A THIN LINE BETWEEN “TRIBES” AND THE “STATE”

Posted: February 15, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in KON Joseph Leek, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

This article is about how tribe is submerging the State, how we are more loyal to our nations that our State, how we use the tribal tickets to be crowned ministers or generals and later fence ourselves with our tribes to save the State

By Kon Joseph Leek, Juba, South Sudan

The current state of RSS

February 15, 2017 (SSB) — The word tribe is by itself unique, it shows us our identity and origin when pronounced, it shows us our roots. Group of people often of related families who live together sharing the same language, culture and history is its definition according to Cambridge Dictionary. The word TRIBE becomes too witch-hunting when it become tribalism (having very strong feeling of loyalty to your tribe) especially when used at the expense of the STATE

Still, there is no problem with tribalism on the context of existence as tribes alone and on the scenario where there is no STATE. When you put the interest of your tribe above the State at the expense of many other tribes that makes up the State is what is bad especially when taking advantage of the government position to exploit others

Note that there is no dividing line between the word Tribe and the Nation for they carry less tangible phenomenon than a State. A Nation just like Tribe of course includes tangible people but what create a Nation are less tangible elements. A State is an institution, it’s territorially defined political unit that exercise ultimate authority and that recognize no legitimate external authority over it (John T. Rourke, 1995).

In Africa, many Nations were coalesced into States and for that, South Sudan is a Country or State with many Nations – probably 64, in many European countries, only Nations were turned into states. When the Southerners fought against the Khartoum regime, it was a collective contribution from its Southern nationalities where other nationalities were used as proxy against other more determined nationalities to frustrate their struggle.

Today, South Sudan is a State with its many nationalities including those ones who were used against its struggle – this is it; a ground that is cleared can be used as resting place by even those who did not help in clearing, a house built can still accommodate and cover the others from rain and the sun. Some of our leaders today were used to fight a proxy war against their own brothers in the name of militias, most of whom are generals and politicians, no wonder; a State is born for us all!

Now, what is interesting is the misuse and the mixing of the two; Tribe and the State. Those who have been and still are causing havoc in South Sudan, I mean the warlords are doing so in the name of tribal mobilization. If a person is not satisfied as an individual in the government or army, he goes out to mobilize his tribesmen against the State to satisfy his own agenda. We have seen this with Late Galuak Gai, Late Tanginya, Johnson Oliny, David Yauyau, Martin Kenyi and Dr. Riek among others.

 No wonder, as for the warlords of whom I have named some of them above, those that got fame and position through tribal fencing, can be a surprise for them to easily and hurriedly denounce it whole heartedly when they just got smuggled into the system using that ticket.

Tribe has been accepted at one point as a friend, rejected as an enemy at another and finally smuggled in through the backdoor as an accomplice to fulfill the agenda. Our leaders denounce tribalism in the daylight and save it to massage their tribal interest in the night. The reason behind this is that we entrust our tribal affiliates (members) to hold the public (state) positions to satisfy our tribal interest as we encircle him as a fence. We look at the public (state) position at the national or tribal lenses (context). We can’t save the State agenda with the tribal interest. Never at all!

Tribalism has been used as a final blow to accomplice a state’s need and we expect to shine! Hell No! With the above explanation, once understanding is utterly defeated to identify the dividing-line between TRIBE and the STATE. We can’t satisfy the State at the angle of a Tribe; rather we can satisfy the State at the angle of understanding the diversity of its nationalities

Just like somebody else, I personally became a member of my current tribe simply because someone in the past, one of my fraternal genealogical great grandfathers decided to. My current village whether it’s Kangapo, Nyaken, Abiriu, lui or Baidit became my last-village because somebody many years ago came and settled here, that alone has granted me an unlimited automatic citizenship of the area.

For the grand reason that we became members of these tribes through migration and resettlement or that our forefathers migrated here then what is utterly wrong for not keeping that flexibility of our grandfathers which helped them to buoyantly blend with others? Can’t we also blend with other diversities just like our ancient dead guys?

The word tribe is not complete to itself, it is not eternal, it is not born as a child neither is it born with or in us. Tribe is not what you come out with in the womb, neither is it that too specific and definite that once you are a Kachipo or Lokoyo you would always be that!

Tribe is an external pride that is possessed through training and learning, tribe is a lesson – it is taught and learned, it is what we are told to grow up with by our external directors and actors to become like them. They (external actors) act as our supervisors and guidance to smoothly grow into a true man or woman of the said tribe.

Tribe is in the culture and the language; tribe is made complete by the possession of a language and culture. A language act as facilitator of culture, it is hard to separate the culture from the language because culture grows and matures within the language and this is why up to today, a child who speaks more of a language he/she grows up in becomes more of the people of whom he/she speaks their language.

For this matter, a child abducted for instance by the Murle at the tender age from Patuenoi, Bangashorot, Puongborong, Panyanbil or Muot’tot grows up a Murle. He/she grows up knowing only them because they are confined where they would neither see nor hear somebody else but Murle in order not to confuse the toddler’s sense of cognition.

The child would only be allowed to see and hear the usefulness of the new environment by speaking the sole language of those people and imitating their cultures. A child would eventually grow slowly in to a complete Murle!

A child just like any other normal being would of course develop love of what he/she knows and what a person knows is what he/she sees or hears daily! Ultimately, a child would slowly start forgetting as he/she is trying to adjust self to a new system thus becoming a member of a new found environment.

Many children have been retrieved at adult age by their blood parents from the Murles but they could still goes back to Lilkuangule or Gumuruk (where they grew up from) because they are only known to the ways of life of where they grew up from.

And in most cases as far as adoption is concern, the grown-up abducted children upon hearing their kinsmen going for an invasion where they would possibly go and kill, abduct and raid cattle, those children would eventually join them as it becomes a life and probably a culture of their new found environment where they would of course have more chances of either killing, abducting or raiding!

And the people of whom they are doing these to them are their blood people. They may know it but the culture of which they grew up tells them that “let’s do it” and they have a right to do it because it is a cultural obligation to do so.

Why? Because he sees himself a member of the invading tribe and you as a traditional nemesis because he grew up being told that he is a Murle and thus learned a language which hitherto helps him to integrate to that society through the culture and later marries and his children and their children’s children down to the umpteenth generation would henceforth be of that tribe to the infinitum!

From wherever you call yourself a proud member of certain tribe if tribe is something to be swollen with pride of, who knows maybe your grandfather was an immigrant to that land/tribe? Who knows if your grandfather was abducted just like a child(ren) above? Who knows if your grandfather was a bustard? Who knows if your grandfather was adopted? Who knows!

We have many Dinkas and Shiluks who are presently Nuer and so are Nuer who are either Dinkas or Shiluks but have not been chased away, maybe your story is akin to that! We have Dinkas who are presently of different clan, we have South Sudanese who are Ethiopians, Ugandans, Kenyans and Sudanese and they have not been chased, maybe your story is akin to that as well!

Reality of all is that we are not tribes because we are born so; we are simply tribes because we are told by our parents and other environmental elements around us. For instance, how did you know that you were a Dinka? Isn’t it that because you were told by your father? How about your father, how did he know that he was a Nyepo?

Because his father (your grandfather) told him so isn’t it? Down to your great grandfathers! And if you become kin enough maybe one of your great grandfathers was a Nyangbara but decided to work in Maridi where he married a Baka and stayed there until today that his offspring are Baka!

Therefore, being a member of a certain tribe is as flexible as a language itself. It keeps changing with environment and situation. Where are the Luos, Aluris, Acholis, Langos, Japadholas and the Kakuos who were once upon a time South Sudanese? Where are they now? Kenya and Uganda isn’t it? Before you became South Sudanese who knows maybe you were blown to South Sudan by whatever magic that flew the Luos, Acholis etcetera to Uganda and Kenya?

So, we need to be inclusively careful with our behaviors which seem to provoke or irritate others, migration hasn’t stopped yet or else you are rejected next time you would want to change your tribe.

Subsequently, we don’t need TRIBE to be the cause of our problems otherwise you may not belong to that tribe you claim to be. Let TRIBES be our source of strength and integration, source of cultural identity and diversity but should you make it as a font of conflict and disintegration then you will belong to different tribe tomorrow.

Historians could only tell us of the tribes which once existed but existing no more now. They do not exist not because they have no seeds left but that they migrated, others got integrated and fully dissolved in to other existing tribes.

In the nut shell, all we need is LOVE. Where there is love there is peace and harmony, there is development and growth, there is life. Love’s what made our grandfathers allowed to be accepted in our current tribes, love is what helps us coexist as people, love is what make us accept ourselves and love is what bring peace.

Tribe is just an identity, it is our address. Should we misuse it, should we make it as cause of our problems then we will end up without a State but only pieces of lands curved out in tribal distinction to torment ourselves

Reach the commentator on j.onleek@gmail.com

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 paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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