South Sudan: The Role of Intellectuals as Cream of the Society

Posted: January 15, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Arop Madut-Arop, Columnists, Commentary, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

The Impact of the Culture of an Injury to One, Is an Injury to All

By Hon Arop Madut Arop, Nairobi, Kenya

museveni's quote on leadership

January 15, 2018 (SSB) — As representatives of South Sudanese stakeholders, both in the government and in the opposition are expected to converge in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa; probably in the first week of February, members of international community, on the top the IGAD countries are pestering and lashing on South Sudan leaders to accept the hard fact that the on-going war, which has brought untold hardships and ruins to their country; must be brought to a speedy dead end.

Hopefully, if peace descends in our country, there will be an urgent need for all the peace-loving compatriots in our young republic to rethink and look critically at some of our cultures that might have directly or indirectly been the cause of continuous instability among our people for centuries. This is necessary if we are to stop future wanton killing among our people. But in order to bring about sustainable peace, we must try by all means, it would be important to inform ourselves what the word culture is all about. We will then discuss them as to how we can promote good ones, modernize some and discard those that appear to stand on our way to sustainable peace, the unity of purpose and progress of our people.

Fundamentally, culture is said to be a sum total of accumulative activities of people of a given society. The way they think, they way they interact among themselves, the way they dance, the way they sing, and the way they relate to one another, among others. All these constitute what is called culture. While there are good ones that depict our cultural heritage, that we can be proud of and should be maintained and modernized, there are others that must be eradicated for the peaceful co-existence of members of our society. Prominent among the cultures that have been and still are detrimental for the peaceful co-existence among our people; and which must be discarded immediately, has to do with the time-honored culture of collective fights where an injury to one is an injury all, with the resultant revenge killing and the practice of cattle rustling.

Importantly we must also re-examine some newly acquired detrimental cultures that have recently been acquired by the South Sudanese citizenry. One of those newly acquired cultures by members of our communities has to do with seeking promotion or appointment to government positions by rebelling and when thousands of their innocent citizens are killed, they would be called upon by the establishment; given amnesty and get what they fought for through the barrel of guns, instead of through academic skills.

At this juncture, it will be instructive to answer one vital question and that is, what will be the role of the South Sudanese elites to address such detrimental cultures or at least modernizing them; once, hopefully, peace reigned in our country, for instance? Advisably it should be the primary responsibility of our intellectuals to educate their constituents about the need to stem out bad cultures. Although undeniably, the culture of collective defence for their properties and themselves had, in the past, contributed to the survival of our people, it is high time to discourage them for the benefit of both, South Sudan as a modern state, in general, and the youths who are future leaders of our country, in particular.

General speaking, the first culture that must be discouraged if not stemmed out altogether is that of an uncalled for collective fights; where an injury to one is an injury to all. The culture of collective fights and the resultant revenge killings have been the main causes of instability among the South Sudanese communities since time immemorial. And the former British Prime Minister, Late Sir Winston Spencer Churchill writing in his book ‘’The River War’’ following the defeat of the Mahdist insurgents and the establishment of a joint Anglo-Egyptian administrative rule, had this to say. We found two Sudan: military Sudan (northern Sudan) and the real Sudan (South Sudan).

While we found the people of military Sudan as a hybrid of Afro Arab admixture who have produced people who would cost you a lot to convince them that they are wrong, we found the people of the real Sudan (South Sudan) hunting, dancing, marrying and dying- killing one another. One hundred years on the people of South Sudan are still hunting, dancing marrying many wives and killing one another. Mr Churchill’s statement has long been proven right because most of these practices: collective fights among the South Sudanese nationalities; have been caused or provoked and reinforced by the philosophical culture of, ‘’injury to one is an injuring to all members of certain society’’.

Indisputably, the above-outdated culture of collective fights, have been and still are the major cause of unnecessary loss of many lives among the South Sudanese nationalities. More so, it is still and will continue to be the cause of loss of many innocent lives; particularly among the cattle-owning communities. I am therefore urging my compatriots of all social strata to discuss thoroughly these detrimental cultures in an effort to address them without delay. The continuation of such detrimental and divisive cultures must be squarely blamed on the failure of South Sudanese intellectuals to educate the people they claim to lead in the effort to discuss those divisive cultures.

As the cream of their society, intellectuals of all categories in our young republic should have lived up to their commitments to organize and educate their people. Regrettably, most of South Sudanese intellectuals, instead of acting as the cream of their society, have continued to remain primordial and parochial in their thinking and behavior. Very few of them do try to educate or organize their people who, continue to remain even unaware of the ineptness of the people who claim to be their leaders and whom they could blindly vote into power in the hope that they will turn around and pull them out of ignorance and social backwardness.

As the cream of their society, intellectuals must discuss and devise ways and means which will make their people abandon specifically their time-honored culture of an unprovoked collective where an injury to one, an injury to all members of the society in which the provocateur lives. Because, the consequent of collective fights often ends in revenge killings of thousands of innocent people. Although the collective defense has been a contributing factor when our people successfully fought wars against domination and oppression and subjugation, nonetheless, it is high time to abandon these cultures now that we have a country of our own.

Coming to the object of my writing this article namely, that is how to stem out and avoid unnecessary collective fights and the notorious revenge killings which had bedevilled our people for centuries, the young republic must include a clause in the envisaged permanent constitution to outlaw the culture of an injury to one individual is an injury to the entire community in which he lived. In my humble opinion, the expected clause in the upcoming constitution must clearly stipulate that; the injured individual should by law, to take the person that have injured him to the police who will refer his case to the law court for litigation. This should be the culture which the intellectuals must instill in the minds of the youths all over the country.

Further, the expected clause in our constitution that prohibits collective fights and cattle rustling should also explicitly stipulate that; any person who joins a fight that does not directly affect him must go in jail for a specific long-term- prison sentence. This will mean that civic lessons on divisive cultures of revenge killing and joining a fight that does not directly affect an individual, should be part and parcel in school syllabus in accordance to the permanent constitution. Public education about the need to abandon all the detrimental cultures should, in the main, be the role of South Sudanese intellectuals who claim to be national leaders and who, at the same time, remain primordial and parochial in their thinking and behaviour.

Now that the SPLM ideology of taking towns to villages has successfully been implemented by dividing up our country into a number of states; thereby bringing the government nearer to the people, South Sudanese intellectuals must start without delay to educate themselves of how to be nationalistic first; it will be then that they will, in turn, educate members of their respective communities.

As an educationist, I am aware that, education is a slow process but it is worth an attempt and worth undertaking without further delay for the purpose of making sustainable peace in our country. Notwithstanding the urge to loot cattle or take the side in any unprovoked fight, by the cattle-owning nationalities was the main cause of loss of thousands of innocent lives in the past eight years since the descent of peace on our country in 2005.

It was apparently one of the contributing factors in the December 2013 conflict; because when majority of the Nuer people heard about the deaths of hundreds of their innocent kinsmen, allegedly killed by elements of the Dinka Community in Juba, and without knowing the cause and the extent of the alleged massacre, they joined the war in droves and any Dinka people they came across: both armed or unarmed, became targets of revenge killing. In the process thousands of innocent people died on both sides.

Unless these damaging cultures are stemmed out by no other persons than the intellectuals, any future efforts and attempts to jump start building a united nation called South Sudan, will be like chasing the wind.  Similarly rebuilding the cities that were wilfully vandalized by us; will also be likened to a person forced by circumstances to eat his own vomits; very painful role indeed!

The other shameful culture acquired recently by many South Sudanese individuals, has to do with the nasty culture of rebelling in the hope that they would be recognised and are rewarded with undeserved military ranks. This latest culture of rewarding militias commanders and given them commands, have affected and diluted our once gallant revolutionary army which brought us the freedom and independence of our new republic. Undeniably some of the military officers in our national army have become generals by default.

Importantly, most of South Sudanese rebel militia officers, who have become generals by default, do not have known command structure. They do not even disclose the size of their forces, so to speak. According to military science there are skills to be acquired in the classroom and military ladders to climb before one becomes an army officer, let alone becoming a general. Evidence has it that any civil servants who failed promotion in the public service would just move to nearby bushes and declare that they have formed an army with no known size and military command structure and have become the Commanders In chief.

Future efforts to reorganise and train our national army so as to become professional, which is the apparent desire of all the stakeholders in the HLRF, there is an urgent need for the ministry of defence to put in place pension schemes so that when the guns are silent, former street boys who have become generals by default and the ageing gallant generals must be put in reserve camps to be called Reserve Defence Forces (RDF). The envisage reserve defence camps which must be included in the national army structures must be located in fertile areas of our vast arable land where they can cultivate and produce crops for themselves and their families; in addition to their entitlements as members of the country defence force.

Hon Arop Madut Arop, currently an MP for Abyei at SSLA and an international media consultant, holds a Diploma in Socialist journalism – International Institute of journalism (East Berlin); Advanced Diploma in Liberal Journalism International Institute of Media Studies (West Berlin) and Masters of Arts Degree in International Journalism (City University of London). He is the author of two books: Sudan Painful Road to Peace, a full story of the founding and development of SPLM/SPLA (2006) and The Genesis of political consciousness in South Sudan (2012). He is also the author of a number of unpublished books. He can be reached at

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, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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