The Pain of Peace Without Handshakes By Stephen Par Kuol

“2020 is a year to stay alive, not a year for making a profit”

-Jack Ma.

The people of South Sudan have chosen the year 2020, aka, (the twin year) as a year of peace, reconciliation, social cohesion, and national healing. Call it a year of hugs and handshakes, if you will. I have been amazed by the humbling gestures of handshakes with former adversaries as we embark on this tumultuous journey of peacebuilding. Alas, those tender handshakes have been short-lived by this pandemic, dreadfully known as Noble Virus (COVID-19)!! The virus has come and the world will not be the same again! The rest is a history of a protracted misery. The monstrous beast has created a permanent climate of terror in which even our own limbs will never trust one another any time soon. Under its gloomy silhouette, dreams are shattered and hopes are dashed. All humanity has taken for granted since times immemorial are painfully compromised.

The deadly pandemic has globally struck through the hearts of all human institutions including those that link us with the high (warship houses). In my case as a practicing Presbyterian, my handshake tradition after every Sunday Service is painfully surrendered to the demons of Corona Virus. Cunning the worlds at will, the noble virus first goes for the elites and nobilities wherever it sets its grips. It has belittled kings and queens as it roams its world in defiance of medical science and modern technology. That way, it has trembled the core of even the most powerful Kingdoms and supper powers of our lifetime. You name it; the Corona Virus has spared no single aspect of human life. Besides the million lives, it has so far claimed globally, the invincible human tormentor has miserably robbed us of the most indispensable values of social life. In an extremely agonizing bout, it has replaced all kinds of social intimacies with an antisocial barrier called social distancing. Even more biologically torturous, it has replaced the natural air for our nostrils with nose numbing and suffocating masks. Any social congregation in the form of weddings, religious gatherings, cultural festivals, and funeral rites become breeding grounds for this invisible predator to spread its poisonous offsprings as it continues to expand its infectious network.

Economically, this pandemic of doom and death has superimposed its own microeconomics situation in which even the oxygen is no longer free as it takes a mask that costs money to breathe and function in public where the human breath is dreaded like the venom of a desert snake. As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months without a glimpse of hope at sight, we are desperately adopting some socially inconvenient ways for life to continue. For the worst part, it is a life without fun and funds. There is no fun without funds, they say in the cooperate world. That is why the alien world where its origin is traced is currently compelled to reopen up and die doing it (die making the funds). As for us in the conflict-ravaged South Sudan, whether we do or don’t, there are no funds to make in our ailing economy. Our socioeconomic capital is in our relentless effort to bring peace back to our country and that is what we must die doing within these social red tapes imposed by COVID 19. Jack Ma has summed it all up by articulating the heart wrecking truth that 2020 is not a year to thrive, but a year to survive. Let us do just that in order to be the fittest in this painful social evolution under the Corona Virus. In my humble book, it is a year to reconcile, build peace without handshakes, and stay alive!!

The author is a freelance writer and the Minister of Peace Building in the Revitalized Government of National Unity (RTGONU). He can be reached via: kuolpar@yahoo.com

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