I Refuse to be a Prisoner of Fear

If I die for speaking out for myself or others, I will know I died a free soul. I refuse to be a prisoner of fear, I refuse to live in my mind.

Growing up, I admired Southern Sudanese people so much for all the passion and courage they had standing up for their rights during the liberation struggle. My parents just like millions of other South Sudanese fought and spent their entirety youth miserable so I can be free, have an identity and simply belong. Southern Sudanese went through hell and back to get this country (South Sudan).

The “paradise” South Sudanese dreamt of for years. I imagined a “New Sudan” where every child had access to quality education, decent and affordable health care for all, a country governed by rule of law with the utmost respect for women’s rights, where one freely traveled and lived in whichever part of the country they wished to. Knowing how much the older generation sacrificed for this vision (in whatever formed it looked like for them) convinced the younger generations that the only way they can ever pay them back the generations that fought for our “freedom” is by utilizing every opportunity and become everything they dreamt of but could only wish for the next generation.

Today in the country I was promised freedom and prosperity, I continue to see people I know get killed or if they choose to spare your life, you get harassed or jailed for speaking your truth. Aware of the fact that the system doesn’t care about the truth, everyone who cares about me is terrified of the fact that I could be next. I have lost count of family meetings I have been to where I was the agenda. I totally and completely understand where they are coming from because what they feel is not just fear, it is an actual danger.

However, I didn’t choose activism, activism chose me, I am a product of activism. Both my parents joined the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) when they were equally young. My mother is a member of “katiba Banat” the only female battalion during the liberation struggle and my father is still active in the military to date. The same way they felt about the then regime is exactly how I feel about this current regime under their leadership.

It’s often understood that people only get in trouble by or for doing something but we never calculate how much damage we do by simply choosing to do nothing or remain silent. We are living in a country where; citizens look to International and National Nongovernmental Oraganizations for service provision, fighting a senseless war that has ended lives and displaced millions of people both internally and externally while dishonoring Peace Agreements year in and out. A country where certain individuals are above the law, where the national cake ends up in houses of those entrusted to distribute it. A country where the presence of security persons who are supposed to protect us terrify us the most. How can South Sudanese youth afford to remain silent?

I care for my country people enough to constructively criticize public institutions because I know the potential and resources they have to serve South Sudanese better so I will continue to speak. If I die for speaking out for myself or others, I will know I died a free soul. I refuse to be a prisoner of fear, I refuse to live in my mind. Like every other youth in the world, South Sudanese youth have a role to play to contribute to sustainable peace and development that dismantle all forms of inequalities and discrimination in South Sudan and globally. 

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