him why they the South Sudanese officers were just keeping quiet when the situation in the South was as deteriorating as it was. His answer was that they would be ready if there were a senior South Sudanese officer who could be ready to command because such and operation by Junior officers would be easily crashed; but taking my concern seriously, he suggested John Garang as the only South Sudanese senior officer whom he could approach because of his friendly association with junior officers including himself.
Fortunately enough in the same month, I happened to be in Khartoum where I had a chance to ask the help of John Garang giving me a ride to where I lived. On our way, I asked him what he was doing in Khartoum when Southerners were in dire need of him during that crucial time; his answer was positive that he was going to Juba to see what to be done.
There must have been such more serious contacts by the higher echelons of our South Sudan political and military spectrum; that is why his answer was so easy, I sensed. Major Arok, on my return to Malakal, whispered to me that they might be on the move soon; John Garang is in Juba he said. The objective was accomplished in may 1983 (this is a story of its own).
By association, I felt I had become a part of the objective, therefore I dropped my scholarship and started to plan joining the war which I did in August 1984. At this point, I did not consider myself exiled from my own country, but was fighting for it.
When, why, and how did I become exiled? Answering this question is another story of it’s own and may mislead me to writing history which is not my theme here; suffice to say that differences in the objective of the war had led to it’s undesirable circumstances at the time. I therefore decided to seek asylum to the United States in 1995 against my conscience for the need to prosecute war to it’s last conclusion which by chance might determine it’s own outcome; but with my will because, I learned, the movement, SPLM, had started to eliminate the separatists, especially when the information about the murder of justice Martin Majier began to unfold.
Thanks to the UNHCR and IOM for facilitation and The Government of United States for hospitality. Like blessing in disguise, I found myself with the LOST BOYS of our war contributing more effectively to the independence of the South through the American People. The independence of the South Sudan did not come by gun alone but also by politics; I did both.
Additionally, I gained the experience of a civilized World of freedom, democracy and justice for all; a World where the love of humanity governs the moral aspects of leadership, and a World where a Government is responsible for life and security of it’s citizens and where the rule of law is morally a divine culture.
But, all the same, I maintained the moral heritage of myself belonging to South Sudan. The only negative thought I had was perhaps the worry of my children going to be oriented against my home cultural norms in a World where the Government is directly responsible for disciple and welfare of children. Despite the progress of my daughters in schools, like any Diaspora, I still had the worry that I might be caught up in the complexities of the free World leading me to homophobia; so, what next? I began to imagine, one time I will go home which I did in 2007.
My experience when I returned home in 2007 is another story. I was called with five others by Dr. Lual Deng, then Minister of finance of the old Sudan, to go and occupy positions in his ministry according to CPA power sharing arrangement by which I became a director general in the chambers of accounts.
Unfortunately, I served only for six months before I was pensioned off because of my age limit prescribed in the civil service regulations. The same regulation could not even approve me a pension because my period of service could not qualify me for this benefit.
Being a veteran, I swished to the SPLM Government in Juba. I stayed in Juba for four years appealing to my Government and my Army, the SPLA, to at least consider me for privilege of a veteran like my other comrades in Arms but to no avail; why? Because I was known to be among the founders of SPLM-DC; which was true, except for the paradox of depriving me of my war benefits for my political affiliation. My experience of the dilemma of South Sudanese Diaspora is witnessed from here; yet, I never thought one time of disowning my own country.
There are many difficulties and problems that seem to justify why the Diasporas appear reluctant to return home after independence of the country. Among these are:-
1- The despair and frustration of the way our SPLM Government is maiming and dehumanizing the same
people they claim to have liberation.
2- The shame of the international outcry and condemnation of our Government..
3- The corruption, reign of terror, nepotism, tribalism, favoritism, opportunism, etc. being the way our
SPLM Government control their power has become an alien culture to a people who have seen how the Free World of justice for all works.
4- Like any refugees, they have no ability to repatriate themselves even if most of them may want to Return home.
5- Education of their children is a moral responsibility which they cannot comprise when they hear the
schools are not working especially, the universities.
6- Our SPLM Government sees the Diaspora as competitors for power; therefore keeping them out is
7- The recent killing of South Sudanese American in Bor may add to their fears.
8- Some diasporas are children of the martyrs who have become orphans; they may not return unless there is a Government programmed project for them.
In conclusion, my advice to the Diasporas is that it would be self defeating to disown ourselves from our own country; it is our presence that can change things.
We shall be abusing the hospitality of our host countries by being so much apathetical passive to allow our people and us being oppressed by a small elite group in our country.
Last but not least, we are not born free because life itself is not free. South Sudan, the country of Prophet Isaiah with honey and milk is not yet free; it is a matter of struggle. If we do not liberate ourselves from this small SPLM clique, let us not blame Salva Kiir or Riek Machar; they may, let me guess, have been besieged by their inherited children of war.
Democratic change is the solution. Let us go to Juba and wake up all who are sleeping waiting for heaven to liberate us.
Deng Bior Deng (email: email@example.com)