HOPE FOR PEACE! MESSAGE OF CAUTION ON THE 06TH YEARS SOUTH SUDAN INDEPENDENCE
Message of Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio & President of Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference
Ref. NO MONEY! NO PEACE! NO CELEBRATION OF SOUTH SUDAN 06TH INDEPENDENCE DAY
This fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary time, in our Catholic Liturgical Calendar coincides with the sixth years of independence of the Republic of South Sudan. How do I speak or talk and which message can come forth from my mouth?
For me a tension continues. I must confess that any time the life of prayer, worship and Scripture are aligned too closely with national desire I get nervous. I find that performances of the flag of the Republic of South Sudan shown about especially troublesome. Such approaches too often cross the line into nationalism, an idolatry that blurs the distinction of the sovereignty of God and national purpose as if one is equal to the other. Deuteronomy 10:20 appointed for today says, “…him alone shall you worship.”
Indeed, six years after liberation, South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis is worse than ever, with grave violations of human rights and a lingering brutal civil war. South Sudan’s 2011 independence was won when more than 98% of its people voted to break away from Sudan. This followed two periods of prolonged armed struggle that began in the mid-1950s and ultimately killed about 2.5 million and displaced over 4 million.
Please do not misunderstand. I am a patriot and am grateful that I am a citizen of the Republic of South Sudan. There is a proper place for grateful hearts for the sacrifices made to secure our land from tyranny and oppression. When at our best, we have been an example of liberation from enslavement.
I deeply love being born a South Sudanese, and I give thanks to God for giving me birth in this beautiful place. I proudly see South Sudan grow clocking the age of Six Years since her birth on July 9th 2011.
After visiting many places around the world I still conserve my love for this country, I don’t know how and why. The only answer I can give is that God meant me to be a South Sudanese and that I am one in every drop of blood in my veins.
As we stand on the threshold of the 6th Independence Day right inside deep abase of civil wars, I am intensifying my prayers for my beloved Mother South Sudan. As I also get older and South Sudan though young yet again in senseless war, I keep asking: are we drifting completely away from the path, the dreams, the hopes and desires for this beloved nation of ours?
My first thoughts on Independence Day go to South Sudan’s Freedom Movement, Anya-nya One, Sudan Liberation Army (SPLA). Those heroes and martyrs of 1820-2005 and others, like the King Gbudue, William Deng, Clement Mboro, John Garang, etc., fill me with a sense of pride because my Christian faith also talks about the misery of “enslavement.” The first books of the Bible tell us how God wanted the enslaved people of Israel to be freed. Freedom is God’s first gift to them.
South Sudan’s independence helped me understand the message of God – freedom from sin, freedom from Satan, freedom from a life estranged from God.
Now I cannot believe – No Money, No Peace and No Celebration of the 6th years Independence of South Sudan Independence??? My Mother South Sudan is wounded by all these ailments. I am sad, but not without hope.
I want to keep on working for unity of my country. I want to spend my life for lasting peace, peace which has been robbed by some. There are many, many like me, of all religions, who have not given up hope.
I believe that the present state of the country is only a passing phase. The sooner her sons and daughters realize the urgency to stand by the perennial values of our Mother South Sudan, the quicker South Sudan will once again remain faithful to her original divine vocation.
Freedom is God’s gift. Peace is God’s gift. God’s gifts are meant for His children. Independence is not a once-and-for-all achievement, but it is forged daily, achieved daily. Independence is not an external reality, but an inner force which comes only from above.
My prayer: Let us Lord, each South Sudan, build her/himself from within. Teach us that building a beautiful, strong and stable South Sudan is not to start from external reality, but to start from within.
Does this sound idealistic, Lord? But you have already taught us and continue to teach us where to begin. I want to be the first one to do that, Lord.
I deeply love being born a South Sudanese, and I give thanks to God for giving me birth in this beautiful place. Seeing South Sudan growing up and discovering herself she makes to maturity of stability and peace.
After visiting many places around the world I still conserve my love for this country, I don’t know how and why. The only answer I can give is that God meant me to be South Sudanese and that I am one in every drop of blood in my veins.
Yet we also need to hear faithful and prophetic critique when what we do as a nation is in conflict with the Gospel, and be willing to confess our sin when we are the source of oppression. As disciples of Christ and yet citizens of a nation, what does loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and loving the stranger in our midst (Deuteronomy 10:19) look like in national policy? These are not small questions.
My messages of peace, courage and confidence for National Day such as this is that South Sudan Independence, as we painfully now see it for the third time not being celebrated nationwide, hence, it is the beginning of a quest for an ever-changing understanding of freedom.
Our early national struggles for political autonomy soon have led to the continuing struggle for economic freedom! As a matter of fact, freedom today includes human rights, minority rights, refugee rights and workers´ rights. Thus dialogue must be undertaken, as Jesus did and taught, across our cultures as well as within our respective cultures.
The 6th Independent Celebration of our nation can be strongly honoured and made to bear lasting fruits must include the below areas among other:
1 – Comprehensive ceasefire: The country is loaded with violence and war by all the fighting forces or people holding arms. All of them must for the love of this beautiful nation South Sudan lay down their weapons of wars. This must be followed by an inclusive all entities in struggle in sort of roundtable peace negotiation.
2 – The National Dialogue: The national dialogue launched by the president has to be in all forms an inclusive networking for peace in the country. This must be support by all means and it should remain neutral for the sake of truth. At this juncture since the National Dialogue has been launched, relative in some parts of the country is being lived and harmony is developing, let us all resolve to rally round together, shedding all differences to achieve advancement in the economy, sustainable peace culture and the reconciled life of the community.
3 – Declaration of National Bankruptcy in South Sudan is necessary: It will be a courageous stand by the government at this most crucial time to declare that there is no money in South Sudan. Such declaration done with love and determination will generate quick fix plus gradual reform to building the economy of South Sudan. I know that it cannot be absolute that a nation such as South Sudan is without money. Surely, sovereigns will always have the ability to meet debt obligations. Simple because our assets should always exceed our liabilities, which surely must be the technical reason for bankruptcy.
But I feel strongly that where we are now as nation, with no greater reservation it has become very necessary, for South Sudan to declare itself bankrupt. It must in principle still be possible for South Sudan to go bankrupt.
First foremost, to justify my claim, my calculation is simple; it is important to understand how public (government) debts work. When a country can no longer pay the interest on its debt or convince anyone to lend it money, it has reached bankruptcy. The most obvious cause of this spotted state of bankruptcy of our beloved South Sudan includes civil war or financial mismanagement by the government!
Secondly, another biting sign of bankruptcy is that there is massive inflation for consumers and businesses. Stock prices have plummet, along with the value of our nation’s currency. As the value of money falls, bank runs may result as terrified citizens rush to withdraw cash from their accounts. Last week in Yambio the only Kenya foreign bank we had closed down, the manager told me that one of the reasons why they have closed services in Yambio is that when the citizens withdraw their money from the bank, they never bring any more money back into that in return.
Thirdly, area suggesting winning cases for bankruptcy is that there is high rate of social and political unrest. No services being provided including descent salaries to the working classes, etc.
But! But! But! There is hope and there is way out of this! To avert bankruptcy or to cope with its effects, our insolvent government has to take courage to look abroad for a bailout. Some countries have done it in past and have survived! Nations in recent memory includes Ukraine, Argentina and Greece. In fact, when the Greece economy crashed in 2009, they went to the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, who collectively, issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece.
4 – Praying continually for Peace: Beloved people of South Sudan we must pray hard for peace! To inspire the hearts of people with love and trust for each other, irrespective of the ethnicities or community they belong to, thus making life in South Sudan more meaningful and joyful. In plan B we have to go FARMING – this is indeed sustainable!
It is important for people to learn from their respective faith or social backgrounds how to live in this new nation, South Sudan as peaceful human beings and not to create difficulties for our fellow human beings. It is also equally important, to learn how to resolve differences of opinion and arrive amicably at solutions which would satisfy the cross-sections of people living in our country.
The gift of the Christian faith, deeply rooted in our national identity, is a most powerful force to achieve change and transformation of every individual and every people. We should not forget on this national day that values such as respect for human life from conception to natural death, respect for the family, the foundations of society, Family and Life, justice and respect for the rights of the weaker citizens, honesty and protection of creation must be upheld by every individual South Sudanese and for the authorities.
Let us continue to pray for South Sudan for stable peace, Amen!
God bless you and God bless South Sudan!
South Sudan, July 9th 2017.
Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio &
President of Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference