There is a new peace agreement in our homeland. Brokered by Presidents Omar el Bashir of Sudan and Yoweri Museni of Uganda, this agreement has been signed by both South Sudan’s President Kiir and ex-Vice-President Riek Machar. It may be a good beginning. It may be…
There is, however, the horrible possibility that this peace, like those which have preceded it, will come to naught. There is the horrible possibility that even if the political leaders of South Sudan keep their words and their stated good intentions, the rancor and pain that has so overwhelmed our country will result in new outbreaks of outrageous actions and horrific suffering.
What is needed to insure peace is not simply the words of political leaders but the feelings, determination, and actions of us all, of all of South Sudan’s children, those at home and those scattered around the globe in the South Sudanese diaspora.
In order for the hearts, minds, and wills of all South Sudanese to follow the lodestar of peace, our people—all our people—must experience reconciliation. We need to reconcile with one another.
But, what does that mean? Reconciliation is not easy. It will take real effort.
First, reconciliation is not another word for acceptance. The rapes, infanticide, and other acts of outrage and inhumanity that have so scarred our land must never be accepted. They must, however, be forgiven. Victims need to go forward without dwelling on their pain, no matter how great it has been. Forgiveness is a necessary half of true reconciliation.
The other half of the equation is responsibility. Those who have perpetrated harm and those who have stood back and allowed harm to be done must acknowledge—not only publicly but also in their hearts—their culpability. They must ask for forgiveness with honest and open hearts. They must recognize the inherent right of victims to meaningful recognition and compensation for their pain.
It is difficult for those whose own lives are arduous and trying and whose families lack food, education, and healthcare to keep the needs and pain of those who have been victimized clearly in mind. Yet, it is only as we as a people compassionately treat the least and the powerless among us that we can truly achieve that reconciliation. That is why those who have the perspective from broader educations or have been more fortunate in their lives must take the lead in speaking out for those whose voices have been stifled or sadly stilled.
Artists, business people, intellectuals and political leaders have a responsibility to be a voice for a new South Sudan, one in which our concern for one another does not stop at tribe or district.
As a contribution to reconciliation, Ramciel Magazine opens its pages to articles, ideas, and artistic expression that can help develop a sense of national unity and empathy among our people. Such an awareness of nationhood and mutual care is essential if our people and our nation are to go forward.
Let us find a common voice, a common tongue, on in which we all speak for reconciliation and for our future.