The Puzzling Dichotomy of Teasing Among the Greater Bor Dinka Community

Posted: May 1, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

By Mabil Manyok Nhial, Gweru, Zimbabwe

May 1, 2018 (PW) — It would be unforgivable mistake to write this work without reminiscing an Australian-American journalist and novelist, Geraldine Brooks, who elucidates that “there are always a few who stand up in times of communal madness and the courage to say that what unites us is greater than what divides us.”

The Jieng has basically been categorised into 56 small sections, which are found in four main groups according to their geographical locations such as Abyei, Barh El Gazal and Upper Nile. The Upper Nile has also be divided into Northern Upper Nile and Southern Upper Nile. The Northern Upper Nile consists of the Padang Dinka while the Southern Upper Nile is inhabited by the Bor Dinka.

The Bor Dinka or South Eastern Dinka, live along the Pride of Africa-the Nile River in Upper Nile Region. The Jieng Bor consists of Hol, Nyarweng, Twic East, Athooc and Gok. The last two are sometimes referred to as Bor South.As it dates back to the days of antiquity, the communities of Twic East and Bor South have been interacting with each other in so many different ways inter alia teasing and making fun of each other. Athooc and Twic East tease Gok as kuan e cuet aguek or simply frog-eaters and indeed kuan kueeng/cueeng, that’s to say parsimonious, penurious, close-fisted or frugal people.

In the same vain, the Twic East community has always been teased as Tuiny awalwala (local stable food among the Bor Dinka) or sometimes Acibeel, put lightly, abnormal in tandem with rak-ke-Ayen incident. At times, Athooc can also be teased as atooc or fishermen.

In reality, all which are said truly hold no water for instance, awalwala has even become one of the nice ditches in hotels over South Sudan let alone the whole area of the Bor Dinka.

At times, teasing can be viewed as a form of social interaction in any societal set up. Keltner et al (2001) makes it clear that teasing can positively be used to socialise and interact with people in a playful manner.

In the words of Albert (1992) teasing can profitably be viewed as an aggressive verbalisation couched in situational qualifiers indicating playfulness. This means that the true intention of teasing each other is only for entertainment or socialisation and it cannot go beyond the ambit of merriment or entertainment.

Albeit potential purposes of teasing, it becomes bleak and pernicious in some instances when the limit is exceeded. Benas and Gibb (2006) explicate that teasing can negatively affect an individual and state. They furthered “teasing and related constructs such as verbal victimisation and emotional abuse may contribute risk to a variety of disorders.”

It is quite clear in historical point of view that teasing has undoubtedly shown some negative aftermath among the communities. In Rwanda, the genocide that cropped up in 1994 was a result of teasing. The Tutsi who are the minority used to berate and tease the Hutu as the poor common men with nothing but dependent on the Tutsi’s wealth.

Hutu would proudly boast as the majority who could wipe out the helpless minority Tutsi who had oppressed them under their (Tutsi’s) monarchy.

This stirred up unfathomable hatred among the two communities. Soon, the entire country was thrown into an ugly dust of confusion as the genocide reigned the corridors of Rwanda.  The mere teasing sadly resulted in the demise of more than 800,000 persons from Tutsi and 100,000 people from Hutu.

As a matter of fact, there has never been a big bone of contention between the Twic East and the Bor South Communities. Their co-existence has been evidenced by the fact that one can have his or her uncles from either of the two communities. Their social affinity dates back to the time of the Dinka migration where the Dinka Bor found themselves within the flood plain of the Nile as brothers of all times.

Akol Dau buttressed this point in his song that there is no Twic and Bor, but only one Jieng Bor. That’s why they used to be under one chief. These chiefs included Deng Malual Aleer from Nyarweng, Joseph Machiek Deng Chol Akol from Adol, Ajang Duot Bior from Kongor and Mabior Ngueny Chol from Adol.

Teasing within the Dinka Bor was centred on social interaction which could not invoke any bitter feelings among the people from these sisterly communities. However, there is a paradigm shift from the status quo ante by the young generation that have shown some negative signs of veering off the trajectory of oneness.

Our now generation can undoubtedly strain their ears when one talks of what divides us and become nonchalant when one talks of unity of purpose.

As it is a culture among the Jieng Bor in particular and the Dinka in general, the main purpose for teasing is for social interaction especially when used in a humorous or hilarious way. However, history and our daily events have shown that teasing can affect the way people feel about themselves. Sometimes, it becomes generally annoying, harassing and irritating to the teased person(s).

What is quite puzzling therefore, is that the dichotomy of teasing at times makes it quite convoluted to explore the intricate nature of what is believed to be annoying, irritating or harassing or that which is just humorous and trifling in nature. The test of what is considered to be annoying or humorous is an objective one which is a reasonable man test.

Having learned from history, people should use moderate language which does not imprecate emotions, which may be detrimental to our unity of purpose. However, for our usual co-existence to reign, people should tolerate each other’s little foibles. We should therefore avoid teasing which goes into the root of our togetherness.

The writer is a Law student at Midlands State University, Zimbabwe. He can be reached @ johnmabilmanyok@gmail.com

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