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Jieeng Council of Elders, the Erosion of Jieeng’s Values and the ‘Jieengization’ of South Sudan

First off, let's remember that the elders I'm talking about are not the REAL ELDERS, but the dollar-intoxicated, Prado-Driving, educated political 'elders' in Juba. I'm not referencing the real elders in Jieeng Villages!

By Kuir ë Garang

November 19, 2015 (SSNA) -- Elders, the world over, are supposed to be the voice of reason and wisdom. They should be the people to calm down a young and fiery generation, who are always interested in solving everything through myopic physical means. However, this is not the case in South Sudan as the nation has had every order of things turned upside down. Elders have lost wisdom and reason as they are the first to beat the drum of war and division. Personal benefits are put above the health and long term well-being of all citizenry! It’s very sad but there seems to be no end in sight. We are free falling!

Undoubtedly, it's no secret that South Sudan is a tribalized nation and it will take a seasoned, self-sacrificing strategist to formulate a long-lasting and acceptable panacea for the chronic malady of tribalism. So far this strategist is either not given a chance to help save South Sudan, or she/he doesn’t’ exist.

Since 2005, after the death of late Dr. John Garang De Mabior, South Sudan continued a downward spiral toward failure, naïve tribalism and unbridlef corruption. The saddest part of all this affair is that the perpetrators of the problems don’t seem to realize the danger they caused and continue to cause.

Since the days of Sudan African Nation Union (SANU) with the likes of Father Saturnino, Joseph Oduho, Agrey Jaden and Deng Nhial, tribalism has always been a problem. Tribalism also caused Oduho to form Azania Liberation Front (ALF) and Agrey forming Sudan African Liberation Front (SALF), all of which short-lived. Tribalism also dogged the Southern Sudan Provisional Government (SSPG) with Gordon Muortat and Agrey Jaden. The formation of Nile Provisional Government (NPG), the Anyidi Republic and the eventual takeover of the liberation struggle by Joseph Lagu resulted from both personal ambition and tribalism. After the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement, the power-play between Joseph Lagu and Abel Alier was an epitome of instrumentalized tribalism. Energies and resources were focused on tribal rivalry as development was shamelessly ignored.

In a word, tribalism isn’t something new in the South. However, one always hopes that past historical mistakes be corrected in an attempt to create a helpful way forward. Unfortunately, in South Sudan, past mistakes are reimagined, reformulated, and instrumentalized for power and wealth. This brings me to the infamous Jieeng Council of Elders (JCE). Instead of making sure all tribal elders in South Sudan come together to not only help children understand tribal values, histories and historicity across tribal lines, but also make sure they institutionalize tribal wisdom in a helpful manner, JCE has become a divisive, boot-licking, dirty group bent on making South Sudan a Jieeng republic!

Jieeng are supposed to be peace-loving people, people who try to bring people together. It’s either I was wrong, or our elders have changed. JCE, headed by the likes of Martin Majut Yak and Ambrose Riiny Thiik, has become a great liability to South Sudan. Where on earth do you find young people advising elders not to be divisive and hawkish? Where have the Jieeng values gone that I can clearly see the danger they are causing South Sudan when they can’t see it? If these are the elders we have then South Sudan is doomed to fail beyond the current failure-pit level. Are these the elders young people should consult for wisdom?

Martin Majut recently told a Jieeng radio presenter [SBS Radio] that Jieeng liberated South Sudan so we [Jieeng] deserve to be the rulers. Are these the elders we should admire? Why do I know that such a statement is wrong when an elder can’t see it? Ambrose Riiny Thiik recently admitted that the idea of the unconstitutional 28 states was their idea. It’s no wonder the president accepted it without putting any thought into how dangerous the idea could be.

How did we, the Jieeng, become this callous, greedy, divisive and short-sighted? Have Jieeng values become completely eroded that elders are now behaving like children? A nation where younger people advise elders to be wise, conciliatory and inclusive, are a nation whose values have been eroded. How can Jieeng elders allow Nuer to be massacred in Juba? Where is the wisdom of Jieeng in making sure Nuer are safe in Juba and out of UNMISS camps?

It’s no surprise that President Kiir has no elders to give him wisdom to lead. His being advised by corrupt, myopic, blood-thirsty, greedy old man who’ve abdicated their duty as elders is taking us to the grave.

This erosion of cultural values has resulted in South Sudan being seen as Jieeng property. The country is shamelessly Jieeng-dominated, but it’s only young people who can see such domination. The elders don’t see it. Where does that happen? The country has been shamelessly Jieengized but we still believe South Sudan will be a country in which all the 60 plus tribes can coexist.

Almost all ambassadors are Jieeng, most state commissioners are Jieeng, SPLM as we’ve seen recently seems Jieeng-dominated, most influential ministers are Jieeng, people who speak on behalf of the government and South Sudan are Jieeng. This is a sad reality our elders find funny but it’s very dangerous. The president is Jieeng, his spokesperson is Jieeng, the minister of foreign affairs is (technically) Jieeng, the spokesperson of foreign minister is Jieeng, the government spokesperson is Jieeng, the chief of general staff of SPLA and the SPLA spokesperson are Jieeng, the defense minister is Jieeng, the the police Inspector General is Jieeng, the government peace delegation is basically a Jieeng entity. How the hell do we expect South Sudan to prosper?

How come my elders love war when I, a young person, don’t like war? How come my elders are tribally divisive when I don’t like tribally divisive policies? How come I realize that Jieeng domination of South Sudan is dangerous for our collective future when my elders don’t?

I’m not saying we [Jieeng] are the only tribal people in South Sudan. Every single tribe is divisively tribal. However, the government is led by one of our own and it’s imperative we show South Sudan that we are not this divisive and incompetent. South Sudan is now a complete failure and the leader is Jieeng! South Sudan is now at war and the leader is Jieeng! I know the damage to Jieeng values and integrity has already been done; however, it’s not too late for the elders to stop ‘eating’ and instead bring back Jieeng wisdom and voice of reason if we actually had it.

Kuir ë Garang is the author of ‘South Sudan Ideologically” and “Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?” For contact, visit

Africa and the death penalty: Time to let go!

By Ivan Simonovic*

November 11, 2015 (SSNA) -- On Tuesday, 6 June 1995, over a year after electing the late Nelson Mandela as its President, South Africa ended the use of the death penalty, with a ruling of its constitutional court.

Mandela’s personal involvement in this outcome has been significant: Five years earlier, freshly out of prison, he had successfully pressed his predecessor - then President FW De Klerk - to announce a moratorium on executions. At the inauguration of the court four months before the ruling, President Mandela had opened his speech with telling words, referring to the 1963-64 trial in which he and his comrades had feared for their lives: “The last time I appeared in court was to hear whether I would be sentenced to death,” he had said. 

For decades, South Africa had executed thousands of its citizens, overwhelmingly among its Black population, earning a top ranking among countries with the highest rates of capital punishment in the world.

Announcing the court's decision, Arthur Chaskalson, its president, noted: "Everyone, including the most abominable of human beings, has a right to life, and capital punishment is therefore unconstitutional." Remarkably, each of the court's 11 judges issued a written opinion backing the ruling.

With that ruling, the new South Africa stood at a turning point of what was to follow across the continent. It heralded a momentous shift in the use of the death penalty in Africa, as more countries joined the global trend away from it. Once common, the practice was now being abandoned. By 1999, 21 African countries were abolitionists in law or practice. Of those, 10 had abolished capital punishment and 11 had de-facto moratoriums.

Today, twenty years since South Africa’s ruling, 37 out of 54 countries on the continent are abolitionists in law or practice, according to the International Federation for Human Rights. Among them, 18 have abolished the death penalty, 19 have de-facto moratoriums.

Last December, at the United Nations General Assembly, 27 African countries joined 90 others from around the world in voting in favour of a resolution calling for a progressive end to the use of the death penalty. Five months earlier, in July 2014 in Cotonou, Benin's capital, the continent had adopted a declaration urging countries still imposing it to "consider abolishing the death penalty." The African Union is now considering an additional protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the abolition of the death penalty, a major development that will further put the continent on the footsteps of Mandela, one of its most illustrious sons.

Yet, as Africa makes major strides away from the death penalty, worrying developments cloud the horizon. Among them, the continued imposition of mandatory death sentences for some crimes in a handful of countries such as Kenya and Nigeria. Uganda, thankfully, has recently taken steps to repel similar provisions from its criminal code.

Another persisting problem is the lack of fair trial guarantees. In March 2014, The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns that the hasty judicial process in Somalia, in which there were only nine days between the alleged killings and the executions, deprived the suspects of their rights to legal representation and appeal.

More visible in recent months is the resurgence of the death penalty in contexts marked by a significant deterioration of the security climate. Faced with the mounting threat of violent extremism by Boko Haram, Nigeria has joined the list of countries prescribing the death penalty for vaguely defined "terrorist" activities. More strikingly, Egypt has resorted to mass trial. In 2013, a court imposed death sentences on more than 1,000 people in two such trials for the alleged killing of a police officer and other violent activities.

All these developments point to the need for a stronger advocacy against the use of the death penalty. Across Africa, much like on the global stage, the direction is now clear, but the mobilisation must continue. Leaders should be part of the debate. Civil society actors and academic institutions must join in too. And everyone should know the facts, starting with those that are no longer in dispute.

First, there is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty deters crime, as researchers in various countries have shown. Countries where the death penalty has been abandoned did not, in general, record a rise in crimes. Second, and most unfortunately, the death penalty is a most final punishment. Even the best justice systems have sentenced innocent people to die. In the United States 20 persons on death row have been exonerated through DNA testing, according to the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organisation based in New York. Third those who end up executed are almost always and everywhere vulnerable because of poverty, minority status or mental disability.

These are just some of the many reasons why, at the United Nations, we strongly believe that, as the Secretary-General puts it, "the death penalty has no place in the 21st century." Or, in the simple words of the great Madiba himself: "The death sentence is a barbaric act." It is time to let it go!

*The author is the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for human rights.

Opinion: South Sudanese may forgive but should not forget the event of December 15, 2013

“He, who does not learn from history, is doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

By Zechariah James Machar

November 10, 2015 (SSNA) -- Choosing to forget December 15 massacre means choosing to side with those who raped you out of your family’s solicitude, those who forced your mother to eat your father’s roasted flesh; those who removed your son’s testosterones to impede the growth of Nuer’s population and to instill inferiority in you. Opting to forget December 15 means you have chosen to part with those who raped your daughter with wooden or metal tools, those who gathered elderly people in hundreds and burned them alive.

Choosing to forget December 15, 2013 mean choosing to forget your own identity!

Why should we never forget December 15, 2013?

Well, there are so many lessons to be learned from December 15th, good, bad, and way ugly. How did it get to such a stage? What drove the offenders, and what drove the rescuers (Local Civil Defense Forces and their brave generals in Bor, Malakal and Unity State)? How would we ensure that if a similar tragedy arises that we would not remain bystanders? Bystanders were in many cases, essentially passive offenders because without their silent consent, Salva Kiir would have had a much harder time in doing as much damage as he did!

December 15 must be remembered because it was a major event in the history of South Sudan when thousands of innocent Nuer and other South Sudanese minorities were targeted and murdered in cold blood for their identity. We will always remember the December 15 as a day in which many innocent civilians perish in the hands of a coward president who found joy in revenging against helpless civilians and endangered the survival of the entire ethnic group. This is the doom day in which foreign mercenaries were prepared to use their superiors against one ethnic group. Failing to commemorate this tragic past risk as if nothing happens would risk a repeat of such impunities. This is not our culture!

December 15, like the holocaust, is the day when men we entrusted with power openly introduced ethnic discrimination and hatred into our state policies. Regrettably, these things continue to happen on a significant scale in nearly all minority groups and they would continue to happen if we act as if nothing happened. We, the survivors of December 15 massacres, must continually preach to schoolchildren, our next generation, that hatred, ethnic prejudice, discrimination, segregation, splits and domination are a cancer that must be abolished in our systems if we ought to build a stable democratic nation. This cancer kills and it will eventually kill those who harbor it today. Don’t ever hate, and if you don’t, give an evil eye to those who practice it!

We all bleed the same color. We are all people, when you see someone being bullied, stand up and do something – whether you get help or say something yourself, but don’t just stand idly. December 15 shows us what happens when we stop seeing people as people; when we fail to see a person as unique individual.  

Why would we mourn on December 15 instead of 16? 

As Christians celebrate Christmas on the day Jesus was born, and God Friday on the day of his crucifixion instead of any other day when major events and temptations happened, December 15th is the day when ethnic discrimination, hatred and subsequent massacres were ascended into state policies. December 15th is the day the trained presidential militia and hired mercenaries, hided in Nesitu and other parts of Equatoria, had anticipated.

As we all know after the first day of the national Liberation council (NLC) meeting on the 14 December, 2013, Dr. Machar and his Dec-6th meeting group withdrew and failed to return back to the meeting on Sunday, December 15, 2013 due to hateful speech of Salva Kiir and his supporters and on the same day at 9:30 PM fighting broke out at the SPLA headquarters barracks in Juba amongst members of the presidential guards. Following hours of fighting involving the military, the fighting spread out into the general population on the streets of Juba; the military together with Salva Kiir militias (Mathiang Anyor) began a house-to-house search for Nuer civilians. It’s intuitive to conclude that even Salva Kiir led his Tiger battalion on this night as he demonstrated on the national television the follow morning.

For those who would like to have the original designed logo for 2015 Commemoration event of December 15 massacre, please visit Nyamilepedia contact page or simply contact the author of the article. 

Long live South Sudan!
Long live the citizens and nationals of South Sudan!

The author can be reached at zee4yo at yahoo dot co dot uk

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