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By Yanta Daniel Elisha - 20 Sep 2018

Opinion: What is the fate of South Sudan’s Revitalized Peace Accord?

South Sudan’s revitalized peace accord signed on September 12, 2018 in Addis Abba, Ethiopia has created a billion questions in the mind of the world and particularly of the South Sudanese, pondering what will come out of it.  What its fate is remains a lingering question in the mind!

In 2004, a year before the signing of 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Naivasha, Kenya, there were Miraculous Signs for Peace in Sudan as published on the then Sudan Mirror Newspaper on the column of Humour written by this very author.

The signs were resurrecting fallen dry logs at Waligo and Liwolo areas of Kajo-Keji in Equatoria and their rare forest meeting at Gbari area in Eastern Kajo-Keji. Forests are symbolic in many cultures. Among the Aringa people of Uganda, there is a strong belief that one can only be confirmed a man after passing through seven thick forests. The seven thick forests symbolise ordeals, a man has to encounter to succeed in life.

What was the rare forest meeting about?

The rare forest meeting reportedly discussed reception strategies for returnees among them the plague of Cholera, Measles and Meningitis. Did those happen before, during and after repatriation of Southern Sudanese refugees from neighbouring countries and beyond?

The answer is ‘yes’. I heard media reports of scores dying of Cholera, Measles and even Meningitis. One of our school friends by name of Bol Peter Nyok died of Meningitis in Nimule town shortly after returning to the then Southern Sudan from Uganda in 2007. That was a very unfortunate welcome for our brother; we deplored it and requested God to rest his soul in eternal peace. Late Bol was a man of God and a great friend with whom we made jokes and funs of the time. He was a hybrid heightening to the sky, but death did not, unfortunately spare that variety. Even Dr John Garang De Mabior, the revolutionary leader died in a plane crash in July 30, 2005 as a peace sacrifice in the forested ranges of Imatong Mountains. The forests that hid and fed the freedom fighters consumed some of them in exchange for peace. Such occurrences are mysterious and ironical in life.

I do not understand where those talking and moving trees have evacuated since the eruption of violence in late January, 2017 in Kajo-Keji that saw thousands displaced in a twinkle of an eye to untraceable locations.  I do not know where the birds we used to consult while we were young are these days. The birds were black with distinct red combs.  I remember they were called ‘Lilikojo’. We could ask them while they were resting up trees, “Lilikojo, Lilikojo, where shall I marry?” Then the one facing the investigator would turn its beak to point to a direction. It could be North, East, West or South (NEWS). That was news to the investigator. There, the canvasser believed he or she would marry. The frustration was that if the bird pointed to the ground, one was likely to die before marriage.  That was how we used to predict things while we were kids. That was the worldview of children. Just like the past, the birds and the beliefs had disappeared.

By then, we could foresee the future of Sudan clearly. However, this time round, many like me bent down several times but could not see it with the previous keen eagle like eyes of those days. So, what is happening? The question of our destiny remains a puzzle.

 How revitalized is the revitalized peace agreement?

‘Revitalized’ is an adjective derived from the verb ‘revitalize’, which means ‘to revive’ or ‘to re-energize’. So ‘revitalized’ means ‘renewed’, ‘strengthened’ or ‘restored’ agreement. Why ‘revitalized’ agreement? The answer is simple. It has to be revived because it had collapsed. Why did it collapse? It collapsed because it was not implemented in letter and spirit. There were reservations, violence and of course, lack of political will from one party to the agreement. Therefore, the revitalized version emanates from realizations from the aftermath of the breach of the original agreement. This time again, there are reservations to be addressed in later dates and mechanisms. The reservations include number of states, constitution-making process, quorum in the council of ministers, guarantors on security arrangement and federalism. So, how ‘revitalized’ is the ‘revitalized’ peace deal?

The revitalization seems evident in the reinstatement of the principal signatory who was exiled and the accommodation of new dissidents. Perhaps, the change of venues in new peace talks namely Addis Ababa, Khartoum, Kampala, Khartoum and Addis Ababa again seems refreshing. Again, some change of mediation team, mediation tactics and new guarantors in the name of President Omar Hassan El Bashir of Sudan and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda seem something new. Another peculiar thing was the rise of vice presidency from two to five positions. Could it be value addition or devaluation of the vice presidency like the national currency, I do not know. What about the saying, “Too much cooks spoil the broth”?

What difference has it made?

One prominent observer, Duop Chak Wuol has already described it a looming disaster. God forbids!

The desperate South Sudanese yearning for quick sustainable peace for healing, reconciliation and reconstruction in South Sudan would not wish or like to hear or read such observations. To them, such is a prophecy of doom. In desperation, patience has no room. Patience pains to the extent of breaking bones though people say, “Patience pains, but it pays”.

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride" as the English language proverb and nursery rhyme recorded about 1628 in a collection of Scottish proverbs. Such means that if wishing could make things happen, then even the most destitute people would have everything they wanted. Will that happen, my God? Will that happen, Ngun lio? Ngun is my mother tongue name for God and ‘lio’ means my. I sometimes feel that I should address God in my native language because he knows very well where he geographically placed me on earth.

Observer Chak argues that the Twentieth-First Century is not of political cults. Definitely, he sounds rationale. Prophet Kinjikitile Ngwale of the Maji-Maji uprising (1905-1907) in East African history was proven wrong by his magic waterpower.

Thomas Hushek, the United States’ Ambassador to Juba, South Sudan has also cast doubts on the recent peace accord like some of us.

 You know, history repeats itself. You also know that adults are not likely to transform character as swiftly as possible without the power of the Holy Spirit.  For an adult who is belligerent is likely to remain so for life. After all, the English people say ‘the boy you are, the man you will be’. Most people still do not have trust and confidence in a thief or sorcerer who converted into Christianity and became a bishop. Time can only tell if the repentant had really reformed. Anyhow, for whatever reasons humans can be dynamic. The aspects of independent variables, dependent variables and extraneous variables on conceptual framework in research may apply in human traits.

Voice of America quoted the US diplomat, Hushek as saying:

 We can't just keep investing in broken agreements. If this agreement proves to be workable and everything, I think you will be able to see the world stepping up but first and foremost, the parties to the conflict have to make the commitment and the investment.

He is certainly right to cast doubts on investing in wasted efforts as far as human reasoning is concerned. Surely, a man whose wife persistently aborts is likely to lose interest and power of sex since his efforts are always frustrated. Nevertheless, is fate knowable to humanity? What is the level of knowability of fate to humanity?

 Does God think the way we humans think? Do we determine our destiny and to what extent?

The NIV STUDY BIBLE-Proverbs 3:5-8 writes:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Can we reverse or divert fate?

History has reassured us as of Greek time that we neither reverse fate nor divert it.

Fate as the major theme in Sophocles play indicates actions of each character bring about inevitable destiny. Oedipus Rex is a perfect example that one cannot avoid or hide from the life that is destined for one. Oedipus was predicted to marry his mother and kill his father. His continuous effort to avoid his fate by leaving his parents at birth only quickens the result.

What is the meaning of such in South Sudan political theatre?

The meaning is that given the fate of the individuals representing the nation were predestined to either doom or triumph; the 2018 revitalized peace agreement could be a just obedience to the Law of Action to realize the fate as one of the 12 Universal Laws of Success stipulated by Dr Harris Herbert. For better comprehension, the twelve universal laws of success are:

  • Law of Thought
  • Law of Change
  • Law of Human magnetism
  • Law of Truth
  • Law of Focus
  • Law of Persistence
  • Law of Action
  • Law of Vision
  • Law of Command
  • Law of Supply versus opportunity
  • Law of Value
  • Law of Relationships

For successful implementation of the so-called revitalized peace agreement, the stakeholders must respect the 12 universal laws of success outlined above.

Crucial about these laws in relationship to the accord is the Law of Change. The challenges connected to respecting the law of change are enormous as cited below:

  • Fear of change
  • Fear of criticism
  • Fear of failure

The stakeholders of the peace accord have to work on such fears for success to prevail.

The most important universal law of success to read and apply in the implementation of the so-called revitalized peace agreement is the Law of Action. The serious warning on this law is “Do not sacrifice the future to satisfy the present”. The Law of Action according to Dr Harris should be executed through the following methods:

  • Making a daily plan on success journey
  • Writing the vision, goals and target dates in the plan
  • Listing the actions necessary to accomplish the goals, and when they must be performed
  • Writing out a brief, complete narrative statement of how you intend to achieve the goals
  • Revising, studying, digesting, and memorizing the success plan statement
  • Starting right away doing the most important things first, then proceeding to lesser important ones
  • Developing a daily timetable showing all actions to be performed and the dates they must be done
  • Planning all actions that must be performed each day
  • Monitoring the efforts closely and evaluating the results. Concentrate on the plan of action. Act on it.

Concisely, the fate of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement depends on the political will of the stakeholders. “Where there is will there is way”, the common saying asserts.

 Politics is an art or science of management of society. It involves compromises and tactics for the sake of leaving a good legacy. Therefore, it is up to the political elites to implement the deal in line with their thoughts on how they would like to be remembered.

Anyhow, the problems of the world lie in perceptions and beliefs. In that regard, our perceptions and beliefs shall determine our destiny.

Above all, it is dependable on the author of humanity and divinity. He decides what to happen at what time and to whom. After all, the biblical philosophy in Ecclesiastes 3:1 has put it clearly to us to understand things in the world. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”. For that reason, nobody can be sure of the future. For future like God is knowable to a limited scope. Future is synonymous with God. Let us wait cautiously and see keenly the fate of the revitalized peace agreement.

The author was a journalist at Citizen Television (CTV)-Juba, Citizen Newspaper-Juba, Catholic Radio Network (CRN)-Juba and now a tutor of English Language, Literature in English and Research Methods.

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