President Trump is Right: CNN and BBC are Fake News Peddlers

Posted: November 23, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Ajang Barach-Magar, Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, History, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

President Trump is Damn Right: CNN and BBC are Fake News Peddlers – The Ke’eny of Nyalong Ngong Deng Jalang from Lakes State.

By Ajang Barach-Magar, Wangulei, South Sudan

Nyalong Ngong Deng Jalang, Awerial County, Lakes State

Nyalong Ngong Deng Jalang, Awerial County, Lakes State, whose bride price consist of 500 cows, 3 V8s, and over $10,000

Friday, November 23, 2018 (PW) —- The hoopla that greeted Kok Alat & Nyalong’s marquee marriage is menacingly refusing to dissipate and is now finding its way to the international headlines albeit as an absolutely fake stunt. The matter assumed a stunning new twist when the American media giant, CNN – an organization one may be forgiven to venerate as a beacon of unfettered code of ethics, integrity/or credibility, reported that a family in South Sudan used Facebook to auction off their under-age girl. The grim reality is that while the high profile nature of the marriage surprised the whole Dinka country, for it has a touch of madness it is utter rubbish to allege that Nyalong’s family conducted anything figuratively close to an auction.

For a start, the primary objective of this article seeks to clarify that the alleged auction was neither mooted nor materialized. The family members of the bride, who allegedly resorted to social media to find eligible suitors for her, are illiterate. None of them is capable of scribbling their name on a piece of white paper. The closest they get to use technology is via mere voice calls on their cell phones. Why, then, would CNN’s moral turpitude lead them to veer off track so far as to fabricate a story against such a humble family? The whole thing is a fat white lie. Not only that. CNN’s conduct lends genuine credence to the American President, Donald John Trump’s consistent accusation that CNN are no more than a bunch of fake news peddlers.

Before delving further, let’s shed light on the standard Dinka traditional marriage practices. There are three methodologies used to achieve the state of union. Please note that since all the three methods exist as descriptions in English rather than abstract entities, it is more convenient to trot them out in Dinka and for that, I petition your mercy for the vernacular indulgence.

One of these methods involves pregnancy while the girl is still under her parental custody. It is the most decisive and chiefly a choice-driven affair, although due to widespread lack or unpopularity of contraception, it is sometimes unplanned. The second one is elopement, where a lady and her prospective husband initiate the marriage process by suddenly disappearing from the vicinity of all but a few trusted confidants, often male relatives and friends of the boyfriend.

This is typically sustained for a few days, but reports abound where girls’ relatives complain of abnormally long elopement. As a general rule, however, the girl must be handed back to her parents or stay at her matrimonial home only through her relatives’ consent. Both of the two are formal, acceptable approaches to marriage in Dinka.

The final method is what the CNN journalists erratically reported as auction. The Dinka call it “keeny” – pronounced as ‘ke’eny’. It involves formal, length pre-wedding correspondences involving potential husbands and the girl’s relatives. The men are then allowed to table their dowry offers and outcompete each other. The final decision is only reached via examination of a complex array of factors; namely dowry, girl’s preference, family background of suitors, and the crowning moment often arrives afterward when the lady is officially handed over to her matrimonial family.

Fake News.jpg

Originally, one of the central tenets of the whole façade revolves around the lady’s age, which varies depending on the informant. Most activists put it at 17 years. What is more, the folks claiming to “fight” against “auction” themselves, are burdened with tainted reputations that walk far ahead of them. Some of them are hopelessly mired in sterile marriages while others have shattered their unions altogether.

They therefore don’t speak from the moral high ground that their fancy claims seem to imply. Not so long ago, CNN chimed in and lowered Nyalong’s age by wiping off an entire calendar year. Granted, pedophilia must be valiantly resisted whether that comes in the form of marrying off underage girls or overt human trafficking.

If anything, however, Nyalong is from Aliau (Aliap) ~ one of the most elegant examples of isolated provinces tucked away in civil obscurity throughout South Sudan. She was probably born in a remote village, to illiterate parents, in an equally illiterate neighbourhood. Gazing over the horizon in Mingkaman or Paap, you would genuinely marvel at the innocuous isolation that characterizes life throughout Awerial.

In a nutshell, how in the world did the first person who stoked the social media frenzy over her age arrive at it? As far as we know, nobody is capable of dangling any concrete evidence in our midst to support the argument that Nyalong is empirically too young to marry. For clarity’s sake, a birth certificate would qualify as “concrete evidence”. Almost certainly, the people at CCN would seldom further substantiate not only their immeasurably shameless auction lies, but the 16 year premise.

Logically, she could simply be younger or older. You can be certain that the man who jotted down this opinion piece is a typical layman ~ a hackneyed biomedical scientist to be exact, not a barrister, but I have read our country’s constitution and it does recognize the customary law and is conspicuously silent on the age at which a girl ought to legally consent. In its long history spanning several centuries, the local Dinka customary law is mainly not a choice-driven affair.

A trip down the Sudd region and you learn that reproduction among the average country folks like the Aliau (Aliap) begins as soon as the onset of menarche, at about 13 years. While it represents a profound folly that a significant proportion of considerably young females are thrusted into marriages, sometimes against their individual will, the criticism heaped at Mr. Kok Alat (bridegroom) and his giant new wife’s family is way over the top and is comprehensively misplaced.

It is a classic example of what is a noble course wrongly directed. Neither Kok Alat nor Nyalong’s family invented the South Sudanese constitution or the Dinka Customary Law. If anything or anyone deserves the spotlight, look no further than those two.  As long as the activists continue to erratically fixate chiefly on Mr. Kok and his in-laws, the matter in my view is virtually a stale debate.

Secondly, the sheer size of the dowry is startling: 500+ cows and literally countless monetary valuables. Due to their incompetent, demonstrably lazy research or intentional omission, the CNN journalists concocted their own “auction prize” and erroneously reported that Nyalong was eventually “sold” for U$10,000 and 500 cows. In light of the fact that such several heads of cattle is a seriously inflated dowry by local standards, there was already plenty to criticize about the marriage. Millions of South Sudanese Pounds, three V8 cars, loads of smartphones and such a frightening herd of cows is, I can put it mildly, roundly absurd an offer to even imagine.

 This resonates well with the typical rich mentality. When faced with a mortal threat, most affluent individuals tend to conclude that throwing enough money or material resources at a problem often solves it. In several ways, the strategy appears to be effective. However, it spectacularly backfires on certain occasions. Had Kok Alat offered a reasonable dowry, chances are that his marriage would not have raised the social media hogs’ eyebrows, and thus the international media.

Third; plucking a villager from the safety of her rural neighbourhood and introducing her to a scary life of a bustling metropolis robs her of life as she knows it. The town is a completely distinct universe from the pristine proto-jungle environment. The best analogy is the human-domestic animal interaction. The animals receive a considerable protection from their human masters, but they virtually serve our whims, and have generally lost their evolutionary freedom to us as a prize. The same can be said of unions involving one “civilized” partner and an illiterate other. The more civilized hold the advantage. Females who are coerced into such marriages are reminiscent of caged animals.

In our case, the poor lady has been thrusted in a heavily one-sided relationship, which is sharply skewed in her husband’s favour. In reality, Kok Alat is more of Nyalong’s master than a husband! The case, however, is not an isolated event. South Sudanese “Lost Boys”, themselves, have been implicated in the exploitation of the villagers since the early 2000s. Recently – in a post that is still active on Facebook, one certain South Sudanese American (name withheld) proudly confessed of having made a “shopping call” to Kenya around 3 years ago. The item? A wife for one of their cousin.

In conclusion, labouring in the hope of making a sterile point that a traditional marriage ceremony is auction is childish, irresponsible, dumb and morally wrong. As far as the Dinka community is concerned, Ke’eny remains the highest form of marital honour/way any local girl or parent can hope to tie the knot. Such marriages are some of the most durable throughout the planet.

It is no auction by the slightest shred of the imagination, to say the least. In the United States, marriages end almost as soon as they start. Dr. Phil McGraw in his 2002 book estimated the average lifespan of most American marriages to be hardly 12 months. Disparaging ke’eny is tantamount to encouraging moral decay.

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 Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website 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. John Mayen says:

    Well done Ajang. I have enjoyed reading this article and admired both your writing and way portrayal of not only the Dinka’s but South Sudanese culture/honours. Keeny to Dinka is the highest form of honour any family could possibly dream of. It is not often viewed in term wealth (money/cattle) but underlying social privileges attached to the fact that one’s prestige attracted attention of so many in the land. In the land where CNN is and others, there is hardly marolity in marriage/social values upon which human marriage is based. This decay in social values is something that the Media – such as CNN are work very hard to export.
    Great that you highlighted the stupidity shown this marriage – 500+ cows, $10000, 3 V8 motor vehicles and load of smartphones. What is Mr. Kok’s status in South Sudan? This is far beyond an average Dinka Keeny – a show of wealth which could possibly indicate highly level of illiteracy/stupidity in those involved. There is a lot to be done in South Sudan than pouring this type of wealth in one traditional marriage e.g. building schools, or clinics, or supporting orphans or those on the streets. I agree that Mr Kok’s wealth is something that would take Nyalong’s freedom away and people – particularly authorities in South Sudan should keep an eye on these types of marriages.


  2. Jehan Deng says:

    Season greetings

    I would like to exchange thoughts on recent signed peace deal in the Republic of South Sudan. I am called Jehan Deng, currently residing in Washinton DC, worked in South Sudan 2012 -2016, and have been a subscriber to your news link ” PaanLuel Wël” informative articles, very much appreciated. If possible to have a pgone discussion via WhatsApp 12026027570.

    Accept the assurance of my highest appreciation and cooperation

    Warm regards

    Jehan Deng

    On Nov 23, 2018 9:14 AM, “PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd – South Sudan” wrote:

    PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. posted: “By Ajang Barach-Magar, Wangulei, South Sudan Friday, November 23, 2018 (PW) —- The hoopla that greeted Kok Alat & Nyalong’s marquee marriage is menacingly refusing to dissipate and is now finding its way to the international headlines albeit as a”


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