Nationalism or Tribalism: The South Sudanese Citizens Are Yet to Choose

By John Bith Aliap, Adelaide, South Australia

November 16, 2011 (SSNA) — According to my remark as for other since the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, many people of South Sudan are caught up between choosing long-established tribal affiliation and adopting a united new identity, through nationalism. These circumstances of uncertainty in choosing the identity and loyalty may cause unprecedented perplexity amongst south Sudanese citizens. The message I necessitate to convey to all South Sudanese in this regard is that the independence of our country has now been achieved and i consider that all South Sudanese should make a wise choice of nationalism and abandon the tribal hatred and habitual tribal loyalty in order to build a strong and prosperous, peaceful nation that respects its citizens.

It is an enormous challenge for the government of the Republic of South Sudan to effectively bring together all these tribal units under one and effectively system of government. It is a mission that needs the government to act responsibly and transparently to convince all the tribes in South Sudan that the current government is realistically a government that truly represents the people of South Sudan irrespective of their tribal position in the country.

Most of the debates in our modern-day South Sudan contain the question of diversity, and this has always been in the axis of debates. The Republic of South Sudan is made up of incompatible diversities which form its identity and international recognition as a sovereign country. The government of South Sudan needs to comparatively balance the representation of different tribes in the government to evade the scenario of old Sudan that led to gash of the country that has once been the largest and most respected country in the African continent and the entire world.

Despite being part and key contributors of the problems occurring in South Sudan, the citizens of South Sudan always turn and blame the government that the government has not done anything most urgently to salvage the tribal feuds. The hostility amongst the tribes in South Sudan is accelerating at the uppermost rate. The impacts of tribal feuds have manifested itself through cattle raids and other numerous attacks like the recent Lou Nuer and the Murle cataclysm in Jongeli state where many innocent people lost their lives.  The practices of tribalism in South Sudan as our experiences have shown costs us exceedingly throughout our history, and we cannot afford to continue practicing this old practice which has a prospective to breaks our hardly won and newly born country into pieces.

The president of the Republic of South Sudan, Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir has recently shown a high-quality example when he offers amnesty to rebels groups who have previously and currently fighting the infant government of South Sudan, although some of them have declined to accept the amnesty. This is a way forward to formulate our people in South Sudan to realise the importance of forgiveness and acceptance.

As the South Sudanese youth in particular and potential leaders of tomorrow, we need to take extra care about our involvement into tribally based conflicts which have nothing good to offer for the welfare of our country. The youth are always the ones to act in terms of inconsistency amongst the tribes. The Youth of South Sudan need to retrospect on the benefits and disadvantages of the tribal warfare throughout the history of South Sudan. This is where they can realise that the tribal feuds have done more harms than good in our lives. We need to avoid our infant country in taking the course of Somalization through sympathetic of our tribally based hatred.

Leniency is the tool we all need as people of South Sudan to deal with issue of tribalism and other evil practices. In actuality, our Vice president has beside led a fine example when he apologized to the Bor community for the atrocities that occurred during the 1991 split between himself and John Garang, the leader of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The message I extend to all of the people of South Sudan is that reunion is an important process in healing past wounds and ending tribalism for merit good of our nation and its people.

All South Sudanese need to contribute to the nation building process based on an equal grip and with opportunity for equal contribution. As our identities and lives are rooted in tribalism, we need to change these practices into something valuable such as nation building and national commitment. There is nothing significant in being a tribal member apart from being nationalist who can whatever is seems to be good for the country.

We can face enormous challenges ahead if we keep in motion the journey of tribal war with each other through tribalism. The Republic of South Sudan will fall at a distance, if we do not change our traditional tribal identities, affiliation and loyalties into a unified national identity governed by our constitution and envisioned in our emblems such as our national anthem, our flag and our coat of arms. These elements can dismiss the Arabs claim that the South Sudanese are unable to rule themselves and are divided.

There are multifarious consequences if the government of South Sudan creates institutions without first addressing the issue of tribalism. All the government institutions and private institutions in South Sudan need to be tribal, corruption, favouritism and nepotism free so that the people of South Sudan remain united to face the challenges which are currently facing the country. There are so many complaints now that a certain tribal groups have dominated some government institutions.

The government and the people of South Sudan must be warned that if tribalism becomes institutionalized, these institutions may serve as avenues of tribal division and hatred. The looming institutionalization of tribalism within South Sudan government institutions has a panorama to create imbalance of power, unfair government and unequal employment, and these may widen the gap amongst the tribes in South Sudan.

Tribalism has blinded the people of South Sudan to the point where they cannot recognize the reality on the ground. It has been our traditional tribal view that anything done by a member of other tribe is not always rightfully done and can often generate criticism. We need to change this tribal view, and espouse nationalistic views that can advance our nation the ‘Republic  of South Sudan’. For example, when people talk about corruption in the government of South Sudan, they often referred to Dinka as being responsible for corruption simply because the president of the Republic of South Sudan comes from the Dinka tribe. We all need to discard this tribalistic outlook and begin to respect our leaders irrespective of which tribe they may be from. The reality is, the president of the Republic of South Sudan must always comes from a particular tribe within South Sudan, and whether we like it or not we must all exist within the geographical area of South Sudan as people of one nation.

In conclusion, I have discussed the concepts behind tribalism and nationalism in South Sudan and conclude that adopting a new identity through “nationalism” is the way forward for the people of the Republic of South Sudan to achieve development and live in peaceful co-existence amongst others. Although there are challenges in taking on the new identity of nationalism, these are far less costly than the challenges we face in retaining our traditional tribal membership through rivalry whilst the damage we can invite in tribalistic practices may take some years to be repaired.

The author of this work is a concerned South Sudanese citizen and can be corresponded at [email protected]

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