(Talal Osman writes a column call COFFEE BREAK in the daily Newspaper The Citizen in Khartoum, Sudan)
Dear Talal Osman,
I have been following your rants in your column in The Citizen newspaper with interest ever since the rhetoric about making Unity Attractive was launched by the NCP after the elections. It seems the whole GONU programme is currently geared towards achieving that objective.
It is interesting to note from you writings that you believed “the majority of South Sudanese” wants unity. I want to dispute that figure.
There are several notable issues that you correctly put that I feel obliged to congratulate you for airing them out so explicitly. Many Arabs like you did not want to acknowledge them: the issue of implementation of Sharia law and the waging of a religious Jihad in the South Sudan. You can call them mistakes of the previous governments, but still they left deep pains in the hearts of many southern Sudanese.
After the CPA, the GONU has all the opportunity to make unity attractive.
In my opinion and opinion of many others, I would suspect, it should have implemented the CPA fully from day one, and not to drag its feet all these years. What happen in the last five years clearly showed that the NCP is not serious about the peace they have signed and are working to destroy it. How can they win the southerners after that? The northerners have the opportunity and they blew it. The South Sudanese can no longer trust the northerners, who have a track record of not honoring agreements.
Just a reminder, the SPLM in the very first day was fighting for a New Sudan, from Halfa to Nimule that is based on equality, justice and democratic rule. The late Dr John Garang himself had often voiced his dream to go a drink coffee in a small town in northern Sudan. That was the vision.
What the government is doing currently is a last minute panic reaction to the reality that they are facing of the sure certainty that the people in South Sudan will vote for separation, come 2011. All the efforts to date geared towards making unity attractive are futile and waste of time. What will you do in six months to change the mind of the South Sudanese to vote for unity that you have failed to do in six years? Give me a break!
In your column, you talked of Sudan Airways and other airlines offering to take newspapers to Juba for free as a gesture to make unity attractive. Sometimes you make us here in South Sudan laugh. Many people in the north seem to think that the people in the south are so stupid that they can be fooled. Have people been fighting all these years so that you get the newspapers free to Juba? This is not the southerners of 1947. They are a new generation who grew up in war and know what they are doing. It is in the same line of thought (stupid southerners) that many people like you think that whatever position southerners are taking, they were being pushed by the Americans and Europeans. Can’t we think for ourselves and know what we want? It is this mindset that must change in order to make unity attractive. Oppression does not have to be overt like in South Africa or America with “”White Only” (or “Arabs Only”, to be exact) signs all over the place. Many southern Sudanese had suffered under the hands of the government just for being black and from South Sudan.
The likes of Gandour who cried in a meeting is a sure sign that the NCP are deeply convinced that South Sudan will go. For you to call it crocodile’s tears is a misnomer. Gandour was not being insincere or showing fake tears. These were true tears of someone who knew that they have utterly let the Sudanese people down and failed to make unity attractive.
When Bashir called for the political parties to discuss the referendum, it was rejected outright. I liked what the opposition said and I quote: “The National Congress Party (NCP) facing these two options [granting equal citizenship rights or secession] will not be able to evade or circumvent them through compromises, generosity, mediation, public relations or bribery through money or [offering] positions”. This is a true statement that you must drill in your heads. The NCP does not want to take the full responsibility of Sudan separating in their watch and wants to drag the opposition in to it. The opposition parties who rejected the call are very wise indeed.
As you go have your cup of coffee, know that South Sudan is going vote for freedom from the hands of oppression and will be declared a nation come January 2011.