Pres Salva Kiir Mayardit has made, what many consider one of his boldest moves ever, a resolution to never again let his beard grow and never again wear his signature cowboy hat until ‘every child in South Sudan feels safe and is not starving’.
Pres Kiir, who inherited power and the country’s leadership from Dr. John Garang who died in a helicopter crash, made the revelation after meeting a small group of visiting US Members of Congress just a day before cancelling his much anticipated address to the nation.
The AU, the International Community, local NGOs, religious groups and the Jenge Council of Elders (JCE) were among the first to register their appreciation in support of the bold declaration. The JCE has already booked front-page full-colour ad-spaces in all the major daily Juba newspapers for the first 3 days of next week to publicize their personalized congratulatory messages to the President for losing his hat for a just cause.
The JCE upholds Pres Kiir patriotic resolution to keep shaving his beard for such an honourable cause… Pres Kiir shows not only exemplary leadership but also shows how connected he is to his roots – the Jenge people, among whom the President proudly hails, do not normally let their bodily hairs grow wild…. for that we salute him
“The JCE upholds Pres Kiir patriotic resolution to keep shaving his beard for such an honourable cause… Pres Kiir shows not only exemplary leadership but also shows how connected he is to his roots – the Jenge people, among whom the President proudly hails, do not normally let their bodily hairs grow wild…. for that we salute him,” read JCE’s statement in part.
It is yet unclear whether this pronouncement was, in any way, influenced by his meeting with the US Members of Congress whose trip to South Sudan was sponsored by Better World Campaign (BWC) an arm of the UN foundation in Washington. Also unclear is whether the meeting with the US Members of Congress influenced his cancellation of his speech the following day.
However, the members of Congress appeared equally surprised by the pronouncement to part with his collection of expensive hats.
Under Pres. Kiir’s leadership and just 4 years into its independence, South Sudan – the world’s newest nation – has consistently been singled out by the international NGOs to either to be on the verge of hunger or that the fragile economy was now close to collapse, or both.
Now, with Pres Kiir resolving to shave his beard and lose his hat until hunger is eradicated in SouthSudan, and with the peace agreement signed in August this year that will end the almost two-year bloody conflict, South Sudan might just be on path again to join the rest of the ‘civilized world’ in doing what civilized nations do.
“Without his signature cowboy hat and beard, Pres Kiir will arguable rise and become one of the most handsome presidents this country [South Sudan] has ever had… in fact it might take years off his worn-out and grumpy-looking face…. his face alone on our new currency could even strengthen our economy” said one local observer.
Until Kiir and his people define the exact meaning of ‘every child in South Sudan feels safe and is not starving’, the statement is rather vague and potentially controversial. A few observers are brushing it off as a new technique to hustle more funding from donors and the visiting US Congressmen. Furthermore, according to some, an indicator that this is just another trick is that Pres Kiir did not say ‘effective immediately’ – a phrase that can be found in almost all his presidential decrees.
Whatever the motive behind his promise, South Sudan’s tarnished image will need all the help it can get – especially with a handsome young President as its leader.