The exigency of an indigenous middle-class caste for state building in South Sudan

Posted: January 27, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Peter Wal Athiu, Philosophy

The Exigency of an indigenous, detribalized, middle-class cates for nation- and state-building in South Sudan

By Hon. Peter Wal Athiu Madol, Kampala, Uganda

Gen. Wal AThieu posted with Defence minister and other generals during the launching of second phase construction of Bor-Juba road 29th January 2015 Picture by Mach Samuel

Gen. Wal Athieu posted with Defence minister and other generals during the launching of second phase construction of Bor-Juba road 29th January 2015 Picture by Mach Samuel

January 27, 2018 (SSB) — The people of South Sudan have been embroiled in a deadly civil war since December 2013, barely two and half years after the independence in July 2011. Thus, war has crippled the young nation in all aspect of lives, being politically, economically and socially. And we, the former liberators and the current ruling elites, are caught in a moral dilemma for what we have to say to our beloved people of South Sudan. We have failed ourselves and we have failed our own people – for the aspirations of the liberation struggle and the promises of our independence have come to nought.

Today, South Sudan is in the deepest sense of the words, in hope and despair. “Everything seems equally meaningless, equally hopeless.” The horror of war is eroding the noble traits of its people. The excessive mental suffering, just as excessive physical suffering. Alas, the people are only there on sufferance, because it is the land of their forefathers. It is shameful to be indifferent towards another simply because of racial or tribal distinctions. Each wants to wipe out other, from the face of the earth, and each is at another throat. We need full development of our sentimental attitudes, instead of persistent antagonisms.

Yet, it is no secret that the conditions necessary for the inevitable state failure in South Sudan were evidently present on the eve of independence in 2011. The spirit of the new era was negated like a closed book, not read up to date in order to know or understand what mission the SPLM has to fulfil after the independence.

In his 2011 book, “South Sudan: The State We Aspire”, South Sudanese author, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, bluntly reminds us that “SPLM leaders can boast of having secured the exercise of the right to self-determination. But self-determination is not an end in itself. It is one step toward liberation and attainment of social justice, equality, democracy and progress. These are the values for which millions sacrificed their lives.”

In September 2017, Dr. Lam Akol wrote on Sudan Tribune that “The youngest country in the world, South Sudan, was born amid great expectations and hopes for future. The hope was based on the fact that the country is endowed with human and natural resources, very few African countries if any had at independence.”

These statements from Dr. Adwok Nyaba and Dr. Lam Akol worth reading twice for those who do not seem to know or care to know, what has happened and continue taking place in our country. The tribalism and corruption have polluted the minds and conscience of our people setting the country into a relentless self-destruction trajectory.

It is only the narrow-minded and short-sighted people of our country who are unable to see the unfolding bleeding of our nation, the “war of all against all”. What is happening is an abomination that is not appealing to the intellect, hearts and conscience of patriots.

To my fellow SPLM party members, let us remind ourselves that the liberation of the nation is one thing and the national existence is another. Nations exist through national consensus and nation-building and not otherwise. Today, our nation and SPLM rank-and-file are calling and looking upon us to rid ourselves of this silence and passivity in order to regain political maturity and national consciousness.

Our collective struggle for South Sudan presupposes collective responsibility to safeguard this beautiful country of the energetic people. More importantly, we must remind ourselves that leadership is a mandate from the people, not an honour to sleep on. This nation of South Sudan came into existence on July 9th, 2011. Nonetheless, it has failed to live up to the expectations of our liberation struggle – an armed revolutionary struggle that took over two million lives of our people.

First and foremost, I think we need to properly understand the differences between the ‘nationhood’ and the ‘statehood’. Both are featuring in the modern state. The nationhood of a nation-state, on the one hand, is a subjective approach where the inhabitants of a certain country consider themselves as unique and homogeneous people from one ancestor such as Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Shilluk, Zande – you name them – in our South Sudanese context. On the other hand, Statehood in nutshell is an objective approach to the modern state where heterogeneity is given a due consideration and where inhabitants are considered as citizens with equal citizenship and shared state dividends.

Our problem today in South Sudan is our inability to understand the emphasis of the modern state and the statehood itself. Therefore, to rectify this existential problem, we must cultivate an indigenous, detribalized middle-class caste for the nation- and state-building in South Sudan. Our nation needs a disciplined and dedicated middle-class caste so as to usher the country into a meaningful path of development that is universally applicable. This is to say that the country ruling elites must restart with the emphasis on good governance which we have negated in the first place during the institution of the Government of Southern Sudan-GOSS in 2005.

Good governance means the art of state engineering and nation-building. Thus, it requires the necessary presence of middle-class caste to foster the development and transformation of society.  According to Adwok Nyaba (2011), “The emergence of an indigenous middle-class which transcended ethnic and regional loyalties is the only hope for the emergence of a modern state in South Sudan, a middle class that is productive enough to usher South Sudan into industrial era”.

Middle class as mentioned above is an indispensable caste for the progress of a given country in the history. It is incumbent upon our political leadership to reorganize the state institutions, where the well-trained workforce can turn into a middle- class caste capable of carrying out state functions, especially in the areas of social economic development, rule of law and social justice.

This, in turn, will cut down the current regional and tribal negativities which have bedevilled our national unity, and harmony amongst our people. We have lost momentum since 2013 and our country has come to standstill, if not regression. Let us not waste time, by swaying between peace and war, if we wish to live up to our people expectations.

Secondly, for an indigenous middle-class caste to emerge and thrive, South Sudan needs to nurture and raise the standard of national conscious, nationalism and patriotism, of our people. “In politics, you won’t change human beings if you forget to raise the standard of consciousness of the rank-and-file. Neither stubborn courage nor fine slogans are enough, by exploiting the ignorance and incomprehension of the multitudes,” writes the African revolutionary freedom fighter, Frantz Fanon, in his book “The Wretched of the Earth“.

Therefore, to live up to the spirit of Frantz Fanon’s words, we must instil in the minds and hearts of our people the essence of nationalism and patriotism. The duo is political terms, related to each other, but not the same to that effect. Nationalism is purely a political and ideological thinking and behavior. It can reach the frenzy situation of egoism and pretension by some ultra-nationalist, to the victimization of the others in the name of ill-conceived nationalism.

Patriotism is the other political behavior, but, patriots are more judicious within the rims of legal frameworks of the nation, and where people abide by the laws and constitution of the land. Patriots are nationalist in their own right, without any unnecessary pretension. As Dr. John Garang used to remind us, in eternal and precious remembrance of our fallen comrades and heroes of the SPLM/SPLA war of liberation, “For my country and my people”, used to be and still is a political Solomon Oath, as a matter of duty and conscience to our liberation struggle and our beloved people of South Sudan, no matter the cost, then and now.

Our country is at the parting of the ways. If people do not know what is a safe road to lead them to a good destiny that will be another story. The nation is doomed “When liberators become kleptocrats” as Hilde Johnson reminds us in her 2016 book, “South Sudan: The Untold Story from Independence to the Civil War“. Under the present circumstances, it seems to me that South Sudan has run out of political leaders and we will soon be considered as acephalous nation or society.

We should not make South Sudan to be a curse to ourselves, our children, and to the region. Let us lessened possibilities for war, and increased possibilities for peace. This is what we are expected to do at present. Using any other standards would be unthinkable and unabashed. We have to condemn war inciters, who are calling “give war a chance.” We need peace – “The duration of law; the absence of violence without detriment to social and political relations.”

Throughout history, war has never been beneficial to mankind. My dear South Sudanese people and comrades within the SPLM/SPLA leadership, we are members one of another, in our beloved country. Let us build our country, which shall be as great morally, as it is materially. Because, no nation is better morally than the moral quality of its citizens. Remember that, we are one in origin, in fortune, and in destiny.

While we are contemplating how to bring peace to our country, we should bear in our minds that, everybody must criticize and judge himself or herself instead of criticizing and judging others. Criticism of oneself politically is a sign of national reconciliation instead of national hate. Let us extend to one another a brotherly hand and promise that, whatever happens, we shall not fight each other and wars will be out of place in South Sudan.

Today the desire for peace is in the ascendancy and no more honour, prestige and glory in this current civil war. We should be listening to our conscience and patriotism that is telling us to stop this ugly war immediately and give our country another chance for proper statecraft and stat building in the wake of the expecting peace, through President Salva Kiir’s National Dialogue and the IGAD-led High-Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where everybody will have a say in the peace process. “War can never be justified unless as a last resort for the very existence of a nation.”

The author, Peter Wal Athiu Madol, studied policing and law and is a former SPLM/SPLA Commander, a former Undersecretary at the National Government in Juba, a former state minister and the former Deputy Governor of Jonglei state under Governor Philip Aguer Panyang. He is currently a member of parliament at the Jonglei state assembly. You can reach him 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.

  1. Ayii Duang Arop says:

    Good piece there Cdr. Waldit (aka Majongkhor). Keep it up. You only need to cite your sources correctly. For example, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin did not say this statement:

    “The youngest country in the world, South Sudan, was born amid great expectations and hopes for future. The hope was based on the fact that the country is endowed with human and natural resources, very few African countries if any had at independence.”

    It is Dr. Jeremy Astill-Brown who said it in 2014 in the Journal of International Affairs –Chattam House. Ever since it has been perused by South Sudanese authors. Astill-Brown is the originator.




  2. Peter Athiu says:

    Thank you brother Ayii for your information but the subject matter remains the same. South Sudan is an endowed country in terms of human and natural resources if they are managed judiciously.


  3. Comrade Ayii Duang Arop,

    Here is a link to the Sudan Tribune article by Lam Akol quoted by Hon. Peter Athiu. Thanks.

    “Why a technocratic transitional government in South Sudan?”


    • Ayii Duang Arop says:

      Thanks Panluelwel. With due respect, Dr. Lam Akol has this tendency of using other people’s work without acknowledging them. It is the first time for him to do it. The originator of that quote is Jeremy Astill-Brown. Read his article and examine the two texts very closely… You will catch the plagiarizer.



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