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The Stress of South Sudanese in Diaspora: A Narrative From my Personal Experience (Revised)

By Tongun Lo Loyuong

November 6, 2013 (SSNA) -- In view of the tragic incident regarding the killing of three innocent civilians in Norway by an alleged South Sudanese asylum seeker, I feel compelled to put this unnecessary tragedy that could have been prevented, into a perspective. Such acts of uncontrollable emotional outburst and the commitment of violence in any form, for any reason justified or otherwise, and against whosoever, in particular against the innocent, must be condemned in the strongest of terms possible.

Yet South Sudanese are suffering in Diaspora and words cannot accurately explain our physical, emotional and psychological stress in Diaspora as I have experienced it firsthand. And I consider myself among one of the fortunate few South Sudanese who with a combination of hard work, resilience and determination, have managed to persist and climb that social ladder, and ultimately rub shoulders with the social elites in the countries that I have lived in both in the East and the West.

The East—and by East I mean most of the Middle Eastern countries—the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Lebanese and the like, suffer from what I call “inferiority complex.”

In Damascus for instance, one is often left smiling in disbelief when walking down the street and Syrian children crowding around you chanting “chocolata, chocolata,” while their women whisper to each other’s ears, about who knows what. One can only guess, but chances are the observation that is being exchanged by Middle Eastern women in such whispers, is often related to some dubious claims about a black man’s sexual organ! There is eschewed perception of the black man in these societies.

Unlike their women, the Syrian men much like their Lebanese counterparts and presumably the Egyptians too, are more vocal in passing their racial ruling on the black man. I have had to exercise self-restraint on numerous occasions in the face of racial discriminatory remarks that one often receives from random people in the streets in these societies because of skin color.

Some racial discrimination comments often come in the form of wordplay where what appears as an honest greeting may in fact be a smear observation aimed at reminding you of your skin pigmentation, such as the Syrian greeting phrase “shou lownak.” Depending on which syllables are stressed, this phrase can both mean how are you, or what is your color and more often than not it is the latter meaning that is being conveyed when one hears a “greeting” from random folks in the street, particularly by youths.

In Beirut’s streets, some men derogatory ask you what time is it, even when you are not wearing a watch to imply that you should look at your skin color. Racial discrimination in Lebanon has at times even morphed into physical abuse. There was a time when I was thrown and hit by an empty beer bottle from a moving car, while minding my own business walking down the street. Often, rotten eggs are hurled at you from balconies without any provocation save that your skin color is black.

Employment in these societies are overwhelmingly determined not by professional qualifications, but by skin color or citizenship—nepotism writs large. I have seen black men who hold college degrees, and who in normal circumstances would pursue a professional career in their field of expertise, but who were often condemned to working in the field of what the Lebanese called the “black man’s job,” referring mainly to the undignified task of cleaning toilets and doing dishes in restaurants and hotels or working as a ghafir (janitor), for residential complexes and offices. The same selection criteria for jobs apply in Syria, and Egypt where some of our South Sudanese brothers and other disfranchised foreign nationals, have been largely confined to the hard labor of construction work. How humiliating.

Our children and women too are not spared from inhumane racial slurs. The children often come home from school crying and feeling emotionally disturbed, for being verbally abused and called monkeys and what not by their “white” peers. Our women are made to work as (khadamat) housemaids and often under poor working conditions and abuses that may include working long hours without adequate return, as well as often being subjected to physical coercion, torture and sexual harassment, if not outright rape.

Seemingly, there are no laws against inhumane treatment of black people or Far East Asians in countries like Lebanon. Lebanese jails, for example are replete with South Sudanese and other foreign nationals who are often arbitrary imprisoned for disproportionately prolonged periods of time that did not match the petty crimes committed, mainly related to the violation or failure to acquire legal residential documents or status. I know this, because I have also received my share of arbitrary and long detention time in Lebanese jails for merely being an illegal alien and refugee without rights or status.

Surprisingly, along this line and contrary to what one would expect from the Arab countries, our northern Sudanese Arab brothers have also not been spared from the unjust treatment based on racial profiling. To the Lebanese authorities, Sudanese “Arabs,” Muslims or not, all the same, we are apportioned the same share of mistreatment. As a result due to our common sufferings, both South and Northern Sudanese have found themselves in a strong bond of solidarity and unity with each other. Likewise, with minor exceptions, South Sudanese in Diaspora in general do not interact with each other thinking across ethnic belonging lines. We are more united in exile than at home, and relate to each other as one South Sudanese family.

However, unlike the developing world, the inferiority complex in the East and countries like Lebanon look favorably toward the West and more developed world, and hence the usage of the term here. When you hold a Western European citizenship in Lebanon, for instance you are guaranteed a professional job, even if you have not completed college. The only setback is that your path must not cross the paths of extremist groups, like Hezbollah and others. On the social side, however, Lebanese women will flock you and entice you into marriage in order to get a slice of that Western passport in your possession.

South Sudanese are suffering in the East and often without any alternative of better prospects elsewhere. Few lucky ones were recognized as refugees or have paid their way into being accepted as refugees by UNHCR offices in the region, and have been resettled to third countries in the West with a seeming offer of a second chance to start afresh and rebuild their war-shattered lives. But the overwhelming majority has been unfortunate and failed to secure official recognition as refugees in the UNHCR offices. As a result they have nowhere to go and are still grinding it out in the Middle East and elsewhere in the region.

I happen to be one of the many unlucky ones who could not secure an official refugee status at the UNHCR offices in both Syria and Lebanon, despite my legitimate claim during the war years, to the right of being recognized as a refugee if only by virtue of being a South Sudanese. But I had to scrap my way out of the East to the West through determination to pursue education and generous unconditional scholarships that I received from some good willing academic institutions first in Lebanon and then in the U.S. In the Lebanese case, my scholarship to complete my bachelor’s degree was facilitated by a friend who was not even Lebanese. But his initial support opened the subsequent doors.

However, while I am grateful for receiving the second chance to climb up the social hierarchy and improve my social status through education, from my experience and contrary to the East, the tragedy of the West is that it suffers from what I will call “superiority complex.” In the U.S. racial discrimination is a commonplace. Is it conceivable that in my interactions, most African-Americans, for instance are more racist toward Africans than some of their white American fellows?

In an attempt to uncover the reasons behind this trend, I once raised the question to a random African-American elderly man in Baltimore, Maryland, as to why this is the case. His candid response was that most African-American communities in general, tend to favor whiter skin color. Most have been indoctrinated to believe that the whiter the color of your skin, the better. But also, he continued, many African-Americans tend to hold Africans responsible for their tragic enslavement history that contributed to their current misery of continuing to live as most see it as second class citizens in the U.S., even though they are American citizens.

The elderly man further noted that the story circulating around in most African-American households is that Africans hate them, and therefore, sold their African ancestors out as slaves to the White European slave master that ultimately landed them in their difficult lot in the U.S. throughout their history. Consequently, this may have contributed to the reciprocal hate perception and mistreatment of Africans at the hands of some African-Americans. In a word, Western superiority complex seemed to have driven a wedge between African and African-American peoples.

In terms of the plight of South Sudanese who have been resettled as refugees in Western countries, more generally, only few have succeeded in rebuilding their lives and improving their social status. Most of these are those who came younger, such as the Southern lost boys’ community of Sudan, because the young are easily adaptable to foreign cultural demands.

Else, the majority of South Sudanese have been written off as first generation, and the story of any first generation migrants is the same—it is not about them anymore, and as such they contend themselves with sacrificing their future for that of their children. Chances of them bettering their social status through the pursuit of education or professional career in their areas of interest are slim. Because of the Western superiority complex syndrome, only college degrees that have been acquired in Western academic institutions warrant consideration for a professional job.

Holding any degree from outside the Western confines means one is immediately relegated to pursue hard labor in factories, restaurants, mines etc., for livelihood. Of course, there are opportunities through taking loans from banks for instance, in order to pay and pursue higher education. But only a handful of South Sudanese in Diaspora have followed that route, and it is understandable why.

In the rigorous Western academic institutions, completing a college degree is no easy task. Earning a degree in the West demands full commitment as a student and hundreds of hours spent in the university library. But with the several mouths to feed in a South Sudanese household, most South Sudanese have found the commitment of being a full time college student hard to pursue. Some determined South Sudanese try to study part-time and work for the other half of the time. But while some have managed to ultimately graduate from college, others have either dropped out or are taking several years, sometimes decades to complete a mere four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Even so, Western superiority complex still negatively affects those South Sudanese who are Western educated in their job places. From my experience in the U.S., and currently in the European Nordic region regardless of Western education credentials I still got to be looked upon with sympathy, especially by those you have just been introduced to in professional conferences and public events. Often, most are surprised to see you in these kinds of elitist functions to begin with, and you can rest assured that before the end of the event curiosity about your who-abouts will be displayed.

The problem is not with being curious about a unique phenomenon, because curiosity is the foundation in any given quest for knowledge. What irritates me the most is when you tell your curious enquirer that you are from South Sudan, their first reaction is to make you feel sorry for yourself, and often rightly so because ours is a society to be pitied. But sometimes one does not want to be reminded and be made to feel like an inferior creature that must be exorcised with some urgent “make a difference” action. Sometimes I joke back by requesting a napkin to wipe my tears!

In addition, in most Western countries, but particularly more so in the Nordic countries, the superiority complex has been taken to a whole different level by the feminist and gender sensitization of the culture. Mere conversations have been rendered complicated let alone gestures of good will. There is simply too much gender and sexuality politics that one must learn to contend with in these cultures as well.

For instance in some of these countries, I have now learned to think twice before committing to assist anyone perceived to be in need of assistance, even if it is a woman that has just slipped in the icy and slippery roads of the extremely excruciating cold Nordic winters. Though alien to my upbringing, I have learned to turn the other way and mind my own business, because the last time I tried, my services were not only rejected, but I received the look of “here is another symbol of male dominance who thinks women are dependent on men to complete any given task.” Especially as a black man any unintentional utterance or gesture may be easily regarded as politically incorrect, however the term is defined and will most likely land you in trouble in these countries.

For similar reasons, I recently landed in trouble at workplace for failing to complete a task of—making a mere phone call (which was not even part of my job description as a policy analyst to be a personal assistant). But I agreed to make the phone call which was assigned to me by a senior female co-worker. However, it happened that I was in a meeting all day that day and did not come to my desk until after lunch. Upon my arrival to my desk, my co-worker who had been with me in some of those meetings immediately asked if I had placed the call to which I replied not yet. She started complaining vehemently, before I could even explain to her that I have been in meetings all morning and have just returned to my desk.

But when I did explain to her and then asked her “why did you not make the phone call yourself if it is that urgent,” she immediately rushed to my female boss and falsely accused me of insubordination to women in a company dominated by gender and sexuality politics, and where women make up the senior management and the majority of the staff and where I was the first and only black man to have ever worked there. In consequence, the two of us and another senior female colleague that was supportive of her ultimately ended up losing our jobs. The only difference is that they easily found replacements, but as for me, well you can only take a big wild guess, and it is been almost seven months now. The explanation I later received was that “I was not doing things the Swedish way,” whatever that means!

My reasoning is that as a black man coming from a patriarchal culture and living in these highly gendered and feminist sensitized cultures, I am a sitting duck for being perceived as representing patriarchal sentiments, even though I like to think of myself as an ally and an advocate of social justice and equality, including gender equality. But I have consistently found my world ever shrinking to the extent one feels being strangled, which as they say being placed between a rock and a hard place. But regardless of such excessive stress that South Sudanese may be unnecessarily experiencing in Diaspora, this does not under no uncertain terms justify snapping and resorting to hate, bitterness and violence. South Sudanese are equally suffering in the West. But what now is the alternative? Can our elite brothers in GoSS now see why we in Diaspora come across more frustrated in our free expression against current political malpractices in Juba?

One of the waves we rode during the liberation struggle was the hope that our suffering will one day come to pass when we have a country we can call home. This hope is now turning into despair when all opportunities for building a peaceful, united, equal, just and prosperous nation are being squandered by mis-governance in the Republic. Ideally, South Sudanese, including the fellow who committed this utterly reprehensible killing of innocent people in Norway should be making our way back home, now that we have our own country. Why should we still be made to seek asylums and continue to live in Diaspora? All we ask for from Kiir’s regime and whatever regime of the day is that we are tired and want to have a place we can call home, a place we can return to and help build. We are not asking to be rich, but merely to have access to basic rights, liberties, and services, such as security, rule of law, infrastructure, schools, hospitals and livelihoods. Are these too much to ask?

Tongun Lo Loyuong is reachable at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; and can be followed on twitter @TongunLoLoyuong. Numerous other food for thought and intellectual exercise on South Sudan’s issues can be found at: http://tloloyuong.wordpress.com/. This article was first published by South Sudan Nation on April 10th, 2013.

Joseph Kony of Jonglei State, South Sudan: The Cause of David Yau Yau

By Reuben G. Panchol

October 29, 2013 (SSNA) -- In geology, uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. It has included the concept that "the present is the key to the past" and is functioning at the same rates. This concept has been a key principle of geology and virtually all fields of science. One might ask what is this author is talking about? Please, bear with me and read between the lines.

If David Yauyau’s action in State of Jonglei in South Sudan is not Joseph Kony’s action in Northern Provence in Uganda then the theory of uniformatariaism in geology is invalid. Below is an explanation why I believe that “the present is the key to the past.”

Historically, Joseph Kony’s revolution came into an existence with ideology of preventing Uganda’s People Defend Force (UPDF) from taking control of the nation’s power, and to protect the interest of the Acholi people. When it was defeated by UPDF, they resorted into human right abuses via rapping, looting properties, killing of elderly, women, and kids and causing other atrocities in the area. The above mentions are also true with case of Yauyau in Jonglei State. He angered against the SPLM after 2010 election’s results. He formed a revolution; thinking will stop the SPLM from ruling the nation. He also, thought that he will be the saver of his Murle community like Kony with Acholi community in Northern Uganda. As a result his failure led to destabilized and terrorized the entire State causing human right abuses similar to ones done by Kony in Uganda in last three decade. The present is the key to the past.

Not only that, Kony was an altar boy for several years but stopped attending church around the age of 15 and also dropped out of school. On the side of the aisle, Yauyau dropped out of formal education system and joined seminary thinking of becoming an evangelist and eventually an evangelist became a murder. He was following the lead of Mr. Kony. The present is the key to the past.

I hope I did not forget to mention that Kony’s action caused 100,000 plus lives (apart from the lives in neighboring countries such as Democratic Republic Congo, Central Africa Republic, and the Republic of South Sudan), and 1.7 internal displaced people. On the other side of a coin, Yauyau’s action culminated into ten of thousand lives lost and hundreds of thousands internal displaced people since 2010. Chances are very high that his action will overspill into Kenya and Ethiopia in near future as Kony did in RSS, CAR, and DRC. The present is the key to the past.

Do not forget that, Kony’s action has dearly caused a strong imbalance in the level of development and investment between Eastern & Northern Uganda on the one side, and Central & Western Uganda. This is not far away from the truth in Jonglei State due to Yauyau’s action. Currently, the communities of Jonglei State do not practice farming the way they used to farmed, leave alone the investors going to where has been known as dead zone, grave yard, playing field of vultures, and the valley of dry bones. The present is the key to the past.

Up to this juncture if you did not get where I’m going with this type-scribes then I think you are lost, you need to go back to beginning and start reading through it once more. No Kidding, I think by now the common sense dictated the answer.

Inclusion, with no further ado, the aim of this article is to let the national and international communities to be aware that there is no different between a big evil and small evil, they are all evil at the end of the day. Therefore, seeing the comparison between Kony and Yauyau trance of human live abuses in those societies mention and the path which they are following, I’m convince that there is no reason whatsoever, why David Yauyau is not or will be labeled as terrorist and indicted like Kony (his mentor). Unless, people enjoy watching more blood being be spill over the land which had already saturated by blood since 1950s.

The author can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

NBeGS Legislature: Heal the Heart and Free the Soul Politics

By Deng Mangok Ayuel

Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business – Winston Churchill 

October 27, 2013 (SSNA) -- Keep liking your way of politicking, but nowhere in the world have I ever seen/heard politics being played in a clean way –people of every corner of the world thought it is a dirty game. It is just the question of how “much dirty” it is, and how can politics be a good game? Isn't politics a means of achieving power and control over people?  Politics is all what you need, be it yourself. But if you are a coward, you will remain as a gossiper, blackmailer than politicking.  Are you up to your business?

Experience is the best teacher and a big lesson learned is never forgotten even in dream. No an MP shall easily write/speak to the media before assessing his/her political thoughts on the affairs of States or country after former Deputy Speaker for Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State Legislative Assembly, Hon. Athiang Manok caught voicing to the media and got impeached after the motion was raised against him in the National Legislative Assembly over his reaction on Telar’s saga for the Ministry of Justice. Did he remain a hero of his speech? Hon. Manok shouldn’t be blamed; it is already a gone case! The position is already given to another person. He lost his job as a Deputy Speaker for criticizing or defending someone.  I have never been a fan to our lawmakers but there are interesting stories in the parliament at least – the struggle for power, quick mouth to media and political consortium for change. This is politics. Some people are trying harder to pull down their Honorable colleagues from their jobs as chairpersons for committees. That isn’t bad. Politics have no relation to morals and desire – others wanted to enjoy or be heard as heads of committees. When political spotlight becomes a struggle for power, everyone will learn and know where he/she is going politically, so do it safely!

Well, “there is hell”, and that shouldn’t be an issue for today – make sure what you are doing in the House of law in our State is contributing to the betterment of Mading Aweil and the entire nation. It’s quite convincing that politics is a dirty game and common people should stay away from it. But to me, politics is the first lesson we should learn and teach other people to be politically attentive and aware of our political rights in South Sudan. Politicians and politics should not be looked down upon, but understood in perspective to our own existence and relationship to them as former voters.

Today, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Legislative Assembly has its unique political leadership. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are female. So we are together as family. We recognize woman’s participation and potential in political set up in the parliament. What remains is to work with them. A woman has had been ambitious to govern man; it is the right time to see female doing their best in any position.

Therefore, MPs are brothers and sisters. We didn't make a big mess to give political opportunities to people who can hoodwink, betray and fool us by keeping us away from the active arena of politics for their own interest and the interest of those who shrewdly plant them as peoples’ champions. We elected our sons and daughters to represent us. And we need them to visit us in the villages or wherever we live because we are one.

I used to hate the ways our Mps in the State voice their political issues to Sudan Tribune online. As politics is a game – assuming it is a football game, and you didn't play well, should you complain, blame others or yourself than strategizing for the next game to avoid squabbling?

Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Legislative Assembly has been making headlines for years. Why do our lawmakers prioritize a fight in the House than doing lucrative sessions for the welfare of our community? An MP should talk to journalists when he thinks he/she is within the law of the House and ready to stand firm when end doesn't meet.

The public knows how easy or hard it was in 2010 election for individuals who pave ways to the parliament. The election was truly rigid. And by the way, impeachment, dismissal of MPs is not only in our State alone – it is a nationwide issue. If you go to Malakal, Upper Nile, you may find an MP buying airtime and began calling the other end to talk politics until he is stopped by electronic airtemer within the course of a long discussion on the public road!

When South Sudan became a country, almost everything becomes new – politics, houses, cars because they weren't there during the devastated civil war in Sudan were millions of lives were lost.  As new things come with many problems, it is a work of our minds to take care of ourselves and the affairs of our country. Our governor is a man of integrity, hard-working, with heart for his people. Let’s join hands with him and move forward for success.

Deng Mangok Ayuel is a South Sudanese blogger and lives in Aweil, South Sudan. He can be reached via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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