There is a need to revisit Dinka-Nuer Peace and Reconciliation in South Sudan

Posted: January 22, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Thon Madol Mathok

By Thon Madol Mathok, Kampala Uganda

Bishop of the ECSS

Members of the Provincial Synod. The Episcopal Church elects Bishop Justin Badi Arama of the Diocese of Maridi to replace Archbishop Dr. Daniel Deng Bul as Primate and Archbishop of South Sudan; All Saints Cathedral, photo by Simon Yak Deng

January 22, 2018 (SSB) — 21th Jan 2018 Dating back to history, Dinka and Nuer were one people (Nilotic group), they shared one thing in common which is pastoralism and characteristics that define pastoralist people such as cattle herding, looking for pastures, water etc. and other commonalities are Dinka-Atuot dialect is the same as that of Nuer language, initiation into adulthood, for instance, Nuer’s forehead mark are virtually alike if not similar in style and lines as of that of Dinka-Agar.

It is on this note that our Dinka Agar ancestors used to tell their grandchildren that Dinka-Agar and Nuer were coming from the same man called “Marol” who gave birth to Nyantoc Marol and Agar Marol, Nyantoc produced Nuer offspring and Agar produced Agar clan of Dinka. Even though it does not hold true in lineage and history when we trace the history but it is a tale used by ancestors to coin up the relationship between each other in order to maintain peaceful coexistence.

So, how did this relationship come to fade away? Why is there no sign of willingness on both sides to restore it? These questions need us to explore the nature of the conflict and a need to do thorough peace reconciliation.

In the 19th century the relationship was affected immediately When the British invaded Sudan, Dinka were the first to succumb to colonial rule, hence some section of Dinka accommodated British as a result some Dinka were influenced by British and began to support British rule, on the other hand, Nuer initially try to resist British, therefore the Dinka treated the resisting Nuer as hostile, and hostility developed between the two-group owing to their differing relationships to the British.

According to Anthropologist peter j. newcomer who researches about Dinka and Nuer suggests that neither the Nuer nor the Dinka are intrusive and that the Nuer are actually the Dinka. He argues that hundreds of years of population growth created expansion, which eventually led to raids and wars.

After post-British life, Dinka and Nuer continued to raid each other cattle to compensate for the cattle each lost during British conquest, they embarked on rampant cattle raiding and rustling. Analogously, what happens in raiding, is like the traditional way of harvesting honey you cannot get away with honey without being stung by bees. As a matter of resistance to protect one’s cattle, each prepared for the anticipation of rustler or raider, hence it turns into a fight.

Things did not stop there; the enmity was mainly traditionally caused by cattle raiding rather than political caused, however, the political caused of conflict developed during the struggle for freedom which emerged as everyone in South Sudan who was affected in one way or another had one enemy in mind that was the Arabs. This was our uniting factor because we shared the common goal of being marginalized by the Arabs.

This provoked rebellion against the Arab government. It unites us together not until Riek Machar who hailed from Nuer differed with John Garang in movement ideology hence Riek broke away and accused Garang of treating the movement as Dinka movement.

Consequently, thousands of Dinka were massacred. This turns already existing enmity between Dinka and Nuer into political dimension. And recent fight in 2013 in which thousands Nuer were massacred, has upgraded enmity to another level, as a result, Dinka and Nuer look at each other with eyes of revenge.

Retrospectively, there has never been a thorough reconciliation between Dinka and Nuer since the time of British. What we saw then was a glimpse of peace in 1999 Wunlit peace accord but lack thorough implementation and sustainability to last long. In 1999 Wunlit peace conference was short-term peace. People who initiated it did not put more effort and time to sensitize vast majority of Jieng and Naath as well as taking steps to do activities that bring people together.

The top priority by then was general peace with Khartoum so for Dinka and Nuer to continue with the feud, the SPLM would not get consensus in negotiating table. For this matter, John Garang and Riek Machar had to come up with Wunlit peace accord for the sake of CPA which would benefit each and every one in Sudan.

Some argument could have it that politicians are responsible to control their supporters, yes! They do and that is why it is good for politicians on both sides not to be held hostage by self-interest rather call out to their supporters for peaceful reconciliation. Traditional leaders can also play their role since the enmity between Dinka and Nuer is not only political but also traditional based problem. The problem now is, what is perceived to continue revenge between Dinka and Nuer.

This long feud had sown root of hatred in both Nuer and Dinka hearts, it is necessary to address and uproot the hatred sow in our heart, forget and thwart both traditional and political causes of Dinka-Nuer disputes and pursue long-lasting peace. While taking into consideration for sustainable peace to hold requires surgical reconciliation starting from grassroots people to the political elites such that Dinka and Nuer leave the past chapter and turn the new chapter, a peace which is embraced by all Jieng and Naath.

Why is this peace necessary though it is because these two comprised somewhat portion of South Sudan population and their long history of fighting each other is depriving other tribes of enjoying their peace, perhaps Ultimate Dinka and Nuer peacefulness may also extend peace to other parts of South Sudan.

The writer, Thon Madol Mathok, is a student pursuing a bachelor degree in accounting and finance from Kampala University. He is the former tax assistant inspector, Western Lakes State. He can be reached via his email:

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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