July 9th 2011 marked South Sudanese independence. Almost 3 years ago, South Sudan became independent from main Sudan. For South Sudanese, this day had a special place in their hearts. That day in Juba, felt like being born again. It felt better than “butterfly in the stomach” feeling of first date; a day when people cried for joy!! It was a feeling I cannot describe in words, but smile, smile and smile about it. In the minds of all youth, women, and men of South Sudan, 2011 was not only the year of liberation, but also a day that finally put to an end 21 years of suffering and sacrifice both at home and in foreign lands as refugees. President Obama described it as follows, “today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, a new day is possible.” In our hearts, independence was the beginning of a new day and a start of our dignity, identity and pride as citizens of a nation. We all jumped in Joy and I remember sitting deep in the crown listening keenly to every single speech of distinguished invited guests; from Desmond Tutu, Thabo Mbeki, Susan Rice and our regional leaders including Bashir of Sudan; I listened, I nodded and clapped to every point. It was the most fulfilling day in my life!
Unfortunately that new day has not lasted too long, almost 3 years since then another July is just around the corner and darkness of war fills up the clouds of South Sudan! As July approaches, the fire that lit our hearts in 2011 is dying fast. Hope is disappearing fast and destitution is setting in. Today, I and my South Sudanese friends in Washington DC would be looking around for the best pub/park to spend that day South Sudanese way! Unfortunately, all that comes in my mind now is the images of suffering of the people in UN camps in South Sudan, people who remained in their families but have lost all their livelihoods, have no chance for healthcare, no clean water no food and above all scared of being caught in cross fire!
If you put sanction on South Sudan, you are simply saying you are tired of South Sudanese, innocent children, youths, women and men who found themselves in the soil of South Sudan. When aid is cut, thousands of these innocent people die of hunger, preventable and treatable diseases like cholera. When you turn your eyes away from South Sudan, you are saying “they no longer matter on the face of earth”. In my view this is the time when the international community sympathize more with South Sudanese. It is time when the Friends of South Sudan should not generalize all South Sudanese as corrupt, undemocratic or war mongers. South Sudanese Love Peace. Civil population is urging their leaders to think and talk peace, the desire for peace is clearly seen in the eyes all the common men and women of South Sudan across the world. The Addis Ababa Peace Talk is the only hope for people of South Sudan, postponing it indefinitely is unthinkable! We need your help in making our voice heard by our leaders and leaders of Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).
Today I was chatting with a friend living and working in Juba and here I quote what he said “My contract ends next month and may not be extended because country X government has withdrawn its funding; getting a new job these days is difficult, there are many jobless people in Juba as development organizations are either closing down or downsizing their staffing needs” This should be concerning to everyone! Increased number of jobless youths in the city with no hope of raising their young families is not a good sign. South Sudanese problem is now children, women, young men, the elderly and all people of South Sudan losing their assets and livelihoods once again and seeking refuge in deplorable conditions! It is the lack of food on the table of a child, lack of basic health care for children, lack of education for children who are in the run and too hungry to go to school. It is misery! It is destitution in a making!
This July 9th 2014 is the day we feel betrayed by people we trust most, and you our friends who are withdrawing aid from our country when we needed it most. It is the day our burning flame of patriotism was extinguished; it is the day when the citizens of South Sudan again look outside of their own nation for help. For me and for most South Sudanese, it should be a day, when friends of South Sudan talk to our leaders in a loud and stronger voice to put down their arms and empathize with the dying generation of South Sudan yet again!