South Sudan is a perfect fit for Donald Trump to begin his inevitable adventure into foreign affairs.
In the last three months, dozens of countries across the world have been making satirical videos introducing their countries to the US President Donald Trump. The trend started with a video made by the host of The Netherlands’ late-night show, Zondag met Lubach” (“Sunday With Lubach”).
In all the videos so far done, every country concedes that “it is America first” as proclaimed by Trump in his inaugural address. After comparing and contrasting, sometimes tongue in cheek, and often throwing a shade on President Trump, each country ends the video with a plea that their country should come second.
Despite the economic situation in Nigeria; the never ending Boko Haram insurgency; the Fulani Herdsmen’s continuing conflict with farming communities; the madness at the National Assembly; the daily dose of corruption scandals, Nigeria made its own submission.
One country that has not made one of such videos is South Sudan. And it may not be making one anytime soon. According to an aid agency working in South Sudan, Mercy Corps, almost 1 in 3 in South Sudan are displaced in their country. Over 3.6 million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their home since 2013, with more than 1.5 million of them to neighboring countries of Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Aid agencies estimate that over 5.1 million people in South Sudan are in need of aid with over 4.8 million facing hunger. Under this dire situation, making a video to introduce their country to Trump is the least on the minds of South Sudanese.
So far, Donald Trump has not indicated, one way or the other, which country he would want to be second to America. Not even Russia, a country in whose leader he is well pleased, has gotten the nod from him. We couldn’t even say he is leaning towards Israel considering how as president he has wobbled on some of the strong positions he held about Israel during the campaign. And it could not be Germany, his grandfather’s country, considering how he could not let himself shake the hand of German leader, Angela Merkel, during her visit to the White House. And of course, not the British, whose intelligence agency, GCHQ, his White House accused of spying on his Trump Tower for Obama.
As “America first” runs into peculiar American trouble at home, with debates in Congress delaying his swift transfiguration of America and the Courts putting a clog in his wheel, this may be time for Donald Trump to make that move abroad by picking his preferred second country. I dare recommend that he should shock political observers across the world by picking South Sudan.
In more ways than one, South Sudan is America’s baby. Without America, there would not be South Sudan today. South Sudan would still have remained an oppressed region of minority Christians in Sudan. America, under the government of President George W. Bush used its influence to shepherd the eventual creation of South Sudan. But as soon as it was created, America absconded, like a deadbeat father.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9th 2011. Since 2013, the country, composed of various ethnic groups that have been fighting a war of Independence for decades, quickly degenerated into a civil war of their own. It currently has the second highest score on the Fragile States Index, polling better than just one country, Somalia.
South Sudan is a perfect fit for Donald Trump to begin his inevitable adventure into foreign affairs. That is, if one discounts the Russian affair and the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at an airbase in Syria. For one, it is a predominately Christian nation rescued by America from Muslim oppression in Sudan. That fits well into Trump’s commitment to protecting Christians across the world as he thundered in his inaugural address and his first Executive Order on immigration.
Secondly, the country has oil. And this will be Trump’s opportunity to go into a nation, save it from itself and get the oil. After all, it was Chevron Corporation that discovered the oil field in Adar in 1981. If Trump doesn’t get the oil, the Chinese, who are already in South Sudan, will take the oil. And by the way, South Sudan’s oil is not the sweet brent crude found in places like Nigeria but the heavy and acidic blend. But hey, it is still crude oil.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit is bearded and wears a bowler hat but he is not Abraham Lincoln. Instead, he is a corrupt president whose love for power supersedes his interest in the welfare and wellbeing of his people. He has allowed ethnic strife to squash the promises of independence. Trump can fix that by supporting the emergence of South Sudan’s own Abraham Lincoln who can lead the country through a civil war. All that he needs to do is to deploy his act of deal making. In one White House meeting, he will bring the Dinka, Nuer and the Azande together as one.
In times of domestic challenges, some American presidents have found their voices as well as their callings abroad. Former President Richard Nixon, while marred at home by an unpopular war in Vietnam, was able to strike a diplomatic win when he traveled to China and opened up the People’s Republic of China to the world. President George W. Bush was able to push his President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Africa when he had lost the political capital at home following the Iraq War and the disaster called Hurricane Katrina.
Donald Trump can do the same by venturing into South Sudan. After all, the children of South Sudan are just like the children of America – “they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.” In one stroke, Trump would save the lives of more Christians than all the Christians in the Middle East. He will also send a message to the rest of Africa that “the time has come to set aside childish things.”
Who knows, by doing the right thing in South Sudan, in the eyes of Africans at least, he may finally outshine that son of Africa whose footprints in the White House he is determined to erase.
Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo is the author of “This American Life Sef!”