Dialogue and compromise can secure the future of South Sudan

By PROF ANYANG’ NYONG’O, THE STAR, Nairobi, Kenya, NOV/26/2016, SSN;

Southern Sudan is in turmoil. The situation is so bad that there is fear of genocide in the country. Political conflicts are no longer being managed peacefully.

In fact, the Southern Sudanese may be compelled to accept chaos as a daily life experience with death as a fate that can befall anybody.

It is obviously a Hobbesian state of nature that was once only expected of the “primitive man. Yet former Yugoslavia went through such a situation following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the emergence of new nationalism in Eastern Europe.

But Eastern Europe quickly settled down and a new civilization emerged out of the chaos, heralding the increase of membership of the European Union.

The Horn of Africa in which Southern Sudan falls is emerging as a region more prone to conflict than peace; more reminiscent of the Hobbesian state of nature than of a nation-state founded on democratic governance. This trend must be reversed.

But to reverse it a lot need to be done. First the government of Salva Kirr in Juba needs to realize that a winner-take-all attitude is never a healthy approach to conflict resolution.

On the contrary, it breeds more resentment from rivals and opponents and hardens negotiating options. Worst of all, is a scorched earth approach to conflict resolution which profiles perceived enemies as creatures who must be eliminated from the earth for the survival of a particular political regime.

The Americans tried it with the Viet Cong in Viet Nam and succumbed to negotiations as the only means of quitting that theater of war honorably.

The apartheid regime had to give up their regime based on racial supremacy after decades of protracted war against the ANC and the Communist Party of South Africa. The South Sudanese situation is bound to be no different. A David and Goliath scenario will persist at the cost of losing millions of lives and setting back the clock of development in this young state for many years.

I say this for my love of South Sudan and its peoples and not for any partisan reason. I know the leadership on the two sides of the political divide. They are both my friends and long time comrades. And I would like to wish both sides well.

But to get a solution to the current crisis, flattery is the worst policy; truth and wise counsel will help save millions of lives, both innocent and combative.

The President, Salva Kirr Mayadit, is a friend and an honorable African. His deputy, Taban Deng, until recently a comrade at arms with Riek Machar, has been known to me for years. I stayed with him for a week while he was governor of Unity State.

I have known Riek Machar for much longer, along with many other comrades in South Sudan like Pagan Amum Akech, John Yeo, Ambassador Ezekiel Gatkuoth, Paul Cirino and many others. I once flew from Nairobi to New Site in the liberated zone then with Rebecca and her children to discuss issues with the late Dr. John Garang.

These are committed Africans to the African national liberation agenda. We all should remember Chairman Mao’s dictum: countries want independence, nations want liberation and people want revolution.

The independence of South Sudan was achieved in 2005 when the regional autonomy became a fait accompli. Subsequently the people voted overwhelmingly in a referendum for complete separation from North Sudan, accomplishing the late John Garang’s vision of an independent, prosperous and democratic South Sudan.

Independence alone will not put food on the table of the South Sudanese people. National liberation, like the name SPLM/SPLA connotes, requires peace, prosperity and democracy.

Once the nation improves her productive forces adequately to satisfy the needs of the people and not simply the wants of the “fighting elites,” then the coveted revolution in the lives of the people will be possible.

But all this cannot happen unless the SPLM/SPLA current leadership, both in government and the opposition, respect the historic mission that Dr. John Garang left as an inspiration in the hearts of the people.

It looks to me as if this has now been put in the back burner by both sides. But greater responsibility lies in the hands of both the President and his two deputies for not rising above the politics of sectarianism and embracing a more demanding national mission.

Again to quote the Guinean revolutionary, Amilcar Cabral: “For the national liberation movements to achieve much for the African people, it is vital that we die a tribe and be born a nation.”

Julius Nyerere even went further in bringing together the very diverse cultures into a Tanzanian nation, united and indivisible. Nyerere asserted that “Afrika ni Moja na Binadamu wote ni sawa.”

In other words, “Africa is one and all human beings are equal.” How can Africa be one when in South Sudan a Nuer cannot sit in the same parliament with a Dinka to democratically determine the future of that young nation-state through dialogue and persuasion rather through the bayonet and the barrel of the gun?

Secondly, search your souls, comrades. My humble opinion is that it hurts every progressive African to see Riek Machar being tossed from one airport to the other simply because he cannot feel at home in his own motherland.

It hurts the hearts of every African who loves South Sudan like I do to see Madam Rebecca in Nairobi and not playing the role of Mama Watoto and Mama Nchi (the mother of children and of the nation) in a land for which she and her late husband made so much sacrifice to liberate.

Comrades, I want you to read once more George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Remember the two contestants to leadership in the farm: Napoleon and Snowball.

The latter had all the right ideas, all to better the whole farm. Napoleon, on the other hand, had a knack of stealing other animals’ ideas, then telling the rest it was his, and getting credit for it.

His ideas only seemed to benefit the pigs and not the other animals. It was this that led to the crumbling of the farm. The farm crumbled, not out of war and destruction of life, but out of bad undemocratic governance based on the contest of ideas.

Orwell was making an important point here. Capitalism gives room for the bourgeoisie to run the state in their own interest, always hoodwinking the workers and other lower classes.

But sooner rather than later capitalism was bound to crumble. The crumbling may take years, but it is organic and not necessarily violent.

Napoleon, too, ruled Animal Farm through ideological hegemony, not through force and political repression. This also creates room for developing the productive forces which eventually get the grave diggers of capitalism to mature and accomplish the requisite social revolution.

I say all this humbly to plead with my comrades in South Sudan to abandon violence and crash political repression and go along the route of political dialogue and compromise so as to give the Southern Sudanese people an opportunity to build the productive forces in the new nation.

We in Kenya were faced with massive electoral injustice in 2007/08. The ODM felt rightly cheated in the elections with victory snatched from us when presidential votes were completely messed up at the collating process in favor of the incumbent president.

For close to two months there were widespread demonstrations and mass action, in which I played a crucial role, all over Kenya. Unfortunately, this was accompanied by ethnic profiling which led to a loss of life of over 1000 people and the internal displacement of close to half a million people.

We realized that we had to call an end to this by coming together and negotiating a political settlement that both sides of the political divide could live with.

We also initiated long term constitutional reforms to stabilize democracy and give room for social and economic reforms. We are not the best example of democratic governance but we have at least provided Kenyans with a place to feel at home.

This spirit of dialogue and compromise is what I would like to urge my comrades in South Sudan to embrace. END


  1. Chief Abiko! says:

    Dear: Prof. Anyang Nyongo

    People in Africa,they are not one and and equal! Think about! Now,in Kenya,your own home country,people are not one and equal! Do not mislead Africa continent!

    Politics: South Sudan is broken further politically! There is no remedy! South Sudan, will never and ever enjoy peace dividend of 2005! Both leaders Kirr,and Riak,they are enemies of people South Sudan totally!

    For,Kirr,he is afraid Riak Machar to be around his side! He is talking now Riak should fulminate VIOLIENCE FIRST! He is now confident that he will implennt TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT OF UNITY WITH RIAK MACHAR IN WHICH HE IS TERRIBLE WRONG IN FRONT OF GOD! Peace will never come to people in The South Sudan if Riak Machar is around at this point! His handpicked Taban Gain Deng,he is a BIG SHEEP! He is thinking will make the agreement going very successfully with Salva Kirr! That is NONSENE!!!!!!!



  2. Okuc says:

    Prof Nyong’o

    I appreciate your humble opinion about the situation people of South Sudan have been subjected to by the fascist regime of Salva kirr and his so called Jieng council of elders (JCE).
    It is unfortunate that SPLM/ A elite who took the reign of power in South South in 2005 and 2011 after referendum failed to learn from experience of African countries that obtained independent from colonial powers in 1960s. Instead they embarked on looting the oil resources which should have been devoted for development and service provision for South Sudanese who have been dreaming for a better future than the one they had been through in Old Sudan.
    The only option left is the regime change because Salva and his mentors (JCE) have destroyed South Sudan and her people by pursuing discarded policies which had been tried in South Africa during apartheid and former Yugoslavia. A tribal leader like Salva kirr is not fit to rule because he lacks leadership and incompetent. People of South Sudan have been condemned to have such a tribal president who has turned South Sudan into tribal enterprise and he has to Go.

  3. Eli says:

    Excellent article Professor; let’s hope your insightful message falls on some listening ears.

  4. BILL KUCH says:

    Prof: Anyang Nyong’o,
    There is no need for more dialogue nor compromise. We have done that already as you knew and they were never satisfied. And instead of sticking to the peace agenda, rebels chose violent over what had been done. So, who would you be referring to? If you are talking about bring Riek back to the table then you are absolutely wrong. Riek is not the future of South Sudan. He has already killed the future of this country by killing young Nuer youth and others. If you are for Riek as your only hope for the future, then I would be better off having no future without Riek. And I meant no South Sudan future minus him is the better. Here in South Sudan, more killing would be better to produce peace since enforce peace produces violent. No compromise period!!!

    • Bentiu Ramaran says:

      BILL KUCH,

      Your Dinka tribal gang leader Kiir knows nothing but killing of civilians only. In December 2013, when the Dinka’s gang leader kiir massacred Nuer civilian in Juba, all Dinka from all walk sang joyful songs, danced, celebrated the killing of Nuer civilians. The Dinka thought the killing of Nuer would boost their economy. They thought the dead Nuer salaries will increase their economy but today Dinka are frequently fleeing to Sudan in large number on foot more than ever before from all directions of Sudan borders. Over 4000 Dinka arrives in East Darfur every week from Dinka Bar El Gazal only. The Dinka joy for the death of Nuer is now turned into continuous flow of tears. Dinka tribal chief kiir is the most foolish gang leader on earth.

  5. Peacemaker says:

    May the leaders of the political divide listen your honest and wise words, put behind their differences and give peace a chance!

  6. False Millionaire says:

    Dear Prof. Nyong’o,
    There is so much need to show u appreciation for your effort.
    But seeing u appearing as a credible insider to the circles of RSS’ political elites,it’s a great disappointment to see that u ignore the true fact that RSS’,”Snowball”,has tragically kicked the baucket so long ago.
    If u don’t believe in any progress from the part of Napoleon as in,”The Farm Animal”,it’s very curious sir why u heap up so many stakes of hope in such God forsaken bandits like Mama Nyanding,Pagan Amùm,Riek Machar,Taban Deng and Kiir when it’s every one’s common knowledge that every one of them is a typical example of Napoleon?

    Those who may be genuine or pretending to be our friends when they aren’t in reality deserve to be made to understand that,since Garang died,there is no one single leader left in RSS with a universal conviction to assemble the masses and move them forward as a single human block in harmony in the road to prosperity.
    We are deep to the nick in the sphere of tribal boundaries.If there is any fear of a genocide to come in RSS,it’s no longer a question of faer than a matter of time as to when it will take place.
    That which u see now as a grave smoke on the roof is nothing more than a small scale building up targeting with every camp preparing to strike a big blow should circumstances provide an opportunity.
    Feel free not to shorten to believe that the Napoleons whom u see as angels are well behind those tribal boundaries fanning the fire.

  7. lodani rama says:

    This an excellent letter but will the mullahs who believe in violence and regime change by force listen. They have declared that, the peace is death. The president has several times said he does not have any problem with anyone so long they renounce violence.

  8. Prof. Nyongo,

    The SPLM/A was a rebel movement which tried to dislodge the constitutional Government of Sudan in 1983. Omar el Bashir and Osman Taha gave them their Independence in 2011, but the former rebels wanted to remain choatic so as to amash wealth in the name of war. Professor, there is a lot of wealth that warlords Kiir and Machar gets from their proxy wars. Disintegration of the Country into three independence country of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Barh el Ghazal is the only solution. We shall see whether Kiir and Riek will continue fighting over what????

  9. Bentiu Ramaran says:

    Thomor Dikori Wilaam,

    South Sudanese who write, speak like you are the worse than Kiir and Riek. Event a foolish Judge cannot just say the two people who engage in fight are equally wrong or equally right. I often hear the equally wrong things from unthinkable South Sudanese who blame both Kiir and Riek without pointing their figures to the person at fault. This kind of judgement will never ever move South Sudan forward even without Kiir and Riek.

    The USA, IGAD, AU, and Troika used the word “both sides” violate ceasefire, both sides rapes, the two leaders put their interest above the interest of the country because they do not want to end the conflict in South Sudan. You South Sudanese do not speak or talk like them both sides.

    You need to point your figures to the party at fault. In our Sudanese cultures there is no such things both sides are wrong or both sides are right, even if the dogs fought, you know which dog is wrong and which one is right, when the cows got in a fight you know which cow is wrong and which cow is innocent. We should use the same judgement to solve our differences.

  10. Daniel Opio says:

    Dear Professor,
    I do appreciate your article which shows concern towards the situation of South Sudan. How I wish most Kenyans reason like you do. My only issue is that some of our East African Brothers and other nationals who are not South Sudanese including you see South Sudan from the perspective of Nuer and Dinka only, forgetting that South Sudanese are not only Nuer and Dinka, but it is a diversified country like Kenya that comprises several tribes. This is unfortunate thing to see that even a professor like you can still see South Sudan from the perspective of Nuer and Dinka. I thought a professor is supposed to be well read and diverse. Yes, I agree with you that the most protagonists and antagonists seen clearly in this senseless war in South Sudan are apparently seen as Dinka vs. Nuer but in reality, the problem of South Sudan is beyond this stigmatization of the problem. They are many other tribes aggrieved by the social injustice in South Sudan government too. And they are to be seen as major players in political games in South Sudan.
    Besides, outside South Sudan, Kenyans, Ugandans, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Americans, Europeans and Russians have a big role in fueling South Sudan’s conflict in a very disguised way. When some of these nationals I have mentioned here become peacemakers, then most conflict issues in South Sudan will be settled. Americans, for example, keep on changing their goal posts when comes to issue of resolving South Sudan’s problem. Today, they become chameleons and tomorrow, they become lions and the day after tomorrow, they become sheep, etc. Difficult to know their foreign policy towards South Sudan. But what is obvious in US. Policy is their interest first before human values.

  11. Ya Bentiu Ramaran,
    Kiir and Riek are the Chief Authors of the messes that unfolded and continue to unfold on South Sudanese. They directly contibuted to the commanding of their juniors in butchering South Sudanese along the political and ethnic divides and brought all curses on South Sudanese. They cheated South Sudanese in the cowardice acts of terror that made them succumb to militarilization of South Sudan as opposed to civilizations. White armies and Mathiang Anyoor and Greater Upper Nile region are the proxies of Riek and Kiir that were fighting proxies to gain control of state powers.As long as neither Kiir nor Riek come out openly and acknowledge each individual and collective contribution to the current situation we are in, they stand as guilty as those whom they command.South Sudan can do better without Kiir and Riek. To hell with the two warlords!! Reik failed to secure entry to reorganize himself and his forces for offensive he declared while in Khartoum in September, and Kiir on the other hand manufactured Taban Deng Gai falsely that he could bring Salva to South Sudan. Ya Sabi, anuna mashin qidam. Equatoria will walk out and you will sort your traditional hatreds with Dinka in Naser or Aweil. Enough is engough.

    • Bentiu Ramaran says:

      Thomor Dikori Wilaam,

      “Ya Sabi, anuna mashin qidam. Equatoria will walk out and you will sort your traditional hatreds with Dinka in Naser or Aweil. Enough is engough”. Well, if you are planning to walk out, then this is the best time for you while Dinka and Nuer are fighting. Why don’t you walk out now? What are you waiting for? Just go a head with your plan of separation if you are not just hopeless sharp tongue wolf?

  12. Bentiu Ramaran says:

    Daniel Opio,

    I echo your comments. I agree with you that all the countries you mentioned in your comments are all against peace and stability in South Sudan including the writer of this article. All Kenyans including the professor who wrote this article are against peace in South Sudan. A concern politician and writer who seeks solution to a conflict always write their thoughts based on what happened and how it happened and how the problem can be solved.

    Whenever you see someone says things such both Kiir and Riek are wrong for the war. Dinka and Nuer are trouble makers, those kind of writers whether they UN expert, Susan Rice, Kenyans, Ugandans are the very one that add fuel into South Sudan conflict and they do not want to see stability come to South Sudan and the professor who wrote this article is not exempt. For example when the Dr. Machar spoke person was deported none of Kenyan professors or politicians condemn this criminal action the Kenyan taken.

  13. gatdarwich says:

    Dear all patriots,

    Talking the language of peace and compromise amounts to surrender to the treasonous Dinka’s madness and constant barbaric–cowardice killing of helpless civilians. Killer nyankiir and the traitorous jenges council of evils deserves absolutely zero forgiveness but silver bullets in their stinky asses period. The declared decisive armed resistant against killer nyankiir’s genocidal regime, will, and shall continue with or without Dr. Riek in charge of the highly determined and battle- tested freedom fighters.

    Ngundeng bless,

    Patriot Gatdarwich

  14. Hoiloom says:


    Thomor and the likes minded are so confused that they can’t differentiate between a victim and an oppressor.
    Indeed it’s high time for him now to fight for an independent Equatoria while Dinka and Nuer are at each other’s throat.
    I’ve no further comment..


    • Bol says:

      Dr Reik DNA sample, Fingerprint and Eye Witness Accounts are all over the Crime Scene (RSS) for the whole world to see. He and Kiir alike, or put it differently,Dinka and Nuer are responsible for the destruction of RSS. Admission of responsibility is the first step towards settling the problem.

  15. Eastern says:

    Dinkas don’t have the words sorry, excuse me, compromise and such similar words in their vocabulary. Just read Aldo Ajou’s latest missive…….

    • Bol says:

      Logic says “the best always prevails” what puzzles me is { Why is the best becomes subordinate to the bad with all the superior tools such as advance language and intelligence at hand } ? Is the best really the best?

  16. Hoiloom says:


    For a rare honest Dinka man like you to come up with such a statement is an insult to the victims of Juba 2013 massacre. You very well know who is responsible for the destruction of our country but you are looking for a scapegoat that both Nuer and Dinka are guilty. Sorry mate!! I won’t buy into the share blame game, search for truth and it will set you free. Until your people address the root cause of this war our country will continue to bleed and in the process risks total disintegration. The man you love to hate is no longer in South Sudan but where is the peace that Taban and JCE are implementing? My Dinka cousins need to do some serious soul searching and maybe we can have hope for peace.


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