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South Sudan: A country in need of a national identity

By Garang Achiek Ajak

New York, February 23, 2013 (SSNA) -- I recently traveled to South Sudan and was appalled by the lack of unity among people of South Sudan. People of different ethnic tribes viewed each other as rivals, rather than countrymen, and blamed one another for the hardships they were experiencing. I was saddened that a national identity had not formed for the country. If anybody ask a resident what their national identity is, he would probably respond he didn’t know. At this, South Sudanese do not know who they are. To me, this is troubling. For country like South Sudan that is just in its infancy as a sovereign state, a national identity is of utmost importance. An identity of community is needed for them to realize its objectives as a prosperous, peaceful and democratic country. The reality I witnessed, however, begged the question; who are the people of South Sudan?

It is my opinion that scholarly research and discussion should commence immediately across the country as they try to find an answer. 

At this time in history there are no Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk or Bari people; there are only the individuals who live together in South Sudan. The lack of a national identity should be the calling card for unity and this should start with the elites in the government. A new paradigm for a national identity should be at the forefront of building South Sudanesism. Regardless of different tribe affiliation, upbringing, culture, and beliefs, all people of the nation are first and foremost a South Sudanese.

South Sudanesism must incorporate “interculturalism,” especially given the diverse nature of the populace. Interculturalism is defined as the way to recognize commonalities, reduce tensions and promote the formation of social partnerships among different cultural groups. South Sudan needs a public culture that would employ and encourage cultural diversity because that is what makes up the fabric of South Sudan. The diversity of South Sudan, in this sense, must be the strength and unity to tackle today’s pressing issues. This must be done together.

Interculturalism is critically important in forging the South Sudan Identity. It is inclusive and pluralistic in nature. We, individuals with ancestry in South Sudan, have endured too much struggle, pain, and division within the fight for liberation to turn on one another now. We should not let years of fighting for democracy go in vain. We have a country now and must carve out our identity, one that is build on liberty, cultural diversity, and democratic ideals.

State building is not an easy task. It requires the difficulties of redefinition and fostering an inclusive national consciousness. Although a challenging task, it is times like these where visionary and magnanimous leaders must step forward and take the center stage. It is their duty to unite the people on a common purpose.

South Sudanese leaders must make national reconciliation a national priority. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “the moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come… we must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation-building, for the birth of a new world.” These were words spoken as South Africa looked within to overcome apartheid and Mandela’s words relate to South Sudan today. Our leaders should replicate his wisdom and use it as a call for national unity among the people of South Sudan.

This is not a time to hold grudges against each other in our nation. During the liberation struggle, there were competing interests on how to better achieve Southern Sudan objectives, but that is in the past now. South Sudanese must begin on a new foot. All ethnic tribes must come together as one and forgive each other on past grievances for the sake of unity.

National unity must triumph over everything else.  South Sudan does not belong to any particular tribe; it belongs to all of us. We must stand together, work hard together, build our schools together, build our hospitals together, build our infrastructure together, and become self sufficient in food production together. There is nothing we cannot achieve as a nation if we are united. Nepotism and corruption must be rooted out as evils from the past. They are the root of state failure of every nation in transition. 

In a country like South Sudan that is very diverse, ethnic sectarianism must not have a place. We are one people who have endured too much struggle in pursuit of a just and democratic country. Everybody is equal in terms of rights, religious beliefs, different cultural upbringing, and the pursuit of happiness. These were the principles of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement during the great civil war that resulted in the very formation of our new great nation of South Sudan. These principles must be central to the rebuilding of South Sudan.

The Author is a South Sudanese residing in New York, United States. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Jieng must change: A reply to Manyok

By Elhag Paul

February 21, 2013 (SSNA) -- Manyok equivocates unnecessarily to defend the indefensible.  His arguments are not only porous but lack any evidence.  Although he strategically deploys abuse and poorly unstructured arguments to distort and confuse readers in order to distract attention, I wish to state that I am not going to be distracted by abuse from pointing out the abuses of the Jieng.  Neither will I resort to verbal violence as this is not in my character.  Thus I am going to respond to Manyok’s article (ElHag Paul’s Soliloquy and misguided posture to provoke ethnic strife: A rebuttal, Feb/11/2013 SSN) with respect and reasonably measured arguments.

In trying to persuade readers that the criticism levelled against the government of South Sudan is a cover for inspiring ethnic strife, Manyok writes, “One clearly sees Elhag Paul disgorging hate among the various ethnicities in South Sudan particularly the rest against the Dinka people.  Admittedly, there is very little substance in his latest article except, mostly, hateful bons more aimed at cajoling and swooning his runners. ..............  Even as Mr Paul’s article dangerously threaten peaceful co-existence among citizens, there is.........”  This unsubstantiated allegations flies in the face of facts and raises serious issues. 

Does Manyok and his tribesmen want the people of South Sudan to put up with their oppression?  Unpacking his statement tells us that the Jieng are in denial of their atrocious behaviour and oppressive regime.  As far as Manyok is concerned things are OK in South Sudan and people should just shut up and put up.   Well things are certainly not OK in the country and some of us are not going to put up with this Jieng nonsense.  We will talk and write about Jieng abuse factually as long as the Jieng refuse to change.

Manyok needs to understand that it is the Jieng who are disgorging hate.  They are the ones responsible for abusing the powers of the state of RSS and by extension the people of South Sudan and not the other way round.  This is yet again the projection of Jieng tribalism onto their victims.  What comes out of Manyok’s argument is evidence of Jieng denial of their atrocious behaviour.  This denial is just a stage in a process of change.  Whether the Jieng like it or not they will have to change and the process has started.  In management theory the transition to change has a number of stages through which organisations or people have to go through for change to happen.  These are excitement, shock, denial, realisation, coming to terms etc. 

For three decades the Jieng have been so excited by the power they found in SPLM Oyee and this made them to think that they could do as they wish.  With the signing of the peace in 2005 and subsequently the independence of South Sudan in July 2011 they became so intoxicated with state power to the extent that they became blind to realities.   When opposition to Jieng mismanagement of the country began to develop, they were shocked and could not believe the resistance to their abuses.  In denial they switched into projecting their abuse to the victims and at the same time boasting, “We are born to rule.”  “We liberated you.”   The Jieng can not comprehend that SPLM Oyee has no ability and skills to govern the country.  Hence like ostriches they bury their heads in denial creating a stasis and promoting unhealthy environment in the country. 

Now whether the Jieng like it or not they must change by moving into the final stages of change i.e. realisation, acceptance and adjustment to fit into social realities of South Sudan for peaceful co-existence.  If the Jieng continue to stick to their present position of denial then events such as the Arab spring will make them change. 

The racist Boers (whites) in South Africa with all their technology and power were stubborn like the Jieng in perpetuating atrocious behaviours, but they were made to change against their will.  The racist whites all over the world too are being forced to confront their racism.  So who are the Jieng not to confront their horrendous behaviour?  Who are the Jieng not to change?  Who are the Jieng to believe that they can abuse others with impunity? It is advisable and in their interest to embrace peaceful change by making the change themselves.  Change is a must and the Jieng have no option on this.  So, Manyok and the learnt Jieng need to become true agents of change for the greater good.

Manyok sarcastically writes, “Mr Paul seems to suggest that every South Sudanese is a victim of Jieng, therefore he is my (Manyok) victim!  Is it possible that Elhag Paul and his runners do not see how ridiculous their imaged Jieng-engendered victimhood is?  Such is the claim and extent of the absurdity of his anti-Dinka rhetoric.  If the author valued credibility and thus be considered as convincing, could he not have aimed at more constructive dialogue?”  It is clear that Manyok in his mentality of denial has no scope of stepping into the shoe of the oppressed to understand the world of the oppressed South Sudanese and that includes me.  He can not imagine how a South Sudanese can be a victim of the Jieng government in Juba.  He questions the people’s victimhood with such condescending arrogance of the “Born to rule”. 

Without any questions, like the rest of the South Sudanese, I am a victim of the Jieng government in Juba.  A victim according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is “a person who has been attacked, injured or killed as a result of crime.”  In line with this definition, let me now explain why I am a victim like the rest of South Sudanese. 

Since the inception of SPLM and the coming of “SPLA Dinka soldier” to my village, they committed unimaginable crimes ranging from rape to killings for no reason at all.  They disrupted the structure of social life in the village through abuse of the gun.  Then from 2005 to the present, the Jieng government in Juba is looting state coffers depriving South Sudanese of development.  For example, no health service; no meaningful education service; no employment programmes or creation of jobs; no food security, no human security etc.  In all these South Sudanese including me have become victims of the Jieng government.  Hundred of South Sudanese died from famine, malaria, diarrhoea, typhoid and so on and in addition to these our human rights have been taken away.  How then does Manyok not see the victimhood of South Sudanese people and my personal one arising from the psychological fall out of these momentous Jieng failures?  Does this need rocket science?  I am sure that Manyok could easily see and understand these things if he only could shade his denial and empathises with the others as fellow human beings with feelings. 

As with regards to the government being a Jieng government I have already sufficiently addressed it in my previous article.

Manyok argues that “(Elhag) asserting that a president’s tribe is a fair game when s/he doesn’t uphold the constitution is an odious rationale proffered for the convenience of the time.

This is because the converse of such statement is false and can not stand.  Indeed, when such a person, say, for example, a president, fails to ‘uphold the constitution for the interest of all members’ such a leader/president would be held responsible according to the laws of that country because as his actions would be deemed unfair and illegitimate.  But to overlook that and hold his tribe responsible instead, as ElHag Paul is suggesting would not only ensure a disastrous outcome but would reflect poorly on any claim of advancement/civilisation in such society.”

Manyok’s argument could be effective and workable in a truly democratic state and not a Dinkocracy.  South Sudan is a totalitarian state under the grip of the Jieng.  This is a fact and I know very well that the Jieng do not want this pointed out.

Manyok’s thinking on how the constitution should work theoretically is correct.  However, he fails to apply this theory to the context of South Sudan political reality.  As explained in my previous article, the reason why things are not working in South Sudan is because the constitution is redundant.  President Kiir and the SPLM Oyee (Jieng organisation) disabled the constitution by using Jieng domination of the government machinery.  It is practically impossible to hold president Kiir to account to the people because the Jieng control all the organs of the government via SPLM Oyee. 

To put it another way, the system in South Sudan is technically one party rule and the ruling party is the Jieng organisation making every decision in the country.  Manyok can philosophise as much as he wants with abstract theory but the reality that SPLM Oyee is a Jieng organisation and it is the one running the show can not be explained away or ignored in the final analysis and this is the deciding factor of who is responsible for the mess in South Sudan.  With this said, let us not forget that the Jieng are in the stage of denial and Manyok is not any different. 

Manyok further argues that “as South Sudanese we must be grateful that Dr Garang led/ guided our liberation aspiration with absolutely perspicacious brilliance.  It is totally absurd for anybody, who may stake a claim to be a functioning brain, to suggest that Dr Garang as leader, was fighting for a united Sudan.  The Sudan was already united and it was not possible to go to war only to unite it – see appendix (I) below for Dr Garang’s pictorial illustration of Sudan’s possible modalities to the country’s conflict in form of Venn diagram.”

Manyok in his denial mode shamelessly dismisses Dr Garang’s political stance.  He has the audacity to claim that Dr Garang was fighting for a separate South Sudan.  Let us read the below quote.

"Our believe in the Sudanese Unity and territorial integrity is axiomatic, that is, it is principled position. In our Manifesto published 31 July 1983 we said in very unequivocal terms, and I quote, It must be reiterated that the principle objective of the SPLM/SPLA is not separation for the South.

The South is an integral and inseparable part of the Sudan. Africa has been fragmented sufficiently enough by colonialism and neo-colonialism and its further fragmentation can only be in the interest of her enemies.

The separatist attitude that has developed in the South since 1955 has caught the imagination of the backward areas in Northern Sudan. Separatists Movements have already emerged with guerrillas fighting in Western and Eastern Sudan. If left unchecked these separatist Movements in the South, East, West coupled with stubborn determination of repressive minority clique regime in Khartoum to hang onto power at all costs will lead to the total disintegration of the Sudan.

The imminent, latent and impending disintegration and fragmentation of the Sudan is what the SPLM/A aims to stop by developing and implementing a consistent democratic solution to both the nationality and religious questions within the context of a United New Sudan. This was in 1983. Our position remains the same." 

Can Manyok guess who the speaker was?  Just in case he does not know, let me volunteer.  The eloquent speaker here was Dr Garang in his book, edited by Mansour Khalid, titled 'John Garang Speaks' published in 1987 by KPI in London on pages 253 and 254.  With this crystal clear evidence, how does Manyok want to advance his absurd argument?  Who is inventing arguments here? Is it Elhag Paul or the denier Manyok?

Manyok again makes reference to the Venn diagram without putting it in context. If Manyok’s explanation of the Venn diagram of Dr Garang was to be taken as Dr Garang’s stance, then actually this would portray Dr Garang as a political speculator, a man who did not know what he wanted.  A man who was gambling with the fate of 8 million people (South Sudanese).  Worse still, it makes him an indecisive person without clear vision.  Is this really the Dr Garang that the world knows?  Sorry, I can not buy this argument.  Dr Garang was a decisive person.  He categorically chose unity over secession.  Hence, his infamous uttering, “Our first bullets were fired at the separatists.”  Dr Garang’s Venn diagram contrary to Manyok’s understanding is evidence of his unionist position.  

I had the privilege in the summer of 1996 to attend a session at the House of Lords in UK where Dr Garang lectured the thinking behind the Venn diagram.  According to Dr Garang, the diagram shows the three possible scenarios that could obtain from the political situation in the country at the time.  Out of the three scenarios Dr Garang was clear about his commitment to the united Sudan option. He stressed that if marginalisation was removed and the country became multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-racial there was no reason why the Sudan could not become a great nation and that was his choice. 

He did not subscribe to either the confederation or the separation options.  In all the questions posed to him, he stuck to his unionist position.  So, what is Manyok playing at?  Who does he want to mislead here?  The obsession with wanting to promote Dr Garang as Father of the Nation is not going to hold.  The overwhelming evidence in the public domain says otherwise.  A diehard unionist who lynched separatist left and right to be Father of the separate Nation, what a convoluted thinking?

Penning off, the current noise that the Jieng make in order for the president to be separated from his tribe even when the tribe is the force behind his presidency is nothing but denial.  As the beneficiaries of this system it suits them to prevaricate.  Obviously, not all the Jieng agree with the system but the overwhelming majority are happy with the status quo and this is what counts.  When we fought the Arabs, we did not say that it was Omer Bashir alone who was bad and the rest of the Arabs were good.  We generalised them on basis of their behaviour and mentality towards South Sudanese.  When Africans fought colonialism they did not say it was the colonial governments that were bad with white people being good.  The system and the force responsible for maintenance of the system are equally responsible for the outcome.  So president Kiir is not acting in a vacuum without support of the Jieng.  It is the unconditional support of the majority Jieng that allows him to abuse the people of South Sudan.

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Presidential and Ministerial Rights and Privileges in South Sudan: For what in return?

By Wani Tombe Lako

February 21, 2013 (SSNA) -- The ordinary downtrodden populace in South Sudan (SS), in their various villages, and urban centres, are pleased and happy that, they have a country of their own, called the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS). They are also happy that, they have a flag and a national anthem, to complete the emotional and conspicuous paraphernalia of a sovereign independent State of SS.

I am going to take a huge risk here, and say that, these same downtrodden folks of SS, are also happy to be reminded every day, by the wailing of Presidential and Ministerial sirens that, they do have a President, a Vice President, Presidential Advisors and tens of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. There are of course tens of other constitutional hangers-on, who, from time-to-time, also create constitutional storms, in various tin spoons.

However, I am not really sure, as to whether, the citizens of the RoSS are equally happy, with individual and group performances, of this special group of South Sudanese, who are always, driven around in armoured vehicles, preceded and accompanied by, sirens and heavily armed relatives, doubling as official body guards, in national army fatigues, and who are ready to shot-to-kill anybody, who dares slow down, the motorcades and entourages, of their proxy breadwinners.

Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly, doubted performances of this special group of South Sudanese, they are nevertheless, paid Presidential, Vice-Presidential, Advisors’, Ministerial, and Deputy Ministerial salaries and privileges, and other constitutional fringe benefits. All these payments are comparable to what their counterparts are entitled to, in some and many other viable countries. 

However, I am aware that, the salaries and privileges of this special group of South Sudanese, are more and far above the rate of what, some of their counterparts get in many other countries, and countries which are more viable in terms of the deliveries of goods and services, to the peoples of these countries.  There are many presidents, in some viable countries, who get far less salaries and privileges, than what our president gets in SS.

I am afraid, others shall jump into wrongful conclusions as usual that, I am just a complaining and jealous South Sudanese. No. That is not true. I one hundred percent support the payment of salaries and privileges of this special group of South Sudanese. However, these salaries and privileges must be proportionate to their individual and group output. I want us the public to pay out salaries and privileges which are conscionable.  

Why for example, should the peoples of SS, pay yearly salaries and privileges, plus other constitutional expenses and fringe benefits, of a minister, whose average performances and output, are far below that of a senior clerk, in a viable and functional Borough Council, in a viable and functional country? Is this conscionable? What are the skills, knowledge, experiences, aptitudes and attitude, for which, we pay out all these financial and economic values, to such a below average human person dubbed minister? 

For example, if we pay such salaries and privileges, to somebody, to whom, for only Constitutional and Sovereign courtesy, we politely refer to as His/Her Excellency, the Minister for Fisheries and Crocodiles in SS, for example. In return, we wait for Ugandans and others, to bring us fresh fishes from Kampala every day. Or, to come and fish for us our fishes in SS, and we go on, to sing and dance, in celebration of the glory, of our omnipotent Minister and Ministry of Fisheries and Crocodiles. Are we sane others?

Alternatively, if we in SS, pay the same rights and privileges, to some busy body, called Minister for Cooperatives and Rural Development for example. Yet, we pray that, God the Almighty, bless and protect our Ugandan brethrens and farmers, and other subsistence producers therein, in rural Uganda, for feeding us in SS. In fact, we even risk being shot dead for smuggling in sorghum or dura from neighbouring Sudan. This Sorghum or dura, produced in rural Sudan. Oh God Almighty; with millions of acres, of virgin and fertile land, in rural SS, do we need to go through this ordeal? 

On the other hand, we also pay somebody called the Minister for Agriculture and Happiness in SS, same rights and privileges. What for? Is it for telling the peoples of SS, not to burn trees for charcoal? Never mind the charcoal; we can import that from Kampala. What about the production of our own food as sovereign peoples of the RoSS? I always feel ashamed, and I hurt so much, whenever I see and hear that, our peoples are dying for want of food in SS. It is a paradox that others outside the SS find it impossible to understand and internalise.

If we cannot produce our own food; please, President Kiir, just shut down this thing called Ministry of Agriculture in SS. What else can one say? We fought for an independent sovereign State. Once we got it, we then want others to feed us, while we rule ourselves by ourselves. I do not understand. Where is the independence in this kind of sad existence? We as peoples, in SS, must become serious. We have already attained the status of the sick joke of Africa, and the world at large. Let us not make others, and the world, regret, in helping us, emerge as a sovereign State, because, we have, in a short time, become a permanent burden on them.

In the near past, and here, in this very SS, the Norwegian Church Aid Sudan Programme (NCA/SP), during the 1970s and up to the early 1980s, and thanks to the generous funding of the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD), the NCA/SP was able to produce enough food for the whole of Eastern Equatoria and beyond. No government, in SS has so far matched this endeavour. How can an international non-governmental organisation (INGO), perform more better than a national government?

Do not tell, nor give me, this crab about the lack of resources within the remit of national governments in SS. For example, if we, in this current government of SS, just stop the importation of all luxury four-wheel vehicles, and other conspicuous consumption items, using government monies, we could easily save 100 times more resources, than the amount of resources the NCA/SP had then. If we were just to have one quarter of human will, dedication, honesty, transparency, meritocracy and accountability, that the NCA/SP had, we could turn the SS into the East African bread basket.

The above hypothetical examples, about the said ministers and ministries, depict the reality on the ground in SS. It appears that, we in SS are just interested in structures and that is all. That is, we are just interested in formation of governments, and filling the organisational structures in these governments, with living bodies, and that is the end of the story. However, these living bodies must be sustained through the said rights and privileges. Do not also forget the other economic and financial burdens, of sustaining these redundant human bodies in the organisational structures of this government in SS. That is, the wives, chidden, relatives, and such like.

I have done a Critical cost-benefit analysis of the government of the RoSS, in terms of individual and group total positive output. The individuals and group include the President, the Vice President, and the Advisors of the President, all the Ministers and their Deputies. My initial findings indicate that, most of the huge numbers of constitutional posts holders are just waste of time, space, and resources of the peoples of SS.

The majority of the Advisors to the President, half of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the current government of SS are just useless human bodies. They are literally producing nothing. I mean nothing at all in terms of net positive addition into goods and services of the peoples of SS. They are aggregate burdens and dangerous leakages and waste, of our precious and meager economic and financial resources.

For these kinds of performances, there are no justifications whatsoever, for keeping all these useless people in government as Advisors, Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The RoSS could be efficiently and effectively run by a smaller and agile government than what it is now. We in fact need competent undersecretaries, who actually know the meanings of the ministries they are managing. We need undersecretaries saturated with knowledge, skills, experiences, positive attitudes and other practicable characteristics. I strongly recommend that, the number of ministries in the government of SS is reduced to just eighteen ministries as shown below.

1. Ministry of Cabinet Affairs

2. Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs

3. Ministry of     Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

4. Minister. Office of the President

5. Minister for National Security. Office of the President

6. Ministry of Justice

7. Ministry of Interior Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster

                (a) Undersecretary for Interior

                (b) Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management

8. Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs

9. Ministry of Finance, Commerce and Labour

                (a) Undersecretary for Finance and Economic Planning

                (b) Undersecretary for Commerce and Industry and Investment

                (c) Undersecretary for Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development

10. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

11. Ministry of Health

12. Ministry of Agriculture Environment and Water Resources and Irrigation  

                (a) Undersecretary of Agriculture and Forestry

                (b) Undersecretary for Environment

                (c) Undersecretary for Water Resources and Irrigation

13. Ministry of Transport, Roads, Bridges and Telecommunications

                (a) Undersecretary for Roads and Bridges

                (b) Undersecretary for Transport

                (c) Undersecretary for Telecommunication and Postal Services

14. Ministry of General and Higher Education, and Youth

                (a) Undersecretary for General Education

                (b) Undersecretary for Higher Education

                (c) Undersecretary for Youth, Culture and Sports

15. Ministry of Housing and Electricity and Dams

                (a) Undersecretary for Housing and Physical Planning

                (b) Undersecretary for Electricity and Dams

16. Ministry of Petroleum and Mining

17. Ministry of Rural Development, Gender and Social Welfare

                (a) Undersecretary for Rural Development and Cooperatives

                (b) Undersecretary for Gender, Child and Social Welfare

18. Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism Animal Resources and Fisheries

                (a) Undersecretary for Wild Life Conservation

                (b) Undersecretary for Tourism Animal Resources and Fisheries.

The author is Professor of Social and Rural Development, and Lecturer of Laws. He can be contacted at wani.lako@ yahoo.com

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