Let us avoid asking questions of tribal identities in South Sudan

Posted: March 30, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in David Matiop Gai, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By David Matiop Gai, Juba, South Sudan

hate speech

March 30, 2017 (SSB) — Peaceful co-existence is not just a work of short-term period or a dialogue of few months as South Sudan intended to address her huge and chronic challenges. National dialogue must proceed ahead for three – four years and if we see our positive steps toward peaceful co-existence, we must also stick to protect and secure peace for sustainable development in our new nation.

There is no hurry in issues of national dialogue, and national identity because things will begin to happen slowly until full time where we have to recognize what we have done and achieved in national dialogue and peace implementation in the country. There are small dangerous things we used to do and later on we ignore them as simple things but they are very harmful to our unity and co-existence as South Sudanese. It is better to avoid them instead.

I have putted it several times in my writings that these questions of asking tribal identities are common in South Sudan wherever you go. Which tribe are you? Where do you come from? Are you Jienge, another indirect insult of Dinka or meaning are you Dinka? Are you Bhari? Are you Maddi? Are you Zande? Where do you belong? And if somebody says, I am a South Sudanese; it is like an insult, because people will not be satisfied with your answer.  These are chronic ideologies and concepts build on barriers of poor communication among South Sudanese. They have no important in our social contacts. What are important are not tribes and the questions we ask, what is important is human being and his/her life.

I tell you it is a cancer on the throats and sick thinking of us making South Sudan downfall on tribal identities but I heard it was not existed before and even I experienced it during the movement; we used to call ourselves “comrades or, friends” brother and sisters during the struggle. Tribes have no room in the bush, and any person from any region or tribe in South Sudan was your brother or sister, and that was the nice language we adapted during the war, and I believe we overcame the war because that unity among ourselves strengthen us.

The ethnic groups in conflict cover over to differentiation from other with colour, race, language, and religious while others cover themselves with tribes, races, and nationalities. This is a dangerous choice because the concepts are basing on ethnic identities such as ethnic diversities of six four (64) tribes in South Sudan, ethnic voting during election, ethnic riots during violent, ethnic parties such as case of South Sudan political parties, and matters of ethnic violence connected to distortion for democratic stability, institutional growth, economic growth, public and individuals well-beings in the country.

Apostle Paul said in the book of 1Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” In this Biblical perspectives, “money “itself is not the problem but “love” of money is biggest problem and cause of all kinds of evil because it enshrined some people with many griefs. Therefore, tribal or ethnic identity in South Sudan is not a problem but love of tribal identity and exercise of ethnic powers is a biggest problem of our day, because ethnic identity attributes to determines eligibility for membership in each community or society and that is a quality of individuals in certain category of community and that are required genetically such as skin colour, gender, hair style, eye style, height, and physical appearance of a person, or cultural and historical family background such as names, languages, place of birth, origin of parents and ancestors in the communities.

I have seen all these attributes had negative impacts on us South Sudanese because our diversities are source of our strength and enough ability to enrich country national cultures but the problem is how we rated others as less human, or abuse their culture; simply human being is evil, and Jesus Christ said in Matthew 15:19 that, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”. Out of man mouth all these evil things flow from within him, but qualified attributes for membership in community are strictly owned by person to language, race, religion, tribe, clan, place of birth, parents, ancestors, and nationality but sections constitute country’s population, and this makes tribes important of country membership than individuals because we are African people who believe in society, not individualism.

In other hand, I think we have identified danger of ethnic or tribal identity in the country.  I would like the decision-makers, and government institutions that are parts of national dialogue in South Sudan to address these challenges of tribal identity with non-ethnic identities. What does it mean? Its means from three- four years on now, national dialogue should take long- term plans to iron out issues of differences, and tackle tribal identities to non-ethnic identities.  I mean, South Sudanese should learn how to shown behaviours of love from culture of violence to a national dialogue of civilizations, but not non-ethnic identities alone; they  should deal with pan-ethnicity, feminism, race, ethnic conflict, and battlefields of tribal identity of regional discrimination.

I suggest that multiculturalism is a way South Sudan becomes culturally competent, and this should help individual like you and me with the ability to understand cultures of others and with their work from different backgrounds. In my opinion, I want us to become committed to learn about others, and to respect values differences in others. This is to do with the followings ideologies:

(1). Let South Sudan agrees on one common identity like “South Sudanese” their national affairs, and individual affairs, (2). Rules of law and punishment against tribalists, (3). Let you and your children know and learn the beliefs and attitudes about race and ethnicity, and why it is important in the country like South Sudan? (4). Learn more about other cultures and people. (5). Talk at home with your wife and children about race and cultures of others. (6). Be peace maker through various concepts of interpersonal, transcultural, and multicultural. (7). Culture: a). every culture or system has unique, integrity, respect, beliefs, and logic; b). No culture is better or worse than other; c). all persons are to certain extent culturally bound, and that is identity. (8). Shares unique of community interest, feeling, and actions. (9). Public policy of anti-ethnic ideologies, and concepts. And finally, (10). Terminology refers to south Sudanese on social and political attitudes on dealing with hardship of tribal identity. God bless South Sudan.

The author is a co-founder of South Sudan Mental Health care Organization, (SSMHCO). He holds Bachelor degree in Social Work and Social Administration from SSCUST, Bachelor of Theology from CLT, Bungoma, Kenya/Kalispell, USA, and a fellow researcher. He can be reach at david.matiopgai@gmail.com.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is 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 and the country you are writing from.

  1. Eastern says:

    Even without asking questions about our tribal identities, some tribes in South Sudan, I will not mention, go about displaying to all those that care through their foreheads, cheeks, missing teeth, etc. that they are from tribes X, Y and Z!

    Do we need to spill blood and endure some pains just to initiate us into a tribe? Is all that freaking pain worth it? Just asking…


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