The SoapBox: “Southern Sudan and Convenient Patriotism”

It’s annoyingly hard to not know what’s going on in Southern Sudan right now; every national media outlet has dedicated so much airtime to it that it’s apparently become a national priority. But as they vie for their independence from the rest of Sudan and bleed rivers for their struggles, at one point or another, we must all have wondered what our responsibility – or rather our interest – is really based on.

In one word: oil. This is common knowledge. That massive undergoverned region with little infrastructure is floating on black gold. And while we could be doing the noble thing and helping our fellow brothers and sisters emancipate themselves from political slavery, we’ve decided to become capitalist leeches; joining the ranks of the best of them.

Mission Accomplished

How different are we from the US in Liberia in the 1980s when they funded a civil war in the guise of helping liberation efforts only to export over $300million(the equivalent of about $1billion today) worth of blood diamonds each year they were there. I mean, ‘liberating countries’ has become an industry in the US. Look at Liberia now; still littered with cadavers, politically unstable, severely impoverished, abandoned and reeking of premature abortion.

Pardon me for fearing that we shall do the same in Southern Sudan. Pardon me for looking at the disarray our own country is in and being almost sure that we shall create an exponentially worse Hell in Southern Sudan. Pardon me for glimpsing over our border at how we continue to neglect Somalia and wondering just how dedicated we will be to a further off, more needy Sudan. We shall make lots of money, yes. But what of the Southern Sudanese? Are they not our brothers and sisters? Truth be unmitigatedly told, we’re probably the only ones who have any interest in genuinely helping them. All this foreign interest will dissipate once flags are planted and debts begin racking up. The Chinese will build roads and pipelines from Kenyan coasts to S.Sudan’s mines and begin pumping out Chinese Oil, and we’ll have nothing to say nor do besides blink twice and say ‘Yeah, that’s pretty much what we agreed to’. So if we’re really going to take credit of this Southern Sudan revolution, if we’re to keep pointing at their flag and saying it came from ours, if we are to maintain one ounce of dignified fraternity, it is upon us to actually put in place sturdy initiatives to help stabilize them in the long term and protect them now. The question is can we do this?

Southern Sudan Flag

I tend to veer towards ‘No’ for a variety of reasons. One, we flat out do not have the resources to. Two, even if we did, we have other priorities. Remember that constitution we are yet to implement? Don’t we also have obscene debts, ridiculous homeless and jobless rates? Aren’t we also a country in need? How is that not planning to fail?

It’s not far-fetched to think that maybe our commitment to our own country is only a matter of convenience. When it is easy to be a patriot, we stand up fists pumping and the government nods along. But once heads begin to roll and pockets begin to thin, voice begin to hush and progress seems to halt.

We all felt the pain of the Post-Election Violence and millions of IDP’s, people who lost their families, friends, limbs, and senses still revel in it everyday. It only made sense to cry for justice. The ICC still represents our best shot at that; all things accounted for. So we supported Ocampo’s efforts and celebrated his list with criticism and slow claps.But then the government decided this was a matter for the nation to deal with internally? Hadn’t we tried this before? Couldn’t they have said this earlier? Or do we falter when shit gets real like any poser would?

Another instance of this Patriotism for the sake of Patriotism is this new constitution. It has been fought for for well into 2 decades. Kenyans added promulgation to their vocab, and read a constitution they could barely understand and we made that happen. But once that was done…well, where are we now?

If you’re feeling excluded like ‘I support ICC and I support the New Constitution. I’m patriotic’, this still applies to you. Because as the cliche goes, there is no I in We. It’s severely easy to blame the government but you need to realize that they speak for you, for me, for us. So if you’re going to put yourself under the Kenyan umbrella, you better hold your government accountable. This sense of helplessness needs to take a backseat. It’s very simple logic: 200 people will do what 40 million people say; no violence is necessary, just unity.

And that, ladies and gents is the problem we are faced with, the permanent roadblock on the path to patriotism; an inherent aversion to togetherness. We’re so busy nitpicking over details and differences that we never get together to embrace the larger picture, stay focused on the larger goal. Then when it gets to hard, we divert our efforts elsewhere.

We’ve zeroed in on the culprits behind one atrocity, let’s now focus on another. We’ve uncovered one political scandal just as we go searching for another. We stay focused until we get a new excuse. Yes, we have infinite issues to tend to in our country. But first, let’s sort out the mess in Southern Sudan.

As we slowly become the East African carnation of the USA, I shudder and hope I’m dreaming this all up.

Good morning.

7 thoughts on “The SoapBox: “Southern Sudan and Convenient Patriotism”

  1. The US is evil in a way that i cannot begin to describe & they have years of experience in this whole business of exploitation or if you will, this business of profiting from others.. Kenya does not even come close to them..

    In this whole S. Sudan saga, i don’t think Kenya is entirely doing a bad thing. I mean we brought peace to that part of Sudan & now we are playing the part of facilitator & our companies have set up shop there & reaping huge profits. Also, most products that are consumed in that part of the world come from Kenya.. In other words, we helped them and now we are benefitting because there is peace and i don’t think there is anything wrong with that.. The US destroys, Kenya is building.

  2. Hmmmm yes, oil. But for a change, I don’t think that’s the entire story. For the medium-term future, Southern Sudan’s oil will be exported through the north: that’s where the existing oil infrastructure is. I expect that Uganda’s oil will probably pass through Kenya before that. And Kenya has significant other business interests in Southern Sudan: banks, construction, markets for consumer goods and intermediate products – mostly because Southern Sudan does not yet manufacture anything. In fact, the strong demand in Southern Sudan and eastern DRC was a factor in helping the EAC withstand the global financial crisis: vibrant regional trade offset some of the slum in recession markets.

    I also expect that oil will drive some interesting (and complex, and as yet undecided) regional infrastructure development: There is no point in building two or even three large refineries in the region, so this will have to be figured out: Build a new one in Uganda? A small one or the big one Museveni envisions? Adjust the refurbishment plans for Mombasa? Build at new one at Lamu to be used by both Southern Sudan and Uganda? Reverse-engineer and extend the pipeline? How to connect Southern Sudan? Sort out the railway? Build new railway lines?

  3. Well, its true its the oil that we really are after. But then, the 1M dollar Question is, how will we ensure safety of the vessels delivering the cargo from the Somali pirates…………? Another issue there!

    Either way, we are on top of the EAC food chain, and its our duty to ensure that we don’t abuse that position noe fail to exploit it to the maximum.

  4. Well, its true its the oil that we really are after. But then, the 1M dollar Question is, how will we ensure safety of the vessels delivering the cargo from the Somali pirates…………? Another issue there!

    Either way, we are on top of the EAC food chain, and its our duty to ensure that we don’t abuse that position nor fail to exploit it to the maximum.

  5. Kenya has no real high moral ground to stand on… Whereas I do not advocate any interference that will/can precipitate violence, we need to get our hands on the oil before the chinese do…

    The north will not let Abyei join South Sudan any time soon… Currently, all the oil will flow northwards while any efforts (new pipeline) to pump it south (through Kenya) will be sabotaged by north sudan…

  6. Pingback: Daily Dozen: 12/01 « Diasporadical

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