Opinion South Sudan

Opinion: The beautiful cultures betrayed by the partially proselytized Junubin

Yien W. Mayuak

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Nuer men demonstrating a cultural dance during a community event in East Africa(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)
Nuer men demonstrating a cultural dance during a community event in East Africa(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)

Dec 3, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — What always happens is a lose when someone who doesn’t know the direction leaves one place for another. Lose is a situation where something or someone is nowhere to be found, or someone has no probability of reaching his/her destination. When you leave your home for another person’s and you miss the direction, you are lost. If you continue with that unknown direction, you will probably have no chance to reach where you intended to go. In that moment of lose, you will only move back and find out where you missed the direction if you want to reach where you are going. Africans were so far advised by the colonizers to start a journey of abandoning African cultures which indeed ended in an unknown direction. The colonizers are watching Africans missing direction in the middle of the journey they advised them to start but are not willing to tell them the route that can take them to the almighty Western cultures.

Africans cultures are betrayed by the partially proselytized Africans. Some Africans are partially converted culturally, they are brainwashed to forget their cultures by the white people and have not learnt fully the Western cultures which resulted in very strange and catastrophic cultures which the white people may call the African cultures. The white people took some Africans away from their cultures and left them somewhere there where they developed strange cultures which are neither the African cultures nor the white cultures. But because they are Africans, the white people correlate those strange and ignominious cultures with the Africans cultures which is the obvious betrayal to African cultures. Junubin are not exception, they are partially proselytized as well. Some Junubin for sake of being civilized abandoned the traditional of life of the Junubin and created their own way of life which they think is the civilized and modern way of life. Bad cultures are developed by those Junubin which is a betrayal to the Jububin because people who don’t know the Junubin way of life may think that those bad cultures are the traditional Junubin cultures.

This partial proselytizing of some Junubin is a prominent betrayal to all Junubin and their cultures. Those proselytized Junubin are lost because they neither made it to Western cultures nor they had interest to relearn Junubin cultures. Only some among the Junubin in cities and diaspora teach their children about the Junubin cultures. The tragedy however is severe on the children of those proselytized Junubin who are born in cities without any access to Junubin cultures than their parents who might have been in Junubin villages before moving to cities. The betrayal to Junubin cultures by those partially converted junubin can be seen and explicated in two dimensions, betrayal by men and women. The men have betrayed the Junubin cultures differently from the women. Those Junubin men and women who are partially converted culturally betray the Junubin cultures in different dimensions through their varying strange cultures they adapted from nowhere.  Through their eagerness to be called civilized, the forget their cultures in a jet like speed but fail to learn the learn the cultures they were running to learn which lead them to create the strange cultures which are only betrayal to Junubin because the world may think that the way of life of those low self-esteem individual is the way of life of every Junubi which is indeed the tragedy, the tragedy of abandoning the beautiful cultures for the unknown cultures.

Betrayal by the Junubin Men

Our people and cultures are betrayed by our own men who let go of our beautiful cultures. Some Junubin men who are counterfeiting civilization are betraying our cultures everywhere. Those men have developed ignominious traditions like drug abuse, laziness, irresponsibility and tribalism. Those strange traditions developed by those Junubin men cannot take us anywhere. Those traditions can only contribute to the destruction of our nation because such drug abuse, irresponsibility, tribalism, and laziness are against peace, security, development and prosperity of the nation. With those strange traditions, our country cannot have peace; and without peace, the country cannot have security resulting in the absent development which is the threshold to prosperity. The world counts those traditions on all Junubin although they don’t originate from our original cultures and that is indeed a betrayal.

Inappropriate use of alcohol by Junubin men

As a matter of fact, the number of Junubin men who drink alcohol nowadays is far larger than the number of those who are not drinking which is heartbreaking and destructive to our country. I am not saying that drinking alcohol is bad but the way the Junubin men drink alcohol nowadays is very tragic and embarrassing to our country. I know that the way our Junubin men drink alcohol nowadays is not the Junubin tradition. I visited several villages of different tribes of South Sudan and I know very well about how the men from those tribes drink alcohol. Traditionally, Junubin men used to drink alcohol responsibly but nowadays, the catastrophic way of drinking alcohol is being practiced not only in cities but also in Junubin villages because those who went to cities took it to villages and adapted by the villagers. This catastrophic usage of alcohol is taken to Junubin villages affecting all Junubin.

I visited the Mabaan and Komo villages who are the neighboring tribes of my community; the traditional usage of alcohol by men from those tribes is not as catastrophic as it is today. The traditional alcoholic beverage from those tribes is not harmful and the way the men use it is not violent as the Junubin men now a day use diverse alcoholic beverages in cities. The alcoholic beverage produced by those two tribes is ‘marisa abioth’ or white wine which is very less toxic. This alcoholic beverage is produced using the malt of the grains like maize and sorghum. This alcoholic beverage is common to Anuak, Nuer and Dinka tribes. I think it is also common among most or all the Junubin tribes. Traditionally in the Nuer tribe, there are only two alcoholic beverages; the ‘araqi’ and ‘maritha abioth’ which were used for recreation during ceromonies. An elder once told me that earliest in the day in the Nuer tribe, alcohol was used only by the old men. He said that the youth did not use alcohol as it is today, only middle and old aged men used to drink alcohol, he said. He continued saying that the middle and old aged men used the alcohol responsively and rarely during ceremonies. The same is true for all Junubin tribes; alcohol is traditionally used for recreation during ceremonies like marriage. Nowadays, Junubin use alcohol to escalate violence and make the things worse rather than to enjoy.

The current usage of alcohol by the Junubin men is very embarrassing to all Junubin which may let other people from other countries assume that such a catastrophic usage of alcohol is the tradition of the Junubin.  A Junubi man nowadays drinks alcohol frequently, he leaves home at 6 a.m. and comes back home at 6 p.m. leaving at the same hour the next morning. When he reaches home drunk, he will cause violence at home and spoil the peace of the family. He will be suspicious of anyone in the family. He will beat his wife if he is told about alcohol. An alcohol addicted Junubi man loses his job because he will not have time for a job and other things.

A group of Junubin men sharing the table and drinking alcohol cannot conclude their occasion without a fight. If Chol doesn’t start the fight, Okelo or Gatluak can start the fight and the whole table will be in chaos. Wani and Garang on the same table instead to impede the fight will only take side and the fight will be escalated. Some teeth must remain in that bar with several injuries or if they drink at home or in armies barrack, you will hear the sound of a gun. With such a situation and a large number of drunkards in the country using alcohol irresponsibly like that, the country can neither have peace nor progress.

The world may think that Junubin are traditionally drunkards seeing the frequent and catastrophic usage of alcohol by the Junubin men. The question is, where do Junubin men get that tradition from? The answer is, “they developed it on their own while trying to copy.” I cannot say that they adapted that from white people or any other people. I have been living in Ethiopia for years, the usage of alcohol by the Ethiopian tribes like Oromo, Amhara and Tigre is not violent nor does it contradict one’s job like it is to Junubin men. Those Ethiopians use alcohol rarely at holidays or at night after when all the daily tasks are over.

I know about Arabs as well, the Arabs do not drink alcohol, but if there are some, it may be a very small number. It should not be that our Junubin men adapted that tradition from the neighboring Sudan. The white people do not drink alcohol the same way our Junubin men do, the white people drink alcohol only for recreation. They only laugh when they drink alcohol instead of fighting. The white people drink at night after coming back from work and drinking in such a way cannot affect one’s job and family peace because they drink at night and sleep and wake up in the morning and go to work without fighting anyone. Where do our Junubin get the irresponsible drinking of alcohol from while it is not a part of our cultures? Our Junubin men tried to copy the diversified way of drinking where one has more choice of alcohol due to the availability of more diverse and toxic alcoholic beverages in bars, they copied beyond and became traumatized. That tradition is strange, it is neither an African tradition nor the Western tradition, it is a tradition that should be relinquished by the Junubin men.

Youth are the power of the nation and it is heartbreaking seeing most of our youth involved in different drugs like weed and all those modern alcoholic beverages which are harmful not only for health but also for economic stability and home peace. South Sudan is a country where the number of teetotalers is far lower than the number of those who are addicted to different harmful drugs which is indeed a great damage to the country.

Laziness of Junubin men

The Junubin men back in the days were hard workers but now, our men are too lazy. Our Junubin men traditionally were good hunters, fishermen and farmers. Junubin men back in the days would go to bush and hunt to ensure that the family had food on the table. Hunting was part of their life. They would go fishing and spend the whole day on the river, stream or pond and they would come back home in the evening with a lot of fish for the families. During those days, the men were good farmers as well; they used to grow different grains, legumes and vegetables like maize, groundnut, pumpkin, sorghum, and so forth. Hunger would prevail only if there was a drought inhibiting the growth of the plants which is obviously contradicting the current situation where hunger comes without any reason as the men put their hands on their pam. They used to work tirelessly for their families because they knew that it was their duty.  But nowadays, laziness has engulfed our society and starvation has become prominent which has led the majority of our people to be depending on humanitarian aids.

Our Junubin men by trying to copy the cultures of the white people now a day abandoned our hardworking tradition. They pessimistically think that hardworking is the traditional habit with backwardness and think that in the cities, hardworking is not necessary. What some of our Junubin men don’t understand is that hard working is what developed other nations in the world. There is no success without hard work and this is what our Junubin men who are prompted to spend their time only by sitting in tea shops need to understand. Development cannot come as a miracle, but it should be made possible only by working hard in different sectors like agriculture, livestock and fishery so that our gross domestic product (GDP) can be escalated in a jet like speed.

If our men thought that they were too civilized to do the primitive works like farming, fishing and hunting, they should turn the gear to modern means of hard working. They are still lost here; they have started the journey and ended up in an unknown direction. They have forgotten about the route that would take them back to where they came from. They are completely lost where the tradition of laziness they have developed is neither the part white of white culture nor that of their ancestors. But the white people cannot believe that they developed that tradition on the process of copying the white culture, they would only think that such a laziness is the part of Junubin cultures which is indeed a betrayal of Junubin cultures by the partially proselytized junubin men.

Our Junubin men should understand that living in cities is not about sitting and drinking tea. Hard work is also tremendous in the cities because without working hard, you cannot survive. You can either choose education or business. In education, you can work hard to be a good student so that you can be able to reach your goal. In every profession you pursue in education, you can serve your country and your family can have something to survive with. Being a businessman as well can generate income for you and your family which is very important not only to you and your family but also to the whole country.

This laziness was so far adapted by most of the Junubin men both in cities (diaspora and home) and villages. The partially proselytized Junubin men have taken this habit of laziness to Junubin villages and those in the villages misunderstood that it is the modern way of life and hence, it becomes a tradition throughout our country. Most of the Junubin men in the cities now a day can neither pursue education nor business while those in the villages can neither do farming nor fishing like our people back in the days used to do and in this case our society is affected by this futile laziness habit.

The activities which Junubin men abandoned and considered as the futile activities are the activities which developed other nations. Agriculture, livestock rearing and fishing are frequently and commonly practiced even by the most developed countries like the USA and China, let alone other African countries. This attitude of Junubin men of being lazy by avoiding to do activities that can induce development is what retards the progress in South Sudan. Politics becomes the career for every Junubin man which brings competition in politics resulting in prominent corruption in the country. Agriculture graduate, let say horticulture graduate will not work on a farm growing different vegetables, rather, he will only join politics and forget about what he learnt in school. Avoidance of doing what one qualifies with is the provenance of political competition and corruption in South Sudan. The Junubin men do not like to work; they only want to be accommodated in hotels getting free money that cannot do anything for the country.  Such an attitude should be abandoned for the country to progress, men should work hard in the agricultural sector, livestock sector and fishery sector and avoid sitting idly in tea shops. South Sudan is a country with abundant resources that only need to be properly utilized by her citizens for the country to develop rapidly.

Tribal hatred of Junubin men

Tribalism is not Junubin tradition but today our men become so ethnocentric. Our fellow men today have hatred among themselves based on ethnic lines. Junubin tribes used to engage in inter-ethnic conflict but resolution used to take place after each conflict without any permanent tribal hatred which is dilapidating in our country today. Competition for tribal power among Junubin men is the key factor triggering ethnocentrism which is not the tradition of Junubin. The tribal beasts who have developed the tribal hatred as their part of life are dispersing the same ideology to Junubin villages.

Traditionally, Junubin are not ethnocentric but the ethnic segregation which the Western world currently considers as the modality to turn brother against brother cultivated ethnocentrism among Junubin men. If Junubin had ethnocentrism as their tradition they would not have close borders nor would they have unity which led them to struggle collaboratively against the Arabs in the North. My village Pakur in the Eastern Jikany Nuer is very close to the Maban tribe and growing up there gave me a clue about the unity of Junubin traditionally.  There is a village of Maban tribe called Kube which is only about 10 km away from my village, the people of my village and those of Kube share a lot of things in common. They share traditional ceremonies and help each other doing the farming activities. We had friends from that Maban village; we used to do fishing together in the swamp which is called Muoybar located between Pakur and Kube. We had no tribal hatred which is haunting every Junubin man’s mind today. The same thing was true among all the neighboring tribes of South Sudan like the Shlluk and Dinka, Dinka and Nuer, Nuer and Anuak, Dinka and Bari and so forth. The tribal hatred is not part of the Junubin cultures, it is developed by Junubin men due to their susceptibility to external influences and enthusiasm for tribal power.

As I said earlier that Junubin used to engage in inter-ethnic fight back in the days, it is true but very different from the current ethnocentrism affecting our country today. Although Junubin had conflict among themselves, they used to practice inter-ethnic marriage and share traditional ceremonies which showed their oneness and unity. Inter-ethnic marriage in South Sudan becomes very seldom nowadays. Ethnocentrism is the threshold for the abolishment of the interest in practicing inter-ethnic marriage in South Sudan. Junubin men are currently the prominent ethnocentric than the women and it is common today that people hate each other only because they belong to different tribes without any rationale for that hatred. Since that tribal hatred is not our tradition, it is a critical issue that should be abolished in our country and then we should live together and work collaboratively for our country.

Betrayal by the Junubin women

The betrayal of the Junubin cultures is not only by Junubin men; our Junubin women as well have their contribution in the betrayal. The Junubin women betrayed our cultures starting from the families and then to the world. Our Junubin women have become so susceptible to the Western influences leading them to have no any pride in things that are their own. Consequently, divorce becomes frequent as the marriage laws which traditionally bond wife and husband together are abandoned by our women. Our women as well are getting rid of traditional names by using Christian names as their names which is indeed not good. The Jububin women become so low in self-confidence to the point of bleaching their beautiful black skin as a mean of getting rid of being black. Our Junubin women have betrayed our cultures and through their action, our cultures can be undermined by other nations. The betrayal of our cultures by the Junubin women can be seen in the following phenomena.

Frequent divorce

Nowadays, divorce becomes so frequent among Junubin couples. A Junubin woman nowadays jumps from one man to another which is not our tradition. The intention of our Junubin women to copy other cultures is what makes marriages fragile. Traditionally, divorce was very rare among Junubin couples and used to happen with reason. In diaspora for example where women’s freedoms are maximized, Junubin men suffer in the hands of their women. The frequent divorce among Junubin couples is due to gullibility of Junubin women to Western cultures which contradict the Junubin tradition where women are expected to respect their husband.

As traditional as it is still practiced in Junubin villages, divorce is not considered as a woman’s freedom to choose whom to live with, rather it is considered as an act of adultery and a woman who jumps from one man to another is called a sharmuta or whore which is a very bad name in Junubin cultures. A Junubin woman back in the days was characterized by dignity and politeness but nowadays the Junubin women become so rude and talk to their husbands anyhow, yes anyhow which is not the part of Junubin cultures.

In Junubin cultures, a divorce is declared by the family members of the female spouse not by the spouse herself as it is happening today. When a woman felt humiliated, she would first tell her parents before talking about divorce and then the parents would consult her partner to find out what is the problem. The family members of the female spouse used to be fair when it comes to mediating cases between the couple, if the found out that their daughter is the one irritating her husband, they would advise her to stop that and if the man was found to be the cause of the family trouble, they would advise him as well to change. Divorce used to take place only after several procedures and it is declared officially by the family members of the female spouse only when they realized that the couples are beyond reconciliation. When the divorce is declared officially, the issue is known to the whole village and the woman cannot be blamed for the divorce because it is not her fault, if it was her fault, the family members would not allow the divorce to take place.

Nowadays, the divorce is very frequent because the Junubin women are trying to copy the cultures of white people where a husband and wife live without boundaries. Although the husband and wife in the white community live without boundaries like brothers, the white women do not sleep with other men and divorce is very rare in the white community. What causes the rift among the Junubin couples is that Junubin women need their husbands to behave like white husbands while there are circumstances which differentiate the Junubin marriage and the white marriage. Junubin men pay dowries while the white men don’t which makes it unfortunate for Junubin women to be treated like white women who are married without any dowries.

Another factor that differentiates the white marriage and Junubin marriage is that the white women do the same things with their fellow white men while on the other hand Junubin women cannot do what the Junubin men do. Junubin men are well educated than the Junubin women which gives Junubin men more chances to get a job than the women. With the cultures the Junubin men see in other parts of the world, they want to do what the men do while they are not able to do what the men do, education for example. As the proselytized Junubin women need men to do the house activities which are only for women in junubin cultures, divorce becomes frequent.

Divorce becomes so prominent and frequent among the Junubin couples living in Western countries as women have unlimited freedom and are not allowed to be beaten. It becomes harsh for Junubin men living in the countries where women call the police to interfere in family affairs. I cannot believe that a woman can tell her husband to wait outside home only because she is busy and permission is needed for a man to come to her own home. This tradition of Junubin women has scared Junubin men living abroad and got no choice than to abandon those ladies and come to Africa and marry leaving their wives in Africa where that unlimited freedom is not permitted.

If Junubin women needed to be equal to men, they should work hard as men in education, military and business like the white women do. The Junubin women should not expect men to do house activities while they are dependent on men economically. Divorce is not a part of Junubin cultures nor is it a part of white cultures but eagerness of Junubin women to be treated like white women by the men who pay dowries and are the one to whom the family depends escalate the divorce. Junubin women should live in the traditional Junubin way where a woman respects her husband and fears the divorce.

Spoiling the kids

Junbubin mothers nowadays in the cities do not teach their kids about the cultures of Junubin rather they are spoiling their kids thinking that they are raising them. In Junubin cultures, a child grows with the stories of the land inculcated to him/her. A child is taught about the ancestral lineage; both the patrilineal and the matrilineal in the traditional Junubin families, but nowadays, a child grows up without knowing anything about the ancestors. It is true that without knowing the past, you cannot be able to know the future and the actions of mothers who think that cultures are not important to their children produce only irresponsible children.

Traditionally, a Junubin mother teaches her children to respect elders and doing so produces children with dignity. Things have changed completely and subtle things have happened, our people in the Western world particularly the women have spoiled their children. Some of the Junubin women in the Western world are teaching their kids to hate and disrespect their fathers, leading those kids to be so disrespectful to their father which is a very pity.  There was a Junubin man (whose name I will not disclose) who came from the USA to Africa with his family; his wife and a son who was about 18 years old, while they came to Africa, the man had a disagreement with his wife. The disagreement led into a complete misunderstanding beyond reconciliation and came after was a divorce.

The spoiled boys instead of advising his parents to reconcile only took side and supported his mother. While the divorce case was taken to court, the spoiled boy did a very subtle thing which surprised everyone who was in the court. The spoiled boy sat behind his mother holding his mother’s back and insulted his father. ‘This stupid man is disturbing me and my mother,” said the spoiled boy. All those who were in the court were shocked by the spoiled boy only to find out that the family came from the USA. That kind of disrespect is not a Junubin tradition; a child is always taught to respect his father and always told that you will die if you disappoint your father. A child is taught not only to respect his own father but also his father’s age mates. The partially proselytized Junubin women are producing children who do not respect their fathers.

In traditional Junubin families, a girl is taught by her mother to be polite, fair and lovely so that she will be a good wife who loves and treats fairly her sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, mother-in-law and father-in-law. Junubin families who have abandoned traditional way of raising kids only teach their girls to be rude and our girls who grow up in diaspora behave like they are men and that is the tragedy, the tragedy of the proselytized Junubin. Raising girls this way is what escalates divorces because as long as the girls are raised in such a disrespectful way, she will not respect her husband nor will she love her husband’s family members. The mothers should teach their daughters in a traditional way where a girl grows up as an asset and a pride to her family.

A Junubin boy on the other hand is raised and encouraged to be brave and hard working. A coward boy is continuously humiliated by his parents until he becomes brave. In my village where I grew up for example, a boy is not allowed to eat a nice meal when the parents find out that he fears other boys. Raising kids this way produces strong and brave members of the society which contradicts the current child raising method taking place in the Junubin families living in the cities. The Junubin boys who grow up in cities are cowards and not different from girls, they cannot be able to protect their wives from harm because they can be the first to run away from harm.

In Junubin villages, the boys are raised by the whole community. Everyone beats the boys when they are found mistaken, but currently the boys are not beaten by any of their family members let alone other people in the community. Nowadays, mothers are not happy when their kids are beaten even by someone from the family members. The mothers don’t know that they are indeed spoiling their kids. A mother back in the days used to encourage someone who beats the child by saying beat him, that boy is naughty because it is true that a child should not be treated like an adult. The child doesn’t know anything and hence he/she should be corrected when mistaken through beating or advising. Allowing kids to behave as they like is only spoiling them which should be stopped.

Avoidance of the traditional names

The traditional child naming is a part of every culture. Names vary from nation to nation; each nation has its unique names. The South Sudanese traditional names are different from those of Kenyans, Americans and Europeans. The Junubin women are changing their names for Christian names which is indeed a humiliation to our society. Our women who are living in cities particularly in diaspora have changed to Christian names not only their first names but also their father names who may not be Christians. A woman who was named Nyakong Gatluak or Adut Deng no longer keeps that name, she rather changed her name to Mary Peter or Sarah Jacob.

I don’t know why our women are doing that; doing so will only result in the extinction of our traditional names. A child may think that her mother is Sarah while her original name may be Nyibol or Achol. Changing the traditional names is the sign of low self-esteem and perpetrator of embarrassment to the Junubin. There is no problem with our name and I cannot see any reason for such beautiful names to be abandoned by adapting strange names whose meanings are not known.

This article serves as an advice to my great people of South Sudan and a reminder that our cultures are beautiful and important. We should keep our beautiful cultures by applying them at homes and teaching the children about the stories of their great ancestors so that they can grow up knowing their stories. It is everyone’s duty to keep the Junubin cultures, our country cannot be developed by abandoning our cultures but it should be developed by working hard. Civilization is not about living like a white man or like an Arab, but civilization is the change in mind where a person is able to create new things in accordance with this modern world of technology. My country men and women, our cultures are beautiful, live as Junubi wherever you are. Love our cultures and be humane as a Junubi wherever you are so that the world will know about the beauty of our cultures.

The author is a Pan Africanist and an African cultures activist who can be reached via his email at yientharngoany@gmail.com or gatwiel2017@yahoo.com

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