SOUTH SUDAN: CATHOLIC BISHOP SENDS LETTER OF SOLIDARITY TO THE PEOPLE OF KENYA ON THE RE-RUN OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio and President of the Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has sent a solidarity letter to the President of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the people of Kenya on the re-run of the presidential election due to take place on Thursday, 26 October.
The letter, in a spirit of “love and unity in the mission of Christ”, is meant to encourage and wish Kenyans a peaceful and credible election.
Read below the full letter
October 20, 2017
President of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops
Ref. Peace is the enduring Choice over an Election – a Solidarity Letter to the people of Kenya!
On behalf of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (for Sudan and South Sudan) and entire faithful of the people of Sudan and South Sudan I send you the Love and Peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, assuring you of our closeness in prayers and solidarity with each and everyone of you.
This solidarity letter to you dearest brothers in Episcopacy is a reminder of our love and unity in the mission of Christ with you all! Following the August Presidential Election in Kenya so much has evolved and taking seemingly a risk trend, honestly everybody here is becoming very concerned! Consequently, we confirm completely what you the Catholic Bishops of Kenya said to the Kenyan people in your numerous and consistent messages of peace. I congratulate you for standing out singularly for Peace in the Country!
I just want to repeat here by quoting what you said to the Kenyan people in one of your pastoral letters “PEACEFUL AND CREDIBLE ELECTIONS FOR LEADERS OF INTEGRITY” where you appealed: “Peace be With You” (John 20:20). Time is now for Peaceful and Credible Elections. We, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya in our latest Lenten Campaign message, called upon all Christians and people of good-will to hold “Peaceful and Credible Elections…” and elect leaders of integrity. We have invited our Christ’s faithful to maintain and safeguard peace, calm and non-violence. All of us, from whatever part of the Country we come from, or whatever political views we hold, are children of God, children of Peace” You have said it all here dear Bishops.
I am writing this letter to you from the Republic of South Sudan which was born in 2011 as an independent country and got into its own circle of violence in 2013, I tell you as I write we have not found solution nor is it either in sight. Since the outburst of violence in South Sudan, we are living with it, we still see, hear and witness violence at work in each of us and the whole nation! As a matter of fact, time is rolling on and the situation of insecurity in the land has not improved in any significant way. On the contrary, sometimes it seems to be going from bad to worse, as the violence strikes almost at will against innocent citizens all across the nation. The impact of our violence has not only disturbed us South Sudanese but our esteemed neighbours – the Kenyan people whose nation has become a home for almost a million people.
The truth of the matter for South Sudan including the Sudan is that, conflict has taken its toll on the local population. This protracted violence has produced no winners. Only losers. The losers being the innocent people languishing in dark camps, bushes, open air settlements, etc.
As Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan like you dear brother Bishops, we have not grown tired of talking to our Sudanese and South Sudanese leadership, urging them to chose another way, the way of dialogue to attain peace. Our current situation of continuous violence requires a mind-set shift. A mind-set shift that recognizes that attempting to perpetuate the current status quo is to damn future generations to violence and insecurity. A mind-set shift that works for people’s welfare with no personal interest! I suppose this can also be said of the Kenyans!
Let me tell you the truth, since months, every South Sudanese follows Kenyan news very scrupulously praying for the better. Kenya is our natural home and will ever be, so we wish her Peace. For this reason we join our voice to yours to call on all Kenyans to choose life over death, peace over violence. We earnestly appeal to all. We are not politicians. We join you our fellow Bishops of Kenya in raising our voice on behalf of peaceful and credible election, dialogue, genuine compromise, reconciliation, healing and peace, also the people whose voice is stifled.
As Kenyans you are a people of one country; never dare to lose this great God-given opportunity of well grown nation, to now build a vision of peace through mutual dialogue for the whole of Kenya. If you doubt what I am saying to you, please visit South Sudan, you will see outright how much we have lost in just four to five years to violence, it is terrible.
It is time for the leadership of the people of Kenya to sincerely work together courageously to plant the roots that will give the people of Kenya the sustainable peace and security they so rightly deserve.
Let me conclude this Solidarity letter quoting once more what you have said in your last pastoral letter to the people of Kenya in regard to the importance of peace. “We appeal to the Politicians to conduct themselves peacefully and ensure that whatever they do should be in the interest of Kenyans and in particular, to promote unity of the Country” You continued to outline concrete points to keep in mind as Kenyans go into election, thus:
“a) On the drumming up of tribal and ethnic sentiments, we must resist and reject any form of incitements.
b) We must foster a unified Nation.
b) Deists from inflammatory and irresponsible utterances stirring up hatred towards specific candidates.
c) We condemn the upsurge of elections-related violence among the political leaders.”
In these difficult days, I will continue to pray and encourage our Faithful in Sudan and South Sudan to pray for you and your efforts to sustain the courage and faith of your communities! I sincerely mourn the death of already several Kenyans who have died since election season, indeed who have died serving others.
We know that well-meaning actions can sometimes result in unintended negative consequences, thus we are close to you. In this critical time, we hope to do all we can in praying God the Father to empower or strengthen your callings to continue being ministers of reconciliation in your land.
In this context, this election demands, more than ever before, the civic maturity of all Kenyans. It ought to help to ripen the national consciousness of everyone.
As South Sudanese who experience on daily bases what is eating up my country, I can never be shy to tell my Sisters and Brother, the Kenyans whom I love most, that! Kenyan’s future is in their very hands. Kenya will be what they would have made it to be, if they do not give in to the currents of the time.
As citizens all Kenyans are indeed implored to assume the heavy responsibility of consolidating what they have achieved during the last fifty years of history and of successfully leading a fast growing economy into the first century of the third millennium among the East African communities. Kenyans, therefore need the fundamental values that constitute the greatness of nations, more than ever before.
We have a Gospel of hope. The Good News of Jesus Christ is of hope. Of the victory of what is good at the end of all things. Of the Kingdom of Heaven! These are the great good messages for Kenya, for our country, and for our society and indeed for the whole world.
So we need to be those who live in hope. Who rejoice in hope! Who celebrate hope. Who are seen in praise and celebration to God, everywhere and always!
God bless you all and may our Saviour Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace lead you during this testing time into true Peace!
Sincerely your brother in Christ,
Barani Eduardo Hiiboro KUSSALA
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio &
President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference