By John Bith Aliap
July 9, 2012 — We have multiply been accused of tribalism, but we have always presented fake voices that Tribalism doesn’t exist in the Republic of South Sudan. However, logical sense would otherwise tell other side of story. Typical events like Jongulei crisis which often makes headlines in many global news channels would make it difficult for us to deny the existence of tribalism; and if we are victorious in some cases in our accustomed denial culture which we have imported from Arabs in the north, this leaves us with sour throats.
Less than a year now, all South Sudanese celebrated the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, a country they had exceedingly shed their blood for many decades. Hundreds of thousands if not, millions of South Sudanese took part in that independence celebration and pledged their loyalty to the Republic of South Sudan. The scene of celebration was characterized by people wearing flag of South Sudan, a symbol of what they would describe as their homeland. Some were clasping the flag and welling-up with tears as they pledged their allegiance to the Republic of South Sudan.
This celebration has in turned came with its own challenges that require us as people of the Republic South Sudan to compromise the journey of tribalism which we have been undertaking in the last centuries. Although ill-thought attempts are made to put out the flames of corruption, we should not also forget to fight our known enemy called tribalism which the colonists had in the last centuries imported to South Sudan and used it as an exploitative tool of division. Haven’t we recently deposed the colonists from our territories South Sudanese? If your answer is yes, than why shouldn’t we abandon all sorts of evil practices the colonists have historically imposed on us?
Many of our loved ones have perished in the course of tribal feuding under the swords of their own brothers and sisters. If we really need the Republic of South Sudan to be a free and equal society, then it should be tribally free, but if it’s to be tribally free, it must remain free and equal to all South Sudanese regardless of their tribal supremacy or backgrounds. In this respect, I cannot falsely argue that some tribes in South Sudan have never been biased against other tribes, this is a part of our human condition, but the problem is not that we are biased; the problem would be when we forget that we are being biased against others. Once people start to believe that their tribes are superior than others’, than they could become very bigots they are supposedly to be against.
The Republic of South Sudan is comprised with massive self-righteous groups who would in many ways identify themselves as; Dinka, Nuer, Murle, Bari, Acholi, Ding-Dinga, Anyuak, Taposa, Mundari etc. These groups hold their tribal hatreds to the stage where they would attempt to project all evils deeds-I mean anything which is deemed evil onto other groups. However, in this situation the right of reply or attempt at dialogue is refused, leading to a feeling of helplessness and anger among the accused groups.
As long as our human history is concerns, it’s unquestionably our human nature that we sometimes hold false views of the world, but in reality it’s not an individuals’ mistake to choose whether they are to become Nuer, Dinka, Bari etc. The other beliefs we subsequently choose, can only be done through the distorted prism of those early influences and imperfect knowledge of the facts, but should we blame others of being Dinka, Shiluk, Taposa, Nuer, Ding-Dinga and Vis versa? This typical thinking goes against the nature and if we hate others simply because they are members of other tribes, than we must wrongly be blaming the nature.
South Sudanese should acknowledge that all tribes in the Republic of South Sudan are importance and those who endeavor to lecture supremacy of their tribes are the worst enemies of the new born state of South Sudan than Khartoum’s regime. Tribalism in its broadest sense has become our major enemy than Khartoum’s regime which we often talk about day and night and it’s more determines to break the Republic of South Sudan into pieces if not managed adequately, especially at the onset of current national building phase. We all need each other for the fact that different tribal values, beliefs and life styles form the identity of the Republic of South Sudan. My experience tells me that we all have rich cultures which if utilized properly in my view can lay a concrete foundation of the new Republic of South Sudan which we should all as people of South Sudan be proud of now and in the future.
Some people had already pointed their fingers to the government of South Sudan that it has not done enough to end tribalism in South Sudan, but eradication of tribalism is neither government’s nor an individuals’ responsibility. It’s a collective responsibility whereby each and every one of us should perform his/her part. South Sudanese in all walks of life should come out and preach the goodness of being a nationalist and badness of being a tribalist rather than preaching water during the day and drink wine and whisky during the night.
You won’t be surprise in Juba or in other major cities in South Sudan when somebody asks you which tribes are you belongs. This kind of question for instance, is simply a tribal practice, but those who indulge in such business do not realize that they are engaging in tribal practices. It’s high time now for South Sudanese to abandon their historical tribal culture and its associated regressive practices and embrace the sentiments of nationalism. The attitudes of tribalism will always bring setbacks to our new born country which we should at this stage be taking care of as we would take care of our young ones. Tribal system is simply a colonists’ system that they used to govern us; and our political leaders in particular have a moral responsibility to avoid nurturing the art of tribalism.
Our hopes and expectations have been that after we have attained our independence, so would the development follow, but tribalism appears to be a major impediment to development and also a greater threat to our national security. Are we stupid enough not to stand up and face tribalism with all our strengths? If we do so, let us not forget the role inter-marriage and the church could play in our war on tribalism. Many South Sudanese have been expecting that church leaders would stand up to their spiritual responsibilities to reduce the magnitudes of tribalism. But I would argue here in this respect if you don’t mind that churches in the Republic of South Sudan are as guilty as other ignorance groups by not standing up to fight tribalism.
The current state of our churches is neither healthy nor promising either as I write this piece. Churches in South Sudan are indisputably maintaining the status quo of tribalism. Church leaders in our contemporary Republic of South Sudan speak of Dinka congregation, Nuer congregation, Bari congregation etc. It would in turn work this way; all churches in the Republic of South Sudan should work together instead of maintaining the historical tribal divisions. Another important ingredient that we need in our hands is indeed an encouragement of inter-marriages among different tribes. If this is done, then the next generation born from these unions will be devoid of tribalism. Can we try this step and see if it will work? I think it will definitely work.
In addition, let’s not ignore the fact that our current state structures are established on the basis of tribal lines and it’s not helping us at all if we are really serious about tribalism. We need to make drastic measures if we are to see gains in war on tribalism by abolishing the current state structures. These structures have arguably confined people to the point where they would almost spend approximately 90% of their lives in their traditional geographical tribal territories. To end this trend however, Equatorians and others should go and work in different states and rest should also do the same. This will minimize the chances of holding false and imaginary beliefs on others. In spite of underlying differences, these people can trust each other and they can co-exist peacefully as they share their common traditional foods such as Asida and Kisra with each other. We cannot end tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan if we don’t cross our tribal borders, otherwise our desire to end tribalism in South Sudan may remain as a lips service!
Nevertheless, media which the government of South Sudan sees as its major enemy would also occupy a primary defensive line in this war on tribalism. Although the long-decades war with Khartoum’s regime made it difficult for many talented South Sudanese to explore their educational opportunities, there are still few good writers out there who would otherwise “if they are honest and care about their country” use their writing skills to discourage practices of tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan. It would be an incurable mistake if these writers idiotically allow themselves to be used by their self-centered tribal politicians in the course of advancing their tribal supremacy and egotistic interests. This is an abuse of professionalism! I would love to see our professional writers using their inks and papers to end tribalism in South Sudan rather than perpetrating it.
As there may be various ways and tactics we can employ to end tribalism, music cannot miss to qualify as one of those tools we should be using to end tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan. Most of music shows mostly shown on South Sudan TV have often been highly characterized by artists singing for their dream girls. However, it would have been worthy enough if we could extend invitations to these talented South Sudanese artists so that they can join the podium and compose songs not only dedicated to their dream girls, but also songs that discourage practices of tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan. I would acknowledge that few artists have already board the plane and set the ball rolling, but other artists are highly encouraged to tag on a similar direction. I’m sincerely encouraging our artists to courageously take a centre stage in the war on tribalism. This step is necessary since artists can effortlessly influence wider audiences and without doubt, it can definitely work when used as a tool to end tribalism. Therefore, utilizing music to close tribal gaps would serve thousands of lives which would have been lost in regressive tribal feuding.
In conclusion, South Sudanese should all come out courageously and truthfully to confront tribalism and its associated evil practices. Engaging on ways to right the wrongs and put up ways to secure a good Republic of South Sudan for us and the next generations would be a brilliant idea. I would like to pose this question as a home work to all South Sudanese. The question goes like this; are you sufficiently stupid not to confront tribalism or sensibly judicious to confront it and put it to an end? The costs of tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan have been very high and its continuation won’t serve our interest national.
The author can be corresponded at [email protected]