Salva Kiir of South Sudan started gaining international recognition and popularity in recent times. This could be attributed to his major contributions in the government and politics of South Sudan, the nation that has been plagued with much conflict and chaos over time, and thereby leading to their recent attainment of independence. You may have or have not heard of this all important and famous Salva Kiir of South Sudan. Even though you’ve heard the name, there are lots of things I believe you may not know and would love to know about him.
Who is Salva Kiir of South Sudan?
Salva Kiir Mayardit is his full name. He is a South Sudanese politician who has been President of South Sudan since its independence in 2011. Prior to independence, he was President of the Government of Southern Sudan, as well as First Vice President of Sudan, from 2005 to 2011.
1. Birth and origin:
Salva Kiir was born on 13th September, 1951 in the Bahr-el-Ghazal region of northwestern South Sudan. He is of the Dinkan tribe, the largest in South Sudan.
Salva Kiir is a graduate of the Sudan Military College.
3. He Fought the First Sudanese Civil Wars
Kiir first joined the southern rebellion, the Anyanya battalion as a boy during the First Sudanese Civil War in the late 1960’s and reached the rank of an officer by the time Sudan’s President Jaafar Numeiri made peace with the rebels in the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement.
4. He joined the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in 1983
Salva joined the Sudanese army after the treaty, but in 1983, when Dr John Garang joined an army mutiny he had been sent to put down, Kiir and other Southern leaders (including Dr, Garang), defected from the Sudanese army and joined the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the second civil war. He then helped Mr Garang to form the SPLM and rose to lead its military wing, which now forms the army of the new state. He as well became the deputy to Dr. Garang who was appointed the Vice President of the Republic of Sudan in January 2005.
5. Dr John Garang’s death paved way for him to the top
Following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Juba and the Khartoum government, which formally ended the war in January 2005, Dr. John Garang was sworn in as the Vice President of the Republic of Sudan. Unfortunately, about three months later, Dr. Garang died in a helicopter crash. Salva Kiir was chosen to succeed him as the First Vice president of Sudan and President of South Sudan.
6. His life Goal was Total Liberation for all South Sudanese Citizens through Independence
He waged the fight for independence mainly through the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its armed wing, the SPLA. An independent South Sudan was Kiir’s long cherished dream – far more so than Garang, who favoured greater rights for southerners in a united Sudan. In 2005, Kiir said the choice was between either being a “second-class citizen in Sudan or a free person” in your own homeland.
7. He won the Presidential Elections with 93% of the Votes
Salva Kiir’s statement in October 2009 that the forthcoming independence referendum was a choice between being “a second class in your own country” or “a free person in your independent state” won for him the hearts of millions of South Sudanese. South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from Sudan in January 2011, with 98.83% of voters reportedly preferring to split from the North. On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became an independent state, with Kiir as its first president.
8. He is a devout Christian
Unlike what is obtainable in various political leaders, Salva Kiir is a committed christian. He does not hide his identity as the church is one of the major platforms for his public speeches.
9. He is Good-natured and Kind-Hearted
Judging from his appearance and looks, one would certainly say that Salva Kiir would be a dictator, but on the contrary, he is kind. This virtue was confirmed when Kiir positioned himself as a reformer, using his inaugural address to call for the South Sudanese people “to forgive, though we shall not forget” perceived injustices at the hands of the northern Sudanese over the preceding decades and announced a general amnesty for South Sudanese groups that had warred against the SPLM in the past.
10. Popular Salva Kiir Mayardit’s Quotes
Though Mayardit would not be said to be an intellectual like his predecessor, Dr. Garang, he still has all it takes to be leader and also has considerable wisdom. He is outspoken and convincing. Here are some of his quotes which are notable:
People should not judge me on what they hear. Let them wait and see me in action. Then they will see how I serve my people.
It is the responsibility of all the Sudanese, especially the political leaders and the media, to strengthen social cohesion through the proper understanding of the dynamics of unity, if they really want our country to remain united.
The duty of the media is to observe truth and social responsibility.
11. He is Best Known for Wearing a Trademark Cowboy Hat
I don’t think Salva Kiir has ever made any public appearance without his usual cowboy hat. He always had it intact. All the photos above attest to that.