South Sudan: Kiir watching as Jieng children starve

By Jok Madut Jok

Co-Founder of the South Sudan Juba-based Sudd Institute Jok Madut Jok [Photo credit is unknown]

Co-Founder of the South Sudan Juba-based Sudd Institute Jok Madut Jok [Photo credit is unknown]

OPINION – If I were the head of state [in South Sudan], or in some other position of influence in South Sudan, I would not last for so long in such a position while seeing Jieng Kids sleeping on empty stomachs every night on the streets in Wau, Aweil, Tonj, Rumbek, Malakal, even as massive state contracts are given suitcase businessmen from their areas; or women sitting with babies suckling at their empty breasts on the doorsteps of some ministers’ houses in Juba.

I would not sleep well while having seen much of Equatoria emptied into Northern Uganda, Eastern Upper Nile into Ethiopia, Dedinga children, Jie kids, being educated every single day to turn away from their country and choose to be citizens of their tribes, instead of citizens of South Sudan.

How can anyone say he or she is a leader overseeing a country [South Sudan] where one citizen harms another with impunity and the state has no say in that?

I would not sleep knowing that the country that was born of war, built upon bones of martyrs, watered every day by the blood of human sacrifice, is now a country that looks like a mirror reflection of the country it protested and broke away from.

It is now a country where some of its liberators, the men, and women in uniform, can’t even afford a bar of soap to wash that uniform with.

It is now a country [South Sudan] of the rule of man by law, where security agents can arrest and detain citizens without judicial oversight, a country of neat laws that no one is interested in enforcing or respecting, where oil production has become a curse to the people who live on top of the oil fields.

I would not rest a day knowing that all our [South Sudan] newborns are not registered so that the state acknowledges their existence and do everything possible for them to survive.

How could anyone rest knowing that every public official appointee does not know how to coordinate with the next appointee so that public institutions can operate in concert with one another? I would not carry on without asking my aides how come they all own houses that are bigger than the structures of the ministries that employ them?

This is not to say that I would know exactly what to do about all these challenges, nor to declare anyone incompetent. But I would not be found pretending there is no problem.

This is to say that it is one thing to have a problem, but it is entirely another to acknowledge or note that you have a problem, for accepting you have a problem is half of the solution to that problem.

The author is a professor of anthropology at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. He is also a co-founder of the Juba-based Sudd Institute. Follow him via Twitter: @JokMadut.

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