Yes, it’s bad to let your neigbours fight as you watch. But surely, for crying out loud, how many times are we going to intervene(in futility?) in this South Sudan crisis?Gaining independence must have been the biggest mistake to ever happen to South Sudan. Since independence four years ago, the world’s newest nation has been on self-destruction mode.
The civil war has rendered the country a hostile, inhabitable place; split along ethnic lines, now face famine threat, economy is on ice. Need I mention they had an unhappy birthday last week, with rebel leader Riek Machar threatening to topple the government?
I mean, people make mistakes, but none is so grave as the mistake that “independence” has been for most African countries. In virtually all of Africa, freedom from the colonial yoke came with the usual promises — to fight poverty, disease and illiteracy.
Every single African country that became independent more than 50 years ago is today riven with corruption, war, starvation, tribalism, and other nasty manifestations of humans’ inability to govern themselves. Each newly-independent country aspires to the same aims as every other before it. And they all follow the same well-trodden path into mis-governance and eventual civil war.
South Sudan, however, was supposed to be different. It was always a special case — an African country divided roughly in half between two cultures and religions, with the Arabised north running the country while the South waged a long civil war for freedom. Eventually, the North gave in.
The country was ‘cut in half’, and the South — flush with oil and money and, crucially, armed with lots of African examples of how not to run a country — broke free. It was expected to quickly use its substantial oil and agricultural wealth to lift its people from poverty and their appalling refugee status around the world. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Last week marked the fourth year since Juba became independent, and the intervening time since has been little more than woe, corruption, astonishing barbarity and a state of affairs so bad that many South Sudanese must be wishing the Arabs had remained in charge.
A devastating civil war has been running incessantly in the South, pitting the president’s Dinka tribe against his former deputy’s Nuer tribe. It must be noted that “tribe” in this case is actually a misnomer, for these two groups speak practically dialects of the same language and have very similar customs. If they were Kenyan, they would be grouped together as one tribe.
The Dinka and the Nuer exchanged massacres for a while, before the balance of power tilted in favour of President Kiir and the Dinka. Armed with new weapons paid for by billions of dollars in aid from America, Kiir is now visiting a genocide upon the Nuer. The stories coming from Unity State in particular — home of Juba’s oil fields and inhabited mainly by Nuer — are horrible.
Government soldiers are reported to be castrating Nuer civilians and leaving them to bleed to death. Nuer women and girls are first raped, then herded into huts and burnt alive. Those who somehow escape this are tied together and their throats slit. The humanitarian disaster accompanying this genocide is – incredibly – even worse, with famine stalking a fertile land and starvation the executioner of last resort.
It was obviously a mistake for South Sudan to break free of the North. President Omar El Bashir has his weaknesses, but even he was never so callous as to burn kids inside huts and castrate boys for fun. For sanity to be restored to South Sudan, urgent efforts must be made to invite the north to invade and take over that accursed country. Else, we will have another Somalia on our doorsteps -- and look how that turned out!