Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 23 April 2011

President Salva Kiir was smart to avoid Equatoria regionalism


By James Okuk

April 22, 2011 — In reaction to my article “Regional Representation Breeds Tribalism in South Sudan” published a week ago, I got flowers from some readers as well as crosses from others. This shows that at least the article was fair and some-how objective in its conclusions.

For example, an Italian who is involved in humanitarian affairs work in the Sudan wrote to me:

“I just read your article on Regional Representations on SSNA website. It is a very well written and full of concrete thoughts.

It is with some sorrow that I look back at my country (Italy) and I see that despite the blessings received in terms of wealth from its unity, people do still try to base their politics on regionalism and disunity as well.

This results in bad relations among brothers and incapacity of successfully cooperate to build a better future for our sons.

Some separations are necessary, but unity should be the supreme value to guide a people to achieve development and prosperity.

Regionalism indeed is a vicious circle that could end up in having each household against each other and make them unable to build anything.

Unity is indeed more difficult, like marriage, but way too fruitful than the easier separation. The only way we can develop ourselves is through dialogue and unity. As the good old greek philosopher Socrates was saying: the dialogue that stem out of a meeting between identities who deeply know themselves is the only way to pursue common good.

I enjoyed reading your article and I do hope that it will have an impact on the few motivated south Sudanese politicians.”

Also a South Sudan Equatorian Intellectual wrote to me this:

“It is the failure of the tribal regime in Juba which, I am afraid, pushed them to take such an awkward position: a position I personally do not agree with. But if you evaluate their position in the context of the current GOSS government, you will understand why they said what they said. I am just glad that they said it in Nyakuron, inside Juba, rather than somewhere in the forests of Equatoria with their AK47 leaning against tamarind trees. These governors understand democracy more than those now playing the dangerous game of hide-and seek in the flatlands of Jongolei and Unity State with sophisticated weapons. Should you need to educate anyone at all in liberal democracy, Jongolei and Unity State would be an ideal place to start from; we will take care of Equatoria.”

In any case, I would like to thank those who took their time to read and digest my article. Some intolerant people may think that it was a wrong debate as it was fested with hot emotions about regional backings in South Sudan, especially the Equatoria.

Of Course the debate did not pop up out of blue but from underlying social stereotypic behaviors in South Sudan, which does not even exempt our PhD holders and other intellectual together with the common people. Revisiting the reaction and overreaction of many Equatorians to article you can by yourself see where South Sudan came from, where it is standing today and where it is heeding in breeding tribalism that emanates from condoning regionalism in the process of governance, security, rule of law and development as they were generally discussed in the Equatoria Conference with scapegoating. Surely, with such stereotypes we still have a long walk with sweat on the path of our dear South Sudan independence and freedom.

It is said in behaviorist social psychology that if you want to unearth cultural stereotypes just provoke the targets to the maximum, and you will get amazed of the wrong informational reactions that will flow to you from them.

However, let’s go back to the scene of the crime of regionalism committed by the Equatorians for trying to exclude themselves from other regions of South Sudan, and with illusion that they are better because they have not run wild with machine guns against the government in the South, and that they are the only strength for the survival of South Sudan as a non-fragile state in future. Wonders never cease in the human world!!!

First of all for some participant Equatorian intellectuals to deny that the vice of regionalism (Kokora if you like) was never re-enforced in that wrong Equatoria Conference shows that might be sleepy for our realities in South Sudan. Unless, they were snoring perfectly during the speeches of the dull Governors of Equatoria during that wrong conference, they better ask for voice record of what was said. If many parts of their speeches have not appeared in the resolutions and final Communiqué of the conference, then they should get it well that the critics of the conference (including some enlightened Equatorians themselves) really might have shaped the final outcome of the show.

But do these Equatoria intellectuals know why H.E. the GoSS President Salva Kiir Mayadit declined to either open or close the proceedings of that wrong Equatoria Conference of Regionalism though he authorized payment of some money for its conduct? And do they really understand why H.E. the GoSS Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar and Hon. GoSS Presidential Advisor Telar Ring were very happy with the outcome of that Conference?

In my analysis, H.E Kiir might have avoided the conference simply because of its enforcement of vice of regionalism in South Sudan. If the conference was about the good of all South Sudan why was it done in the name of Equatoria only? Why was it not done for all regions of South Sudan?

Also it could be that H.E. Dr. Riek and Hon Telar were happy with the conference outcome because its demands did not touch the posts of the President that Mr. Tealr advices and also the post of the 1st Vice-President. The Equatorians in the Conference felt coward to aim highest but they were courageous to lie low below the king-makers in South Sudan. This is where I sensed that Equatoria did not liberate itself yet despite the overwhelming vote of its residents in the last conducted referendum for self-determination and independence together with other regions of South Sudan.

The South Sudanese Equatorians may argue and defend themselves that the strategy is "little by little we catch a monkey", but still I will not get optimistic until they really catch the monkey. Do they mean that they will hold another conference of regionalism to aim highest? Even they were behaving in the conference as if Equatoria should belong to SPLM political party alone, and thus it should respect the SPLM/A bush hierarchy of power distribution. What a lie and illusion!

Dr. James Okuk is a PhD holder from University of Nairobi. He can be reached at okukjimy@hotmail.com.

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  • 23 April 2011 11:23, by superior Junibi

    Well, Equatorian Conference, was an internal voice of opposition to SPLM current failed leadership. If you can sense it, SPLM number two man, Dr. Riek is even opposing the current SPLM Administration by endorsing outcomes from the conference.

    If you are paying attention to current SOuthern Sudan affairs, the whole country is confused and dont even know what the top SPLM leadership is doing or stand on current situation. Kiir closed his Palath and hired some money chasing wana be political think tanks to run the country for him. He has no public stand on anything. Thats why you see alot of frustration within the Top SPLM leadership.

    The only factor preventing frustrated citizens from toppling this Retarded Moron is his current blind and powerful, tribalistic supporters.

    I want to inform Southerners that we have been used for so long by our own politicians. We have to come out of this mess and be independent think tanks. Our politicians want us to worship them and keep them in power till the die. These politicians are men like me and you and there is no need to let them fool us everytime.

    Free yourself please. Stop blind tribalistic support of these thugs.

    They are our Leaders, but they chose Leadership for their own selfish interests!!!!!!!! Every Generation have leaders. New generation has even more open minded Leaders who loved every Southerner.

    By Superior Junibi, An open Minded Dinka Boy.

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    • 23 April 2011 14:13, by Mr. Truthteller

      Dr. James Okuk,

      First of all, you are contradicting your advice to Equatorians. If, for example, you are against demand for a political or administrative right by a regional bloc, then why did you go ahead by teasing the Greater Equatorians by calling them cowards who did not ask for the position of the president of South Sudan as a region?

      Again, having a bloc that wants federal system applied throughout the South is not bad. I can agree with them that the police forces should be deployed in consideration of the system of federalism where Shilluk policemen and women will only be in Upper Nile state and not in Central Equatoria, for example.

      Only the army and national security personnel which are not always affected by the federal system. They can be deployed every where irrespective of regions their members come from.

      And again, a real competition that excels the nation is effected in federalism. Rich states will excel and poor ones like in Greater Bahr el Ghazal will lag behind but cannot be rescued by the federal government.

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  • 23 April 2011 12:34, by Philosopherking

    Dr. Okuk,

    Do you know what is dull, it is the belief that ’even an Italian thinks regionalism is bad, so it must really be bad’...wired right? This is Naive.

    The weirdest part by it self is when you introduced the word regionalism as opposed to federalism!

    More than wired is your believe that by working together, the three states are more of a threat than seven militia’s fighting south Sudan. South Sudanese and those who wish south Sudan well would appreciate what the three states have done! If Okuk wishes South Sudan well, he would dedicate his writings to convince the waring parties to come to the table and find a political solution to the South Sudan problem. Guess what, Okuk never thinks anything is wrong with those who are taking up arms against our new nation!

    That said, it is undeniable that the likes of Okuk want to see war in all ten states in South Sudan so that he can have a reason to discredit HE. President Salva Kirr. Remember this is a guy who was against South Sudanese Independence from day one!

    He though by quoting Socrates, it would make his writings philosophical! Dr. Okuk your quotation is so unprofessional...it does not contain any source, no publisher and not date! What kind of writer are you? You should read ’Limited Inc by Jacque Derrida’ you will learn what it means to reiterate!

    What is regionalism? Does the current system in South Sudan fit in with Federalism? How does the 3E States meeting qualify into regionalism? How does it fit with Tribalism given the tribal diversity within the three states? What are its dangers? What are the alternatives

    The above questions should have been the flow of Okuk’s article.

    As for this particular article, I know Okuk can do better. I have however never seen such a disorganized article such as this, even from Okuk himself. It lacks direction and it is incoherent. This to me suggests that the Author was intoxicated when he wrote it!

    Okuk you can do better. Style up....think!

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  • 23 April 2011 15:37, by sanduksanduk

    All Okuk and those like him is trying to do, is insulting Equatorians and their leadership.The governors are only trying to put their houses in order. If governors from greater upper nile were to hold a meeting today (they can’t and do not have to anyway)Okuk would praise them for their courage.

    Okuk would do a greater service to direct his frustration to his backyard. Focussing on an innocent conference amounts to diverting attention from the real thing Okuk. A Nuer clan from mayom was forgotten. Gadet is fighting for their share. What about Oliny Okuk? Which clan does he come from? Lam had all appointed to diplomatic services. There are vacant positions for chiefs in Liria, Nzara, Pajok, Morobo and Nimule. Those from Upper Nile who missed out are encouraged to apply and will be given priority.

    Kiir didn’t have to come for the conference. He was represented by his governors (Clement, Louis and Joseph),Telar and Riak. The conference was a success. Its resolutions if implemented will serve the South from disintegration.

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  • 23 April 2011 22:58, by Ito


    I think you should respect yourself as a Ph.D holder by respecting the opinions of others. This conference is not against anyone and was not a secret that is why government officials including Vice President was there and was happy with it. Conferences were conducted before in UPpernile and barlganzel (Panydor conference) if you do not know, can we say that it is breeding tribalism like you stated it. If so you should first criticise them before coming to equatoria because they were the first to have their conference and equatorians were not upset with it.


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  • 24 April 2011 22:43, by Garang

    Dr. James Okuk
    Every learned South Sudanese has a right according the constitution, to express his or her opinon on any national issue of concern. And that should be done in a manner that reflects good qualities of a civlized intellectual who does not resort to abusive language. Almighty God has a command on the way He creates people and in giving them mental abilities. Based on the constitutino of the land, every dull has a right to say his or her opinion with out being abused. God did not give you that Great mind in order to every now and then belittle or insult His less minded ceatures. It is good always for intellectuals to get engaged in discussing the running of affairs of their countries to the extend of getting into war of pens. But that should be in a constructive manner far from abusive language. PLease, refrain from your abusive language to maintain respect from those who agree and disagree with your opinions. You are contributng a lot to the nation but you need to stop being a snob.
    Happy Easter to you and the rest on the Forum

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  • 25 April 2011 11:50, by Makol Dhal

    Just yesterday, I was called by my brother in his house to solve a certain misunderstanding between him, and his two wives.When I ask his first wife,what was the problem about, she said reppling me that,she was left outside in the morning and this wife plus your two brothers went in side to discuss what I don’t know! that is why I attacked them to tell me what they were discusing. I told her that you have commited a fallancy of generalisation and that your conclusion has no coherence with your claim.
    However, it is very clear that there is problem everywhere in the south since but all these need people effort to discuss base on healthy arguement to identify cons and pros. And I think if people of Upper nile will sit with Getdat and the rest so that they can understand what is his problem, I think will make other without shame to be shameful in their thoughts.

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  • 26 April 2011 09:20, by Lokaku

    James Okuk, I have followed your writings for quite some time. You used to be a government critic, now an ardent supporter. To put it mildly, you are just a boot-licker hoping to get a government job because your PhD will not get you a job as a Shoe Shine anywhere.

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    • 26 April 2011 12:11, by jubaone

      Mr. Okuk´s lambasting of the recently held GEC in Juba was inevitable as a non-Equatorian. I have not wanted to be dragged into something that in terms of contents are neither substantive nor educative. That some lazy thinker masquerading as some intellectual, exposing his mediocre PhD talent is mind boggling. Whereas, the GEC tried to get along the path of Dr. Garang, that of peoples empowerment, taking the towns to the rural areas, that is kokora per se. Now the very hypocrites, who assume to have championed the cause of the people are the very ones saying no. Yes, Greater Equatoria is just about the only region in South Sudan with comparative and relative development. Instead, Mr. Okuk (either a Jur/Shilluk or Anyuak) as the name suggests is better off sitting idly around some Juba shop verandas waiting for presidential appointment as an advisor. My advise, please go home and do some good work. Your people need you most.
      His critique may be justified, but the vulgarity and attack on the 3 "politically dull" governors of Equatoria does not reflect his academic credentials nor his ability to self-restrain as a discplined academic. How would such a reputed academic institution let someone of such calibre just attain a PhD? This is disgrace to the Univ. of Nairobi. Well, what of if he went back to either Anyuakland/Shillukland or Jurland to do some worthwhile activity as PhD holder? That would be Kokora or federalism in essence, it is good for the South.

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  • 28 April 2011 10:49, by Amanya Joseph

    Dear Dr Okuk
    Let me have this to say regarding the "Equatoria Conference" as it was refered to, this forum as you said that it is regionalism policy of breeding tribalism in South Sudan, I need to inform you that you are completely ignorant of what is happening down here in South Sudan. Many tribalistic people may be to include you, because it came from your mouth that it was meant for spreading the gospel of tribalism or what many put it that "Equatorian Awakening" as that of the Arab, I completely disagree with you. I was in that forum, and one of the thing that i show in the Forum was, there are a lot of people who are so much disgrantle with this current government and ending up taking arms to fight, will such not happen to equatorian land if things are not handle in time? that was the big question i show, and the resolutions which came out can not only benefit Equatorians alone but the rest of those who feel like they are marginalised and are taking up arms.
    And by the way when I read one of your article in Sudan tribune, it was very clear that you did some political Science in the US and I think this would have help you to reasons out what are the ways of putting government on the right truck;
    1 . Is by having the opposition parties to voice any wrong doing by the goverment or government official, things like corruption, Nepotism (Kokokora) and other office Multi - practice.
    2. Secondly the Civil Society, here we talk of the Activists, Human right association, democratic association, the faith base organisation to mention but a few.
    3. And thirdly reaction from organised conferences like that of the Equatorians. This is clearly where government can take up from and change its policy.

    And believe me it was positive because it was a free discussion, though it was called equatorian conference, we had a number of all other tribes from other regions like Upper Nile and greater Barh el Gahzal. And with this conference if it is not taken negatively by other States or provinces, i thing it will be great achievement for the people of South Sudan. And that is my wish that the rest of the two region should also do similar conferences where they can be able to influence the government policies and unite their people not base Nuerism, Shilluk or Dinka line.

    Dr. Okuk watch out of abusive language, because this South Sudan belong to me, you and all the rest of South Sudanese no matter what level of their educational background. "Pride is the worst sin"

    God Bless South Sudan.

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  • 28 April 2011 13:05, by AAMA

    “Some separations are necessary, but unity should be the supreme value to guide a people to achieve development and prosperity”, this is the most hypocritical sentence I have read in a loooooong time.

    Unity is unity and separation is separation, and people are people. You simply can’t justify separation on one side as a good thing and unity on the other as a good thing too. What you did to the north will come back and haunt you no matter what you do, separation and division will be an issue in the south ”whatever based on hate is doomed to fail, even if it is based on a just cause”. Don’t be angry because this is the truth.


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