Articles and Analysies
Is the Kettle condemning the pot for being too black? By :Zechariah Manyok Biar, USA
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Jan 16, 2010 - 10:01:11 PM

Is the Kettle condemning the pot for being too black?

By :Zechariah Manyok Biar, USA


Any reasonable person would agree with those who condemn the recent killing of Kenyan nationals in Juba by the sergeant of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). This act is undoubtedly a criminal act and should not be tolerated by our government. All the foreigners must be treated with respect in South Sudan because South Sudan stands for freedom and harmony among all kinds of people.

However, Kenyan writers should not appear holy simply because they have lost their nationals in South Sudan. I laughed when I read an article published by The East African Standard in Kenya on December 31, 2009 in reaction to the killing of Kenyan nationals in Juba. In this article, the writer accuses South Sudan of lawlessness, which is true. But the writer forgot where he or she (because the name of the writer is not shown) belongs when he or she said, “Everything from business to humanitarian relief work is complicated by the potential for criminal acts committed by Sudanese nationals against foreigners. The aspect that worries us most about this is the lack of commitment to changing this by the autonomous Government of Southern Sudan.”

I do not understand what this writer regards as lawlessness. I will not even talk of Sudanese who often loose their lives in Kenya to Kenyan criminals without any arrest of the culprits. The recent incident is the one that an innocent South Sudanese boy Emmanuel Agwar was brutally murdered by Kenyan Mungiki gang in Komarock in September, 2009. Kenyan police knew who killed the boy because Area Divisional Police Commander Shadrack Maithya said this about Mungiki gang: “They have been abducting people around here and demanding ransom.”

Was any Mungiki arrested? Not to my knowledge. I would only talk of the harassments that Kenyan police forces do to South Sudanese nationals as if they are not their African brothers and sisters. Ethiopians would be the right people to condemn lawlessness in Sudan, not Kenyans.

I am not in any position going to justify the killing of Kenyan nationals in Juba with the killing of Sudanese nationals in Kenya because two wrongs do not make right. However, let us understand that being a victim does not justify one’s criminal nature. Is it because the government of South Sudan is still very young that everybody, including those who know nothing about criminal control, becomes our teacher? We want to hear from those who practice what they say, not those who say what they do not practice as the writer in Kenya has shown.

The Kenyan writer goes ahead to make a case against South Sudan: “The crisis sparked by the murders of three Kenyans in Juba is a culmination of years of unpunished harassment, extortion and other offences against persons or property. Where business-related disputes have erupted between a foreigner and their local partner (often an unhappy arrangement mandated by law), locals have on many occasions chosen violence over courts or arbitration as dispute resolution measures. Little recourse is possible where property is forcibly taken over or individuals thrown out of the region without legal sanction. This is no way to run a country or encourage foreign direct investment.”

I agree with the Kenyan writer that there are no strong courts in South Sudan that try disputes in a satisfactory manner. However, I don’t expect a Kenyan to say this: “This is no way to run a country or encourage foreign direct investment.” This author has forgotten that the Kenyan government is now blocking everything that the international community is trying to do to prosecute people who incited violence in which more than one thousand Kenyans were killed after the disputed elections of 2007. If Kenyans were law-abiding people, then they would have compensated the Ugandan nationals that they abused during Kenyan elections’ violence.  

So what kinds of Kenyan rule of law that the author expects us to imitate? Do Kenyans have the license to damage the image of South Sudan because of the isolated criminal incidents committed by South Sudanese criminals without considering the atrocities that Kenyan organized forces incessantly commit against our nationals all over Kenya?

The BBC reported on December 31, 2009 that “Some 50,000 Kenyans live in semi-autonomous Southern Sudan.” Does that show that South Sudan is not a good place for Kenyans to live in? How many South Sudanese can do business freely in Kenya compared with 50,000 Kenyans currently making money in South Sudan? Do Kenyans know that South Sudanese stay behind the locked doors even at day time in Kenya because they cannot just lose their money without losing their lives to Kenyans?

We South Sudanese are also human beings who err like any other human being. But we cannot tolerate both criminals in South Sudan as well as those who want to remove specks from our eyes and comfortably leave planks in their eyes. We in the South must deal away with criminal behaviors, but we need few moral lessons from those who do not live them out.

This article is my own opinion. It does not represent the views of the Government of South Sudan.


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