Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 6 February 2014

Tribalism and violence in South Sudan

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By Peter Gai Manyuon

“If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and dissolute night of bitterness and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos”
- Martin Luther King, Jr

February 6, 2014 - In the autonomous Republic of South Sudan, tribalism and violence has been the only mean of running the Country affairs since the inception of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SPLA) formation in 1983, most of the leaders divided themselves base on the useless tribalism that have created violence that have reduced the small population in the newest Country. Hence, since the comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, tribalism and hatred was used in governance by South Sudan leadership and in the party as well. However, the ideologies of tribalism, corruption are the main talking points that need proper attention and rectification in the newest Country as I speak. Why do I say this? When the war broke out on the 15th of December 2013, people use different methodology of identifying people using tradition tattoos of Nuer to identify who is who in South Sudan.

More interestingly, confusion came where some Dinka from Rumbek were killed as well in Juba, because they have the same tattoos or marks put on their faces like the Nuer. The people who massacre the Nuer also massacre some Dinka from Rumbek because of their tradition that is almost the same with Nuer. And after they realized that, there are some Dinka who are being killed because of the confusing of marks or tattoos, they turn to asking people in Dinka language, and once you don’t speak the language, you’re gone.

If you may ask yourself, is that how South Sudan will progress? What show there is peace and love in the Country?

Therefore; Tribalism is the state of being organized in, or advocating for, a tribe or tribes. In terms of conformity, tribalism may also refer to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group.

The social structure of a tribe can vary greatly from case to case, but, due to the small size of tribes, it is always a relatively simple role structure, with few (if any) significant social distinctions between individuals.

Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. It is a precondition for members of a tribe to possess a strong feeling of identity for a true tribal society to form. The distinction between these two definitions for tribalism is an important one because, while tribal society no longer strictly exists in the western world, tribalism, by this second definition, is arguably undiminished. People have postulated that the human brain is hard-wired towards tribalism due to its evolutionary advantages.

Meanwhile, according to different philosophers they have come up with the definition of Violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal development, or deprivation. This definition associate’s intentionality with the committing of the act itself, irrespective of the outcome it produces. Generally, although, anything that is turbulent or excited in an injurious, damaging or destructive way, or presenting risk accordingly, may be described as violent or occurring violently, even if not signifying violence (by a person and against a person).

According to different researchers, globally, violence takes the lives of more than 1.5 million people annually: just over 50% due to suicide, some 35% due to homicide, and just over 12% as a direct result of war or some other form of conflict. For each single death due to violence, there are dozens of hospitalizations, hundreds of emergency department visits, and thousands of doctors’ appointments. Furthermore, violence often has lifelong consequences for victims’ physical and mental health and social functioning and can slow economic and social development.

Violence in many forms is preventable. Evidence shows strong relationships between levels of violence and potentially modifiable factors such as concentrated poverty, income and gender inequality, the harmful use of alcohol, and the absence of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between children and parents. Scientific research shows that strategies addressing the underlying causes of violence can be effective in preventing violence.

Highlights of the tribalism in South Sudan

What I have noted with concern in the current government of South Sudan and the previous government before South Sudan attained the Independent on July 9th 2011. The formation of the government is always base on tribalism; the composition of the cabinets is always not fair up to the expectation of the Citizen of South Sudan. For example, once you’re relative is appointed as the Minister, what he/she does is to bring in relatives in to the Ministry from the top up to down, filling in positions with people who’s their minds are empty. People do not have curative thinking to do something to the people of South Sudan but advocating for stomach is the only way people within Mayardit are competing for. What a confusing situation is South Sudan heading to?

Furthermore, there was one Ministry that I visited one day in South Sudan in 2011, I realized that the office Manager is the Elder brother of the Minister, Private Secretary was the wife of the Minister, receptionist up to the cleaners are the relatives of the Minister. And once the Minister was remove from the position to another, he (Minister) move to another Ministry as a block with his relatives. Realistically who can deny that in South Sudan? If I may ask, what was the reason for South Sudanese fighting for decades with the Northern Sudan? Were we fighting for the freedom of the people of South Sudan or fighting for corruption like what is happening in Juba?

Highlights of violence in South Sudan

Since the peace deal was signed up to date, there had been violence that is reducing the population of the newest nation. There are numerous reports in all the states that indicated many incidents that erupted and killed at least 20 people and etcetera monthly. Assuming if more than a thousand lives are lost like what happen when there was massacre of people and were buried in the mass grave in South Sudan, what will happen after many years coming? Who can deny the fact, that South Sudan is the failed state globally? And who can deny that, South Sudan is number one among the countries that are promoting corruption cases globally?

In conclusion, it is the task of every South Sudan to advocate for the peaceful co-existence in the Society. No one will come from heaven and begin telling us to love our selves never. Therefore, when you see something wrong, it is the right time to advocate and rectify our weaknesses that are links to tribalism, corruption in the Republic of South Sudan.

Author is Independent Journalist who had written articles extensively as columnist on the issues of Democratization and Human Rights in South Sudan; you can contact him through;southsudanjournalist@gmail.com. And he is also writing a book on Tribalism and corruption in South Sudan



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  • 6 February 08:17, by Tata

    Stop thinking in terms of Great Bhar el Ghazal, Great Upper Nile and Great Equatoria. This is the virus without cure. It is too stupid that in 21st century people in S>Sudan still think in terms of tribe, clan and family. Imagine someone with PhD from western country thinks today in terms of tribe. when will you liberate your mind from tribalism and ascend above it. There is total lost of trust.

    repondre message

  • 6 February 09:43, by Konkooc

    if phd holder like riek macieth is the tribalist, that mean donkey when to univesity and graduated donkey.

    repondre message

    • 6 February 10:02, by Mapuor

      Mr Riek Macar is suffering from Narcissistic Personalty Disorder.His followers should cease following him.He needs a good psychiatrist to take care of him.UNITY OYEEEEEEE

      repondre message

    • 6 February 11:36, by omoni jr.

      This is problem of Dinka, they just utter some nonsenses without shame,they keep talking all day long about Reik machar.
      M.r Gai,
      If all people in south sudan think like you man, we wouldn’t have this mess.

      repondre message

      • 7 February 06:15, by Big Boy

        Dear Omoni
        Yes, mr food-lover Omoni you are everywhere to your husband Dr: food lover Riak, he will die destitute in this country my dear believe me!! if you are food-lover pls give up everythin and join non food-lover, i paid condel,to those of poor Nuer Luo who have die for power by the name of Riak leader of food-lover peoples of nuer...

        repondre message

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