Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 17 April 2011

Regional representation breeds tribalism in South Sudan


By James Okuk

April16, 2011 — Some of us who got privileged to study politics of democracy academically and/or got involved in some political activities at times, really wonder whether many of the so-called leaders in Southern Sudan understand their public statements. For a SPLM Governor to utter power-politics nonsense like "Second Vice President", "Thirty Ambassadors", "Two Positions in Supreme Federal Ministries" and "Equal Representation in Ministries/Political Appointment for Equatoria Region", makes a good show-case that South Sudan is still distance away from multi-party liberal constitutional democracy as expected and desired.

When enlightened Southerners and International Community are campaigning hard for broad-based multi-party interim government of the Republic of South Sudan by July 2011 before a competitive fair democratic elections take place by the end of 2013, yet some dull SPLM Equatorian Governors and others are seriously recommending shameful ideas detrimental to the thrive of multi-party governance system in the emerging new country.

Unless these politically dull Governors and their supporters want to prove that Equatoria Region has become or is becoming a political party to reckon with rather than a geographical location, I am of the idea that they need to be taken to some USA democratic institutes for better knowledge of how multi-party democratic politics should work better than mere regional demonstration.

It would have made great sense if the dull Governor could have encouraged Equatorians to get involved in as many political parties as South Sudan could have and climb their power seeking ladders from there in whatever opportunity avails itself; be it the presidential or deputy or premier post, ministerial post, ambassadorial posts, parliamentary posts, etc.

Otherwise, this thing called Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile regional representations must be brought to an end in multi-party democratic practice and constitutional posts appointments in South Sudan, lest tribalism is going to remain as the yardstick in many things in the nascent country. Of course I am not against the value of tribes in South Sudan but the vice of tribalism.

The Republic of South Sudan should focus on on how to built robust political parties who should compete fairly and democratically in politics of attaining government power rather than entertaining geographical regional blocs of tribalism. Even if Equatoria geographical representation is granted, still we will be faced by the equation of who is a Western, Eastern or Central Equatorian in the power-getting game. Also, if we take Central Equatoria as a case point, still we will be faced by the question of who is a Bari, Nyanggwara, Kakwa, Mandari and etc in the game. The same vicious circle could apply as well to Eastern or Western Equatoria or in any other geographical part of South Sudan.

Really, I am against decentralization of government power politics in South Sudan at the moment before achieving "detribalization" first as this breeds serious detrimental tribalism in the process. We have already tasted the harmfulness of tribalism during the Kokora era in 1980s and also now with combination of "Dinkanization" and "Nuerization" of government power politics in South Sudan.

For people’s and God’s sake, let’s not push for more harms and evil practices in South Sudan by calling for more tribalism in the name of regional representation. We have already accumulated more problem than solutions, and it is time to sit back and rethink a bit of what wrong things could be stopped in the emerging new country called South Sudan in the Wolrd Map.

Yes to inclusive national building in South Sudan, but No to regional/tribal exclusivity!!!

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

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  • 17 April 2011 12:57, by Achiek Alier Jr


    Your article is well analyze, but it is not fair to called a political leader "dull". That is indeed very informal language. By the way, Southerners need to be told that there is no more Equatoria, Bhar El Ghazell and Upper Nile states. We used to have three states in the old Sudan, we are not part of that Sudan anymore. We are Southern Sudan with ten states, and if governor Luise want to talked about Eastern Equatoria political representation, then he is entitle to his own personal opinion.

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    • 17 April 2011 15:00, by Deng Ateny Lueth

      Dear James Ukuk, I one time heard of you from a friend of mine who might have read some important article you have posted. please let me throw my utmost and perhaps deep approciations as dear compensation for having fed me this morning with your very vissionary statement. i think your statement deserve A grade. you know very well our leaders are the one playing in tribal lines, they are the one entertaining the tribalism instead of moving our people toward intergration. they are lock into their limited chicken mentalities whereby they don’t see things in their big pictures or commonalities. why are we still dividing south sudan to regions when we all want one united south sudan.

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    • 18 April 2011 13:36, by Duol Ruach

      I think the three governors falls to understand that this time South Sudan is being treated based on its 10 States, not of Equatorians , the demolitions of the other communties houses in Juba is clear demonstration of hatrage and Xenophianism and sense of parochialism.

      They meeting was call to boost their hargre as it was clear in the peech of the governors.

      I wonder they pay their civil servants with other States oil revenues , these are the communities they have displaced on daily basis here in Juba, they are even deny house to rent hence prefer renting them to Foregners, forcing their own brothers to pay 12 months advance payment , or totalyy deny them any rent right or whatsover

      They were directing strerotyping words against other communties culture with aim to create hatrege disunity among the communities as you may read in the speech of the Governor of the WES , Bakasoro.

      we need our peoeple to be united on their value and that must be respected by all and leaders must work hard for community unity and peace

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  • 17 April 2011 16:39, by lojuru

    Mr Okuk, being a PhD holder does not entitle you to call someone ’dull’ and for your information our leaders did not have the sort of ’privilege’ you enjoyed to engage in the sort of academic excerise to be refered by as so-called leaders. Please mind your langauge, even if you do-not aggree with thier opinion or thier approach that you consider incorrect. The learned their politics and earned PhDs in the Jungle Universities of S Sudan (there thier thesis and course work involved dodging bulletins, air raids, etc.) and many of thier ’classmates’ could perish in the fields. As a result of that, they deserve some respect.

    Coming to the issue are hand, being a political scientist, you should have gone deeper to analyse the roots of the problem and what has prompted the ’Equatorians’ to come up with such calls in the first place. Unfortunately, your article and analysis is grossly shallow and has fallen short of expectations. Maybe you are too busy to seriusly follow up evens after the establishment of GOSS in the post-CPA era or maybe your judgement has been biased for reasons best know to you..........

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  • 17 April 2011 23:37, by kaci-banno

    Dear Okuk,
    I wonder some time most of us distance ourselves and condemning SPLM as a failure of political agenda in South Sudan. I agree with you in a point of wrong leaders in South Sudan. I can situation in south Sudan in Such a way:
    1. Social Setting: All tribes in South Sudan living in a notion of my tribes as most important than other tribes and that contribute a lot to the failure of our new state. And some of the tribes also believe that when you steal then you are a man which is contributing a lot to the corruption because they were taught by their parents since childhood about stealing. Another social problems is polygamy, how should a leaders serve his country while he himself living in a life of despair looking around his office to steal for the shack of his two-three wives.
    2- failure of us who claim to be intellectual: The political situation in south is about our failure of wrong comments, think twice when you put a comments make sure your comments is going to make different in south Sudan. building a nation that start from zero level is not an easy task need our commitment with positive ideas toward our new nation. I’m not blaming SPLM but intellect those who standing behind tribalism crises in South Sudan.
    3-problems of nationality: The people of south Sudan have less spirit of of nationality because we were taught only about the tribe not nation, Example if I ask you where are you from? your first answer will be I’m from Dinka or Nuer,others that’s not the correct answer, you should say I’m from South Sudan, let’s be proud of nation not tribe because the tribes are within a nation, without nation tribe will be in disorganization.
    Anyway my last comment let’s stop blaming our government from distance and try to bring ourselves down to our communities so that we should be able to change the social problems that is taking place in south Sudan for the shack of our grant children otherwise our state will be somalization as predicted.

    By: Kaci-Ma-banno

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    • 18 April 2011 04:46, by Nyieth-Aguthon

      Traitor Okuk,

      That was Luis’s proposal you do not need to analyse it. Southerners consider you and Lam Akol as intruders who poisons their relationship with Southern compatriots for vested interests. Your backing of the militant groups, along with Sudan Khartuoum government, is much more visible to the people of Southern Sudan than any other people in Sudan.

      When will you stop your habit of anxiously open page-three without a glance at page-one? Labong is a true compatriot, therefore he is free to push his political project to juba government. The governor is on the right track because he has not gone to Khartoum and ask for his political share as you people do.

      Dr Traitor, Continue beating violence drum but that kind of conduct will not make you a better person or enhance your image even.

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  • 18 April 2011 07:56, by Lokorai

    Dear Dr. James,

    I agree with you 100% that the so-called Equatoria whatever is too bad a meeting!

    We earlier oppose but some people (professors in Universities) thought it is time to raise issues.

    Some of us who came from the bush were seen as brain washed by Dinka and am afraid we are doing something that will spoil our togetherness.

    My belove Vice President moreover should not have gone that far even talk negative against the government he’s serving.

    What a shame to Kiir-Machar leadership!!!


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  • 20 April 2011 22:05, by umba peter

    It’s very excellent that Dr. Okuk has explained the side effects of politics of regionalism and its relation to democratic principles especially in the fight against tribalism. Equatorians including other regions should have learned a good lesson from Okuk’s essay.
    However, we should also remember that “a child can never become his/her parents’ parent” when they (the parents) are still alive. This is the fear which most traditional African parents usually have when such a thing happens. In fact they know it even better than the child that demarcating particular zones within your own compound and assigning care taker leaders who are your own children in these zones can be so disastrous especially when their time comes.
    The question is why should parents always refuse to allow their children to repeat the same things that they have done?

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    • 23 April 2011 10:00, by Angelo Ajiech Manyuat

      James Okuk’s article is correct, but he sometimes wrote bias article which put him into the same category. When James notice talking about tribes/ regions is bad while he always campaigning for Dr. Lam Akol just for the fact that he’s from his community while he don’t really have any objectives rather then destroying South Sudan. As a PhD holder, Dr. Okuk should start that advice from his community before he calls other dull leaders.

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