Are Dinka and Nuer the problems of South Sudan?

BY: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, UGANDA, DEC/28/2013, SSN;

The school of thought of Machiavelli asserts that the end justifies the means. According to Machiavelli a PRINCE must defend his state with either his own subjects or mercenaries, or auxiliaries. Mercenaries are utterly untrustworthy; if their captain be not an able man the prince will probably be ruined, whereas if he be an able man he will be seeking a goal of his own.

This has been perpetually exemplified among the cities and states of Italy which have sought to maintain themselves by taking foreigners into their pay. But he who would deprive himself of every chance of success should have recourse to auxiliaries; that is, to the troops of a foreign potentate.

For these are far more dangerous than mercenary arms, bringing ruin with them ready made. The better such troops are the more dangerous they are. From Hiero of Syracuse to Cesare Borgia, princes have become powerful in proportion as they could dispense with such aid and place their dependence upon national troops.

The last part of the above extract which provides that “princes have become powerful in proportion as they could dispense with such aid and place their dependence upon national troops,” underlines the spirit and the theme of this article.

The theme of this article is that the strongest nations are nations where the power struggle is less and leaders are concerned with the way how to improve the welfare of the citizens which shifts the politics from leadership-centred to the people-centred.

The strongest nation is the nation where citizens know what are their rights and duties unlike the nations where citizens know only their rights without duties.

Such a nation is a doomed nation from the start and will always be crisis. It is the nation where people place unrealistic demands on government. The citizens of such a nation are Mercenaries in their own nations. They only struggle to loot the nation and leave it dilapidated and underdeveloped.

All citizens in such a nation are material oriented and every opportunity becomes an opportunity for self-enrichment.

Power becomes the source of wealth and exploitation of the venerable becomes order of the day. It is the nation where ordinary citizens regret to be part of it.

As the extract above explains, the people of the nations are better than foreigners who are paid to do mischief for the selfish of the leadership.

This implies that instead of struggling for power and in the process shedding the blood of the innocent, the leaders should cooperate and concentrate on how to build a nation and the capacity of their people.

South Sudan should have taken this approach of empowering all the citizens instead of seeking opportunity of grabbing power from each other. The recent attempted coup raises a lot of interesting questions and major concerns, which pushes me into writing this article.

The same concerns raise a question in me as to become a heading of this article whether Dinka and Nuer are the problems of South Sudan. Therefore, this Article wants to answer the above question and in negative and tries to explain what I think to be the problems of South Sudan beyond Dinka and Nuer as many people have been thinking to be the case.

Do not take effect for the cause, Dinka and Nuer are neither enemies nor the problems of South Sudan. Rather, the problems of South Sudan that are overlooked by many are the ones affecting them and turn them against each other.

As stated in the foregoing paragraphs, the problems affecting South Sudan and South Sudanese today are problems rooted in history of South Sudan. The desire to correct such problems is the cause of the present crisis.

It is the cause of current crisis because some people placed in their current positions by the history just because they joined schools and struggle earlier than the others want to maintain the status quo and if removed by law, then the option for them is to take up arms against the government.

Such a move is unattainable because those who live by swords will die of swords.

The cause of problems of South Sudan in my understanding and analysis and which most of the people have not understood are neither Dinka nor Nuer but leadership, leaders and illiteracy are the causes.

These have become a major problem because it is aggravated by lack of critical thinking. The people when faced with problems always take cause for the effects. Many South Sudanese who assumed to have been educated have received shallow education that does not expose them to critical thinking.

Critical thinking helps people to think beyond the obvious and find answers to difficult questions that shallow minds will have never thought of.

For instance, many people in South Sudan are blaming Gadet and Riek for causing problems to the people of South Sudan and many more will agree to that kind of reasoning, which to me is not the reason.

To me, the problems of South Sudan are neither Riek nor Gadet but the two are the effects of the problems I am going to talk about; briefly illiteracy. Some may argue that Riek is educated to the highest level of education.

There is no point of argument there but what is in issue is the type of education Riek received is in question. Riek like many other South Sudanese had received education that is the cause of the problems of South Sudan.

Education that does not reason is education that is worst as one received by cattle keepers, which only thinking of cattle raiding and looting.

Failure to realize the problems of South Sudan earlier will make South Sudan continue in problems indefinitely unless South Sudanese learn how to think critically and beyond the tribe.

Tribes are no problems of South Sudan because they are identity of South Sudanese. Personal identity is never a problem. Contrary to that concept if we utilize tribe well it can be a blessing to South Sudan.

However, without a deeper understanding, the problems of South Sudan will never be eliminated. The problems of South Sudan are deep rooted beyond the tribes. One of such problems as alluded above is ill prepared leaders and the way people perceive the leadership itself.

Leadership is perceived to be a source of wealth. Such perception pushes the “so-called leaders” into thinking that leadership is the quick way of enriching themselves.

This line of reasoning makes most of our leaders develop the Machiavelli school of thought that the end justifies the means. Such is the dominant thinking of some of the SPLM and SPLA leaders.

However, one thing has to be noted clearly about South Sudan politics today. It is worth to note that instead of opposition being the one that disturbs the ruling party; it is now the ruling part disturbing itself, and also disturbing the people of South Sudan. For this reason, I give other political parties a credit.

Coming back the main discussion, South Sudanese leaders and the leadership in general as history shows do not care about the interest and the welfare of the people but live on the principle of Machiavelli of the end justifies the means.

To them it does not matter how to get what they want because the end result will justify how they get it.

Such school of thought has been the source of corruption, which some of our leaders has been accused of. The school of thought I mentioned above blocks the reasoning capacity of the people who subscribe to it.

Those who practice it do not think of moral implications of their actions since their major aim is to get what they want provided there is a means of getting it. Such reasoning is corrupt, amoral, repugnant and self-defeating.

It has no basis in truth because I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

The truth is that a nation where leaders are corrupt and their thoughts are blocked by the greed for power is doomed to failure forever. The perfect example is the recent attempted coup.

The recent attempted coup is a perfect example and a clear manifestation of such attitude and philosophical thinking of Machiavelli.

I thought Riek was a human being who has a capacity to learn from the past but the attempted exposed Riek as someone who can never learn from past and at the same time he is gullible.

To be sincere, I had never thought of Dr. Riek Machar to be part of the recent crisis (Sunday Crisis) of South Sudan given the fact of what had happened in 1991.

In August 1991, many innocent South Sudanese died and the death due to clashes between different groups led by Garang and Riek continued up to 2002 when Riek entered into agreement with Late Dr. Garang.

Given such man-made disaster caused by Dr. Riek and his group when they myopically instigated a coup with the aim of taking power in the liberation struggle, which led to the perishing of thousands of South Sudanese.

I thought Riek would have learned from his mistakes of the past but he did not even show remorse.

If I were the one, I would have been the one to advise other Army Generals to refrain from any such move, which will endanger the lives of the innocent. However, the recent conflict indicated that Riek has learned nothing from history.

Not only that but also, I was surprised to hear Dr. Riek some days after the attempted coup making arrogant statement that he was not ready to talk with the President of the Republic whom he termed as “illegal President,” a phrase that even a child of less than a year if such a child could reason would not appreciate.

The fact that the President shows a tendency of dictatorship as was witnessed from the removal of him (Dr. Riek), governors and other former ministers does not turn Kiir into an illegitimate President.

It was an erroneous statement from Dr. Riek that cannot be accepted by civilized nations.

Any leader elected whether through rigging of votes or any other means but as soon as such a leader is confirmed by the electoral commission and accepted by his people and the international community, then such a leader is no longer an illegitimate leader and the statement to such effect is erroneous, illegal, ridiculous and insulting. It is just making joke of the person of the president.

President Kiir, in my opinion is not a dictator and has never been a dictator but the powers he is using were granted to him by legislators who inserted article 101 in the Transitional Constitution of 2011.

If the dictators are to be sought then the legislators are dictators themselves and not the president and since legislators represent the people of South Sudan, the people of South Sudan are dictators since the president is exercising their will through legislators.

Instead of making careless and meaningless statement as “president is illegitimate” Riek and his group would have struggled for the removal Article 101 to disarm the president of arbitrary powers and ensure that the National Constitution that is in the process of making does contain such an article, instead of using wrong means of getting power, which is a wrong way of reasoning.

The recent incident indicates that most of our leaders such as Riek Machar and others do not reason beyond what they think are right; they do not think rationally.

Their thinking is that of end justifies the means. Riek as a “Nationalist and patriot” should have struggled to see that democracy prevails in South Sudan instead of using illiterate soldiers to kill innocent civilians.

The incident has portrayed Riek to be a leader who does not have any vision and ambition but his mission is just to get power, which is a dangerous disposition he is portraying.

History has shown that those who seek power through crooked means in the modern era will never put their hands on power no matter how much they want it and superstition they work for it. Talk of Kizza from Uganda, Odinga Oginga and his son from Kenya; these personalities wanted power so much but they had never got it.

If Riek is dreaming of becoming the president of South Sudan, he must change the way of searching for leadership. The way Riek is behaving shows that he is not a leader at all because leaders always use less expensive means to achieve their goal. Such means involve trying by all means to minimize the loss of lives.

However, the two incidents of 1991 and 2013 have shown that what Riek needs is only power and I have began to have some reservations about him despite the fact that I have been his admirer; I no longer respect him as my leader. He is the leader of the dead.

Nevertheless, although Riek did or likely to have done such abominable things of misleading citizens into killing each other, the President of the Republic is not also free from fault.

The president is also at fault because he should have been more shrewd than what he is now.

One of the major weaknesses of the president is that he introduced many decrees without the implementation to the benefits of those who were intended to benefit from them and such laxity leaves those affected by decrees and those who had hope for change all disappointed causing discontent in the country.

For instance, people of Lakes State hoped that the change of the governor would bring improvement in their lives but they are now crying that SPLM has let them down. They believed that SPLM has let them down not because Matur is bad but the President gave him uncontrolled powers, which he uncontrollably uses in uncontrollable manner, which negatively affects the welfare of the citizens.

In one way or the other, the citizens in such states like Lakes State are suffering due to the fault of the president. The president has good vision but lack implementation strategies which in turn affects his agenda of improving the welfare of the citizens.

If the president desired to improve the lives of the citizens, he would have removed those he thought are the problems of South Sudan and then strictly supervises how those he appointed run the states.

As recently reported by the Sudan-Tribune, the president was reported to have lamented that some of the SPLM members behaved like opposition members since they come up with their own policies contrary to the SPLM vision.

One of the strong such examples is the recent attempted policy of cutting 5% of salaries of all civil servants in Lakes State in the pretext of supporting the SPLM party.

Such decision was unilaterally made by General Matur. Though it was rejected by the State Assembly it was a wrong decision, which would have harmed the party permanently.

Despite all complaints from different states from mismanagement of the resources the president seems to have found peace of mind and does not care of what difficulties people are experiencing provided that he is in power enjoying the peace of mind.

From the foregoing discussion, it is right to say that one of the problems of South Sudan is neither Dinka nor Nuer but some of the leaders who are not concerned about the welfare of South Sudanese in General. This brings me to the next problem of South Sudan.

Finally, another problem of South Sudan and the most dangerous one is illiteracy aggravated by ill equipped type of education that was received in Sudan before independence of the South.

In many cases, people who receive it are more illiterate and dangerous than those in the cattle came.

Those in the cattle camp though illiterate are innocent but those educated are not innocent but they instead mislead such innocent people. Illiteracy in South Sudan is high in the cattle keeping communities where I come from and it is where many problems affecting South Sudan come from.

The example is recent coup attempt, which was instigated by the majority of cattle keepers.

The four states where the alleged coup leaders came from have the highest illiterate people compare to other states. People from these states (Lakes, Warrap, Unity and Jonglei, States) whether educated or not educated think alike; predominantly Nuer and Dinka have such attitude and thinking.

It is because of such attitudes of Dinka and Nuer which has made many people from other states to conclude that the problems of South Sudan are Dinka and Nuer, which is wrong conclusion.

The problems of South Sudan are actually leaders, illiteracy and the people themselves. For instance, I have been with students from greater Equatoria and what have discovered they do not have any zeal to fight for injustice.

They like cooperating with the people in power provided that those people in power are strong and have money. They value many more than justice, which is very dangerous because the communities are likely to suffer injustices while their own sons are just watching at them helpless.

All the above and many others not mentioned in this article are the problems of South Sudan and not Dinka nor Nuer as many people have been asserting it.

The only solution to South Sudan problems is to restructure South Sudan education to teach people morals and love for their own people.

Many people claim to love the country, which is the lie a person cannot love the nation minus her people. If that is the case, then, that is not true love but desire for wealth and power.

South Sudan should introduce ethics and human rights in all levels of schools starting from primary to university. This will help to implant human values in the citizens because the corruption and other problems we experience today in the country stem from the fact that our leaders do not have human values in their lives.

If this is done South Sudan will be a better country in the next twenty five years.

NB: The Author is a Fourth Year Law Student Makerere University and he can be reached via:; or +256783579256


  1. Madi Pride says:

    …”For instance, I have been with students from greater Equatoria and what have discovered they do not have any zeal to fight for injustice.” This is pretty self-explanatory. Why should they?

    Here’s the next one: “They value many more than justice, which is very dangerous because the communities are likely to suffer injustices while their own sons are just watching at them helpless.” So who’re those people with “many” (ahem, money) that Equatorians like to cooperate with? And where do they get their money from? Are you admitting that certain ethnic groups are committing injustices in South Sudan? And who are they?

    Nice try, Mr. Nhomngek.

    Nice try at

    Nice try, Daniel Juol Nhomngek

    • Daniel Juol Nhomngek says:

      Madi, I hope you are not writing out of sentiment. What I have pointed out is the fact gathered through experience in my being together with them from Kenya since 2005 up to date in Uganda.

      What I have learned about them is simply, they are not reliable but unpredictable, which is very dangerous to the community. I came to such conclusion recently in Uganda concerning the South Sudanese Students union in Uganda. In that Union there were some Nuer and Dinka students who have been misusing funds of the union and the one who discovered the plot was law student from Equatoria who is together with me in Makerere University.

      That student called on me and others who hate such dealing to write a petition against union in order to stop union from going on with elections unless the president of the union accounted for the money. We all wrote petition and we went to the union to present our petition. however, on the following day, the leader who called upon us to support her in writing a petition disappeared and refused to attend the gathering to plan for further steps if the petition failed. By the time she came back she was against the move to continue with petition and most of Equatoria region were against the move supporting her yet the who struggle was to stop injustice and corruption.

      If you see this small episode, who is to be blamed? In short they are unreliable and next time I will be be cautious when I get them planning otherwise if I join them I will join them knowing that I will be the only one who will continue with fight.

      Coming to your question, “Why should they?” They should because failure to make your point will make evil grow horns. When you are not wronged but your neighbour is then you know that you will be the one next. I admit those people who commit injustice can be Dinka, Nuer or any other tribes but Equatorians have to stand up against them because South Sudan is not only for Dinka or Nuer.

      For instance, in the current crisis Equatorian people would have stood against the two tribes telling them clearly that South Sudan is not for them alone and the leadership of South Sudan is not destined for either Dinka or Nuer but for all South Sudanese. I still blame Equatorians because they are not independent and this makes Dinka and Nuer behave as if they are the only people inhabiting South Sudan.


      • Daniel Juol Nhomngek says:

        Dear editor thanks for your observation.Nevertheless, what I meant is not that the people of Equatoria are not independent thinkers, what I meant is that they should come up with concrete decision to warn both tribes and rally behind vice president to call peace and reconciliation but now most of them are just keeping quiet as if South is only for two regions. They should have come out openly to tell the world that South Sudan is neither for Dinka nor Nuer but there are other tribes. The world perceive South Sudan now to be only for two tribes which is not the case. The other other tribes would have come up clear to condemn that ruthless killing that does not have an exception which I hate for life.

  2. Bentiu today says:

    stop tribalism my dear, it will take you no where, this is why our country will slide back to the dark days if educated people can not talk the truth, preaching tribalism. which power was given to president Kirr by legislature? there is no power to remove elected leaders else if one found in crime that threat the national security. which crime did Taban Deng Gai commit in unity state?
    to be specific, Dinka did not believe that any leader coming from other tribes can lead the nation, and this will take us back to the dark days. President Obama has talked about it already.

    • Daniel Juol Nhomngek says:

      Bentiu I hope that you are not meaning that Nuer should take power using coup or what do you mean. I am not against power going with Nuer because we need any leader who can run the country and is capable but taking power through force is not allowed. Or is it how you understand democracy does it mean taking power by force?
      Bentiu can you put aside your tribal thinking and analyze that article before you can to the conclusion?
      Bentiu, do you read or someone wrote for you the comment? Can you please read Artilcle 101 of the Transitional Constitution. If you know that we do not want to go back to the Dark days then do not take the road to the Dark days. You do not know the principle of constitutional interpretation.

  3. Yongo says:

    what you have discovered about Equatorian is not correct. Quote ” I have been with students from greater Equatoria and what have discovered they do not have any zeal to fight for injustice” and “They like cooperating with the people in power provided that those people in power are strong and have money. They value many more than justice, which is very dangerous because the communities are likely to suffer injustices while their own sons are just watching at them helpless”

    The opposite of what you stated is true about Equatorians. These tribal tendencies of sons supporting their communities in the face of injustice, use or taking things by force are the root cause of what is happening now. Majority of people doing these are the nuers and dinkas. Let’s assume equatorians did what you wrongly discovered about them, then juba would have exploded long time ago. Equatorians have been abused long time ago (e.g. killing of police, land grabbing, torture and raping of Equatorian civilians mostly by Dinkas…etc) but they choose not to be tribal or revenge for the sake of peace, harmony and future of South sudan

    • Daniel Juol Nhomngek says:

      Yongo I love your statement but you should think beyond what you are saying. Equatorians should come out clear now to lead South Sudanese not Dinka nor Nuer only

      • Morris says:

        Proposal to divide south Sudan into three countries will be the best lasting solution of south Sudan. What we need is referendum to determine.

  4. I am intrigued by several items in this article by Daniel Juol, a student from my Alma matra University of Makerere. Makerere has produced some of our greatest African thinkers and leaders, and I suspect, Daniel may one day also claim his own some day. He has brought out some very interesting points to defend his thesis that the two ethnic groups are not to entirely blame for what is happening in South Sudan. And in the same breath he took a swipe the the people Equatoria using his experience of contacts with them I suspect as his students buddies. Will get back to that later.

    Firstly, as a law student of a reputable university, can Daniel care to define for us what a coup is and what are the characteristics of a coup? Because, I have lived long enough to define what a coup is. I lived through Aboud’s coup, Numeiri’s coup, other failed Sudanese coups, was as a student at Makerere at the time of Idi Amin’s coups, and I can go on and on. of course every coups is never like any other. But to plan a coup, execute it and sit at home to wait for it to take place is not a component of a coup.
    The very fact that Daniel jumped to calling what started as a fistfight into a shoot-out in the barracks of the Presidential guards in a battalion of predominantly one ethnic group, as a coup, shows that he is already taking sides. Who started killing who? With a timely and decisive action, this problem could have been contained in the barracks and would not have spread beyond it. it was basically a manoeuvre gone wrong.
    What took place outside Juba were more of retaliatory nature due to the poor composition of our national army, which until today is not yet having a national character. And whose fault is that?

    Secondly, I suppose Daniel is one of those who think that once a criminal, always a criminal. We have all done things in our past which we may not be proud of, but that does not mean we are incapable of standing to do something we think is right for a change. Apparently Riek Machar will go to the grave still with the atrocities he and his accomplice did in 1991, even when he actually has apologized for them.
    Yes, there is a saying that we must forgive but not forget. Still as one endowed with such strong critical mind, Daniel should be able to not get trapped in the past when judging others. It is well-known trait that people who may have erred in the past and realized their errors, turn out to be very wise with time.
    In one interview Mandela was asked at one stage as to what he could say about his long incarceration at Robin Island. he replied that it helped him gain maturity. Far from being it, my piece here is not to exonerate Riek or anybody, but to point out that we look at the facts first as they unfold before we start apportioning blames.
    As a law student Daniel should be the first to acknowledge the importance of judging a case based on evidence. In order to convince some of us he will have to come up with hard-core evidence that a coup was in the planning.

    It is pity that Daniel should take the different way others deal with issues as weakness simply because it is different from that he would use. He has this to say about Equatorians: “For instance, I have been with students from Greater Equatoria and what have discovered they do not have any zeal to fight for injustice.

    They like cooperating with the people in power provided that those people in power are strong and have money. They value many more than justice, which is very dangerous because the communities are likely to suffer injustices while their own sons are just watching at them helpless. ”

    Then Daniel goes on to claim that this is one of the problems of South Sudan and not Dinka and Nuer! That is a very strange way of putting the blame of all the killings and corruption going on in South Sudan on the people of Greater Equatoria because they pander to “the people in power provided that those people in power are strong and have money”!
    This is the meanest thing Daniel is saying about the people of Greater Equatoria. It is indeed an insult to the people of Equatoria. For Daniel, unless Equatorians solve their problems by killing each other or killing others, they must be the greatest cowards on mother earth.
    This is a very insulting statement to the people of Equatoria. Daniel must know that there are many ways to skin a goat, and everyone knows what works best for him/her.
    It is OK for him to find ways of explaining the many killings and instability in other states and to vindicate particular ethnic communities, but this should not be at the expense of other communities that want to live in peace with one another and resolve their differences amicably. Making others as scapegoats will no resolve the problems, and unless the likes of Daniel take the bull by the horn and deal with it, it is not going to go away soon.

    As for those of Riek not using democratic ways to resolve their internal problems in the SPLM, Daniel had better use his critical thinking to do more research. and ask Nyandeng. And besides, why should it be a crime for Riek Machar to aspire for the highest post in the country? Any South Sudanese has the right to aspire for the post of presidency. Let the people decide.

  5. Coldit says:

    Thanks very much Charles!

    This articles is full of bias though Daniel tried to intelligently cover his footprints he did in fact underestimated his audience.

    Equatorians have nothing to be blamed for in this conflict. They Voiced their concern about the senseless killing of particular tribe by people who supposedly should protect them (the republic guards) by whose order, you name it.

    It was clearer yesterday when the South Sudanese watch Vice President James waning igga on TV complaining that the world leaders do not condemn the alleged coup. This in fact telling the RSS that their trick is known to the world leaders except their allies in killing South Sudanese (Uganda ). If This is a coup it should the dumbest coup known to politicians.

  6. Daniel Juol Nhomngek says:

    Charles Bakheit,
    I highly appreciate what you say about me because Socrates once said that knowing your limitations is wisdom. What he meant is that if you are able to know your limitations you will be able to correct them.

    Read the comment that I made in response to Madi Pride. However, I need to clarify my position that I am not for any body but for the truth. The problems of South Sudan are exposed through Dinka and Nuer because they do not fight cold war but ready to confront each other when annoyed.

    I expect you who is educated not to attack directly but to point out the weaknesses without calling upon the community of Equatoria Region to hate me yet what I am taking about is true though many do not want to hear it.

    Charles, can you tell me when something happens and someone runs into hiding and at the same calling upon the army to topple the elected president, what do we call that? You have told me that you know the definition of coup and therefore I cannot define it again.

  7. kololo says:

    Thanks Uncle Charles

Leave a Reply to Daniel Juol Nhomngek Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.