By Daniel Deng Mario Deng,
January 12, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — Any mention of the name “SPLM/A—IN—Opposition” or “the SPLM-IO is often received with mixed and in most cases with disdain and fear. It very funny to get even those who have never had an encounter with the SPLM/A-IO at any point carrying this prejudice with them. What really bleats my understanding is the cause of this strong stigma against this National Movement.
I have said that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition also known as the anti-governmental forces (AGF) is the National Movement which may make those reading this article not to be at ease because of the ingrained prejudice implanted on them against the SPLM-IO. However, the question that I must pose here as a way of making those people with negative attitudes towards our Movement to think deep as they reflect on their political future and the future of South Sudan as a country is, what makes any Movement a National Movement?
National Movement is a movement that promotes the spirit of nationalism. Nationalism is an ideology and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (read more in Smith, Anthony. Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History. Polity, 2010. pp. 9, 25–30). The main objective of Nationalism is to achieve and maintain the nation’s sovereignty over its homeland. That is the reason the theory of nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference in order to achieve self-determination.
One thing I need to make clear here before I proceed with the clarification of what is the importance of the SPLM-IO in the political life to all the citizens of South Sudan and the World at large is the meaning of self-determination. The government of South Sudan has kept citizens ignorance in the respect of their rights to self-determination the extent that they do not know well the meaning of those basics terms and their importance in the protection of their rights.
Many South Sudanese currently still understand right to self-determination as the right to vote for referendum in order to be independent nation. When I was still in the government, I had a hard time with the people whenever I mentioned the term right to self-determination as human rights and it is available not only to the group or nation but to the individual citizens.
What I need the citizens of South Sudan to get well is the meaning of the right of a person or people to self-determination. The right to self-determination is a cardinal principle based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity for all citizens where they have all rights to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.
On individual’s level, Self-determination is believing in yourself that you can control your own destiny. Hence, right to self-determination for individuals is a combination of attitudes and abilities that lead people to set goals for themselves, and to take the initiative to reach these goals. It is about being in charge, but is not necessarily the same thing as self-sufficiency or independence. It means making your own choices, learning to effectively solve problems, and taking control and responsibility for one’s life.
Practicing self-determination also means one experiences the consequences of making choices. This is what the SPLM Government has inhibited in the citizens with the use of force to deal with those who complain which is dangerous to the nation like South Sudan and nationalism of South Sudan.
As it has been stated, the ending of any nation is the promotion of the nationalism which is a natural and ideal basis for an institution and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power (popular sovereignty). The aim of nationalism is to build and maintain a single national identity based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history and to promote national unity or solidarity(read Smith, Anthony above).
In relation to the above paragraph, nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation’s traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism (national conservatism) or socialism (socialist nationalism) for example.
For a movement to be recognized as national movement, it must have the following characteristics: it must work in promotion of national politics and national identity which is the nation itself (britannica.com). This implies the identification of the state or nation with the people—or at least the desirability of determining the extent of the state according to ethnographic principles.
The national movement is the one that encourages political allegiance of the people to the state. The movement must aim at encouraging people to adopt one language and love to develop self-identification with the nation and culture. The national movement should be able to build stable and sustainable community of people or a nation, which is formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.
It must be emphasized that none of the above characteristics taken separately is sufficient to define a nation. More than that, it is sufficient for a single one of these characteristics to be lacking and the nation ceases to be a nation. In brief, national movement must have a national character, which is “the sum total of characteristics which distinguish the people of one nationality from the people of another nationality – the complex of physical and spiritual characteristics which distinguish one nation from another.”
In reference to the SPLA-IO, it is regrettable to say that many citizens out there are being denied through hearsay to join this beautiful national movement since it has been badly sold by the government to all South Sudanese and outside world. It has been sold that the SPLA-IO is a Nuer Movement which is seeking to replace Dinka tribalism with Nuer Tribalism. This is what people are made to believe in it, including me before I joined it.
This negative campaign has made majority of the Dinka people to stay away from joining the SPLA-IO. However, when I joined it, the first thing I observed was whether what others and I were taught or are still being made to believe is correct. But to my surprise, I discover that Dr. Riek Machar is one of the best and strong democratic leader that South Sudan has ever had.
Unlike the SPLM leadership who lives in isolation and worshipped by citizens like God, His Excellency Dr. Riek Machar, my Chairman, is the most interactive person I have ever seen. One really feels at home and sense of belonging when he is around. It is the same sense of nationalism which Dr. Riek Machar has, which is found in the SPLM-IO as the National Movement which is also a National Party with National Character.
Though he has been sold badly but the interest of South Sudan and that of South Sudanese is what is in his heart. His aim is to see what is good for all South Sudanese so he is not fighting in bad faith but he loves South Sudanese to live in prosperity which means that he is campaigning for good political structure that can provide good services to all citizens.
As I have already stated above, as a national movement or party, the aim of the SPLM-IO is to build and maintain a single national identity of all South Sudanese irrespective of tribes and religion which must be based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history and to promote national unity or solidarity.
The SPLM-IO’s Manifesto that I will discuss more in the later edition contains the above values. It is the above values as I have discovered are the ones Dr. Riek Machar stands for. It has been the cause of his disagreement as his contention is that we, the South Sudanese must build the South Sudan we want that has caused the current conflict and we must make sure that they are realized in long run by all citizens.
In short, the SPLM-IO in reality is different from what we are taught outside there and that wrong teaching which makes our party to grossly misconceived. It is my duty and other members to make sure that the perception of the citizens against the SPLM-I0 is erased. My message to those who are brainwashed is that the SPLM-IO is not a party for Nuer Community. It is the national party that all of you must join if you need bright future for the country, for you and for your children.
Live Long South Sudan, Long Live My Chairman, Long Time Dr. Riek Machar, The Able Leader, Long Live The SPLM-IO, Long Live All The Members. May God Bless You All.
Part II is coming on understanding more about the SPLM IO ideology and concept.
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