“The Dinka are everywhere like the MTN network, as opposed to Vivacell mobile which has accessibility only in some areas”, the Equatorians would say.
By Apioth Mayom Apioth
Sept 27, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– All tribes go through some sort of a culturization process where some ideas work and other ideologies fail to effect change. It is a common tradition in many African cultures that more people means more wealth. The Dinka had the sheer luck of having brought their best minds and intelligentsia together to create a situation where their population became more numerous. It is not that other tribes didn’t give it a good shot; they perhaps tried a couple of times, but it didn’t bear fruits. Would it be such a bad idea had all the 64 tribes been equal population-wise? No, it would be a great blessing since that would be the easiest way to get rid of complaints and behind-the-back bad talks.
Now the Equatorians wait for the Dinka to pass about just anywhere and snatch the innocent lives out of the them. The Dinka are being punished because we have a failed leader in Juba, who also happens to be from the said tribe. Our leader took a good nap for the last 11 years, and when he woke up, everything that was neatly organized at his house was nowhere to be seen; his house was completely emptied of everything he once owned. From a well, furnished house, full of amenities; his house now even has cracks all over and holes in the rooftop. It terribly gets cold at night. His life is in ruins. Of course this is not what Kiir’s life looks like in the real sense. This is an actual depiction of what a normal South Sudanese citizen has been through in the last two and half years.
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In the last 11 years, while our leader was taking a great nap; Paul Malong Awan came to the scene, and brought his baggage of Mathiang Anyoor, an infamous militia group which was responsible for the December 2013 ransacking of Juba City. After the South Sudanese civil war took center stage, Jieng Council of Elders became a force to be reckoned with, especially within President Kiir’s inner circle. Now, every tribe besides Dinka is saying Mathiang Anyoor are the worst ethnic bullies that ever happened in the history of our nation. Have we all forgotten that we have had the White Army (Jech Mabor) since 1991? And speaking of elders interfering in the affairs of the state; traditionally, African elders were held in high esteem in the old days and I believe that still holds true up to this day, even though things are changing at a fast-rate due to modernization and globalization invisible indulging hands. Even now, if you happen to pass through some rural communities, you might chance upon some elders discussing communal events under the same shade of trees that has been graced by many countless generations of elders before them.
I must admit that the Dinka feel entitled to have a little pride in everything they do, because they are more populous of all the tribes in the nation. They are about 3 million, or 36 % of the 12 million South Sudanese. By this wealth of numerical advantage, they are bound to generate more talent, skills and resources accumulation more than the less disadvantaged ethnic groups. The Kikuyu are the more numerous tribe of Kenya, and since independence in 1963, they have had three presidents out of four; Mr. Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi was the only exception; the present Uhuru Kenyatta, Jomo Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki are all sons of Kikuyu. Raila Odinga came close to winning the general election in the last term, but the Kikuyu rallied around their own son and joined hands with a few friends from the other tribes, and the curtain came crushing down on Raila. Mr. Raila Odinga lost a heavily contentious election even though he was the most charismatic one and had been instrumental in bringing democratic change to Kenya.
Even though Salva Kiir, Paul Malang Awan and Jieng Council of Elders have caused a major damage to a peaceful coexistence amongst all the parties concerned; the present South Sudanese savior, Dr. Riek Machar was the first novice who started ethnic cleansing of this magnitude in 1991 when he went on relentless killings of the Dinka of Jonglei. Two thousand Dinka lost their lives that year, leaving more thousands to fend themselves off from hunger and other war-inflicted circumstances. Riek Machar didn’t stop there; he went right ahead and sold oil concessions in areas under his control to Jallaba-led government. Khartoum government ran abroad and bought more powerful and menacing weapons of destruction, resulting in killing more thousand Dinka. And after the December 2013, the same White Army of the early 1990s came back to haunt the Dinka in the Greater Upper Nile. Beginning in the 1990s and culminating in the sad events of the last two years, thousands of Dinka have perished at the hands of the their fellow countrymen/women. Many South Sudanese should never confused their tribal hatred of the Dinka with the dire circumstantial conditions we are currently facing. Tribal and cultural differences which are always the sole indicators of feud in the first place have nothing to do with failures of some few individuals of a certain tribe. Their own interests are not definitive representations of all the tribal members. Each and every man/woman gets to decide what to do with his/her life. Beside oneself, other people are just mere exemplary figures of which to learn from, and incorporate good deeds into one’s life. The Dinka should get to decide whether to engage a permanent presence in the Greater Equatoria, or pack up and leave to their respective regions until the persecution winds down. Our brothers and sisters are disappearing day and night in Juba; they are being ambushed at many roadside junctions. I say they should leave as soon as time permits.
The Dinka were not the only freedom fighters that brought total independence to Southern Sudan. The Equatorians, the Nuer and the Dinka all contributed to the birth of our nation. However, after the split of SPLA/SPLM into SPLA/SPLM-Mainstream/Torit and SPLA/SPLM-Nasir, many abled Nuer parted with Dr. Riek Machar, leaving Dinka, a few Nuer and other tribes with Dr. John Garang. As this Op-ed goes to print, Riek Machar is back in Khartoum just like the old days. What a coincidence! The Equatorians were there alright and some also ran to many East African countries and diaspora for resettlement. Many Equatorians ran to East Africa, claiming we are not Southern Sudanese; we are Ugandans. The Equatorians were busy studying and waiting for the SPLA to bring peace on a silver platter. If by any chance you run into an Equatorian who graduated from college between the period ranging from 1990 – 2005; he/she was a pathetic and cowardice military dodger.Some more Equatorians settled down permanently there and still have a sizable population in Uganda up to this very day. Much has been said about how we all contributed equally in bringing independence to our nation; it is indisputable to compare a 200,000 tribe and a 3 million tribe to contribute an equal number of fighters for the mission. The elders and children are exempted from any military involvement. During the liberation era, many battalions were comprised solely of Dinka. Even in the battalions that had infusion from the other tribes, the majority of them were Dinka. We can talk about this all day; however, the beautiful language of Mathematics calls numbers don’t lie. Anyone willing to scrutinize these historical facts is free to go and check out how many Dinka were listed in each battalion during the SPLA/SPLM heyday at the SPLA archives. The Dinka have sacrificed a lot for South Sudan; and yet no one cares at all.
Of either Salva Kiir and Riek Machar; none of the two is quite capable of a sound leadership in bringing all together the dismembered parts of South Sudan. Riek Machar is an opportunistic populist; he is not original, he goes with any popular ideologue of the era. That means he could easily be misled by the sycophantic, bright-witted rent seekers of his immediate inner circle. In addition, he is utterly obsessed with his Ngundeng Bong prophecy that a left-handed and gap-toothed man was meant to lead South Sudanese in time of great calamity, much like the biblical equivalent of Moses and Joshua. It is sickeningly too bad for him; because the role of Joshua and Moses fell to Dr. John Garang de Mabior. I wonder why this Ngundeng prophecy applies to all the tribes of South Sudan since back in the old days gods and ancestral spirits always regarded members of different tribes as strangers. Each and every tribe, even subtribes and clans had their own gods. Riek Machar have led the Nuer people since the 1980s and his obsession with Ngundeng prophecy seems misguided at the very least. Yes, everyone has a right to contest for political position, but not when it is involving shedding the blood of your fellow citizens.
And as for Salva Kiir; he is only bent on roaming around with no ideology. That is why we haven’t gotten anywhere since he took office in 2005. The saying which goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there,” suits him perfectly. He was probably not meant to become a head of state. He is too laid back for that role. In reality, I don’t even know what he was brought to this life for. Oh! He was born to cause much havoc and pain to South Sudanese populace. He has this quiet and innocent look in him that makes many people sympathize with all his evil deeds. Many people say he is a great guy; it is just that he is surrounded by rent seekers. If I may ask, “Have you ever met anyone who let strangers to his/her house without soliciting who they are?” That chance encounter only happens with fools. Salva Kiir is not serious in his administrative role; otherwise, things would have been straighten up already.
South Sudan is comprised of 64 tribes. It is such a shame that we have stoop this low and decided to cause harm to one another. Our tribes are tantamount to having 64 micronations, or smaller countries, within a bigger country calls South Sudan. All these tribes have their own vastly different cultures, traditions, and customs. There are lots of similarities amongst all these tribes since we have lived in the same geopolitical entity calls Africa for centuries. Over time, we have borrowed ideas from many varied tribes and incorporate them into our own tribes. We all originated from one ethnic group: the KhoiSan. From there we spent centuries moulding and bringing to life all the tribes we have always taken for granted. To many, a matter of fact, to all of us, our tribal affiliation feels like the only cultural identity that matters. We were born into and brought up in the comfy tribal environment where we stayed away or paid little heed to other tribal customary traditions and beliefs. The time is now for South Sudan to embark on a brand new path of leadership. A brand new kind of leadership where those in power should pay heed and stay prevalently sensitive to all the needs, customs and traditions of our varied and diverse tribes. At this globalization age, diversity is the staple word we all want to hear. Around the world, cultural anthropologies are rushing to save some languages from going extinct. These social scientists know the benefits of these endangered languages; they are different in a way, yes, but they add something extra unique to an already established order. The same thing can be said of all our diverse tribal traditions and customs; we should work tirelessly to create conducive environment for toleration and embracement. This leadership falls on our youth; for they must be the change agents to propel us to the future. In the past, Lotuko people knew only themselves and no one else. They didn’t respect other people’s beliefs; for that was the order of the day. The Azande people don’t need to expect other people to conduct themselves in the same manner as they do, in order for them to be accepted as Azande tribesmen. This toleration and embracement process will be a perpetual process; we all need to be become vigilantes and being mindful of our differences as we go forward. Otherwise, these young and up coming generations of our people will be propagating more White Army, Paul Malong Awan, Arrow Boys, and Mathiang Anyoor over and over again. In the end, we will never know peace; peace will become elusive as the fountain of youth. Our people are the real economic resource we need to take care of before the material development of the physical infrastructure takes off. Without our dear cherished and beloved people, who will treasure and feel awed at the skyscrapers and trains we are planning to build? We are the development we aspire to see in our country!