Kuir Garang! South Sudan is not a Nation

By Elhag Paul

September 3, 2012 (SSNA) — Kuir Garang in his article ‘Dinkocracy is subset of Jiengcentrism: Mr Paul is just hand-waving’ published in South Sudan Nation, AUG. 26/2012, SSN has meandered aimlessly in his response to my piece ‘Dinkocracy is not Jieng-centrism: Kuir Garang is wrong’ JUL. 29/2012, SSN.  In the process he laboured massively to arrive at the conclusion that Jieng-centrism is not Dinkocracy.  He writes, “Just to make things clear, I admit, Jiengcentrism might not be Dinkocracy.”  Now, this has been my central position in our exchanges.  Kuir Garang having come to my position, it would have been helpful had he ended the debate here as there is nothing further to be argued or gained.  But of-course the very purpose of his engagement in this debate was not to educate ourselves on the pertinent issues obtaining in the country but rather to muddy the waters in his promotion of Jieng hegemony. 

Thus after accepting my position he stretches the debate by sticking to two areas viz: attack on my person (tribalism and 1980 mentality) and defence of his position on the notions of nation, elites and aristocracy.   Kuir Garang attempts to label me as a tribalist.  He takes this position by trying to rally the Jieng people against me.  Like the muezzin crowing from minaret top, he shouts to the Jieng: “Now each and every Jieng person has to keep in mind that Elhag Paul is holding ALL of you people responsible for the problems we are facing.”  This is pathetic.  The very person who throws the tribal label of tribalism on me and others to distract the masses from the rampant Jieng tribalism in South Sudan by his own appeal to the Jieng now is proving his tribalist credentials.  Am I a tribalist as he puts it? Personally, I do not have to answer this question.  I can not be the judge of myself.  It is others to do so and therefore I leave this to the public to judge.  Deep down in me I know who I am.

However, it is important to underscore one point.  Tribalism in South Sudan is endemic and this emanates from practices in SPLM/A right from its inception in 1983.  SPLM/A transferred the tribalism within its structures to GoSS.  This is a fact and it has been proven beyond doubt by scholars, journalists and the Jieng cabal itself.  Jieng domination of the state apparatus in the country is a result of naked tribalism.  Please see http://www.intrepidreport.com/archives/5776 and http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/response-to-mr-ateny-wek-ateny-on-panthou-war

Therefore if I am being called a tribalist for stating the truth, so be it.  The truth must be spelt out as it is.  I do not have to forge friendship with the Jieng people based on burying the abuses and atrocities of the Jieng.  Doing this would be tantamount to a lie and appeasement.  Sorry I do not do either. I will tell it as it is.  The burden of addressing Jieng tribalism first and foremost is a Jieng problem. 

It is the Jieng with moral conscience like Ayuen Panchol and Ayeng Jacqueline that I am prepared to link with if they wish and not with hypocrite ones.  It is the duty of the educated Jieng to speak out about their tribe’s abuses that can help in curbing the problem. Co-existence has to be built on equality, respect and nurturing of good relationship.  Abusive behaviours such as wanton expansionism into other people’s land with utterance such as ‘Ana hakuma’ or ‘I am born to rule’ is not going to bring unity among South Sudanese’. 

If Kuir Garang does not like me to talk about Jieng tribalism, then let him do something about it.  He should not tell me and expect me to believe nonsense in the form of cliques being responsible for the mess in the South Sudan as if I am blind and can not objectively read the situation for myself. 

Look at the structure and institutions of the government in South Sudan in its entirety and the people holding positions in those structures.  It straight away becomes apparent to any living soul that Jieng tribalism is an issue in RSS.  This is the abject reality of the situation in our country.  Thus the practitioners of tribalism need to own up to the vice in order to change and be on the right side.  It is as simple as that.  Intimidation and labelling of others is not going to make the tribalism practiced by Jieng in the country to go away.

Kuir Garang writes, “Wake up Mr Paul and part with your 1980s mentality”.  I am a bit baffled by this statement.  I have no idea what he is referring to.  Being ignorant about what is said, I would like to ask Kuir Garang to be clear and explain to me and the masses what he means by this statement.  What is precisely the 1980s mentality? 

Kuir Garang argues that my use of the notions of aristocracy and nation are anachronistic.  In trying to portray himself as someone who understands these concepts properly he alludes to my writing as ‘copy-and-paste-to-dazzle’.  It is unfortunate that someone who claims to be a novelist and poet can allege plagiarism where it does not exist.  Though this is offensive I am not going to dwell on it knowing very well that in South Sudan we have lots of people who claim credentials and knowledge that they do not hold.  

With this said I am now going to address Kuir Garang’s claims that the notions of nation and aristocracy have evolved over the long time they have been on use and therefore are applicable to South Sudan.  I disagree.  To be clear I am going to look at each of these notions independently to avoid confusion.  

I shall start with the concept of nation.  The various struggles in nineteenth century had a huge impact on the notion of nation state.  Its main characteristic of culture and language came under huge pressure from demands for democracy and immigration.  As people of different races, cultures and languages moved from their lands to different countries gaining citizenship the notion of nation as we know it began to lose its significance. 

So the notion of nation has not evolved over the centuries.  It has remained exactly as it was coined.  In fact it has become obsolete because it has not adapted over the centuries to the fast changing social changes in societies.  Its use now by political commentators in most situations is misleading and perpetuates a myth.  Contrary to the argument of Kuir Garang, the notion of nation is now replaced by new concepts such as diverse state, multi-cultural or multi-religious or multi-ethnic states or societies.  These new concepts describe societies in a much clearer way.  Dr Garang’s concept of New Sudan is predicated against the concept of nation.  The Arabs in the Sudan falsely claimed that Sudan then was an Arab nation denying the existence of other ethnicities, nationalities with varied cultures and languages in the country.  It is this very restricted notion of nation that led Dr Garang to call for a new system acknowledging the reality of multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic nature of the Sudan.

Nations like France, Germany, Britain etc could not remain nations due to pressures from immigration which changed them to multi-racial or diverse societies because of the new citizens having varied cultures and languages in addition to the dominant working language.  Also democratisation of politics and citizenship meant that rules for being a national of a country no longer depended on one’s race, culture and language as was the case in nation states as those mentioned dealing a further blow to the concept.  Now with globalisation and information technology erasing distance and state borders societies are fast changing.  In a sense societies are rapidly evolving into highly diversified states of political interest while the notion of nation is stagnating.  It is becoming irrelevant by the day.  Thus its use only promotes a myth.

Given this explanation where does Kuir Garang’s argument of referring to South Sudan as a nation stand?  He argues, “All in all, some concepts have to be contextualised to fit in with contemporary realities.  Saying that South Sudan is not a nation given your archaic understanding, then many countries wouldn’t be nations.  No country would be a nation if we go by strict application of linguistic and cultural homogeneity.  Mr Paul, you have to apply old concepts with an air of contemporariness; otherwise, you’re only reading and not understanding.”  Who is beating around the bush here?  Who is reading without understanding?  Who is just assuming things without evidence?

It is not good enough for Kuir Garang to assert without any evidence that the notion of nation has evolved to meet present description of societies.  How has it evolved?  What conditions in social transformation caused it to evolve?  He needs to clearly make the case for its evolution and justify the suitability of its use presently in his arguments.  Waffling as in the above quote is not helpful.  

I hope that the constant distortion of notions in order to justify arguments is not another of the famous phenomenon of “born to rule” which as tested now in GoSS is not born out of truth but mere assumptions and empty pride.  “Born to rule” has turned out to be born to misrule; born to destroy; born to loot, born to plunder, born to rape and so on. With the chicken coming home to roost, the born to rule want to socialise their total failures of governance in South Sudan to an imagined ‘clique’.  There is nothing called clique in Juba composed of many tribes. 

Clique consists of members with similar interest and history as outlined in my previous articles.  If you examine the people grouped by Kuir Garang as clique individually, you will get a picture of each with a divergent and conflicting interest that would not support the concept of clique.  The powerful members of this so called clique pursue a well laid out plan to promote tribal interest as outlined in the Jieng cabal minutes of the meeting held in Ark hotel in Kampala/Uganda in 2009.  On the other hand the other incorporated members are opportunists identified by the powerful specifically to serve their interest.  This is the crux of the matter.  Do not go on singing clique, clique, clique where there is no one.  This is exactly like the Arab saying, “Shaif al laham wa bidrab fi dulu” meaning you see the prey or meat but you hit the shadow instead.  It is even arguable that a good number of these opportunists are blackmailed to be in those positions to service the system.  None of these persons Kuir Garang names as members of clique can express freely what they truly feel.  They are powerless and they have to do what the ‘born to rule’ tell them.  Plain and simple.  I move on to talk about aristocracy.

Kuir Garang based his arguments on applying the notion of aristocracy on south Sudan on the same premise as that on a nation.  As argued previously, aristocracy is mainly associated with the theory of chain of being.  Aristocracies exist in monarchies and kingdoms.  Again monarchies and kingdoms began to decline with advances in human development engendered by the enlightenment, scientific revolutions and industrial revolution eras.  These changes with some elements being violent such as the in French Revolutions (1787 – 1799) led to abolition of some monarchies and establishment of republics forcing the remaining ones to cede and share power with the people. 

To cut a long story short, monarchies and kingdoms since then have been on the decline and it seems that in future they may disappear as a system of governance due to globalisation and democratisation of advanced knowledge.  Given this, where does Kuir Garang’s argument about aristocracy in South Sudan hold water?  What evolution of the notion has made it applicable to South Sudan?  Kuir Garang needs to know that South Sudan has neither been a kingdom nor a nation nor a state before.  South Sudan became a state for the first time on 9th July 2011.  It is a state composed of multiplicities of tribes spiced with 3 mini kingdoms (Chollo, Anyuak and Azande).  I clearly explained this in my previous piece.  South Sudan can build a set of characteristics for identity purpose but it can never be described by obsolete notions such as aristocracy or a nation. 

What Kuir Garang has done by his article is to display ignorance of unimaginable proportion on the subject.  He thought he would hide in the midst of his web of distortions while lobbing dirt on people.  However it is a step in the right direction for him to accept that Dinkocracy is not Jieng-centrism.  Since Kuir Garang has failed to demonstrate the evolutions of the notions in question to justify his use of them in relation to South Sudan, he also needs to concede.  Finally he needs to accept that the Jieng need to own up to their considerable part in the mismanagement of South Sudan and desist from projecting their tribalism onto the victims.  No distraction by reference to cliques.  Just own up and learn to live with others peacefully is the way forward.

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]

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