Dr John Garang (Photo: The London Evening Post)
John Garang was sent from Khartoum to Bor, in May of 1983, to quash a mutiny by 500 Southern government soldiers. He never returned.
Choosing not to follow the orders that were given to him, John Garang set himself the leader of the mutiny against the government in Khartoum, and in doing so started Sudan’s Second Civil War. He went to other military garrisons in the South to garner support for the rebellion. Support ensued, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army was established.
An educated military man, with a PhD in Economics from Iowa State University, John Garang proved to be a formidable opponent. The rebellion might not have been started by John Garang, but its sustenance was founded on John Garang’s vision of a New Sudan, a united Sudan. Unlike rebel leaders before him, he not only wanted Southerners to have representation in the central government in Khartoum, he was fighting for a Sudan where all Sudanese regardless of race or religion can live as first class citizens.
After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January of 2005, John Garang was inaugurated as Sudan’s First Vice President. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was celebrated throughout Sudan as it ended Africa’s longest civil war. The war claimed an estimated 2 million lives, and millions more were displaced from their homes. The peace agreement brought a whiff of hope to the Sudanese populace.
In late July 2005, John Garang died, in controversial circumstances, while on board a Ugandan presidential helicopter that crashed in Southern Sudan. After his death, Salva Kiir, the SPLA’s military commander, was brought in to replace the late John Garang as the First Vice President of Sudan.
The death of John Garang, as is evident today, meant the death of the dream of a united Sudan. The remaining SPLM/A leadership was not as determined to achieve this dream as Garang was. The following years saw the dissolution of most of the SPLM’s northern members. The likes of Mansour Khalid – a visionary politician and thinker himself, and fervent supporter of Garang’s New Sudan vision – were brought into the National Unity Government in the north, and eventually expelled from the SPLM.
In the years following the peace agreement little was done, by both the northern and southern leadership, to make John Garang’s dream a reality. In distrustful fashion, the southern leadership used its share of the oil wealth to develop its army while the northern leadership made no efforts in making unity an enticing prospect. Understandably, the secession plebiscite in January 2011 saw an overwhelming majority vote for the secession of the south and the establishment of a new state of South Sudan. And so it happened, on July 9th 2011, South Sudan deservedly became a sovereign state, and with it, died the dream of one of Sudan’s greatest leaders.
It’s difficult to say whether Sudan would’ve stayed as one country had John Garang been alive today, but nevertheless his vision of a united Sudan remains lingering among the
” A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on” -JFK
Thanks to the writer for this well written piece, it is timely as we need to ignite our dreams and hopes to work making them real and late John Garang was a great Sudanese dreamer.
Time evolved its full course in Sudan and another lively and vivid vision came from the periphery, John Garang de Mabior. The late Sudanese leader developed a whole integrated vision for us about becoming a Sudanese; we see the full national construction in the details of the Naivasha agreement and represented the culmination of his revolution. This why millions of Sudanese gathered, as never happened before on eighth day of July 2005 and rallied in the field of Green Square in Khartoum, rallied for showing respect to him. Authorities were reluctant and did not allow it. And with the loss of the leader his vision was torn apart, except in inspiring people of Sudan for pursuing his dreams.
This should drive us to explore and probe of what was wrong in this build up of vision, why a full addressed vision went so wrong that it delivered the exact opposite of what he fought for his lifelong.
The visionary leader is no more possible, no more Nasser, Garang…etc. the communication, media and network is driving the people to build a joint vision, the sooner the activist learn the lesson the earlier to avoid the Tunisian, Egyptians..etc long trip and agony.
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