The intractability of rectifying familiar errors and mistakes in South Sudan

Posted: June 9, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Kuol Alberto Makuach, Juba, South Sudan

opinion matters

June 9, 2017 (SSB) — Killer diseases like Tuberculosis, Malaria among others in the 16th or 17th century did not stop killing people by themselves. It took great minds effort and time to use their creative thinking to overhaul these deadly maladies. They followed creative thinking principles which among other things require unorthodox view of issues.

Distance land like Southern Africa, America and China used to be travelled for months leading to years from Europe and because of man’s ingenuity, it became possible to get to these locations in a matter of hours or few days. What I am trying to put across here is that, things can be changed. Whatever that was started on a wrong foot, can still be corrected.

Dinka is not the name of my ethnic group or the people that inhabit Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile. It is an outsider’s given name. Why was changed? Is it possible to rename a proper noun? My own mother does not know this and it got to be changed by us not them who created it. How? In your writings, informal or formal speeches, you should make those other people understand and learn to accept who you are. Goteam Jieeng or Muonyjang.

The discouraging thing about our people is the conservative nature of majority where some would immediately point to the fact that, it has been used over time and changing it now would be cumbersome. An example is the case of Southern Sudan which was a region within Sudan and when it gained her independence, even the most senior and prominent leaders who advocated for the separation of this country, still call it southern Sudan instead of South Sudan.

Some would feel ashamed to call themselves Jieeng or Muonyjang to other Jur (Non-Jieeng). This is what they would use to bitterly oppose the quest for getting back to our roots. We must claim this or else, we are lost. There is no tribe in South Sudan called Dinka. If others are comfortable with this name I am not. Is it an English name for Jiieng like cow for weng?

Aweil is another distorted name of a word which is a proper noun in Thuongjang. As a proper noun it is believed to refer to a certain kraal where different clans conglomerated at many years ago somewhere in the present Awil State which later came to be known as Awil. Some claimed that, that Kraal was named after a man called Ayuel who had slaughtered a bull name Mading. This is not substantiated anywhere. We must therefore go with the first story.

The correct spelling which rhymes with the way it is pronounced is Awil. Thus we shall have Awil State and Awil East State (for the former Awil East County). Sticking to this will make it sound good to the ears.

Gogrial is not the proper spelling for the name of Gogrial state, but rather Gagrial, the way a common person would pronounce it in that location. The veracity of this could be found from the true owners of this land and not the corrupted fellows.

Tonj, the great land with funny names like Kalkuel, Genanyuon, Jurkatach, Genngeu should not be written the way whoever corrupted it did, instead a typical Jieeng would write Tony just as I did. As there are many cases, this work does not pretend to bring forth all these, but the few enumerated above should help to guide one to think deeper and come up with solutions to some misspelt, miss-named etc.

We must therefore choose between spelling and pronunciation. It is English (and other languages that I don’t know) which ironically spell(s) some words differently from the way they are pronounced. We do not have that in Thuongjang. Every letter counts. So, why must we accept to be conditioned to write our words in White men’s way?

Finally, the spelling of our names in some cases is contrary to their pronunciation. This could be attributed to the lack of some letters in Latin Alphabets which we use when writing our language. Thuongjang has been developed, thanks to our people who worked so hard to make it grow. I believe more needs to be done.

From today henceforth, check the way you have been writing your name and confirm that it is in the correct way you pronounce it and if different, kindly correct it and stick to the right way. You must be the change you want to see in the world as said by Mahatma Gadhi.

As the heading clearly challenges us, it is up to the present generations to decide whether to correct these things now or history will judge us for failing to intervene in these issues when we should. Change is inevitable. It must happen. But what are those things that change by themselves? Human beings do not live forever, plants grow and die, stars die and galaxies disappear. Big Bang theory has it that, one of the stars must die for other planets to be formed.

It is in this same vein that, some of these words and names would one day disappear just as the original names have faded away. However, to speed up the change we envisage, we must act now. Remember, a chicken takes few years before it dies but you can’t wait for its own natural death in order to serve it to your important visitor.

You can reach the author via his email: Kuol K. Alberto <>

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 from.

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