By PaanLuel Wel
This is a great article from Bol Makueng, the SPLM’s secretary for Information, Culture and Communication. Khartoum has indeed been effectively using rule-and-divide policy–inherited from the European colonial masters–to pit Southerners against themselves. “Dinka Domination” has been the staple in that pursuit—the Kokora in the post-Addis Ababa Southern Government is the best epitomization of the case.
It was the same case during the infancy of the SPLM/A when non-Dinkas/non-Nuers were reluctant to join the Movement on the perception that the new Movement was just but a continuation, an extension, of the power wrangling in Juba pitting Abel Alier, Joseph Lagu and Joseph Tombura against themselves, with President Jaafer Nimeri manipulating the show. Hon. Joseph Lagu, in his book, provided an all-too-real illustration of how Nimeri’s regime was using tribal-card as a tool to divide Southerners. Bol Makueng’s point that we should be wary of blaming everything and anything on “Dinka Domination” is a valid, well-articulated observation insofar as the slogan is a tool habitually deploy by Khartoum to divide and weaken South Sudanese:
“the only way to destroy the independence of South Sudan is to repeatedly beat the drum of Dinka domination and leveling SPLA/M as Dinka organizations.”
However cautious South Sudanese should feel about the slogan “Dinka Domination”, it should never be used as a rhetoric to dismiss or downplay genuine concerns that other communities might feel being orchestrated by some self-serving elements in the government who may happen to be ethnic Dinkas. The pervasiveness of corruption in the new country of South Sudan is indisputable. As long as that corruption manifests itself in the form of tribalism and nepotism, it would be pretentious to equate every cry of “Dinka Domination” to Khartoum’s attempt to divide and weaken South sudanese.
If the President happen to be a Dinka, and his kinsmen are implicated in corruption, and yet go scot-free, then it is likely that his reluctance to persecute them could be attributable to their tribal affiliations. If political appointments, job allocations and state contracts etc. are wholly or mostly enjoys by the people ethnically linked to the president, then it is tribal domination. What else would you called it? Wasn’t this the same crime Southerners raised up against Khartoum? It is debatable, however, if that is the true picture of South Sudan presently.
The best way forward is to examine each case/allegation according to its merits before rushing to the conclusion that this is a case of “Dinka Domination” or before proclaiming/prophesying Khartoum’s hand in every allegation of bad governance and corruption case level against the government of South Sudan, currently headed by a Dinka. In fact, with or without the presence of malicious intent from Khartoum, South Sudanese citizens will always find something wanting about their government of the day and will accordingly press their reservations or grievances against the government.
It does not take a hidden hand of Khartoum nor a proverbial “Dinka Domination” of the government for the American people to register their utmost disgust with the US Congress…currently having approval rating below the freezing point of politics.
By Bol Makueng
The people of the present republic of South Sudan were united in the struggle for freedom. This came about as a result of foreigner invaders and slavers who came to the country and plunder resources including children and women who were taken into slavery. As a response, the peoples of South Sudan fought for ages to get rid of the enemy.
They managed to shake off colonization because the people were united. Yes, there are many tribes in South Sudan and each one of them contributed according to its size and capacity equally to the liberation war. If there were majority tribes, they died in large numbers as well as also occupying military and any other positions in the institutions of liberation movement in proportion to their sizes. In coining up their unity, the history goes back to the very nature of geographical neighborliness, common traditions and the sharing of natural assets of water sources (eg the Nile, rivers and Lakes), grazing areas, fishing spots, dances and intermarriages. It is worth adding that there used to be local conflicts where alliances were made between some tribes against others and vice versa. All these are normal developmental phases of any society which do lead to homogeneity of languages and cultures.
In South Sudan today, Central Upper Nile where the three nationalities (Dinka, Nuer & Shilluk) concur around Malakal and Sobat Mouth, represents a good example of community homogeneity, though amorphous. The people here speak three languages of the area. One is impressed when these people can just switch conversation from one language to another in a very smooth flowing manner. Such integration happens only when the people are peaceful, stable and open to one another. The credit of this goes back to our uneducated leaders of the past whose cultures were not contaminated by the divide and rule policy of the colonizing oppressors.
These days, the unity of the people of South Sudan is under an enormous test and there is a feeling that three nationalities (the Dinka, Nuer & Bari) can either make it or break it. When Southern Sudan was divided up (kokora) in 1983, it was done so with the help of its sons and daughters. The slogan was “DINKA DOMINATION”. Some other communities were comfortable that pointing hand at Dinka would absolve them from any blame or judgmental argument against their mistakes. The bigger picture, according to them, was Dinka domination. Digging deep into the Dinka domination, militia groups were formed to just target the Dinka in most cases and with SPLA/M becoming synonymous with being a Dinka.
Leveling the liberation movement as a Dinka organization dissuaded most people from joining the liberation war (1983 – 2005) with exception of those committed patriots who ignored the attitude and negative sentiments from their tribesmen.
“Dinka domination” was an invention from Khartoum and preached in the South. The implementers (militias) and victims of this pogrom became involved in self destruction along tribal lines. And as we have all witnessed, tribalism is destructive. It keeps us from getting to the best solutions for our children, our country and ourselves. Worse, it forces us to become champions of the very things we most despise and don’t like: hatred; division; corruption; nepotism; endless conflicts and self destruction.
Now that we are staggering with building the new nation of South Sudan, the Khartoum system is not leaving South Sudan alone. After all, the NCP has sworn not to leave the young republic at peace. The NCP is reviving the anti Dinka sentiments again as a policy of creating rival political parties to SPLM and militia military wings of those political parties. And going by the saying that history repeats itself, there are already some wrangling voices and hand pointing at the “Dinka”. This large liberator party called SPLM that brought freedom to people of South Sudan, won elections and appointing various people to positions in the government in the states and at national level, is largely ignored. There is no listening ear and mind to the fact that there is no tribe that is a president or minister, but there is an individual who could be one and this does not mean the whole tribe.
Moreover, the SPLM is the only political party in the Republic of South Sudan where every tribe/nationality has a presence. Now, do South Sudanese still believe that “SPLM” is synonymous with “Dinka” as preached by the enemy NCP? Associating SPLM with Dinka is even making the Dinka the only liberators of South Sudan, which is not true. South Sudan was liberated by every nationality except the individual traitors who could be found in all communities.
A member from the NCP was quoted as saying this: “the only way to destroy the independence of South Sudan is to repeatedly beat the drum of Dinka domination and leveling SPLA/M as Dinka organizations. By doing so, the South Sudanese will soon be at each others’ throat. There will be intertribal competition to access SPLM leadership positions. Alternatively, SPLM will break up and with new political parties emerging. When this happens, the non Dinka will unite against the Dinka and the outcome will be a deadly violent conflict. We will then choose an appropriate time to support the side we want.
The lessons the South Sudanese have learned throughout the struggle are important for us to be optimistic about building a free, united and prosperous nation of South Sudan. The colonizer tried many time to divide the people of South Sudan and the whole Sudan on different grounds and it did not succeed. The NCP will again fail to divide and erase the independence of South Sudan. South Sudanese political parties will be divided along programme lines and not on tribal agendas.
In addition, the general populace from political leaders, students, intellectuals and business people should provide healthy education and guidance to ordinary people whose minds should not be poisoned by the teachings from myopic and narrow minded individuals who see South Sudan through the lenses of tribalism.