On 9-15 January, millions of Southern Sudanese took to the polls to vote in a referendum that will decide whether they will stay united to, or separate from, Northern Sudan.
With nine neighbouring countries, Sudan is the largest country on the continent. It was the first African country to gain independence on 1 January 1956; and its population of around 36 million is highly diverse, incorporating black Africans, Arabs, Bejas and other smaller national groups.
Over the last six years, Sudan has been going through a complex political transition governed by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between Northern and Southern Sudan on 9 January 2005; and aimed at ending more than two decades of war between the two regions.
As part of the CPA, it was agreed that at the end of the transition, residents of Southern Sudan, as well as those living in the oil-rich Abyei region, would vote on whether the South should secede or remain part of Sudan. In the meantime, the Parties agreed to work together to ‘Make Unity Attractive.’
For several years now, many have been predicting a vote overwhelmingly in favour of separation. Why? In brief, they contend that the majority of Southern Sudanese are tired of being treated as second class citizens in their own country; and that self-determination would end past (and even present) injustices meted out by the North.
Whether you agree with this viewpoint or not, one thing seems almost certain: there will be no unanimous decision. Life just doesn’t work like that. It is governed by variety, including in our opinions.
So where does that leave us?
Many are predicting a blood-letting once the results of the referendum become known, not simply brought about by a possible refusal of the North to allow Southern secession (as had been threatened in the past), but by a worsening of the internecine clashes in the South.
I personally don’t believe that all the negative analyses are unduly exaggerated or, for that matter, wrong. However, I do believe that while the negatives, in any country, exist, they are almost always over-emphasised at the expense of the positive.
With the example of Sudan in particular, while there are wars that have ravaged different parts of the country including Darfur in the West and Eastern Sudan, the people remain remarkably resilient. Family and community structures are also incredibly strong, yet one hardly ever hears about this.
If we only ever emphasise catastrophes, let’s not be surprised if catastrophes follow, because what we focus on must come to pass.
Political analysts (and I was one for a very long time) are usually smart people. And yes, it’s possible to look at past trends and predict the future. But the future can be changed depending on what we focus our attention upon.
My own view is that, to usher in a new era of peace in Sudan, we should spend less time focusing on what has (or still could) go wrong and more time on a peaceful vision for the country; its strengths, as well as the strengths of its people.
Moreover, whether one believes in unity or separation, we should accept divergent viewpoints as valid.
Of paramount importance, life is never about having to choose any one thing over the other, for example, ‘unity’ over ‘separation,’ but about why we are drawn to any option.
Those who want unity may be after the perceived security that comes with being allied to the better established Northern government, while those in favour of separation may want the freedom and respect they feel will come from living in a separate state.
Whatever the case, we can always experience what we want, regardless of the outcome of any political process. It’s entirely within our own power. Viewed in this way, multiple views can always be accommodated.
Why do I say this?
Well, it’s because although it often makes for compelling, not to mention controversial, viewing, we need to realise that politics will never solve all of our problems. As such, it needn’t become a zero-sum game for any of us.
While we can continue to advocate for strong, transparent Governments that work to meet the aspirations of their people, we should also realise that we can create our own happiness, no matter where we live in the world or the conditions that surround us; and regardless of what our governments do or don’t do for us.
The key is to find alignment with our inner being; that God force within all of us that nudges us in the most auspicious directions. We do this through our thoughts; and the way we feel in any moment is the biggest indicator of whether we’re focusing our thoughts on something that will bring us that alignment or not; happiness, or unhappiness.
How we feel; and whether we’re in alignment, completely depends on us, not outside forces. We have power over our thoughts, so keep yours positive. Then you will realise that you don’t need people to behave in a certain way before you can experience happiness; or even peace.
Gaining control over what we focus upon helps us gain control over our point of attraction and, in turn, control of our world.
Do you know why people go to war? It’s because most of us have a ‘lack mentality;’ and a fear that there’s not enough to go around ÔÇô not enough oil, land, water, or even respect. The truth is, there’s more than enough; and if you have the ability to desire something, then God has the ability to deliver it into your life.
Become clear about what you want in life; and start thinking about it every moment. Cultivate good-feeling thoughts that encourage alignment and then, as you are prompted by your inner being, take inspired action towards your goals.
Whatever the majority decide, in any political process, needn’t spell disaster for you. Nobody has the power to stop you creating the life you want ÔÇô except you.