The Making of Jiengs Out of the Equatorian Community (Part 2)

Posted: October 31, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Featured Articles, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Thiik Mou Giir

Jieng’s character disposition: The Making of Jiengs Out of the Equatorian Community

By Thiik Mou Giir, Melbourne, Australia 

south-sudan-flagOctober 31, 2016 (SSB) — In this article, I will focus on Jieng’s character disposition.  In recent months, many Jiengs have been selectively targeted and brutally killed, if allegations are proved to be true, by the Equatorians.  After my first article under the same title, The Making of Jiengs out of the Equatorian Community, one of those who responded to it pointed out that the Equatorians have been killed too by Mathiang Anyor, the Jieng SPLA soldiers.

This situation our people are in now is partially a product of a friction that continues to exist between Jieng and the Equatorians for a long time.  The fire produced by this friction has and is continuing to kill the innocent people, Jiengs as well as the Equatorians.  It is necessary to understand how this animosity between Jiengs and the Equatorians has been developing over the years up to this day.

In order to do so, we must look at character dispositions of Jieng and the Equatorians.  This article is solely dedicated to Jieng’s character disposition.

Sometimes it is not possible to know all one’s strengths, one’s weaknesses and one’s shortcomings within one’s social context.  This is why one must rely on what other people say about one-self. Westerners, the colonizers, have documented Jieng’s character disposition.  They recorded that Jieng (Dinka) people are aggressive, short-tempered and violent.  The Equatorians, on the other hand, are of the same opinion.

They often say that Jiengs are “Arian Jenge” and “Rass’oom begger”, that is, “cow-headed”.  The imagery provided by Equatorians has made it clear that Jieng’s behaviour is linked to the animal on which Jiengs depend for their survival and cultural promotion.  Nevertheless, both Westerners and the Equatorians’ descriptions about Jiengs reveal the fact that Jieng has violent character disposition to and as such Jieng’s behaviour impacts the lives of those who come into contact with them.

The Equatorians’ point of view about Jieng can be used to explain other people’s character disposition.  For example, in the 70’s and 80’s, young people never got tired watching so many American cowboy films.  They loved them.  In the films, Cowboys, like Jiengs, are violent people.  They fight bad guys, the evil guys.

In the end of the films, cowboys always win the fight at the cost of total destruction of their enemies and material.  There is no single film, out of hundreds and hundreds of films, that can be rated non-violent.  They are always rated violent.  Why? Because a cow + a boy = violent.  What do you expect?  And don’t forget – a boy always wears a hat!

I was told, long time ago, that during colonization era, in a predominately populated Jieng’s town, the English people had endured being slapped on the face by some angry Jiengs who frequented their offices because they had some administrative issues.  The English tried to solve the problem by replacing all the desks in offices with the oversized desks.

With an Englishman sitting on one side of the desk and a Jieng on the other side of the desk, there was no way that any angry Jieng would be able to stretch his hand to strike the Englishman’s face.  The oversized desks acted as barriers.  It seemed to work but only temporarily.  The English realized that Jiengs were among the people who joined forces that kicked the English out of the country, Sudan.

Given that Jiengs are violent, aggressive, and short-tempered people, why then are Jiengs so?  The Equatorians have provided an interesting clue; namely, Jieng temperament is associated with the behaviour of the animals they adorably depend on – their cows.  Jiengs are violent, so are their cows.  Cows are mobile and agile animals.  Cows walk, run and in need of being taken to grazing pastures.

In the grazing pasture, cows need to be protected from the animals that prey on them.  Cows are given and received as dowry shares.  Those who own cows are often raided and their cows are taken away and the only way their owners could have them back is the same way they were taken away from them in the first place.  In either venture, people are killed.

Cows are the reasons why Jiengs and Nuers have been fighting for centuries and when they are not fighting, one Jieng sub-tribe fight another Jieng sub-tribe.  How could Jiengs help not to become violent, when their fellow human beings and the animals of prey bent in trying to take what they depend on for survival?

They are always on alert, always vigilant and always ready to go to war with whoever is aggressive towards them, be they humans or animals.  Fighting is their element.  Fighting spirit is within them.  All the time.

When Arab posed a threat, not only to Jiengs, but also to all people of South Sudan and their land, Jiengs jumped into action.  The people who spread their religion by the edge of sword, the Arab Muslims, were confronted by spear-and-shield bearing, Nhialic-worshiping, Jiengs.

According to information provided by SPLA/M veteran who quit the movement in 1995, it shows that Jieng tribe contributed heavily to the Liberation movement.  From 1983 onwards, the SPLA/M did not have any trouble conscripting the war seasoned Jieng young men into the army.  The veteran has this to say:

“A Battalion is formed of 1,000 men and the Division is formed of 10, 000 men.  The first two Battalions were 104 and 105 under the command of Kerubino Kuanyin Bol and William Nyoun Bany.  These battalions were mixed of Dinka and Nuer.  Followed by Jamus Battalion and it was Dinka too and so do Tiger and Timsa were Dinka Bahr El Ghazal and very few from Nuer.

Now come to the Division and the first Division was Koriom and was entirely Dinka Bor and a few from Bahr El Ghazal….  Mour Mour Division was Dinka Bahr El Ghazal….  Kazuk Division was Dinka; Zalzal Division was mix of Dinka and Equatorians.  The Equatorians formed two Batallions, Tingly and Sunun.”

The liberation movement continued to grow after the veteran had left the SPLA and certainly there could had been additional Battalions and Divisions.  The information represents a violent-peaceful people continuum; members of all other tribes fall in the middle.

Jiengs are amazing people.  They, among others, have fought off the formidable enemy that threatened the very existence of all South Sudanese.  Without Jiengs’ cow-centered culture, without Jiengs’ disposition to violence, violence against Arab Muslim aggression, South Sudanese could still have been under the yoke of oppression today.  Moo; Moo; Moo!

My next article will focus on the Equatorian’s peaceful character disposition. You can reach me via my email: Thiik Giir <>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

  1. Samuel Duwar Deng says:

    I would personally agree with author of this article because of the research work involved in the submission. It is true that Jieng’s culture derives from cattle keeping behavior, nevertheless, the culture dose not only ends up being aggressive and violent, but has equally an important and richest part of it. Jieng as social society, have humanly heated culture to the extent of sparring their defeated enemies. In Jieng’s culture, women and children are not killed, they are considered as most vulnerable group in the society, which some other cultures do not have. In Jieng’s culture also, a guest of your house can not get killed by those who would want to revenge killing in your presence, even if the person is from your opposing side. So you can see that also this cow culture has it’s own benefits and shortcomings alike.


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