By Mr. Gatwech Kutei

Before rolling out my little understanding of the state of current affairs in South Sudan’s most difficult to rule state, I would like to grab this opportunity to congratulate the appointed governor of the country’s most fragile state Hon Denay Jok on winning the trust of some members of his coalition “South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and the ultimate trust of the presidency who gave him the final successful shot to the gubernatorial position of the volatile region. You are a man I hardly know but for all the successes and accolades you reaped on your political journey, congratulation lad.

Before I forget being among those who rushed to verbally congratulate you at your residence in the very evening of your appointment, a friend who later revealed was from ‘lakes state’ with whom we coincidentally met at an elevator that lifted us to the floor in which your residence lies, opened his mouth and congratulated you before the rest of us could, in his insinuations, he puffed out that “we (youth) were going to support you in all that you would do” but surprisingly, the governor picked the word “support” in the guest’s sentence and chided him for it. Technically, I loved the governor’s reasoning on the term used, his understanding of the term “support” might not be unique as he told the visitor to say “we would work together instead of supporting me,” are you going to give me your salary? Are you not going to give it to your people who are suffering there (in Jonglei) so their live becomes better? He posed.

I agreed because the term used was general, I understood his definition of the term ‘support’ to mean encouraging hard work to our youth. “He wants people who will work with him but not people who will support him”, it is beautiful and he has got the formulae for that. However, I categorically disagreed on the principles of political language. In my words, I had to repeat the same word of our new friend since I knew I am going to support whatever service he is going to offer to the citizens of Jonglei Sate, provided it is a service that does not harm our state citizens. I told him we (youth) are going to support you so our capabilities in leadership could be exhibited to our masses.

Reverting back to Jonglei for which you are the governor (appointed), our state is not only the biggest in land size but the biggest state demographically. It is the state that born the country’s biggest names, the likes of Samuel Gai Tut, Arok Thon, Peter Gatkuoth Gual, uncle and now a grandpa Abel Alier, Dr. John Garang, William Nyuon, John Luk Jok etcetera. Jonglei is a home to brilliant brains and at the same time the most resilient civil population, a hardworking population, a population that only needs a leader to guide them to a path of social and political development so to say.

Jonglei is known for being the messiest state in the country; it is unarguably the hub of all sorts of conflicts, whatever nature they are, and our state is seen as the bedrock of all the good and bad which steer this country into either way. I love a chorus sung by one of the popular national artist by the name ‘Tarrif’ and I loosely translate it as “the search for the independence South (Sudan) began in Jonglei, and .until the realization of the peace (CPA leading to full independent South Sudan) was also of jonglei”. This literally means we are the bedrock of whatever affects this country ‘whether negatively or positively. With you being the state boss put in mind that everything about Jonglei begins and stops with you and so the buck stops with you.

Going back to the conversation we had with the governor on his appointment night, some people including himself (the governor) alluded that jonglei is one the messiest states in the country. True, I agreed to that allusion and agreed a bit beyond that sentiment, I opened up and built around that conversation and told him (the governor) what to expect in Jonglei. I advised him against misunderstanding the pressing violent issues in jonglei for the issues in either Lakes state or Warrap where it is just a clan fighting itself, an example’ in Warrap where it is Apuok fighting the Aguok and the two sisterly communities are all from one section.

The above is all a different case in Jonglei state where it is Murle fighting the Dinka, the Anyuak or the Nuer so to say. If you look critically to this fact, you will find that Jonglei state represents a national face since the bitter foes are tribes against one another. For this reason, our state needs a proactively matured leader who importantly understands the historical problems and challenges affecting the people of Jonglei, a leader with leadership capabilities and who is not surrounded by self-seeking officials but folks with people at heart. I am not disqualifying Hon. Denay, I am encouraging him to fit himself squarely into his new role, and the governor needs to know that he is a ‘president in disguise’ but I am not telling him to act presidential, it may contravene the laws.

As you form your government in the state, be watchful even with your closest circle, do not be misled by their desires, the leadership is yours and whatever legacy you will leave behind remains yours as a person. There is one thing I know is unique not only to South Sudanese but to Africans, the so called “it is our turn to eat”, no, it is not our turn to eat, it is our turn to deliver the most needed services to the people of South Sudan in Jonglei state, it is our turn to correct the past mistakes, it is our turn to redirect the people of Jonglei to the path of peace, development and tranquillity. Do not collect their taxes and mute with them, collect their taxes and return them by providing the much needed services; such as giving us hospitals, schools and all-weather roads network, those are the most basic but vitally important for human activities. 

Following your appointment last week and subsequent swearing-in held yesterday at Nyakuron cultural center in Juba, South Sudan, I suggest the lobbying is now over and comes the work itself, and your job is relatively simple if managed well, it is about setting it up in phases and the phases are two; the first phase should be reconciliatory meetings and conferences across the state until we see signs of peace among our communities and the second phase should be development. All we want to see in jonglei is peace and development.

As I end my typing, I would like to finally congratulate you and wish you the best of luck in your new challenge sir.

Mr. Gatwech Kutei is a concerned citizen of the Republic of South Sudan and Jonglei State,

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