EDITORIAL: Leaders should refrain from using inciting and hateful language
“The tongue can be used as a weapon to harm and destroy or as a tool to build and heal,” reads a famous quote from a religious book, the Bible.
Pearl Strachan Hurd once said: “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
The “word” has tremendous power. A simple word like “sorry” can end a fight. A negative word can bring down the entire nation flat on the belly. That is why we need to be careful with our words.
Unfortunately, most of our leaders – in South Sudan are yet to understand the power of a tongue. That is why they keep on pelting out reckless and inciting statements that create more room for hatred among communities, political parties, or regions.
As a media house, we are privileged to receive raw news right from the sources. It is disheartening to say that if we were to publish every comment we get from every newsmaker; we would not have a country right now.
As sad as it may sound, some of these comments, especially when it borders on tribal comments, are inciting, to say the least. This could be attributed to the retrogressive steps this country is taking in search of lasting peace. The ongoing violence and revenge attacks, to some extent, have been fueled by words from our own mouths.
How we wish, as a media house, that all leaders in this country would take time and read the statement of President Salva Kiir concerning the recent violence that claimed over 27 innocent lives in Kajo Keji.
The president, in as much as he was irked by the incident, and guided by wisdom, carefully picked his words as he mourned and prayed for the families of the victims, even as he ordered an investigation and prosecution of the perpetrator of the heinous and barbaric act.
Another example of good leadership was when Hon. Bol Joseph Agau, a member of the National Democratic Movement, called on the leadership country to use diplomatic means to solve the border impasse with Kenya (Nadapal). While he was firm that the country must find a solution to the border issue, Agau said that South Sudan is currently fighting many ‘battles’ and was not ready to get into another unnecessary ‘war’.
On the other hand, a former MP had the audacity to call a media house and rant about how the government should immediately deploy forces to Nadapal to deal with the youth from across the border.
You know that we have a bigger problem as a country when a senior leader in this country, for example, calls others ‘witches’, incites local youth to “defend your land” against perceived invaders; or when a sitting governor calls on the government to help kick out a certain community that has allegedly encroached on their territory.
Such lousy and reckless pronouncements defeat the logic of having a constitution that grants every citizen the right to live and work anywhere in South Sudan.
We believe that there are better ways to address these difficult issues rather than shaming or accusing the other community; or those with opposing political views. We must be sober as a country and work towards attainable peace.
The president has reiterated often that he will never allow South Sudan to return to war. Let’s help President Kiir find lasting peace for the country – the peace that everyone has been praying for.
Famous author, Rachel Wolchin, once said. “Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you may stick with someone else for a lifetime.”