The Principles of Tribocracy (Part 8)

Posted: February 9, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, PaanLuel Wël, Philosophy

Debunking the Myth of the 64 Tribes of South Sudan

The purpose of this article is to debunk the prevalent myth of the so-called 64 tribes of South Sudan, by arguing that there is no coherent and sound basis for how the original architects of the “64 tribes” could have logically arrived at number “64” with respect to the definition of the word tribe. Instead, the article proposes 10 nationalities, with 131 tribes, of the Republic of South Sudan. Nonetheless, the conclusion of the article is that neither the nationalities nor the tribes per se truly reflects and presents the political reality of the country – hence, the imperativeness of tribocracy.

By PaanLuel Wël, Bor, South Sudan

RSS coat of ARMS

South Sudan’s coat of arms, in which the eagle symbolizes vision, strength, resilience and majesty, and the shield and spear the people’s resolve to protect the sovereignty of their republic and work hard to feed it.

February 9, 2018 (SSB) — South Sudan, like much of Sub-Saharan Africa, is a tribal nation. Government is formed and run along tribal lines; war and rebellion are declared and fought along tribal lines; corruption and nepotism are initiated and perpetuated along tribal lines; employment and scholarship opportunities are offered and obtained along tribal lines; job and army promotions are done along tribal lines. Marriages and social events are conducted along tribal lines. More often than not, everything is done and run along tribal lines in South Sudan. Therefore, tribalism is the modus operandi and the basic organizing unit of the South Sudanese society is the tribe. If so, then which are the tribes of South Sudan? By conventional wisdom, there are 64 tribes in the Republic of South Sudan. In this article, this conventional wisdom will be referred to as the 64-tribe paradigm.

According to Gurtong Trust – Peace and Media Project, these 64 tribes are: the Dinka, the Nuer, the Zande, the Bari, the Kakwa, the Kuku, the Mundari, the Nyangwara, the Pojullu, the Acholi, the Shilluk (Chollo), the Anyuak (Anyuaa), the Balanda-Boor, the Balanda-Bviri, the Bongo, the Jurchol (Luo), the Maban, the Jur Man-Ang’eer, the Pari, the Shatt (Thuri), the Adio (Makaraka), the Lotuka (Otuho), the Dongotona, the Ifoto, the Imatong, the Lango, the Logir, the Lokoya, the Lopit, the Avukaya, the Baka, the Jur (Beli & Modo), the Keliku, the Lugbwara, the Lulubo, the Madi, the Moro, the Moro Kodo, the Mundu, the Uduk, the Didinga, the Larim (Boya), the Murle, the Tenet, the Suri (Kachipo), the Aja, the Bai, the Banda, the Binga, the Feroghe, the Gollo, the Indri, the Kara, the Mangayat, the Ndogo, the Ngulngule, the Sere, the Woro, the Yulu, the Toposa, the Jiye (Jie), the Nyangatom, and the Tid.

While many South Sudanese intellectuals and foreign observers have consistently lauded the dazzling beauty of “unity in diversity” presented by the 64 tribes, few have bothered themselves to inquire into the genesis of these 64 tribes. More so, there has been little debate on the methodology and framework used to probe into and arrive at the 64 tribes. How, for example, was it possible that some ethnic groups such as the Bari speakers, with similar language, common descent, culture and history, have been divided up into various tribes while others such as the Dinka and Nuer speakers, with similar language, common descent, culture and history, have been lumped together as one tribe respectively?

Under the 64-tribe paradigm, what justification would sufficiently explain the classification of Bari speakers into separate tribes while lumping together the Dinka or Nuer speakers into one tribe? Is it based on cultural heritage? Linguistics and traditions? Historical myths? Common ancestries? Religious observances? Socioeconomic practices? Geographical clustering? Physical appearances? This is not an idle musing, not least because, in the ongoing concurrent processes of the National Dialogue and the High-Level Revitalization Forum of the 2016 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), several proposals have been made and advanced by some stakeholders and warring parties to share power and wealth on the basis of the 64 tribes.

This article will argue that the 64-tribe paradigm appears to have been based on an arbitrary and capricious grounds, and therefore requires an urgent refurbishment to reflect the prevailing reality in the Republic of South Sudan. Hence, in order to ascertain or repudiate the validity of the 64-tribe paradigm, it is necessary to delve not only into the origin of the 64 tribes but also the definition of the word tribe. In order words, the people of South Sudan should know the original architects of the 64-tribe paradigm and how they defined the word “tribe” to arrive at the conclusion that there are 64 tribes in South Sudan. Secondly, it is essential to establish the coherence and accuracy of the 64-tribe paradigm if it has to be used as a benchmark for sharing power and wealth in South Sudan. Inevitably, some of these inquiries might entail speculating into the impetus behind the arbitrary and subjective postulations by the original architects that birthed the ubiquitous 64 tribes of South Sudan.

First and foremost, what is a tribe or an ethnic group? While there are various competing definitions, the Oxford English dictionary defines a tribe or an ethnic group as “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.” The Cambridge English dictionary describes tribe or ethnic community as “a group of people, often of related families, who live together, sharing the same language, culture, and history.” Meanwhile, the online Wikipedia website states that “Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art, and physical appearance.”

Presumably, the original architects of the 64 tribes were researching, writing and conducting their conferences and seminars in English. Therefore, it is conceivable that they might have based their definition of the word tribe or ethnic group on one or more of the above definitions, one way or the either.

Secondly, the origin of the 64-tribe paradigm is closely linked to the concept of the House of Nationalities (HoN), a precursor to the theory of tribocracy, which was conceived and advanced by South Sudanese scholars such as Prof. Barry Ngagara Wanji, and Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba. While Prof. Barry Wanji had previously conceived of and argued for the establishment of a forum, “where all the nationalities found in South Sudan could meet on a regular basis in order to discuss their problems,” it was only in November 2000, during a historical three-day seminar at the Aberdare Country Club, Central Kenya, that the idea of the House of Nationalities was formally discussed and fully developed. The three day seminar – chaired by Dr. Willy Mutunga, who later became the Chief Justice of Kenya, and moderated by the late South Sudanese lawyer, Dr. Peter Nyot Kok – was attended by select representatives from various ethnic groups and members of the South Sudanese civil society organizations, comprising of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), the South Sudan Law Society (SSLS), the Horn of Africa Centre for Democracy Development (HACDAD), and the Centre for Documentation and Advocacy (CDA).

Dubbed as an exclusive “space for preserving the unity and the diversity of South Sudan” by the pioneers, the “aim of the House of Nationalities is to protect the identity of all ethnic communities by promoting respect for different cultures and languages.” Once formally deliberated and embraced as “an inclusive political system, based on democratic institutions, for a just, fair and effective governance for all the peoples of South Sudan,” the idea of the House of Nationalities was later given its intellectual underpinnings by two South Sudanese veteran journalists and public intellectuals: Jacob Jiel Akol, with his March 2003 article, The Burden of Nationality, published by Gurtong Trust – Peace and Media Project, and Atem Yaak Atem with his September 2003 article, Why Chiefs are Still Relevant, published by the defunct Sudan Mirror. “The necessity for an inclusive political system,” writes Jacob Jiel Akol in March 2003, have compelled the people of South Sudan to “embark on a radical path that they hope will place ethnicity in the centre of governance for their region” with “The desired outcome of … a democratic and humane South Sudan, governed now and in the future with fairness and justice for all of its ethnic communities, large and small.”

To the advocates of the House of Nationalities, the ultimate goal was to propose and establish an Upper House of the legislature, both at the national as well as at the regional levels, in the post-CPA South Sudan with representatives from all tribes of South Sudan. However, by that point in time, no one knew the exact number of South Sudanese ethnic communities. Thus, it fell upon the shoulders of the original architects of the House of Nationalities to look into and come up with a specific number of tribes inhabiting South Sudan so as to determine the precise number of the MPs in the proposed House of Nationalities. That is the genesis of the 64 tribes of South Sudan, the names of which are mentioned above. Thus, the original architects of the 64-tribe paradigm who came up with the 64 tribes of South Sudan are the late Prof. Barry Wanji and Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba.

Having defined the word tribe and unmasked the architects of the 64 tribes, it is now necessary and appropriate to demonstrate how the definitions of the tribe do not support the assertion that there are 64 tribes in South Sudan as champion by the original architects of the 64-tribe paradigm. As already stated, a tribe or an ethnic community is, by and large, a group of people with common or similar language, culture, ancestry, origin myth, homeland, history, religion, mythology and ritual.

Based on this definition, it is not evidently clear how one would divide the ethnic communities of South Sudan into 64 tribes. This is precisely because language, culture, common descent and history, for example, are shared commonalities among the speakers of Dinka, Nuer and Zande as they are to the speakers of Bari, Luo, Lotuka and Taposa. While most people might be quite familiar with the ethnic communities that constitute Dinka, Nuer and Zande speakers, most might not be so conversant with the Bari, Luo, Lotuka and Taposa speakers. The ethnic groups that speak the Bari language are the Bari, the Kakwa, the Kuku, the Mundari, the Nyangwara, and the Pojullu; the Luo speakers are the Acholi, the Shilluk (Chollo), the Anyuak (Anyuaa), the Balanda-Boor, the Balanda-Bviri, the Bongo, the Jurchol (Luo), the Maban, the Jur Man-Ang’eer, the Pari, and the Shatt (Thuri); the Lotuka speakers are the Lotuka (Otuho), the Dongotona, the Ifoto, the Imatong, the Lango, the Logir, the Lokoya, and the Lopit; while the Taposa speakers are the Jiye (Jie), Taposa, Nyangatom and Tid.

The speakers of Nuer, Luo, Dinka, Bari, Taposa, Zande, and Lotuka have shared cultural heritage, history, language and common descent, respectively. Therefore, a fair, just and equal system of governance would uniformly and strictly apply the same criteria for the grouping of these ethnic communities. Yet, under the 64-tribe paradigm, different criteria have been used in their classifications. Inexplicably, the original architects of the 64-tribe paradigm have, respectively, lumped together the speakers of Dinka, Nuer and Zande into a single gigantic tribe, while slicing up the speakers of Bari, Luo, Lotuka and Taposa into numerous smaller tribes. The result is a warped system in which a clan within the Dinka nation such as Agaar Dinka is bigger than any of the separate Bari speaking tribes. Similarly, Lou Nuer within the Nuer nation is larger than any of the separate Lotuka speaking communities under the 64-tribe paradigm.

Yet, there is no any justification whatsoever under the 64-tribe paradigm that would divide some communities into separate tribes while grouping together others into one tribe. Thus, not only is there no coherent basis for the 64 tribes, it is also unfair and unjust to the larger communities as the 64-tribe paradigm appears to favor smaller communities over and above larger ethnic groups. Therefore, any talk of or hope for ethnic inclusivity—fair and just system of governance for wealth and power-sharing—under the current 64-tribe paradigm is doomed to fail as it would be adamantly opposed by the larger tribes. This fact – the glaring, inexplicable inconsistency in the classification of ethnic groups – demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that the definition of the tribe does not support the assertion that there are 64 tribes in South Sudan as champion by the original architects of the 64-tribe paradigm.

The conclusion that the 64-tribe paradigm might have been arrived at capriciously could compel one to speculate that it could have been motivated by a deep fear of sociopolitical and economic domination of an independent South Sudan by the larger tribes and the perceived consequential marginalization of the smaller tribes. But that – politically persecuted and economically marginalized minority communities ganging up against bigger tribes to protect themselves from domination – has historical precedents around the world. Firstly, this is partly because the original architects of the 64 tribes are, from the tribocratic paradigm, overwhelmingly from the minority communities, and partly because the fear of domination by the larger communities and of the marginalization of the smaller communities have historical precedents in South Sudan. The classic case of Kokora in the 1980s championed by Joseph Lagu was a protest against a perceived marginalization of smaller communities in the Equatoria region who were afraid of domination by the bigger Nilotic tribes of the Dinka and Nuer.

Therefore, one could be forgiven to conclude that the very idea behind the entire project of the House of Nationalities might have been merely a ploy by intellectuals from minority communities to buy themselves and their communities an insurance policy to protect their political, economic and security interests from the fear of domination of an independent South Sudan by bigger tribes and the marginalization of minority tribes. Seen this way, the lumping together of the bigger tribes and the splitting up of smaller ones, therefore, might have been a strategic move to contain and render the majority tribes powerless since they would be outnumbered in the House of Nationalities. This is due to the fact that there would be no justice, fairness and equality in the House of Nationalities since the number of tribes was arrived at arbitrarily and the representation was not done proportionally based on the respective size of each of the 64 tribes, arbitrarily as it were.

In fact, this is precisely why the brilliant idea of the House of Nationalities never saw the light of an independent day in South Sudan. In the subsequent numerous conferences and seminars conducted in Kenya to birth and sell the idea to the people of South Sudan in anticipation for the formation of the post-CPA Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), fundamental disagreement emerged and simmered, which ultimately stillborn the House of Nationalities. At the core of this serious disagreements was the uncompromising demand by majority tribes punished by the 64-tribe paradigm to have proportionate representation in the House of Nationalities and the adamant insistence by smaller tribes favored by the 64-tribe paradigm to have direct representation in the House of Nationalities with each of the 64 tribes contributing equal number of MP.

The two sides could not compromise on the appropriate definition of the word tribe or an ethnic group, with each side advancing a particular kind of definition that would grant them an edge over their rivals in term of political representation and influence in the House of Nationalities. The essence of this vital national discourse was brilliantly captured by Jacob Jiel Akol in the following exposition: “A clear definition of what is ‘a tribe’ and what is an ‘ethnic community’ must be made and agreed on. For example: are Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande and others, ‘tribes’ or ‘ethnic communities’? If an ‘ethnic community’ is greater than a ‘tribe’, it must contain units which can be clearly defined on clear criteria as ‘tribes’. Once definitions are made, understood and agreed to, the proportional sharing of power and wealth can be reached and made part of ‘Permanent Constitution’. Many South Sudanese ‘intellectuals’ get stuck on these definitions, get angry and give up. Who said building a nation like South Sudan was going to be easy? Who said that [this national discourse] was going to be rushed to satisfy ambitions of current politicians is kidding himself/herself.”

Indeed, this was a great and timely national debate as it mirrored the fundamental questions of the nation- and state-building that confronted revolutionary founders of the American republic: how small and large states under a federal system should share power in a fair and just manner that would satisfy the respective demands of either side. For example, big states such as New York were demanding a bigger say in the federal system arguing that it would be unfair and unjust to equalize everyone. Fearing domination, smaller states such as Rhode Island were demanding equal representation without any regards to population size and economic power of each state. Each side was threatening to secede from the union if their respective demands were not respected and met. The founding fathers of the American republic found salvation in a bicameral federal parliament in which the less prestigious lower house would be based on equal representation while the more prestigious upper house would be based on proportional representation. It worked by saving America from immediate disintegration – being stillborn at its inception.

However, instead of conducting a solemn national deliberation on the fundamentals of the nation- and state-building as the American founders had done, the debate among the proponents and opponents of the House of Nationalities degenerated into irreconcilable differences that killed the entire idea of the House of Nationalities in its infancy. Apparently, to the smaller tribes, the noble idea of the House of Nationalities had become nothing more than a containment policy to neutralize the political and economic dominance of the bigger tribes; and to the larger tribes, the spirited resistance unleashed against a perceived attempt to reduce them to their “proper size” became a matter of life and death. And yet, surprisingly, the very cause of their acrimonious squabbling – whether or not South Sudan should be considered to consist of 64 tribes – lives on and is currently being bandied about as if it is a verified verdict of an academic research.

There is a fundamental problem in achieving ethnic inclusivity in South Sudan primarily because the identity politics is not well defined by the so-called 64 tribes of South Sudan. Therefore, there is a need to craft a new paradigm for ethnic inclusivity in the national dialogue initiative, the revitalized peace process in Addis Ababa and the nation- and state-building in South Sudan. One way to achieve that goal would be to divide the communities of South Sudan into nationalities and tribes. Other than size, there are practically little differences between a nation and a tribe or an ethnic group. For instance, the Oxford English dictionary defines a nation as “a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.” On the other hand, the Cambridge English dictionary describes a nation as “a large group of people of the same race who share the same language, traditions, and history, but who might not all live in one area.”

In fact, most nation-states in the world began as tribal nationalities. A great example is the European Union (EU) which is made up of tribal nations. England is a nation for the English speaking tribe; Scotland is a nation for the Scottish speaking tribe; Wales is a nation for the Welsh speaking tribe; Ireland is nation for the Irish speaking tribe; France is a nation for the French speaking tribe; Spain is a nation for the Spanish speaking tribe; Basque is a nation for the Basque speaking tribe; Catalonia is a nation for the Catalan speaking tribe; Portugal is a nation for the Portuguese speaking tribe; Germany is a nation for the German speaking tribe; Italy is a nation for the Italian speaking tribe; Holland is a nation for the Dutch speaking tribe; Belgium is a trilingual nation for the French, Dutch and German speaking tribes; Switzerland is trilingual nation for the French, German and Italian speaking tribes, to mention but just a few.

This is to say that at their inceptions, each of these nations began as a tribal nation with similar language, culture, traditions, history and common descent and exponentially grew into its present size and composition through military conquests and cultural assimilations. Nations such as Switzerland and Belgium where a single tribe failed to conquer and assimilate others is currently either bilingual or trilingual. Not only has the original tribal nature of these nations remained intact over centuries, it has also provided the national character and cultural identity of these tribal nations. Unlike the EU, the problem in the Sub-Saharan African countries in general and South Sudan, in particular, is that majority of their tribal nationalities were not large and strong enough to initiate military conquest and pursue cultural assimilation. Otherwise, the so-called 64 tribes of South Sudan would have been 64 sovereign nation-states, each being an independent country like those sovereign states in the EU.

Therefore, based on the same language, culture, traditions, history and common descent, there are about 10 nationalities, with around 131 tribes, in the Republic of South Sudan. These nationalities are the Dinka speakers, the Nuer speakers, the Bari speakers, the Zande speakers, the Luo speakers, the Lotuka speakers, the Sudanic speakers, the Murle speakers, the Taposa speakers and the Fertit speakers. These brand new 10 nationalities and 131 tribes of the Republic of South Sudan are presented in the table below:

Table 1: The 10 Nationalities and 131 Tribes of the Republic of South Sudan

1.        Dinka speakers

Twic Mabioordit, Bor, Nyarweng, Hol, Paweny, Rut, Thoi, Luach-Pigi, Aloor, Panaruu, Abiliang, Dongjol, Ageer, Nyiel, Ngok-Lual Yak, Ngok Abyei (Jook), Aliab, Gok, Agaar, Chiech, Atuot (Reel), Apuk-Giir, Awan-Chan, Awan-Mou, Aguok, Kuach-Ayok, Thiik, Luach-Jang, Luach-Koth, Akook, Jal-Wou, Konggoor, Noi, Atok, Abiem-Tonj, Abuok, Nyang, Leer, Awan-Parek, Lou-Ariik, Lou-Paher, Apuk-Padoch, Yaar, Thony, Apuk-Jurwiir, Muok, Twic Mayaardit, Malual-Giernyang, Abiem-Aweil, Ajak, Buoncuai, and Kongdeer (52)

2.        Nuer speakers


Gawaar, Laak, Thiang, Gajaak, Gajook, Gaguong, Gon, Moor, Bul, Jagei, Dok, Hak, Western Jikany, Nyuong, Ador, and Leek (16)

3.        Bari speakers Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Mundari, Nyangwara, and Pojullu (6)
4.        Zande speakers Yambio, Gbudwe, Tambura, and Adio (Makaraka) (4)
5.        Luo speakers


Acholi, Shilluk (Chollo), Anyuak (Anyuaa), Balanda-Boor, the Balanda-Bviri, Bongo, Jurchol (Luo), Maban, Jur Man-Ang’eer, Pari, and Shatt (Thuri) (11)

6.        Lotuka speakers

Lotuka (Otuho), Dongotona, Ifoto, Imatong, Lango, Logir, Lokoya, and Lopit (8)

7.        Sudanic speakers

Avukaya, Baka, Jur (Beli & Modo), Keliku, Lugbwara, Lulubo, Madi, Moro, Moro Kodo, Mundu, and Uduk (11)

8.        Murle speakers

Didinga, Larim (Boya), Murle, Tenet, and Suri (Kachipo)* (5)

9.        Taposa speakers Toposa, Jiye (Jie), Nyangatom, and Tid (4)
10.    Fertit speakers

Aja, Bai, Banda, Binga, Feroghe, Gollo, Indri, Kara, Mangayat, Ndogo,  Ngulngule, Sere, Woro, and Yulu (14)

Total Number 10 131

Under the 64-tribe paradigm, some nationalities—like the Fertit, Bari, Taposa, Sudanic, Murle, Lotuka and Lou speakers, with similar language, history, culture and common descent—were chaotically divided up into several tribes, while other nationalities—such as the Nuer, Dinka and Zande speakers who shared the same definitional qualities as the first group—were haphazardly lumped together. However, because there is a uniformity and logical soundness to the 10-nationalities framework, this inherent irrationality within the 64-tribe paradigm has been rectified under the 10-nationalities paradigm. Nevertheless, while these categorizations of ethnic groups into ten nationalities and 131 tribes might somehow satisfy the linguistic, historical, common descent and cultural realities of the people of South Sudan, it does not by any means reflect the political realities and affinities as currently the case in the country.

Only the tribocratic paradigm fit the reality on the ground: four political caucuses, 13 political constituencies and 131 political sections.

Table 2: Power-Mapping of Ethnicity in the Republic of South Sudan under a Tribocratic Paradigm

Political Caucus Political Constituency Political Section County Population 2008 Census National Percentage
Dinka Bor Dinka Twic Twic East 85,349 1.03%
Bor Boor 221,106 2.68%
Nyarweng, Hol, Duk 65,588 0.79%
Padang Dinka Paweny, Rut, Thoi, Luach Pigi 99,068 1.19%
Aloor Abiemnhom 17,012 0.21%
Panaruu Panriang 82,443 0.99%
Abiliang, Dongjol Renk 137,751 1.67%
Ageer, Nyiel, Melut 49,242 0.59%
Ngok-Lual Yak Baliet 48,010 0.58%
Jook (Ngok Abyei) Abyei 52,883 0.64%
Agaar Dinka Aliab Awerial 47,041 0.57%
Gok Cueibet 117,755 1.43%
Agaar (Kwei, Ruup) Rumbek Center 153,550 1.86%
Agaar (Aliamtooch) Rumbek East 122,832 1.49%
Agaar (Pakam) Rumbek North 43,410 0.53%
Chiech Yirol East 67,402 0.82%
Atuot (Reel) Yirol West 103,190 1.25%
Rek Dinka Apuk-Giir, Jur Man-Anger Gogrial East 103,283 1.25%
Awan-Chan, Awan-Mou, Aguok, Kuach-Ayok Gogrial West 243,921 2.95%
Thiik, Luach-Jang, Luach-Koth, Akook, Jal-Wou, Tonj East 116,122 1.41%
Konggoor, Noi, Atok, Abiem, Abuok, Nyang, Leer, Awan-Parek, Lou-Ariik, Lou-Paher, Apuk-Padoch Tonj North 165,222 2.00%
Yaar, Thony, Apuk-Jurwiir, Muok, Bongo Tonj South 86,592 1.05%
Twic Mayaardit Twic 204,905 2.48%
Malual-Giernyang Aweil Center 41,827 0.51%
Abiem Aweil East 309,921 3.75%
Malual-Giernyang Aweil North 129,127 1.56%
Ajak, Buoncuai, Kongdeer, Aweil South 73,806 0.89%
Malual-Giernyang Aweil West 166,217 2.01%






Western Equatorians

Zande Ezo 80,861 0.98%
Zande, Mundu Ibba 41,869 0.51%
Moru, Avukaya, Mundu, Baka Maridi 82,461 0.99%
Moro, Mundri East 48,318 0.59%
Moro, Moro Kodo Mundri West 33,975 0.41%
Jur-Bhel, Moro Mvolo 48,134 0.58%
Zande, Balanda Nagero 10,077 0.12%
Zande Nzara 65,712 0.79%
Zande, Balanda Tambura 55,365 0.67%
Zande Yambio 152,257 1.84%
Central Equatorians Bari, Nyangwara, Lokoya Juba 368,436 4.46%
Kuku Kajo-Keji 196,387 2.38%
Pajulu, Makaraka (Adio) Lainya 89,315 1.08%
Kakwa, Keliko, Lugbwara Morobo 103,603 1.25%
Mundari Terekeka 144,373 1.75%
Kakwa, Pajulu, Avukaya, Yei 201,443 2.44%
Eastern Equatorians Didinga, Buya (Larim) Budi 99,234 1.20%
Lango, Logir, Dongotano, Imatong Ikotos 84,649 1.03%
Taposa, Nyangatom Kapoeta East 163,997 1.99%
Taposa Kapoeta North 103,084 1.25%
Taposa, Tid Kapoeta South 79,470 0.96%
Lopit, Pari, Tenet Lopa 106,161 1.29%
Madi, Acholi Magwi 169,826 2.06%
Otuho, Lolubo, Ifoto Torit 99,740 1.21%



Lou Nuer

Gon (Chieng-Dak) Wuror 178,519 2.16%
Gon (Gatbaal) Nyirol 108,674 1.32%
Moor Akobo 136,210 1.65%
Phow Nuer Gawaar Ayod 139,282 1.69%
Laak, Thiang Fangak 110,130 1.33%

Jikany Nuer

Gajaak (Chieng-Wau) Maiwut 79,462 0.96%
Gajaak (Thiang) Longochuk 63,166 0.76%
Gajook (Chieng-Lang) Ulang 85,044 1.03%
Gajook (Chieng-Nyilieth), Gaguang Nasir/Luakpiny 210,002 2.54%
Liech Nuer Bul Mayom 120,715 1.46%
Jangei Koch 74,863 0.91%
Dok Leer 53,022 0.64%
Hak Mayendit 53,783 0.65%
Western Jikany Guit 33,004 0.39%
Nyuong, Ador Panyijar 50,723 0.61%
Leek Rubkona 100,236 1.21%
Minority Group Eastern Minorities Shilluk (Chollo) Kodok/Fashoda 36,518 0.44%
Shilluk (Chollo) Malakal 126,483 1.53%
Shilluk (Chollo) Manyo 38,010 0.46%
Shilluk (Chollo) Panyikang 45,427 0.55%
Burun (Chai), Berta, Koma, Uduk (Gomus), Maban 45,238 0.55%
Murle, Jie, Kachipo (Suri or Ngalam) Pibor 148,475 1.79%
Anyuak Pochalla 66,201 0.80%
Western Minorities Jur-Bhel, Bongo, Jur-Modo Wulu 40,550 0.49%
Jur-Chol, Balanda-Bor Jur River 127,771 1.55%
Banda, Sere, Aja, Binga, Feroghe (Kaligi), Indri, Kara, Mangayat (Bugwa), Ngulgule, Shatt (Thuri), Yulu, Woro (Orlo) Raja 54,340 0.66%
Balanda-Bagari, Balanda-Boor, Balanda-Bviri, Bongo, Gollo, Jur-chol, Bai, Ndogo, Wau 151,320 1.83%
TOTAL Political Constituency Political Section County 8,260,490 100%

Tribocracy is the most effective—just, equitable and fair—basis to allocate and share power and wealth among the 10 nationalities and 131 tribes of South Sudan. It is a political system where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group represents in the country. Put it differently, it is a system of governance in which equality, justice and fairness in political representation in the national government and/or at the state level is achieved through the principle of equitable and fair tribal representation.

The goal of the tribocratic dispensation is to provide a concrete basis, with verifiable cold, hard data, for any South Sudanese to judiciously partake in the national discourse in relation to the question of ethnic domination, marginalization, and neglect in the Republic of South Sudan. Rather than relying on the hopeless sectional perception to make wild claims that can’t be substantiated, a student of Tribocracy should be able to base his/her argument on solid foundation of tribocratic paradigm—with verifiable data, analytical framework and guiding principle—to diagnose and ascertain the question of ethnic hegemony and marginalization in South Sudan.

In a fair and just system of governance in which representatives of a particular political tribe hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group represents, the Dinka would take 38.18% of the national government, the Equatorian 31.82%, the Nuer 19.33% and the Minority Group 10.65%. Rather than the arbitrary presidential decrees or the capricious 64-tribe paradigm, the appointment of political leaders—access to national resources and monopoly over national security—would be encoded by the tyranny of numbers, just as it is for the elections of the president, state governors, national and state members of parliament (MPs) etc. This is the principle of tribocracy.

Most importantly, the tribocratic categorization – political caucus, constituency and section – are an integral part of identity politics in the Republic of South Sudan. It is not unusual to hear people talking of ‘Dinka domination’ of the national government in Juba, of the chronic ‘Nuer rebellion’ year in year out, of the pervasive neo-Kokoraism mindset among the Equatorians, and of the marginalization of the minority groups in South Sudan, the consequence of which was the 2014 establishment of the Greater Pibor Area Administration (GPAA) to address the ostensible marginalization of the Murle ethnic community in the administration of Jonglei state.

Thus, one can proclaim that tribocratic dispensation is a viable—practical, relevant and effective—basis for the allocation and sharing of power and wealth among the 10 nationalities and 131 tribes of South Sudan because it does perfectly reflect and appropriately present the prevailing political reality in the Republic of South Sudan.

PaanLuel Wël, the managing editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB), graduated with a double major in Economics and Philosophy from The George Washington University, Washington D.C, USA, and currently works as a Regional Program Development Coordinator for one of the international NGOs in South Sudan. He is the author of Pioocku Thuongjang: The Elementary Modern Standard Dinka (May, 2011), The A.B.C.D.: An Introductory Book into the English Alphabet (July, 2011) and  Who Killed Dr. John Garang (July, 2015). He is also the Editor of The Genius of Dr. John Garang, vol. 1-3 (November, 2013), including Dr. John Garang’s Speeches on the War of Liberation (November, 2015) and Speeches on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (November, 2015), Salva Kiir Mayaardit: The Joshua of South Sudan (with Simon Yel Yel, February, 2011), as well as The Customary Laws of the Greater Bor Dinka Community: Legal and Basic Rules for Self-Administration (July, 2017). You can reach him through his email:; Facebook (PaanLuel Wël); or Twitter (PaanLuelWel2011).

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. Dut Agostino says:

    Thank Baai Luelwel.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s