About the Author: Major General (Ret) Scott Gration serves as the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan.
I am currently in Sudan, where I am visiting Juba and Khartoum to hold discussions with representatives from the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Together, we are working to move forward on the outstanding issues of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation. It’s a difficult and lengthy process, but failure is not an option – both the national elections and the referendum on self-determination in Southern Sudan are only months, not years, away.
Besides holding meetings and discussions, I also had the chance to speak on All Saints Day (November 1st) at the All Saints Cathedral in Rejaf, Southern Sudan. I used the opportunity to share a bit about my background and to give a message of hope and peace to those in attendance. Peace, justice, and reconciliation require us all to work together toward to the same goal – this message is so important, and I tried to convey its urgency.
The only way we will able to achieve stability and a lasting peace in Sudan is by working to involve all those who have a stake in the process. This is why it is essential that we work to resolve the differences surrounding the national elections and the referendum. It is why it is critical that we ensure that the process is fair and credible and that the will of the people, as expressed through the national elections and the referendum, is respected.
Below you will find a condensed version of the remarks I delivered to the congregation in the All Saints Cathedral in Rejaf, Southern Sudan. As always, I want to thank you for your continued interest, Scott.
Remarks at All Saints Day, All Saints Cathedral
Rejaf, Southern Sudan
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I feel so very much at home in Africa. My parents came to Africa in 1952 as missionary teachers, and I lived in Africa in Congo, Uganda, and Kenya for almost twenty years in my youth. I lived for a long period in northeast Congo until severe conflict broke out following independence. The fighting and the violence forced my family and me to flee the country for safety.
After fleeing Congo in 1964, we became refugees. We lost all of our possessions, and we escaped with just our lives. My parents were forced to establish a new home; we had to start again. I still remember the pain and loss of that difficult experience, but it has helped me to understand in a very small way the suffering, pain, and loss many of you have experienced here in Sudan for decades.
In 1979, I went back to Uganda as Idi Amin was leaving and President Binaisa was coming to power. The Ugandan people had suffered so much, and I heard terrible stories of pain and loss. As I stand here in this church today, I am reminded of the shocking story one woman shared with me of how she escaped from a burning Catholic church that had been lit on fire by Idi Amin’s soldiers as the congregation worshipped inside.
The church has been instrumental in promoting reconciliation and restoration across Africa—not only in Uganda, but in places like South Africa and Congo. The church as a whole, and each one of you as individuals, can continue to play an instrumental role in bringing reconciliation and peace to Sudan.
Let us remember the prayer that Saint Francis of Assisi offered 800 years ago, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, pardon; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy." Be an instrument of peace. Register to vote, express your will, and do this in peace and for peace. Spread love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy as you register to vote and as you work to bring stability to this very special land. Thank you very much.