South Sudan is still gripped in the euphoria of its newly acquired independence. It is as it should be, as the same was the case for her 53 African sister countries much earlier.
Just like her people, the peoples of Africa savoured the moment when they were able to lose themselves in partying after saying bye to the harsh subjugation of foreign invaders. Unfortunately, there is always time for reality check. When it comes to getting down to brass tacks, where do you start?
Luckily for the people of S. Sudan, independence has come to them late in the day, when Africa is dotted with precedents to learn from.
The fact alone that they have been under the control of their own brethren (or near-brethren) places them one up.
They are now wise to the fact that their own people can impose a rule that is more pitiless than that of invaders from out. So, in their totality they must take charge of the business of governing their country. That, and they rise, or any other way, and they sink.
All their heads must come together to find a common identity. In the first place, does every S. Sudanese identify with that name for their country?
However diverse the more than 200 hundred ethnic groups, they must be having something in common if 98.83% of them were able to agree on opting to cut the umbilical cord that tied them to the north. They must build the country around what they share.
A name that reflects that and symbolises their separateness can help in imprinting their independence in their psyche.
The young government must put its multi-ethnic-grouped people in charge to establish the country’s sovereignty. Knowing the border conflicts that are already going on with the northern neighbour, all ways must be explored to make sure that all borders are secured, including continued dialogue.
The government, the forces, the citizenry and all must be mobilised to clear border wars and internally put a stop to cattle rustling, rogue-militia rampaging and all forms of crime. Certainly, a UN option is a faux-pas.
To sustain that peace, an incorruptible judicial system needs to be put in place. This is necessary to remove all forms of impunity so that all the past crimes are punished and present and future crimes are dealt with promptly.
Justice must be dispensed to all without fear or favour. Especially, rogue ‘liberation-struggle-leaders’ who think entitlement is their right, corruption and all forms of malpractice must face the full force of the law.
Having been ravaged by wars for the last 55 years, S. Sudan is starting from scratch. Here again, the plus is that the country is blessed with rich land and plenty of natural resources.
The government should work with the populace so that they can maximally exploit their land for agriculture if they are to emerge from poverty.
Strong institutions will be needed to guide this agriculture and resource management and build a comprehensive network of infrastructure. More roads, electricity, schools, hospitals and the lot must start to appear now.
Whatever she does, S. Sudan must not wallow in the illusion that the rich deposits of oil alone will pull her out of economic hardships.
She should cast her eyes across westward if she wants to see countries that went West because of too much dependence on oil.
By exploiting her timber, iron ore, copper and other resources she can supplement her agriculture and expand her export base.
The starting point is to cut her dependence on N. Sudan for food, electricity, fuel et al. A strong private sector can go a long way in mobilising indigenous goods and services and creating jobs.
There are many things that S. Sudan can do and again she is lucky that there are African countries that have identified the right path, few as they may be. As a newly independent country, she can emulate them and get a leadership that can galvanise her people and put those opportunities at their disposal.
The leadership only needs to position itself well and milk the goodwill, hope and energy that the people demonstrated at independence. The success of the referendum had already shown that the citizenry knew what they wanted.
They still do. What is needed now is a leadership that works with them so that together they can harnesses their energies to build the economy.
Working together, without anybody being left behind, especially the hitherto marginalised groups like women and the youth, the people of S. Sudan can create a miracle out of what was destined to be a waste basket.
It suffices that everybody sees themselves in the processes that will go into building their country.
Among S. Sudanese rich resources, none is richer than her human resource. Not a single one; not even a combination of them. Once you allow your human resource to express itself and liberally apply itself to all the other resources, even the sky will not be the limit.
Given direction and the liberty to innovate, that single human resource can deliver you unto the small elite of respected African nations.
S. Sudan, you can rescue your dignity. Tall order? I get the above answers when I ask how tiny Rwanda refused to think so.