The concept of social security in Dinka culture: The case of Joth Mayardit community in Gok State

Posted: July 22, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda

Sunday, July 22, 2018 (PW) — According to Wikipedia, social security may refer to the action programs of an organization intended to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food and shelter and to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed.

Thus, services providing social security are often called social services. Social services in case of government are solidified into public services. The government where public services are absent or poor, the people are poor. This means that the government is not able to provide quality services to the citizens as expected.

As a result, citizens may develop their own way of supporting each other as recently shown by the members of Joth Mayar people in Gok State. Joth Mayar people are sub tribe of Dinka people found in Central Bahr el Ghazal Region located in former Lakes State and currently have their own state: Gok State. Joth Mayar people are found in Joth Mayar County (Former Mayath Payam) in Gok State. A good number of their members are living abroad in countries such as Australia, the USA (though the USA is a continent), Canada, the UK and other countries in Europe and China.

Through the members of Joth Mayar living in the above mentioned countries, we are able to see the living example of social security in our community: the Dinka Community. This has recently been shown in the case of Matur Makur. In fact, the way the members of Joth Mayar Community abroad deal with the issue of Matur Makur makes it fit to be termed as one of the examples where the existence of social security is seen at play in Dinka Culture, and in particular, among Joth Mayar people of Gok State.

In this respect, therefore, this article is dedicated to the people of Joth Mayar Community of Joth Mayar County in Gok State in South Sudan and in particular those members in the above mentioned countries. In other words, it is written in their honor for their good works and commitments in serving each other and protecting vulnerable members of their Community.

The purpose of social security is to help the vulnerable members of the community. As it has been explained by some writers, social security was first enshrined in law in the United State of America (the USA). This was seen in the enactment of Social Security Act, which was a key reform of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal ordered one approach to the social welfare policy of the United States. Hence, the act had two components: social insurance and public assistance. As these two components have been explained by some of the writers, whereas public assistance programs provided cash relief to U.S. citizens, the social insurance program provided survivor and dependent coverage’s for a man’s wife and children in return for a husband’s contributions to the program.

The concept of social security as explained above has clearly been seen in the way Joth Mayar people handled the issue of Matur Makur. In this regard, Matur Makur, the well-known Dinka Cattle-keeper Musician throughout Dinka Land is hailed from Pagor Section in Joth Mayar Community in Gok State.

Nonetheless, Matur Makur has been sick and could not afford medication and because of that he was at the mercy of death. However, due to the fact that members of Joth Mayar County living abroad who are extended family of Matur Makur took the challenge into their shoulders by taking control of the treatment of Matur Makur.

The members of Joth Mayar Community decided that unity is strength and for that reason, they must unite and look for a way to support Matur Makur. As a result, they decided to put their resources together to support him. This has shown that Joth Mayar members decided to support Matur Makur while he is alive instead of contributing money for his funeral when he was already dead.

The move of supporting a person while he or she is still alive is the most important cultural aspect the Joth Mayar people have shown in Gok State and in South Sudan in general. The culture where resources are contributed after the people are dead should be discouraged: the people should be supported when they are still alive as the members of Joth Mayar have now got it right.

In order to support him properly, the members of Joth Mayar Community of Gok State in Australia, the USA, Canada and other parts of the world in collaboration with those inside South Sudan and in Uganda decided that something should be done. For that reason, they decided to form a committee that would mobilize money from other members for the treatment of Matur Makur.

The head of the resource mobilization committee is Marop Chol Meen in Australia who came up with the idea of collecting money to support Matur Makur. His idea got a lot of support from the rest of the members of Joth Mayar Community within Australia as well as in Canada, in the United States of America and in other parts of the World.

In that respect, Joth people appear to have understood the statement that everyone, as a member of Joth Mayar community, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through community effort and internal co-operation and in accordance with their unity, organization and resources of each member in order to ensure that he or she enjoys his or her dignity and the free development of his or her personality.

It is on that ground and as it is instinctively embedded in their understanding of humanity, the members of Joth Mayar Community collected and will still collect more resources in time to come to ensure that Matur Makur live in the Joth and Gok communities in dignified life.

In reality, Joth Mayar members from abroad also realized the fact that human being has spiritual life that cannot be satisfied with material food as there is also a need for spiritual food to satisfy spiritual needs. For that reason, the head of mobilization Committee for Matur Makur’s medication or treatment, Mr. Marop Chol Mayen on behalf of Joth Mayar Community members abroad sent money home.

The money that Marop  Chol Mayen sent home was to be used in buying a white bull for sacrifice where the elders of Joth Mayar Community Members of Joth Mayar County in Gok State called upon God (during the performance of sacrifice) to protect Matur Makur. The purpose of sacrifice was threefold: first, to ensure that all other members of Joth Mayar in different parts of the world live their lives without any unfortunate events that might befall them; second to it and the most important purpose was to wish Matur Makur quick recovery from his sickness as he was through sacrifice put in the hands of God who will also protect him from South Sudan to Uganda and back when he will return after treatment.

What the readers of this article should understand about the sacrifice mentioned above is that it was not subsidized with magical powers but those who were performing sacrifice were doing it while solely relying on Supernatural God above by invoking His Mighty Name as he exists in the understanding of Christianity. The God of Joth Mayar people believe in God just like what Christians believe in all aspects (see the photo of White Bull that was being sacrificed in the photo above).

In summary, the concept of social security in Dinka Culture as witnessed in the case of Joth Mayar Community in Gok State is an action program in support of the wellbeing of the people who are not able to afford food, education, health, accommodation and other basic necessities.

The members of Gok State from Joth Mayar County who supported Matur Makur today have been supporting many Gok people from Joth Mayar County even before Gok was turned into State. Due to their efforts, Gok State has well educated individuals today that will not only contribute to the wellbeing of Gok State citizens but to the development of South Sudan in general. Hence, there is much to be learned from Joth Mayar people.

NB// the author is South Sudanese Lawyer residing in Uganda and he can be reached through juoldaniel2003@gmail.com

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