ENVISIONING THE FIRST FOUNDATION STONE OF THE NEW REPUBLIC OF SOUTHERN SUDAN
Written by Joseph Deng Garang, The New Sudan Vision (NSV),

New Sudan Vision
www.newsudanvision.com
Feb 22 2011

(OMAHA, Nebraska) - IT IS without a doubt the people of Southern Sudan
will go through periods of healing after half a century of civil wars,
the most decimating being the second war, which cost over 2 million
lives. The journey to consolidate and translate the triumph of peace
has just begun. And although the region is on a short wait to formally
declare independence on July 9, 2011, the people have already witnessed
a historic moment of the birth of Africa's newest nation.

It is a moment that became magnified when the final results of the
January 9-15 referendum were announced and made permanent on Monday,
February 7, 2011. And, never in the shortest course of my human
journey, have I seen so many people jolt into prestige as a result of
the recent participation at the ballot box. I did not know the kind
of respect that a single vote could command until I cast it last month.

But in order not to be blindsided by the giddiness of the moment,
I would like to turn a laser focus on the work that lies ahead of us
by looking at the following recurring themes as we begin to lay that
first foundation stone of the new republic.

A watershed moment for Africa and the world

Evidently, the world is waiting for July and for sovereign borders to
be drawn before the new republic joins the community of nations. But
the referendum vote has already bestowed international recognition
upon South Sudan. The successful outcome of a January plebiscite is
the subject of secession overtures by scholars across much of Africa.

And of course it bears mentioning that many people are scrambling for
clues as to what Africa and the world can teach the new republic of
Southern and vice versa

When asked about the impact of the French Revolution of 1789, former
Chinese premier Zhou Enlai famously said: "It is too early to say."

This was in 1972, 183 years after the said revolution took place. But
time has a different way of capturing moments of eloquence
for different generations. In 2005, the man who brought us the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement best articulated that Sudan was not
going to be the same. Six years later, the sweeping wave of human
dignity echoed by the January 9 the self-determination vote is indeed
one for the rivers of history.

For some time to come, the world will learn many great things about
the liberation movement that waged a relentless revolution in Sudan.

For now, the 2005 peace blue print on power sharing and the fact
that the war went on for over 50 years really stands out and the
liberation struggle waged by the marginalized people of Sudan will
be the talk and study of the century by realists and idealists, both
in the global north and global south. The Sudan Peoples' Liberation
Movement will not only be credited by history for its articulation of
the liberation for the marginalized masses but also for being one of
few if not the only guerrilla movement in the course of human history
that allowed back into its rank leaders and members who turned on
their own civilians after they had joined the enemy.

As student of geopolitics of the Central Eurasia, I was also
pleased to see the sacrosanct self-determination vote in Southern
Sudan being cited as precedent by the top leadership in Armenia
and Nagorno-Karabakh republic. They were the first to congratulate
Southern Sudan when the preliminary results were announced in January
and they are planning to bring up the case of self-determination for
Nagorno-Karabakh, which was botched back in 1991 when it failed to
win the recognition of the international community. The region had
been a source of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

As I wrote in my last column, a new chapter is unfolding for us in
Southern Sudan but it is not chapter 11. It is a chapter where we
will have clashes of priorities as we try to build and provide for
everyone. But it is one full of belief that children and women will
have to come first. We will face many competing priorities when it
comes to our approach to development. But I also get the sense that
the one thing that our leadership will have in large supply is advice.

They are poised to receive a torrent of free advice from Southerners
and foreigners on how to build the new nation.

By way of extrapolation, much has been said about the key lessons
Southern Sudan must learn from African countries that have been
plagued by pitfalls since independence. The list of things to avoid
has ranged from anemic institutions to corruption to lack of solid
policy projects on social, economic and political development. But
there is one pressing observation I can also add: free expression,
which is the least understood aspect of liberation in Africa. More
on the need for free expression next.

For those Southern Sudanese who love reading and are interested
in reading up about political, and socio-economic development or
philosophies of any given nation, I highly recommend three books
for you: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith; Democracy in America
by Alexis de Tocqueville; and the most recent and my favorite book
Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle co-authored
by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Building partnerships and a network of
global solidarity will be critical at every turn for us in Southern
Sudan. It will dictate how the new nation begins to build an educated
workforce that will in turn create a 21st- century economy.

Strategic communications as an effective tool of governance

Free expression has struck me as the least understood aspect of
liberation.Take for example the many countries in Africa, where
majority of citizens cannot speak freely either for fear of reprisal
or because they are not well informed on how to exercise. Too often
those who speak out vocally either risk their own lives or get
exiled for life. What is more, the military sometimes meddles in the
politics of several states in Africa. And if history is any guide,
the lesson we can quickly take away is that in nations where citizens
are never fully vested or not involved at the outset, people have
become disillusioned when expectations are not managed well.

As ethnically diverse as Southern Sudan is, it is true we have not
learned how to openly and honestly describe ourselves as a people
given how busy we were dealing with the north. Let's face it, this
is the one area that remains worrisome and we will have to think hard.

The only thing that kept us united during the war was the rallying
cry of marginalization. Now that we are free, we have the daunting
task of defining who we are. It is true much of the post-referendum
challenge will fall to our leadership who will have to shoulder the
heavy duty of strategic communications---making sure the message,
all channels of communicating and the audience are in line.

In Southern Sudan, there are xenophobic talks that relate to different
groups. And Southern Sudan, sincerely, of all places, given its epic
struggle for freedom, where people are still hungry for change, must
not be a place where people are advised to talk cautiously because
of fear. So for us who are about to build a new nation, this must
give us pause and ask ourselves the question: what role will free
expression play in rebuilding Southern Sudan?

After decades in which we were virtually allowed no role to play in
determining the course or direction of the country, times during which
our voices were categorically marginalized in the decision-making
process, I believe the best and precious gift this new independence
must give every Southerner is the ability, the right and responsibility
to speak his or her mind freely, because doing otherwise will serve
to bring back the vestiges of a system we have fought to replace.

The citizens must be allowed to speak without fear provided what
they speak is reasonable and devoid of treasonous acts. Of course no
society or nation can let the right to speak go astray into the realm
of speaking without any basis in facts, which is why it is going to
demand each person's responsibility to stay well informed. Speaking
freely does not mean dealing in wholesale rumor mongering. Ditto
for irrelevant schools of thought supported by outdated world views
or prophecies.

Maybe if we are not too fearful, the conversation can be made easy
given the way information technology has revolutionized the way
societies do things. Our new government can partner with all sorts
of media on matters of positive cultural programming as well as
disseminating key policy information to our society.

Free expression can accomplish for us a few things. For example, we
can learn to hold ourselves accountable and demand that of our leaders
regardless of whether or not we are related, because protecting members
of one's tribe either through condoning of their scandals or by failing
to correct or point out their leadership weaknesses just because of the
relationship or loyalty is tantamount to promoting gross incompetency.

In matters of self-governance, Southern Sudanese can find an agreement
that improper defense of leaders has nothing to do with true patriotism
and everything to do with blind patriotism. It cannot serve our new
nation well. Leaders, too, must learn to resist temptation that seeks
unquestioning obedience from their subjects because that, too, will
not do us any good. If anything, leaders must not lead by fear but
rather through moral example.

The terap phenomenon

Terap is the word our leaders drilled into us when we were little. It
is an arabic word for seed, used a lot during the struggle to refer
to children as future of the liberation movement. The bulk of nation
building agenda will require that we all commit by developing a sense
of national consciousness---a shared responsibility to forge a national
character---the collective embrace and a true sense of citizenship,
where all the young people will be called upon to play their part. The
youth will build bridges of understanding for the postwar society.

Before we tap into our vast natural resources,and indulge the talk of
all the grand buildings or wealth, our leadership must enshrine basic
rights for everyone and develop a capacity to communicate all the core
values to the post war society: ensuring there is fairness in public
sector and that climbing all the social and economic ladders is done
through meritocracy. It is the cheapest policy project I can think of.

It costs nothing. It just requires leadership and a change of
attitudes. It is one that can serve us well for generations.

As I previewed on Martyrs' Day last year in an article published by The
New Sudan Vision, Southern Sudan needs a 21-for-21 national project,
where we will commit to another 21 years of hard work, the same number
of years it took to bring about liberation. It is the only way we will
make the fallen heroes proud. It is the simplest, most meaningful
and lasting honor we all can give our late leader John Garang and
all the martyrs who will always guide and lead us from their graves.

For his upcoming major speech in July, President Salva Kiir should
talk to us and the world, in declarative terms, by calling for the
rule of law, one that is anchored by a national constitution and an
independent branch of Southern Sudan judiciary, where every person
shall be treated equally under the law. His recent promise to take
up the gauntlet with those who threaten misuse of public resources
is a welcome break.

So to all those who would like to start making careers of these great
causes on behalf of educating our new nation, the time is ripe to
get to work. Let's make sure the dream of an independence is fully
expressed---let's envision the day when Southern Sudan will become the
most welcoming place to live---a society that accommodates the views
of minority---where all citizens are encouraged to be assertive and
able to question their business and political leaders without fear
whatsoever. And when that day arrives, we all will proudly say in
unison: ode to all the imaginings and the triumph of peace.

Joseph Deng Garang is the President of The New Sudan Vision

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From: A. Papazian