Opinion

Dr. John Garang’s Promised Land

By Ngor Khot Garang

The man buried here is not comfortable at all. The blood running like water. Cries of grieving women and the constant running of people for safety. The gunshot and the falling down of poor South Sudanese never to wake up again. Garang must be weeping for the people he dearly paid his life for. But his grave, Dr. John Garang mausoleum has turned out to be a political ground. It is no longer a place for prayer. It is a stage for all sorts of preposterous programs. (Jomo Kenyatta’s mausoleum, this is one of the beautiful places in Kenya and it is highly respected) People are not allowed to go there or play there for their selfish reasons or they face the wrath of an old man.

Kenyatta is resting well and he is comfortable wherever he is. Take a look at Kenya and it is not as rich as South Sudan but it is stable and people are not complaining about anything. The economy is great and the standard of living is absolutely superb. It took Kenya not more than 10 years to be where it is today.  I think Garang is as important as Jomo Kenyatta but why does it feels like he is not? Garang is in wrong place but the worse of all is that his own money, valueless South Sudanese pound printed with his picture cannot raise good building where he is buried.  

The place (his mausoleum) is still underdeveloped leave alone the whole country with soldiers who have nothing but guns in their hands and pairs of military uniforms. Garang must be crying for these people too. Their families, where do they eat with ssp 1,200 as their monthly(s) salary?  What about their children’s school fees?  Garang deserved a better place than this or should I call him unlucky? No, Garang is still the one we know and he will remain intact in our minds or let me say my mind because he is already forgotten by almost everyone without exception of his now 5th Vice President Widow and his struggling sons. A hero that is his best description maybe to some parts of the world where he was known as a selfless leader. He was one of the few men, none alive, who wanted the best for this country. In his burnt-to ashes-handwritten-diary, he had the picture of like-United-Arab Emirate-South Sudan clearly drawn.

He was working toward that South Sudan and his vision was getting nearer. The world was going to wake up to a fastest growing South Sudan one day. Garang not “garbage” that is what the South Sudanese pound calls him, was determined and his target was how to use the country’s resources to benefit all and the sundry not specific people or in some ways to develop his personal stomach. Develop his personal stomach? No, that was a big lie because that will never happen in Garang’s life.

If every South Sudanese was to develop a pot belly or a political stomach (that is how they call it mostly politicians) that was Garang’s joy but it would have been after the development of the country. “Country first, people follow and then political stomach or citizens stomach(s) if need be”. That was Garang’s mantra or take towns to the people that was another way of saying that rural areas should not be left behind. Garang was fat and his potbelly was the only apparent thing but not from the country’s oil. We have had people who have eaten the country’s oil money to their fills and bought guns plus cars and foreign homes with the rest of the money when their people are suffering. Expensive cars and poor roads.

 A good number of churches and the word of God is not in its place. South Sudan is amazing in such a way that you will only wonder if anything will ever work out in the future. Garang was fat I repeat, but this was nature not from oil’s money because he was born fat. He never gets thin even in the worse of circumstances since when he was a young man. Garang is one of the few people who did not taste the political cake or the result of his sweat and at this point, I deserve every right to call him unlucky and, I, pity him but with all that we are going through, I think  he pity us more than we could imagine.

In the midst of plenty and hunger is still crucifying millions and gun is still claiming thousands.  Garang must be grieving and he must not be resting wherever he is. This was not Garang’s dream and taking up arms against Khartoum government years back before his demise was to liberate these people and bring them to the “Promised Land, now Pyramid Land to some people “ And indeed these people made it home and hope was restored. For two years, things were normal and life was at its best. There was complete love and people were expecting skyscrapers, good schools, hospitals and roads. It was a total bliss, then came 2013 and the “Promised Land” was torn into millions pieces and Pyramid Land came into existence. People started falling down like flies and life was made worse leaving everyone looking for impossible peace.

But is it true this was the Promised Land? I doubt. Garang and his fallen men brought us to a “slaughter house” to be exterminated daily untill we are done. And it is everywhere and each one of us is waiting for his own day and the fear of the unknown. The killings, hunger and unknown gunman. Can you imagine, the report released in the late December 2020 by National Bureau of Statistics that an estimated 5.82 million about 48.3 population of the country will face worse acute food shortage in 2021. This is just an estimated number of people and it could be more than that but I think this report was made for something else not to inform people about what is going on because people if not all the people of South Sudan are greatly aware about the hunger that has been here since December 2013. But what amuses me are handful of people who are still buying expensive cars from the country’s oil money when millions of people are not sure where their next meal would come from.

I believe beyond any reasonable doubt that this is not the Promised Land prepared for us. But if it is somewhere who will lead us there? This is a tougher question. Garang himself even in his grave must be answerable to this question because we are in wrong place. They might have messed up somewhere. And they did a very great job, fighting against Khartoum government for our own liberation. This was a complete dedication, but it seems like they missed the way. This was not the South Sudan they fought for, the one they willingly laid down their lives for.

But Garang is still Garang we know. He has done his part but the question is why he seemed not to care about us.  Upon his death in 2005, many people took their lives with him in what I can call “good suicide”. I can vividly remember that time. A man in his early 40s shot himself dead over the news he heard on the radio, that was 15 years ago and his wife follow suit. She hanged herself on the same day and the four children were left crying with nobody to call a parent.  Their world was no more and seeing their mother lying dead with the father drenched in blood was one of the strangest things they have ever seen in this life.

As an 8 year old boy, it was the first time to see a human being lying dead and a man crying like a child. I thought men never cry untill, I saw two of them crying that time. It was not long before we heard another gunshot from a nearby house (tak-tup and the wailing sounds of women and children followed. Another soldier who has seen the worst of this life and was expecting a better life after the struggle had killed himself but his wife did not kill herself. She was left with children to raise in a lonely world.

These were not the only people to kill themselves because of Garang’s death, many people from different parts of the country I heard did the same. Some mostly widows hanged themselves because Garang was a living sign that continuously reminds them of their husbands. He was no more, so the best thing they could do was to take their lives too.

When I asked mum about the mayhem, “Dictor John is dead” that is what I heard and streams of tears started rolling down through her cheeks and when a ball of tears, warm one landed on my feet from my mother’s eyes, I knew something was amiss and a country must have lost a great person but what I didn’t know that time was why people took their lives and I have been struggling for years to understand this but as time goes by, I realized that I was not far from the truth. A better future without Garang was impossible, very dark to put it right.

Those people who killed themselves with Dr. John Garang were so sure that life in South Sudan would be nothing without Garang and had they known, though, what the future held for them, they would have killed their children too. They were right and it seems like God was the one who directed them to commit suicide even when he knew that suicide was against his words. He knew that life was going to be something worse than what they thought for the weakest of all especially the wounded heroes and widows, so he decided to take them in a good suicide. In South Sudan today, a comfortable person is the one who is no more but we don’t want to leave this world if were asked to.

People want to continue struggling even when we are so sure that nothing will ever work out. We believe in false hope that never comes since the country plunged into crisis, “Things will be alright” has been our only hope. But when and for how long? This is what we will never understand untill we are completely gone but sometimes there is need to believe that those who are no longer with us are the most peaceful ones. Though the dead are said to be dead, it is true that they are comfortable wherever they are. There is no more struggle, bloodshed, pain and constant fear but Garang with his friends who have long been buried have not been comfortable starting from December 15 2013 up to this time that is how their restlessness started. The Promised Land is no longer what they thought it would be when they left it in the hands of some of their most trusted friends.

Thanks for reading Finding Hope… The views expressed here does not represent the stand of Juba Monitor. I use this column and my paint pen to speak for the development of my country. Let us hope for a better and peaceful South Sudan.   

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