Chatim Thorkurjock Contributor's

Opinion:  Let us go back to July 9th, 2011

By Chatim Thorkurjock,

Souther Sudanese children rehearse their dance routine to be performed at half time during South Sudan's national football team match with Kenya as part of the independence day celebrations.
Souther Sudanese children rehearse their dance routine to be performed at half time during South Sudan’s national football team match with Kenya as part of the independence day celebrations.

July 19, 2021 — All South Sudanese should be considered equal in all villages, yet people forget that human rights apply to us all. For me this is not the case, everywhere I go all I see is declaration after  declaration that “I’m” guilty for my tribe. Tribe and “gender” are examples of the physical division  we witness in South Sudan today. SPLM-IO has embarked on a journey unlike any other  movement. As I grow my awareness on the realism of tribalism, I find myself truly enlightened  by freedom fighters who are still in the bushes for free tribalism and democratic South Sudan. It has also come to me seeing tribalism everywhere in South Sudan, soldiers stopping individuals for  no other reason than their tribes and in situations they never care about. 

I utterly understand how tribalism is all connected because I have dehumanized other tribes. It is  truly painful and unbelievable to perceive. At times, being aware of how many fights I must face  makes me wish I were still unaware of the topic of tribalism and marginalization. It is always on  my mind, and I feel deserted. 

Being Nuer 2013 helps me experience it outside my doorstep, but the killing of Equatorians  made me aware that I am not alone in South Sudan.I am extremely disappointed to see other  tribes from minority groups, suffer daily infuriates me and is painful and the only way to feel the  pain, one must change their tribe. Why are we making life so hard? Individuals do not deserve  to be treated any type of way based on their natural being, for example, my tribe, my skin, or  my gender as a South Sudan. 

I believe people in South Sudan; a war-torn country, need to have more dialogs on how tribalism is still alive and well open inside the famous building commonly known as J1. It is hard doing in an  independent country like South Sudan because we seem to be under the illusion that we have  passed this, but truthfully, we are far from finishing or getting there. Independence states are still  as tribalistic as they were many years ago. Are we ever going to move past the hate? Are we  ever going to move past this socially constructed tribalism? Will Nuer and Dinka people ever  give up their power for the sake of humanity? Will men ever give women equality?  

Will uncles ever give youth their freedom? Will South Sudan ever be free at last? Will we stop  participating in this socially constructed tribalism? Tribalism was there when I was a child, and it  is still on today. I have experienced how a big tribe is better (i.e. Number) tribe than the  rest of Sudanese in the villages was treated differently.I have experienced a human being who had success being treated differently just because they were not born with a “good” tribe.  These divisions create conflict and dehumanization within South Sudan. 

In the conflict of, 2013, Nuer genocide brings an understanding perspective and experience to  us. Door to Door killing of Nuer people in Juba has explained the things small tribes face every  day as minorities. The current First Vice President Dr Riek Machar captivated me with his  courage and his honesty to stand up for the bad government in South Sudan. He had the choice to remain in his position as second man in power. However, he chose to be honest and bring the  truth to the citizens. 

His action was not what I thought, to say the least. I had some reservations about the  independence of South Sudan. He still won’t understand how I suffered this as a child and as a  ground poor South Sudanese completely.” But it is wrong for me to look at it this way. Humans do  not even have to form a movement to understand the pain, you just need unconditional love in  your heart to understand humanity, inner work needs to be done for us to be able to take the  darkness out of South Sudanese. The SPLM-IO started opposing a government that treats its  citizens along the tribal line and is still in our daily life. And opposing such a government is so necessary. 

Today life as a Nuer or a small tribe in South Sudan is hard. Across Africa continent in every  country, the smaller your tribe the more you suffer more. larger tribes look down to other  minorities. As a Nuer man, I have looked down on small tribes before. I was so blinded with these  tribal issues I have participated in; I never noticed the frequent micro aggression targeted at me. The microaggressions that hurt the most are the physical ones. Children are afraid of me  because they are taught to be afraid of me just like I was taught to be afraid of other tribes. Not  being greeted by other tribes because I am Nuer, disobedience from other tribes.  

Individuals being followed around in Juba by some National Security every time because the  government knows that they are not from the “prefer” tribe (Dinka), sic. and the list goes on. These  things that people do that may be unintentional have the power to hurt others so much and  make them feel like they do not belong in South Sudan. Militias who are armed by the  government inflict their power on unarmed civilians of Leer every day, reminding them to stay  in their place. These armed militias quietly remind them every day that they do not  belong in South Sudan and treat them as second citizens. And I am so faded up with it. So,  fade up. 

John Gatluak Manguet killing is a form of discrimination based on differences in tribe and  community (Leer).it is a fear of people that are different to what we are accustomed to and that  which we find unusual. The hatred is irrational, and there is no valid reason to have this hatred  for other people. Xenophobia works against people who are not most of the population and it  perpetuates beliefs and attitudes that target people who are seen as “outsiders,” even though  that said person could have been born and raised in that place.  

It occurs against people with different physical attributes, but also against people with different  beliefs and affiliations. Tribalism can be the fuel to hate acts and verbal abuse, and the  discrimination causes alienation for the group from within the society that they are in. Truthfully,  living in South Sudan, Nuer deal with xenophobia and other things other smaller tribes deal  with daily. Othering is intertwined with nationalism. 

One occurs because of the other, Othering occurs because of an illogical fear of tribes that are  different, prejudice. Othering is where whoever is different from us is viewed as “them” and they  are isolated from the rest. When someone, in a social setting, is visibly different from the rest,  they are perceived as “them” or the other. Othering works on a system of power. The people  who are part of the majority have power over the minority. With others, there is “us” and “them,”  the” us” is the majority and portrayed as normal and so they hold all the power. 

This is the same with xenophobia, the fear and hatred toward others makes whoever is “normal”  powerful. But the effects of xenophobia and others run deeper than that. The marginalized  groups in society begin to be socialized and conditioned to believe that we are our stereotypes.  We internalize hate and tribalism and blame minorities. In the South Sudan case, some Dinka began hating their Neighbours the Nuer people because they were taught to hate them. They  did not want to be associated with Nuer because throughout their life they were told. Nuer are  bad people. 

Young South Sudanese have seen how big tribes act toward minorities throughout the entire  history of South Sudan and young South Sudanese are tired. Nuer tribe got to experience the  struggle small tribes go through daily in 2013.They saw tribalism, they saw prejudice, they saw  the living conditions that small tribes stuck with. What made me so happy was the solidarity I felt  amongst the South Sudan community for 21 years of the Sudan civil war, because I know sometimes,  that same solidarity in South Sudanese communities is what keeps me going as a Nuer man. It  is critical to have people who understand everything other tribes are going through. 

It is so good to support other tribes. Many of my friends were born Dinka, and they still have the  courage to stand with me.I feel depressed all the time. I feel exhausted, and that South Sudan is  so broken and beyond fixing. That some Dinka people will never see me as their equal South  Sudanese and Shilluk will never see Equatorians as South Sudanese.  

In South Sudan if no changes are made and the Revitalized Peace Agreement is not  implemented, small tribes will always be oppressed. That we will never let go of our tribalism.  Any tribe or political party who does not want to implement the peace agreement in the country  should be condemned for the hate they are preaching. I always refuse to let this hopelessness  define me in life, now unlike before young people value all tribes the same.  

Deep down in my heart I have hope for South Sudanese now because I have seen young South  Sudanese are coming together. The monster that was planned in their hearts by tribal elders  is going away. Deep down I am cheering for love to take over South Sudan. Those who are  fighting for democracy and freedom for all are not alone, and this is what is important. I am now  constantly fixing myself because there is no point in pointing fingers at other people,  because fixing we is important, and it is a step to love humanity in all. I know we do constantly  have to show that superiority is the role of Nuer and Dinka, and this is the darkness in our country. All tribes are the same, yet we ignore the very facts. 

Let us go back to July 9th, 2011. We are all one another happiness and one another pain,  tribalism is all connected.

The author can be reached through email at cthor109@mtroyal.ca

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