Is Singing a National Anthem a Violatable Fundamental Right in the Republic of South Sudan?

Posted: July 23, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, History, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Adv. Bol Chol Kucdit, Juba, South Sudan

Tuesday, July 23, 2019 (PW) — It has gone viral on so many media outlets that the National Council of Ministers passed a resolution last week to ban random singing of National Anthem in any occasion where President may be absent. It was broadcasted over the radio and eventually caught the social media’s attention for debate. 

Many commentators condemned the Government’s Spokesperson in person of Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth and the President. People took it as if it was the President and Spokesperson’s sole decision, forgetting that it was a council of ministers’ collective resolution. The decision of council ministers may be reached my consensus or qualified majority vote. 

Indeed, it was not a surprise to see the debate on this issue because South Sudanese are known for two things: praising and criticizing the authorities. You could hardly see anybody proposing solutions to the problem. The blame game has become a culture! This culture of reading anything always with negative lenses must be inferiority complex syndrome. It could be carry over negative feeling towards our former colonizers. The Arabs’ oppression for number of decades made us to look everything with sense of negativity.

On the other hand, the activism in lieu of freedom of expression and media has acquired different meanings in South Sudan. People took the view that everybody is born free to say anything he/she likes. People have forgotten that all freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties and our Constitution have some corresponding duties that each owes as an individual to another person. Nobody recognizes that your rights and freedoms end where other person’s rights begin.

Reference to the above question, it beats my curiosity to ask as to whether the banning to sing the National Anthem is equally the same with banning of your fundamental rights. So, what is fundamental right?!

In the context of human right law, fundamental right is that right which is essential for intellectual, moral and spiritual development of individual(s). As this right is fundamental or essential for existence and development of individual(s), it becomes ”Fundamental Right” to personal existence. In other word, fundamental right is right that you can’t live without it; it is a right if taken from you, you will immediately cease to exist. This right includes but not limited to right to life, Liberty, equality before law, freedom from slavery, torture and many more to name but a few.

Hence, the question that begs itself is that, can you cease to exist if you are banned not to sing national anthem or not? It is a question of fact but not law and of course, the answer is BIG NO! You can’t die when you are banned to sing the national anthem in your home. The matter can’t be an issue that stops personal business. 

This public outcry can be attributed to what I would call negative political extremism in South Sudan. Everybody is almost negatively intoxicated by ‘IO-ism’ and ‘Militia-ism’ School of thoughts in South Sudan. This political awareness is not bad but it has become too much or more! Even matters that do not concern public are sometimes inquired seriously.

It is indeed the mistake of identity of politics for gossiping! In most of civilized countries, citizens are politically enlightened to participate objectively in public affairs. One of friends of mine who went to UK for Master studies one time told me that, in spite of political dilemma of Brexit in UK , every citizen is going about his/her businesses as if nothing is happening.

In my personal view, I quiet question at some point the legal implication of the resolution of banning of the singing of National Anthem and this is where my argument may get rest. It is imperative for one to look at what purpose does National Anthem serve in the society and why is it necessary to sing it at some point in time. 

However, National anthem is one of the national symbols like national flag, coat of arms, and public seal. In many occasions these symbols tend to play a key role of nation building and also nation maintenance. These national symbols are very essential instruments for national identity and unity; these national symbols aimed at building the country economically, socially and politically and used to enhance national unity.

Having understood the above, the national anthem everywhere in the world is always regulated and South Sudan is not an exception; we have South Sudan National Anthem Act, 2011. The law is very concise and it provides the manner in which it can be used. The law gives powers under sections 7 and 12 respectively to the Minister responsible for Culture and National Heritage.

The minister has a delegated legislative authority to regulate the usage of National Anthem for the purpose of public good. The regulations should detail where and in which occasion can the national anthem be used. The regulation should of course ban the national anthem in some occasions and time because it can’t be left open for distortion and abuse.

The regulation may select which stanzas should be sung or not in the occasion where president may be absent. This is the best practice in the world!

Therefore, it is the humble view of this author that banning the singing of national Anthem randomly is not bad but it has to be made as a regulation. The resolution of council of ministers to ban the singing of national anthem can be made as a regulation by the ministry responsible for culture and national heritage. The legal counsel from Ministry of Justice assigned to Ministry responsible for culture and national heritage should draft the regulation of national Anthem’s usage.

Since every general rule has an exception always, the regulation should exempt school children from the ban because they should sing it in every morning parade in a designated day like Monday; it should exempt the states’ governors to use it for official business because they are head of states and government within territorial limit of their respective states.

The guards of honour in armed forces should also be exempted as it is their routine activity. The regulation should also exempt the important public occasions and celebrations such as our Athletic and sport teams opening competition with foreign sports teams. It should exempt occasions like 16th, May, 9th July, 30th July and other important celebrations which may be organized in the states or anywhere abroad in absent of president.

The regulation should also indicate how the national anthem can be used in foreign missions; how it can be used together with foreign nations’ national anthems in South Sudan and abroad in public celebrations and many more to mention but a few.

In this regard, the said council of minister resolution is a soft law and it can’t be imposed before court if anyone attempts to sing national anthem anyhow. It has to be made as a regulation to indicate the eventual punishment for the violation. The regulation should be published in official gazette for public access.

In conclusion, banning singing of national anthem is not bad but it has to be regulated by Minister responsible Culture and national heritage. The regulation has to indicate how, when, who and where to use it so as to protect its abuse and distortion.


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.

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