By David Mayen Ayarbior, Juba, South Sudan
September 29, 2016 (SSB) —- The Chinese proverb which states that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step is found, translated and paraphrased in almost all other human societies. James Baldwin, a prominent African American civil rights writer once wrote that we must know where we are coming from in order to know where we are going. John Garang used that wisdom in his diagnoses of “the problem of Sudan.” The same idiom also featured in an ever present confession that “we lost track” whenever mountaineers try to get their way either up to the top or back to base.
Physicians (medical doctors) examine the physical state of patients before prescribing medication. Social scientists (historians, lawyers, sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, psychologists, etc.) examine dynamics and trends in social phenomena prior to proposing positive paths forward. Thus, recent medical and social histories of patients and beleaguered societies (countries) are vital in both fields.
The general idea here is that conflicts are linked to their roots from which they ought not to be detached, lest we lose track of the way forward. Some societies make the mistake of assigning improper roots to their conflicts thereby fail to find sustainable solutions to their persistence. For example, a few of learned colleagues would want to attribute the current selfish nonsensical deadly political bickering back to historical clan-centered wars between the Jieng (Dinka) and Naath (Nuer), rather than pinpointing the real issues related to personal ambition and political contestation in the country. It is not the tribes, which are God’s creation, it is individual political leaders who use tribes as their political firewood.