By Manyang David Mayar
Last Sunday, Riek Machar boldly walked to the alter at St. Emanuel Parish, a church mainly of Dinka-Bor congregation, and got hold of the microphone and started to speak. Some of the Christians got irritated, some were surprised and a sense of confusion filled the church. The drama quickly spread out and now still remained as one of the biggest conversations you can hear at tea places under trees, under Amaraat in Juba and in social media platforms.
The main concern of those debates was whether it was a right thing for the church to allow Riek Machar into the Holy House or not and whether it was a right time and place for Riek Machar to speak to Bor people about peace. Members of the public have different opinions about that but one thing I have noted is a confusion on how people looked at Riek and how Riek looked at himself in front of his audiences.
After fighting a war that killed several vulnerable people across the country in Bor including those women in the church, did Riek see himself like a winner in front of the Jieng (Dinka) people? To better understand this, you have to study the speech he delivered in the church.
Did he say sorry for what had happened? No. Did he apologize for any damage the war has caused to the people not only in Bor but across the country? No. What did he say? He only narrated his exit from Juba and blamed Salva Kiir for the Tiger trigger. And now that he is back, it is time for peace and reconciliation. Full stop. No recognition of the mistakes and deaths. And that to my observation make Riek to still see himself in his own eyes like a winner. Especially now that he is back in Juba and holding the second most powerful position in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU).
But to the congregation whose relatives and people they know were killed by Riek forces in Bor, Riek is a sinner. And for that reason, many people think Riek shouldn’t have been allowed to go even closer to the first row in the church leave alone standing at the alter and addressing Christians. So in the situation where Riek sees himself like a winner and people see him like a sinner, where does peace belong?
Peace is always at the heart of those who are quick to say sorry and at the heart of those who are quick to forgive. But dilemma comes in when one party fails to say sorry. What does the offended do in that case? The Bible tells us to release such people in our hearts so that our relationship with God can be good. Not because you like what the person did to you but because the Bible says God will do the fighting when you forgive. If we understand these Biblical Concepts as Christians, then Riek Machar visit last Sunday shouldn’t be of a big confusion. And only then can peace, concrete and true peace be achieved in this country.