“Mom Rebecca”. This nickname was imposed during the war against Khartoum, between 1983 and 2005, in which Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior took part alongside her husband, John Garang. But the founder of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army died suddenly in 2005, six years before South Sudan’s independence.
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His widow then fully endorses her mission as “Mother of the Nation”. “I attach more importance to this role than to my title of vice-president”, confides the one who has held this position since 2020. On the eve of the ecumenical trip for peace of the pope, accompanied by the head of the Church Anglican and the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 February, this Anglican shows her confidence in the future of the youngest nation on the planet, yet entangled in an infinite cycle of violence.
Healing war trauma
“I am impatiently awaiting, like every South Sudanese, the arrival of these three representatives,” confides the sixty-year-old from her spacious office. As a Christian, I believe that this visit will initiate profound changes”. She herself never starts a day without praying.
The vice-president, also in charge of gender and youth issues, however, did not need this delegation to tackle the projects that are close to her heart. She willingly cites her fight to heal the traumas inherited from clashes with the Sudanese power, then from the civil conflict which killed nearly 400,000 people between 2013 and 2018 – the abuses continue despite the peace agreement. “The majority of so-called intercommunity violence results from these mental disorders,” says Rebecca de Mabior.
After convincing worship leaders, health professionals and especially the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development on the financial aspect, she plans to open three centers to take care of these suffering citizens. and help them reintegrate. The first will be based in the capital, the following in the cities of Wau and Malakal, other capitals of the territory, if the funds allow it.
Tiny progress in terms of infrastructure
“The problem of resources is the biggest challenge for our government,” she summarizes. She admits the state’s dismay over the floods that have displaced hundreds of thousands of residents over the past three years. But prefers to insist on the timid progress made since the formation of the unity government.
“When my husband signed the peace agreement with Sudan in 2005, he pointed out that no paved road had ever been laid in South Sudan since its inception. So I had the impression of dreaming while driving on the highway inaugurated by our president”, describes the widow, in reference to the new section linking Juba to Bor, the city where she was born.
The commitment of the “Mother of the Nation” shines through in the brief interview she gives to La Croix. On the other hand, it is careful not to mention the criticisms of its “children”, who are well aware that the lack of political will of their leaders as well as endemic corruption deprive them both of peace and of oil, gold and agricultural resources. which their state abounds.
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