Truth Empowers – The Unforgotten Wisdom of Anyanya One Freedom Fighters
By Christopher Sebit
Quite often I do remember, write and will continue to write about the admiring wisdom of the Anyanya One Freedom Fighters (AOFF). I always find impetus to start from the premise that if it had not been for the AOFF, there would have not been a country called South Sudan, and many of us would have ended without education. The AOFF established the base of what is now referred to as South Sudan. This is the truth.
My memories of Anyanya One Liberation Movement dates back to the early 1960s, the time when I was perhaps young as two years old. Being fully engaged in battles, my father did not spare a single minute to sit down with his children around evening fire and discuss matters related to education, culture, tradition and war upheavals.
My mother was the custodian of Lokoya culture and tradition. A great deal of socialization work was her responsibility. Under her intensive guidance, I had an opportunity to speak Lokoya language and know several aspects of culture. Amidst intensifying war, she kept on encouraging me not to lose hope. “Though you have bypassed the right age for starting schooling, God is great. He will soon turn things round in your favour. Have faith in God and continue to pray for the salvation of all the oppressed people of South Sudan”, mother stressed.
The wisdom of my mother was matching that of the AOFF. I used to think of her as one of the AOFF. The fact that she didn’t have opportunity to attend formal education was not a limit to her ability when it comes to issues to do with socialization of children. She inculcated good values into me. Hard work and honest handling of public property is one of the good values I acquired from her socialization process. She was the true symbol of the liberation struggle. Without her teaching and coaching I wouldn’t have been successful in raising my own family.
My father’s wisdom is worth noting and sharing with comrades. He was a hard working peace maker, who enjoyed serving God and others before serving himself. I learnt this important life principle from him. I always interpret the principle by using the word “JOY”. “J” stands for Jesus; “O” stands for others; and “Y” stands for yourself. That means to do the right thing you must first think of serving Jesus Christ and others and then finally serve yourself. The reverse leads to selfishness and conflict of interest.
The wisdom of AOFF takes into account the “JOY” principle. On coming to power in 1972, AOFF established a credible government. It was a God fearing government ran by highly qualified technocrats, who dedicated their life in the service of the majority people of South Sudan. Indeed, their period in office (1972 to 1983) has gone down into history as the most peaceful and prosperous period ever witnessed in South Sudan—it was the moment of real unity among the ethnic groups.
The technocrats running the Southern Sudan Regional Administration (SSRA) of 1972 were selected on the basis of merit. Consequently, corruption was brought to minimum level through inspection, regular audits and tough application of financial rules and regulations. Basic infrastructural services: education, health and water were provided freely and equally to urban and rural populations; roads connecting major towns, including bridges were constructed and maintain regularly; and food production was flourishing. Food supplies from Yei, Yambio and some parts of Central and Eastern Equatoria flowed constantly into the markets of Juba.
There were no diseases such as blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, typhoid, hepatitis and diabetes affecting a big number of people as it is the case today. Juba hospital used to render effective services. Patients were hardly referred abroad for medical attention as there were enough specialist doctors deployed on full time basis. One could still get the best medical care from the nurses and doctors on duty even at the late hours of the night. The death rate was extremely lower, while the birth rate and live expectancy were increasing. It was the time for honey moon for people of South Sudan.
Education was given top priority. General education was provided freely. Primary students were provided with textbooks, exercise books, ink, uniform and meals. There were many primary, intermediate, boarding and non-boarding secondary schools receiving better education in terms of quality teaching, teachers’ remunerations and well-prepared examinations.
Most, if not all offices, houses, departments, ministries, parliament and institutions of higher learning including University of Juba were the products of Anyanya One technocratic government. University of Juba, in particular, was established to provide much needed skilled labour force for the social, political, economic and cultural development of South Sudan. Development projects such as Mangalla Sugar Factory, Anzara Textile Industry, Wau Fruit Canning Industry, Awiel Rice Scheme etc. were also initiated during the SSRG.
Is it difficult to revisit and reinstate the wisdom of AOFF? It is not difficult to do so as long as we adopt the guiding principle, “JOY”. Whether you are a clergy, politician, president, minister, undersecretary, director general, governor, administrator, doctor, chief or community leader, you must first learn how to serve others before rewarding yourself.
Negotiators involved in the revitalization of the peace agreement in Addis Ababa should put the interest of the people of South Sudan Above their interests. They must avoid concentrating negotiations on power sharing. Instead, they should focus much attention on issues to do with governance, security sector reform and transitional justice. In this way, they will be seen serving the interest of the people. Power sharing should be the last issue to be tackled after exhausting all the issues that serve the overall interest of the citizens.
To adequately serve the interest of the people of South Sudan, negotiators must listen to their voices and get correctly the message they are sending to the HLRF. The author had an opportunity to interact with many citizens from Equatoria region. They say they are in favour of federalism based on the former three regions: Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile. This is a popular opinion that the mediators and negotiators should take seriously in order for the HLRF to reach a genuine agreement that has the ability to restore peace and security, build inter-ethnic solidarity and set ground for perpetuating unity. God bless the wisdom of AOFF and plant the principle of “JOY” in the negotiators and mediators involved in the HLRF! Amen.