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John Garang, South Sudan's Founding Father

John Garang, South Sudan's Founding Father
Video Caption: 1 Diplo’s 2019 VMAs, Themed Suit

"Africa must unite not as a continent but as a nation for therein lies our collective survival as a people." John Garang

John Garang, Father of South Sudan John Garang's legacy in Africa dances on a tightrope. His transformative leadership outdid itself yet fell short. Garang emerged from the Sudanese civil war not just a victor, but a symbol of the marginalized South. He championed their right to self-determination, wielding his charisma and unwavering commitment like a desert wind, sweeping away decades of oppression. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, his crowning achievement, silenced the guns and birthed a fragile hope for a unified Sudan. Or a separate, independent South Sudan. But Garang's leadership wasn't forged in pure idealism.

He wasn't averse to ruthlessness. His SPLA rebel group's scorched-earth tactics left scars on civilians, and his suppression of dissent within his own ranks reeked of authoritarianism. His death in a 2005 helicopter crash was either a cruel twist of fate or ultimate sabotage from his detractors.

In the days following this tragic helicopter crash, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said that, “Some people say accident, it may be an accident, it may be something else.” Clearly, he too was unsure whether Garang’s life was snuffed out by the hand of fate or the hand of man. In the absence of a definitive answer, the best history can do is to speculate and attempt to find a firm footing in the quicksand of probability. If the hand of man extinguished Garang’s life in order to keep South Sudan destabilized, then that goal was achieved because this great African country remains a nation in tatters.

John Garang left behind a political vacuum and a peace agreement teetering on the brink. The peaceful, prosperous, South Sudan he envisioned hasn’t come to fruition yet.  

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