Archive for September 17, 2019


“What makes one sleepless is one’s own cause.” Says the Nuer.

By Matai Manuoi Muon, Nairobi, Kenya

Riek Machar Teny, the armed rebel leader

The Nuer and Politics

Monday, September 16, 2019 (PW) — The Nuer (formerly Nath) is a significant political unit strategically located at the northern most part of South Sudan. It is the only nation out of more than 63 political units of the world’s nascent country that borders two foreign lands. The Nuer borders Ethiopia in the East and Sudan in the northwest. This is a strategic geographical advantage in political terms. By some measures, the Nuer is the second largest political unit by demography and land mass. The Nuer’s major occupation is farming; cattle herding in particular. Although the Nuer has some tradition in crop farming and fishing, nothing beats the Nuer’s love of and desire for cattle. The rest serves as a supplement to the Nuer’s cow.

In historical context, it was in the Nuerland that the “southern problem” as it was known then was first contextualized. The Nuer’s contributions in political and social foundations of what is now South Sudan does not require a lecture. It is abundant in our national archives. The Nuer, like no any other nation in South Sudan has paid the biggest price before, during and even after the war of struggle. Its proximity to Sudan and Ethiopia both served as a strategic advantage and at the same time, a disadvantage. The war of struggle for example, cost the Nuer heavily both in material and human terms. At the same time, it had opened up the Nuer to the life of modernity especially the eastern and central Nuer.

Riek Machar and his wife, Angelina Teny

The trillion dollar question that begs every analyst for answers then is: why is the Nuer here? Why for over 70 years since the times of John Both Diu, has the Nuer languished in endless political dilemmas? A dilemma is a situation in which one has to make a difficult decision. In this situation, the dilemma for the Nuer is to either diversify their politics or perish altogether as a misled political organism in the 21st century. Let us begin this debate with some rhetoric. If the Nuer does make up such a strategic position in South Sudan, why are they suffering politically? Is it because someone hates the Nuer? Is it because the Dinka does not want the Nuer in leadership? Has the Nuer been cursed into this?

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