Dr. SANTINO AYUEL LONGAR (DR.SAL): AN EMOTIONAL JIENG (DINKA) CHAUVINIST
I had a heated Debate with Santino Ayuel Longar and his cohorts in a forum called Jieng Nation Forum for two good days starting from the 19th of September through to the 22nd of September and finally to my removal from the Jieng Nation Forum by Santino Ayuel Longar on 22nd of September. The heated debate was caused by an opinion about Dr. Riek Machar’s role in the Liberation Struggle and I quote:
“ …….. Riek Machar throughout the history of our Liberation struggle has always presented a symbol of Counter- Revolutionary.” It must be noted that this was not written by Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar but he so much supports the Opinion.
As a member of Jieng Community, my initial observation was that such a topic was too political and that it does not fall within the jurisdiction of Jieng as a community or tribe to discuss it in their forum away from the rest of South Sudanese for fair debate. If we argue that Jieng as an entity in South Sudanese politics has a political right to discuss National Politics, I still believed that the opinions of all Jieng will not in any way support the topic.
At least some Jieng will have to disagree with the topic given the fact that each and every member of any given community has the right to freedom of expression. Convinced that the topic was political and that most of the members discussing this topic were not only driven by their hatred for Dr. Riek but because they were in other words opposing a political opponent (Chairman of SPLM-IO) I chose to respond politically as shown below.
My argument was that and I quote: “The difference between Dr. Riek and most of us is that he has enough courage to face a dictator and tell him enough is enough. Let’s take the 1991 issue. Most commanders, Salva Kiir Included, were not happy with how Dr. Garang was running the Movement. They all found it difficult to oppose Garang. In post-Independence SPLM, so many of us did not like the traditional way the SPLM was run. Most leaders chose to withdraw from active politics and chose tribal politics and gossip.
It was the same Riek who gathered enough courage and said, NO, we can’t run a party like chiefs, we can’t conduct party elections by show of hands; plus, his popular six Points. We must recognize his work for Democracy. Now where is SPLM without Riek? It has become a club of friends without any sign of Democracy. South Sudan needs Dr. Riek.” End of quote.
From here the discussion was joined by Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar, the group moderator, and the rest. From the first comment and my following reaction, it is crystal clear that what the members of Jieng Community are discussing in their forum is a highly political National Topic. Our two comments proved that in any political Topic, there can always be divergent views. This to me is always the beauty of politics.
The majority of Jieng, especially those who made their comments in that debate, made it clear that Riek Machar is a warlord, a criminal and a Devil. Some went as far as denouncing him as not fit to be the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan claiming that they cannot be governed by a serial killer like Riek Machar.
Those of us who have joined SPLM-IO were described in the forum as traitors, sale outs and opportunist who have just joined Dr. Riek (SPLM-IO) to seek political opportunities. Others went as bold as saying that those of us supporting Riek are no good as Jieng Community members and can be dealt with (another way of declaring death threat in South Sudan).
Honestly as a lone fighter in the Jieng Nation Forum for Dr. Riek and as an advocate for healthy politics in South Sudan, I was overwhelmed by so many scathing attacks on myself, Dr. Riek, and the SPLM-IO. I have never seen so many people from one single community mobilized by so much hatred for one person before! I can’t come to terms with the understanding that the Forum was formed just to discuss Jieng issues and that all those members who so much hate Dr. Riek and the SPLM-IO just got themselves all there by mere coincidence. I have a strong feeling that such a forum was sponsored by someone not only to advance Jieng political interest but to deep the wedge between Jieng and any other Communities.
That was confirmed by Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar when he wondered and asked me “How I got membership of that Forum anyway. He described my membership as something gotten through thin air”. It must be remembered that the Jieng Nation Forum, (JNF) just like Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) was not formed through any popular consultation among Jieng, and as such, the opinions shared and discussed in that Forum do not in any way represent the views of all Jieng Community but of the few extremists/Fundamentalists like Santino Ayuel Longar.
Having walked you through what transpired, it is of much importance to answer Santino Ayuel Longar and his colleagues who may share the thinking that the best way to defeat Dr. Riek Machar politically is to mobilize the Imaginary Jieng Nation on accounts of Dr. Riek Past history in the Revolution.
I don’t intend to deny your view of the political past of Dr. Riek and so many of his colleagues during the SPLA Liberation Struggle days. Like so many South Sudanese, I am really disappointed in the SPLA/M leaders who failed to manage their political disagreements both in 1991 and 2013. So much has been lost in those two wars in terms of our hope for a better Country, Human lives and Material resources.
I must admit that the SPLA/M war began when I was young but whatever happened in 1988 and beyond is not history told to me or I have read. I have lived everything and have felt the heat of all those wars. I have witnessed the displacement of the Bor Community and my family helped accommodate the Displaced and disintegrated families from Bor. By then we lived in a village in Yirol West called Adidir. We fed the displaced and we shared in their painful stories. We saw children without parents, parents without their children, women without their husbands and husbands without wives.
It was terribly terrible. Being related to Bor Community through my paternal grandmother (Maria John Thor) and through my marriage (my wife is from Bor) I felt it was happening to me and was too sad! In the same way, the Nuer community has a lot to tell about their suffering and displacement especially to Gambella and many other borders.2013 is still fresh on our minds and need no efforts to go into details about what happened!
My point of departure from those of Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar is that I always go a step further and pose several questions such as:
In all these wars, is Dr. Riek’s Quest for power always the only cause?
Is it Dr. Riek who is always the offender without cause?
Is Dr. Riek and his Community always on the politically wrong side?
Does Dr. Riek and his Community suffer the same losses of lives and Property just like the Jieng Community, do they also feel the pain?
Has Dr. Riek Machar been given an opportunity to be heard by the South Sudanese? Does he have a different version from what is being taught?
Is hatred for Dr. Riek the solution to his past political mistakes?
Can this nation really benefit from our Constant reference to the past disagreements? Can we heal this Country by constantly reminding ourselves of the ugly past?
Can our political past be used as the only yard stick to measure our political capabilities to lead this Country; In other words, do we have a single angel who was not part of the messy political past of the SPLA/M among our current leaders?
Is it our role as the educated people from all communities, both within the Country and in the Diaspora, to fan the flames of Community hatred towards Politicians from other Communities in South Sudan?
Do we really have better way of getting out of this complicated mindset?
When one asks these questions and many more questions, you will discover that there is a lot to learn before one makes a conclusion on who is the Devil responsible for all the political woes of the People of South Sudan. One will discover that a war requires two parties to begin and continue.
One will also discover that all human beings including those wrongly christened as warlords and their communities also suffer war losses in terms of lives and property. One will also discover that Dr. Riek was not alone when things messed up in the SPLM/A.
If my friend Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar and his group of Jieng Fundamentalists give themselves time and space to think along these lines they will not think that Jieng Community has always been on the receiving end of the Violent Politics in South Sudan. They will learn that the other Communities have also suffered equal violence from Jieng. They will also learn that since it requires two or more parties to start a conflict, it must not be always Dr. Riek to blame for wars and Conflicts in South (ern) Sudan. There must be other actors in the political arena of South Sudan as culpable as Dr. Riek Machar when it comes to wars and Conflicts and all must get their fair share of the blame!
That said, any reasonably educated South Sudanese should not so much dwell in the ugly past but should use their efforts to search for the solution. This search for a solution should have been geared towards helping the Country out in ways and means of avoiding the repeat of what happened in the past. It is unfortunate that those of my brother Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar have found that the only way to heal our past wounds is to keep reminding the generations of the ugly past and teach the coming generations how to hate and prevent the other Communities from ascending into Political power using the name of Jieng.
No one has authorized Dr. Santino to fight for Jieng, but should any Jieng think we can only be successful by hating our political opponents as a community, then it is just mob politics!
Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar in his last attempt to justify his hatred for Dr. Riek Machar likened the relationship between Jieng (Dinka) with Dr. Riek Machar to that between Jews and Adolf Hitler and I quote:
“Firstly it would be good idea if you could kindly help us understand how many Jews would associate, let alone love, Adolf Hitler. How many?” End of quote.
I don’t think anyone will liken the situation between Dinka and Riek Machar to what occurred between Adolf Hitler and the Jews for obvious reasons. First and foremost, all the wars that involved Dr. Riek and the people in power who by coincidence happened to be Dinka (John Garang in 1991 and Salva Kiir in 2013) were purely political wars that were not necessarily fought on tribal lines but were fought due to differences in ideology and quest for Power. In 1991 for example, there were Dinka who defected with Dr. Riek leaving Dr. John Garang their fellow Jieng Tribesman.
There were Nuer who remained under the leadership of Dr. John Garang refusing to Join Dr. Riek who was their tribesman. The same thing happened in 2013. Dinka politicians and Military Officers who hail from Bhar el Ghazal where President Salva comes from joined Dr. Riek, breaking ranks with Salva Kiir who was their fellow tribesman. There were Nuer who remained in Salva’s Government in opposition to Dr. Riek’s rebellion. Unless Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar wants to tell us the Dinka who were with Riek were there to help Dr. Riek exterminate their fellow Jieng.
This will make it very unlikely for Santino Ayuel Longar to build his imaginary Jieng Nation if at all there are Jieng who he believes can partake in the Genocide against other Jieng. The gist of the matter is that whatever conflicts that occurred in South Sudan revolved around ideological differences and may be thirst for power among the Political and military elites. It has never gone to the level of exterminating other communities as occurred between Adolf Hitler and the Jews. Therefore, Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar comparing Riek Machar to Adolf Hitler and Jieng to Jews is out of either mere ignorance or ill intension to sow seeds of discord in a Country that so much needs healing.
In 2003-2004, Dr. John Garang who stated the popular and easy saying that, History will not forgive Riek Machar sought to reconcile his ranks and files with Dr. Riek Machar. He in fact went ahead to assign Dr. Riek as Caretaker Governor before his tragic death in helicopter accident. In terms of history and bitterness, Dr. John Garang must be more bitter than all Santino Ayuels of South Sudan combined, because it was his leadership that was challenged by Dr. Riek in 1991. On top the Bor Community that was the victim of the 1991 split was Dr. John Garang’s Community. Dr. Garang is also a Dinka from Bor and I don’t think Santino Ayuel Longar is more Dinka than Dr. John Garang.
If Dr. John Garang can find space in his heart to forgive and forge a working relationship with Dr. Riek before his death, who is Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar to form a WhatsApp Group by the Name of Jieng Nation Forum where he continues to preach hatred against Dr. Riek in the name of Dr. Riek being an enemy to the Jieng/Dinka People? Mabior Garang is currently a member of the SPLM-IO led by Riek Machar. Mabior is the son of late Dr. John Garang and a Dinka by tribe. Why does he not consider Dr. Riek as his father’s enemy and by extension consider him as the enemy of Jieng. This is because the rest of the Jieng except Santino Ayuel Longar and his Jieng Fundamentalists believe that politics is not enmity. We can bear different ideologies but we can’t be enemies.
Having said all this, I would like to conclude by saying that there is no enmity between Jieng and Nuer. These are citizens of the same Country. Dr. Riek is not an enemy to Jieng the same way Late Dr. Garang was not an enemy of Nuer Community.
Salva Kiir is not an enemy to Nuer Community either. What causes wars and conflicts in South Sudan is not necessarily Dr. Riek Machar but lack of Democratic Principles that date back to the SPLA/M Liberation struggle days. We must also learn that to heal our social fabric, we must strive to discourage people like Santino Ayuel Longar and his group who have found comfort in Western Countries and are working tirelessly to keep the flames of hatred and war burning in the Country. These tribal groupings on social media such as Jieng Nation Forum that is being moderated and managed by Santino Ayuel Longar are contributing negatively to our growth as a nation and must be fought by all intellectuals.
Dr. Santino Ayuel Longar has questioned how I got membership into such a Forum before he emotionally removed me. Dr. Ayuel, I didn’t know your criteria for admitting members. Had I known that one of your requirement is that one should be a blind follower of a dead ideology that will divide our Country further, I would have not joined your imaginary Jieng Nation Forum. I would also like to remind you that your death threats and those of your emotional colleagues will not deter me from always supporting the truth.
Thank you for doing me a favor by removing me from the tribal Forum. Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Shilluk, Moro and all the rest of the tribes of South Sudan are not bigger than South Sudan. I have chosen to defend the bigger goal and that is having a united Country where no one is hated because of where they come from.
I wish you success in building your Imaginary Jieng Nation through Negative Propaganda, lies and hate.
Until we meet again,
Dr. John Sebit Madit Johnson.
(Opinion article: Ramciel Broadcasting does not share in but solely for shared for informative purposes)