A country's national anthem is meant to invoke a sense of patriotism and pride in one's country. Can that sense of patriotism be taken too far? Different countries have their own rules regarding what is acceptable when it comes to their national anthem be it singing or showing respect. Who can forget the uproar by a section of the American population a few years back when a group of Latin musicians such as Carlos Ponce, Gloria Trevi, and others performed a Spanish version of the American National Anthem.
The Spanish version of the United States National Anthem which was called "Nuestro Himno" or "Our Song" sparked controversy with then-President George W. Bush being one of its strongest critics. At a press conference, the former President is on record stating that:
I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English and I think people who want to be citizens ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."
In a latest move, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir's has banned the singing of the country's national anthem at any public event in his absence. The development has comes as surprise to many natives. As someone who fought for the independence of his country, President Kiir is supposed to respect the country's national anthem which is akin to prayer and should not be misused lest it loses its value.
According to reports by South Sudan's independent radio, Eye Radio, the President's directive was announced by Mr. Michael Makuei, the Minister of Information following the weekly cabinet meeting last weekend. Makuei argues that singing the national anthem in President Kiir's absence amounts to misuse.
Speaking to Eye Radio, Makuei stated:
We’ve seen that the anthem is played even when the ministers, undersecretaries, the governor or state ministers attend any function. This order should be observed because the anthem is not mean for everybody. The government has observed that the national anthem is been played all over unnecessarily. Everybody is playing the national anthem. Citizens should note that the national anthem is only meant for the president, and functions attended by him."
The directive has not been received well by a section of the country including the opposition who believe that President Kiir's directive is an extension of his allegedly authoritarian regime. Many argue that the President should not personalise the national anthem which is essentially a national symbol and source of identity.
South Sudan became an independent state in July 2011 after breaking away from upper Sudan following a referendum and Kiir has been president ever since.
The new development comes at a time when Kiir has agreed to a face-to-face talks with South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar. This a step that could energize the lagging talks on a government for the civil war-wrecked country.
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