OpEd, Politics

I know two South Sudan(s): One is wealthy, the other is too poor

I have known two South Sudan(s) and one is very painful. A prison in the fullness of that word, this second South Sudan is inhabited by poor and educated youth without jobs.

This is where the struggle never ends, where you wash your face with your own tears. Joy in this second home is a luxury that is too expensive to buy, only reserved for those with keys to the public coffers.

In this second home, you die before your birth. That is a man-made rule. When lucky, you pay the prize for being alive. I am even sorry if you are a young person because you deserve a better place than this.

The other South Sudan is made up of people who are rich at the expense of the poor. They are rich with small brains, big stomachs and dirty hearts. In case I forget, they have blood on their hands too.

For them, it doesn’t matter what you have, if you have that privilege you are entitled to everything. You can even kill a human being and go away with it. I even wonder who brought this division of classes.

I thought Mama South Sudan loved us. She is young but she is now frail and would soon die. Maybe this is the reason why she is not working for all of us. “Mama I beg you in the name of God”. I said these words under a barren mango tree.

The tree was cursed the first day when somebody was killed under its shade. It was not only that but a lot of people have hanged themselves on the branches of that tree. It was a source of my school fees. “Why me?”

As a young man, I had been born in one South Sudan, maybe when it was still one, came to awareness in another place, and continued to grow up in this impoverished South Sudan.

One undivided South Sudan was supposed to be my real home, but part of me did not accept this for several years when I was a child. I always felt that other places I had lived in, the second South Sudan had a claim on me.

Similarly, when I was at school, at whichever school I was, I could never really fit into what everyone else was doing and being. A part of me was screaming to be ‘other’ whether because of my background or because of something more innate.

About the first South Sudan, I have never been there. It is a place for the chosen few. But I went there in a dream. I thought it was real and never wanted to come back.

Before I returned to our normal home where it hurt, I had severe nostalgia. I never want to leave” I want to be here”.

It was a place where everything was in order. In first South Sudan, you found everything we lacked in second South Sudan, whether that was certain foods, villas, or whether it was happiness, nice sleep at night, cars or good houses. Everything was in order.

There was nothing like a daily struggle to survive. You can even tramp on people if you are heartless and still go away with it.

In my first home in a dream, I remembered enjoying going to the fair and to the bank with my own car. A nice paying job. I longed to go back the two-up, two-down there and play in the street with childhood friends who sometimes called us the lucky few. But it was just a dream. Maybe that was the end of my dream.

About my impoverished home where I now live, I was (and remain) conflicted, loving it and not loving it. You bury your loved ones or the people you know, it is every day, every month.

Living in a second home is at once blissful and painful. You live by hope, hoping against hope that it will all get better one day, even when the signs are often not there. You plan as a young man and it just doesn’t work.

If it is you alone in the struggle, you just need prayers. Maybe God will intervene but for how long? Maybe there is no need to be alive. Maybe we are here by accident, maybe not.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? It may never come. Home is never coming back like it used to be. It is getting old and may soon die out. I will cry when I still can but how is that going to help me?

I am sorry but finding home and country would be like trying to find your soul when it is lost. It would be a life-long perilous adventure sometimes filled with joy, sometimes not.  I learnt that first and second homes, though desirable were not definite things.

Indeed why should they be? If one’s own body itself is changing all the time from youth to old age, why should other things stay the same? Home would be better or even worse unless we remove social classes.

I found I could identify with the sometimes peaceful sometimes troubled South Sudan, by imagining that I and the now divided home are about the same weight, and have been going through similar ‘growing trauma’.

Like me South Sudan had to ‘travel home’, to be one and treat people the same regardless of who they are or where they come from. To appreciate those who try their best and reward those who work hard.

I want South Sudan to find itself from the dreams of a ravaged state to the reality of nationhood after independence. The journey would be fraught with unexpected, problems, difficulties, and setbacks.

Would South Sudan ever find its way home? Would I make it to one South Sudan that works for everyone? I think not or maybe so.

South Sudan kept moving back and forth from stability to instability, from dearth to death, from wars to peace and to wars again, from collapse to rejuvenation and then collapse. From two steps forward and ten steps backwards, from poverty to extreme poverty. And from tears to blood. From stealing to killing.

I too kept shifting back and forth between the first South Sudan of the elites and the other one of the poor where I belong, between seeing South Sudan as an enchanted land of promise and living there, and as an infuriating chaotic place from which one must flee.

Maybe home will resurrect and remember those who have been long forgotten. Maybe home will rise and get those on their knees back on their feet.

Maybe home will not cry so that we drown in her tears. Home must rise, maybe not. What if it comes back with war and spills our blood again? What if she runs faster than us and leaves the weak behind? Who knows maybe home will disappoint for the second time?

This restlessness became thematic in my life and thoughts. Naturally, I would find myself questioning ‘fixed ideas’, whether about religion, politics, identity, morality or culture.

This time, I don’t want to conclude that home will be okay. I want to make a point that everything is still in place. What we just need are the right people to instil in us the lost spirit of nationalism and show us where we truly belong.

We want to unveil the curtail and see the future through those falling tears. Maybe home will be more forgiving. She must be really tired. Who knows she might be pregnant with a child. What if the child was hope and it is slaughtered before it is even born? That is all we have may it remember and bless the struggling majority.



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