Khartoum, Sudan, August 6, 2018
Chances are you didn’t hear too much, if anything, about the recent peace deal signed by the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, and his warring arch rival and vice-president, Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon – but what has transpired in their country is nothing short of a miracle, and an answer to millions of peoples’ prayers around the world for Africa’s newest country – South Sudan.
People in the capital Juba celebrated the signing of a power-sharing deal earlier this week to end a brutal and deadly five-year civil war there.
South Sudan became its own country and seceded from Sudan in 2011, but its freedom was short lived. In 2013, a power struggle ensued, and a civil war broke out that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions of others.
“An agreement on outstanding issues has been signed and this agreement expresses the commitment of all parties to a ceasefire,” said Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed, who helped to broker the deal.
Moses Moini now works in Canada to help refugees settle in their country – he knows a lot about refugees – he was one, having been pulled out of the University of Sudan mid-term, and thrown into a refugee camp in Uganda; he managed to flee the war-torn country and settled in Canada.
Moses has prayed for years, and prays daily, that the people in his homeland will be free.
Now his prayers have been answered – but he’s cautiously optimistic.
He built a home for his mother, “Mama Moini” in his village in South Sudan.
After years in and out of refugee camps, Mama finally was able to live in her home for almost two years – relieved, elated, settled, joyful, faith-full, and jubilant at having her one and only home in her lifetime.
But civil war erupted again, and she was forced to leave at the age of 80 for yet another refugee camp.
It devastated her and Moses, and their entire family and surrounding friends.
Mama died in the refugee camp.
Mama held on to her undying Christian faith to the end, and the hope of peace in Juba. She wanted nothing more than to return to the home her son and some of the villagers built for her – see Moses’ interview with Lorna at the show link.
Now Moses plans to return to Juba to, “bring Mama back home.”
What follows is a Q&A with Moses Moini on the recent peace deal in South Sudan.
SP: How does this make you feel?
MM: I am really happy that progress is being made to bring the senseless, self centered, power seeking driven war to an end. We were there in 2015 and with arrangements that seemed well thought through. Shortly, there was another fall out in 2016. The recent peace agreement has created positions for five vice presidents, a very fat government and over 30 states in a country that is struggling even to provide for the very basic of its peoples’ needs. This confirms the statement that the cause of the war in the country is nothing less than the quest for political power – power that I only wish the leaders would know what to do with. Will the peace hold? I hope.
SP: Can you trust all parties will stick to this peace deal?
MM: Many people have been praying for peace to return to the country. Is this an answer to prayers? I hope, and if it is, I delight and praise God for his promises that he will never abandon his children.
SP: When will you return to South Sudan and bring Mama Moini back to her home?
MM: Peace sustaining and resources permitting, I want to repatriate mums remains from the swampy Morobi camp in Uganda as early as the summer of 2019. My mum was forced out of her beautiful home when insecurity engulfed my village. Mum was afraid that she was going to die in exile just like her own mum – she was right as it happened only five months after fleeing into Uganda. I want to honour her and will bring her home (Lord willing) and give her a decent burial at home and in her own compound. What a glorious day that will be!
SP: What have you heard from the people in your town back home?
MM: People want to go home. They want real peace but are less optimistic of this agreement. This is a road my people have traveled before and wonder what is going to be different. The other biggest fear seems to be the tone of the president and the body language during the signing of the peace agreement. Did the president really want peace or was he forced to sign one?
SP: Are they leaving the camps for their homes again?
MM: There are few people who have risked going back to my village but without their families. Life in the camp is tough and people have to push each day to get to the next. In the past several months, they received no food, and when the food was delivered, nothing was provided for the months when they had gone hungry. This state of dependency is psychologically damaging and impacting the mental health of many. People are dying and if anything close to peace is announced, some will not hesitate the risk to return.
SP: How do you think this peace deal is different, if, in fact, it is?
MM: I am struggling to find something different in this peace deal. Most of the actors are the same with the only new group being the alliance of the opposition parties. The implementation of this peace deal is going to be more challenging than the previous and I wonder how it is going to work in practical terms. The other concern about this deal are the interests of the neighbouring countries – especially Sudan and Uganda.
How will their continued involvement in the South Sudanese politics be a force for stability or a recipe for disaster?
This remains to be seen.
SP: Why do you think mainstream media doesn’t report as much on this spectacular and historical event?
MM: Is this news worthy? South Sudan was in the spotlight in 2011, and the mainstream media lost interest when the South Sudanese started to kill themselves.
The coming to being of South Sudan was regarded as a political victory of liberation from the rest of Sudan.
Before its third birthday, the nation had lost its vision.
I too wonder what excitement the mainstream media would have in a nation that has lost its reason for being.
For a look at our coverage on South Sudan, including an interview with an UNCHR rep in South Sudan, and Lorna’s interview with Moses Moini, click here to watch: