[once independence is achieved,] those content with the liberation of the South could remain behind while those committed to the liberation of the whole country could continue the struggle.
According to Francis Deng (War of Visions, p.505), this was John Garang’s argument about divisions within the SPLA between those fighting specifically for an independent South and soldiers who believed in Garang’s vision of a broader national political struggle.
According to Deng, this ‘clever scheme’ was ‘never… understood’: at the time, in the library, I found this quite funny, a bizarre image of an army where the majority decided to stay ‘at home’ while some of their mates went north.
Obviously, back home from the library, I realised that the SPLM North’s current political rhetoric and the phrasing of their agreements – however unlikely they are to work in practice – with the current Darfur groups echo Garang’s sentiments nicely. It’s a strange quote, and a strange perspective on current events.
Garang's statue - ready to be unveiled
I’m currently working my way through an essay based on the ‘academic’ publishing of Southern Sudanese ‘intellectuals’ – including, obviously, John Garang.
Reading through his published speeches, pamphlets, letters and essays, I’ve been thinking again about how his political ideas, most specifically his idea of a national, democratic ‘New Sudan’, has been deleted: his quotes edited, speeches deleted, and political aims rewritten.
I’ve no strong feelings about this: Garang was a difficult man and easily criticised, and his political vision(s) contained a good few inconsistencies, were often hazy about their practical application, and were not necessarily reflective of popular opinions.
The one very useful statement Garang made has been quoted everywhere:
No matter that, earlier in this speech, Garang was talking about the primary need for a ‘New Sudan’, and hopes for unity. His statement about ‘second class citizens’ is a widely used phrase, and the more Garang is selectively quoted, the more he’s rehabilitated as the godfather of South Sudan and the leader of the fight for independence.
Although it was Salva Kiir’s face that was everywhere during Independence Day – including on a huge poster that entirely covered the side of the new airport building – Garang’s face is on apparently all the new notes in the first run of South Sudanese currency; probably because he’s a dead martyr rather than a living president.