Photo Credit: Steve Evans/Flickr
By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
An Anglican bishop has challenged the people of South Sudan and its leaders not to dishonour the memory of national martyrs by fighting each other.
Bishop of Wau Diocese in South Sudan, the Rt Revd Moses Deng Bol stressed that for the young African nation to have a viable future there needed to be “love and unity” among its people.
Referring to the 22-year Sudanese Civil War that resulted in South Sudan becoming an independent nation in 2012 he said, “Did our martyrs die so that we would fight each other? Did they die for no good reason and do we keep disgracing them with our actions?”
“We have all seen too much hatred and fear and as a country we need unity and love,” he said. “South Sudan has seen a lot of violence and death and many people have experienced evil things that they will never forget.”
“[But] if our country is ever going to develop and become a better place we must find a way to forgive this pain. This may sound like too much to ask and even unreasonable, but we must challenge ourselves to forgive freely as a people.”
Unity means plenty for everyone
Bishop Deng said that much good comes from unity and that people must see the need for unity for South Sudan to be a strong and prosperous country. “If we are united we can have plenty and become a country we can all be proud of,” he said.
“Imagine if President Salva Kiir and former Vice President (now Rebel Leader) Riek Machier could forgive each other now and form a government of national unity. What a statement of faith that would be for the future of our young country. It would give everyone hope,” he said.
“As long as we think only of tribes and settle disagreements with violence there will be no progress.”
Refugees can’t nation build
Reports indicate that more than 1 million people have been displaced inside South Sudan and more than 400,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries of Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda, as a result of the conflict.
Politically the country is divided along tribal lines, largely between the tribes of Dinka and Nuer. Bishop Deng said this is particularly damaging for a young nation like South Sudan.
In term of economic development, parts of the country have slipped back to the levels during the Second Civil War (between 1983-2005). Many people are stuck in UN camps, others are in internally displaced peoples camps, and others in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
The bishop said these displaced South Sudanese are in no position to produce anything for themselves or for the country.
“Life for everyone in South Sudan should get better and people should be more educated,” he reasoned. “We should be more united as a country and work together to promote peace and reconciliation everywhere in the country.
“Jesus did not teach hatred he taught forgiveness, and the life he lived serves as an example for everyone. There was no one that Jesus would not help because his faith in God was so strong,” he said.
- The Second Sudanese Civil War was a conflict from 1983 to 2005 between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army. It was largely a continuation of the First Sudanese Civil War of 1955 to 1972. Although it originated in southern Sudan, the civil war spread to the Nuba mountains and Blue Nile. It lasted for a long 22 years, and is one of the longest civil wars on record. The war resulted in the splitting away of South Sudan six years after the war ended.