Like the phoenix, South Sudan must rise from the ashes

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The other day I sat down for tea with a friend and she asked a powerful question, “Do you think the two year old in the camp understands why he has no clothes or does not get enough food or enough water? Do you think he understands the political situation in the country?”

The other day I sat down for tea with a friend and she asked a powerful question, “Do you think the two year old in the camp understands why he has no clothes or does not get enough food or enough water? Do you think he understands the political situation in the country?”

 

This got me thinking and wondering. Many of us may have an understanding of what is happening in our country. We hear about the politics and the tribalism mingled with the greed and all have our opinions about one or the other. But what about those who have no inclination to follow the politics: those who, in their innocence, enjoy the simplest of things like playing football, tungali, and swimming in the Nile? When all this is not possible, well, that is when they start to wonder, why? When you look at the two year olds or the toddlers who lost their mothers along the way, where would you start?

 

I started with a walk in Juba town. I just wanted to take a moment and soak it all in. The busy hustlers, the hot sun, even the terrible looking dogs. But somewhere in the corner, under a dilapidated structure, or even in a wrecked vehicle is a homeless South Sudanese whose call for help goes unheard: who having nothing left is assumed to be majunun. Or worse yet, how the number of mentally unstable people have increased in Juba.

 

The saying was that every market has a mentally unstable person. Well, I have seen more than one in some markets. Maybe they are mentally sound and just look mentally unstable. The reasons behind why they are on the streets are unknown and who am I to talk about it? But at the end of the day, the fact is that many South Sudanese are suffering on the streets of Juba. The sad part is many more South Sudanese are watching them suffer on a continuous basis. Where did things go wrong?

 

Let us not answer that for now. Let us now look at Juba, just as an example. It is not easy to be in Juba. There are people of all colours, nationalities, ethnic groups…you name it. There has become an understanding of how things work here in Juba and it works…but still, the untold lurks in the darkness, in the shadows and in the back of our minds. The bulk of the work to all those who would care to associate themselves with this country for whatever reason is unspoken but weighs on our shoulders.

 

Like the phoenix, South Sudan must rise from the ashes – the ashes of our tamed dreams; the ashes of our failed businesses; the ashes of our homes now abandoned; the ashes of the sweet, brief peace we enjoyed; and the ashes of hopes abandoned in despair. So we wake up every morning and go to work. Yes, life must go on but also people must live on. To do so we must eat, sleep, and drink, we must be able to sustain ourselves.

 

Nobody can deny that the very reason for continuing to work in the country is for the higher objective: development. Nobody can deny the ripple effect a simple woman selling vegetables in Konyokonyo market has. The beauty of it all is that nobody is shying away from it. In their own right, everyone is working, and everyone is pushing on, every day and every week and, alas, Christmas is just around the corner! Has it been almost one year already? Have we come this far already?

 

You see, there is a hope after all, even amidst the fear, there is hope. In South Sudan, that is all we need. Hope. Hope will fuel everything else. It will drive us towards nation building; it will lead us towards forgiveness and acceptance; only hope can drive us to that far and yet so near the destination of peace and reconciliation. Hope.