OPINION: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE LAKES STATE COMMUNITY WORLDWIDE 

By Daniel Deng Mario,

Khartoum, Sudan

Eastern Lakes state governor Mangar Buong, in blue, meets his Jonglei state counterparts Maker Thiong, right (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

Eastern Lakes state governor Mangar Buong, in blue, meets his Jonglei state counterparts Maker Thiong, right (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

February 19, 2020(Nyamilepedia)First of all, let me take this opportunity to welcome you with open hands to Great Lakes State as one people under one great community of Lakes State and people of South Sudan as a whole. I am glad that the arbitrary policy that resulted from arbitrarily creation of 32 States has been rescinded by the owner. Let us appreciate him for that.

Coming to the subject of this letter, I am writing to you in response to the recent disturbing case of intolerance of which the social media was filled with hate speech in form of pictorial presentations. One of the photos that was not going down well with me is about the motorbike that was being ridden by Agar while Gok and Yirol were tied to the side lights behind the bike. 

Such pictures may appear normal and innocent when it comes to football, but in case of a country and communities, it is not as simple as such. Our communities are not yet at that level understanding those pictures as normal or entertainment. Rather they can take it as the hate speech. 

Our communities from Gok and Yirol share strong similarity in which they cannot let such photos just like that. I believe that the incidence of which those Photos were represented do not reflect or represent who we are but we are misled by our jokes when it comes to football. 

As I know, the Greater Lakes Community is a proud community and we are proud of our exceptional diversity and our commitment to forming national and diverse community. Indeed, the members hailed from Lakes State are good in everything. This is why sometime politics become hard to handle among ourselves. Inherent in us is the commitment to serve the nation. 

However, it appears that we have gone far beyond our duties to each other as citizens of a great nation. This is why we forget that we have a duty to each other when we play. The way we play on social media is bad when it comes to our communities who are highly traumatized and deeply divided by the communal violence that has become a negative part of our culture.

It therefore implies that we have to be careful with  what we do as our communities cannot easily understand that we are doing is just entertainment given the experiences they have which have colored their reasoning capacity and any representation you make through the photo may be interpreted differently based on their experiences.

To tell you the truth, such photos are public incitement to tribal feelings and can make the communities develop tension without us understanding it. It is part of the hate speech. Hate speech is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion etc.” It is “usually thought to include communications of animosity or disparagement of an individual or a group on account of a group characteristic such tribes and ethnicity. 

Some may argue that using those pictures is just part of freedom of speech but as long as it shows disparaging image that makes people look like children then it can be interpreted as abuse, which is not good. That picture seems to say that Gok and Yirol are just children as they have children brains. That even if they are good, they would not do anything without Agaar Community and they need Agaar to survive and that was the reason they were collected with motorbike to come back to Rumbek in order to live good life. 

Moreover, that picture describes hate speech since it is gestures or displays incite violence or prejudicial actions against the two communities on the basis of their membership in their clan, which intimidates or disparages both of them.  It identifies the two communities based on certain characteristics of being Gok and people of Yirol respectively. According to the picture, we are depicted as if we have missed Rumbek since our home is not appropriate for us. It is the form of tribal and ethnic hatred through the use of mass-media. 

Although the constitutional right to free speech protects such hateful and bigoted speech through picture, I expect all youth in Lakes to “uphold our Principles of Community, which include respect for diverse beliefs and backgrounds as one of our highest ideals”. All of us are responsible for creating an inclusive and accommodating community which every person feels at home and secured anywhere within the state. 

In short, this letter is going to all youth of Lakes State and in particular to those who published all those different photos that gave wrong or different interpretations. I would like to tell the people that we must exercise restraints as majority of our people are highly traumatized by communal violence and because of that any picture may cause tension that may result into further escalation of conflict. 

Thanks yours sincerely

Signed,

Daniel Deng Mario, Khartoum, Sudan. 

Email: mariodeng88@gmail.com


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