This article was last updated on May 26, 2022
Instead, he advised, South Sudanese should work hard for it themselves. Homegrown solutions should be amicably sought and the resultant peace should be owned by themselves, the South Sudanese.
Governor Lobong regretted the loss of so many lives as a result of the ongoing conflict in the country. As a result, he said many South Sudanese citizens were not really enjoying the third independence celebration. Leading the assembled crowd in a minute’s silence for the nation’s fallen heroes, he said:
“It is very unfortunate, as we commemorate this third Anniversary of our independence which was bought by precious lives, that we again continue losing lives through this meaningless war. Our heroes and heroines made sacrifices in order for us the South Sudanese to be free people, peaceful and live dignified lives,” Lobong expressed as he asked everyone at the occasion to rise in a minute of silence in remembrance of the fallen South Sudanese heroes and heroines.
The Governor added that it was a pity that the current situation had been brought about by shortsighted and self seeking individuals whose egotism made them willing to cause the shedding of South Sudanese blood in a meaningless war. He pointed out that this was supposed to be a time when South Sudanese people enjoyed peace dividends
Guest of Honour during the commemoration was the Governor of Kenya’s Turkana County, Josphat Nanok, who led a delegation from his region to attend the occasion. Governor Nanok challenged the South Sudanese people, and especially the leaders of the country, to really toil for peace by seeking lasting amicable peace.
He further urged citizens to protect their country’s hard-won independence from being grabbed by self interested individuals but remains concerned that a safe environment must be provided for every South Sudanese. “I just want to urge you to only work hard to protect this independence of your country at any cost. It is yours, there is nobody else who can come to own it.”
The Turkana governor told the gathering that it was a great shame to see the newly created nation at war, recalling that in 2011, he was among Kenyans who travelled to the then Southern Sudan to persuade the citizens to vote ‘YES’ for independence in the referendum. He expressed sad regrets at seeing that the people of South Sudan were not enjoying peace dividends now.
Speaking on behalf of the Legislature, the Acting Speaker of the State Assembly, Paul Napwon Yonae, also urged the people of the Country to recall how the independence of the Country was attained and how many lives had been lost on the way to independence.
In her welcoming remarks, the organizing Committee’s Chairperson, Paska Oduho Hifita, (who is the current state Minister of Gender, Social Development and Culture), congratulated the state’s citizens for maintaining peace and tranquility unlike other states, whose blood has been shed with thousands forced into displacement. She called for collective responsibility in seeking lasting harmony, through continuous genuine cooperation.
Speaking on behalf of the Civil Society organizations in the state, Alma Thomas Maha, Chairperson of EES Women Association, also called for commitment to peace building, appealing to the country’s citizens to open a new page through reconciliation and forgiveness among themselves.
The EES Youth Union’s Deputy President Paul Lopwa urged the citizens of the South Sudan to demonstrate responsibility in hodling peace in their hearts. However, he then took the opportunity of the celebration to claim that the youth of EES stand for a system of federalism for the country, a currently controversial debate which has led to deep polarization across the country. Lopwa called for the people of South Sudan to be allowed to decide peacefully, not through force or intimidation.