BY: Michael Koma, APR/26/2015, SSN;
Attitude and Practice:
The Executive Director of the Community Empowerment Progress Organisation, Mr. Edmund Yakani, had at one time informed that they had planned to organize a public lecture in the University of Juba entitled, “Attitude and Practice,” to be held on 24 April of this year but it did not materialize for now. I thought this is a wonderful topic chosen by CEPO. CEPO deserves my congratulation; Mubruk yaa nas CEPO for this vital topic and the location to discuss it.
I hope it will happened soon. From the onset, it looks like an irrelevant topic. But in fact it is relevant and excellent as South Sudan is concerned. It is important to reflect on our attitudes as individuals and as a nation and its relation on the recurring of conflicts in our communities.
So what is Attitude?
Attitude is an opinion or general feeling about something. In our context what is that “something” we view it as negative in our South Sudanese society that keeps tearing us apart; or keeps us to fight from time to time among ourselves especially after we had some sort of peace agreement in 1972 and 2005.
Following the Addis Ababa Peace agreement, Junubeen were in state of fighting.
After the Addis Ababa deal it took us only 10 years. We are back to war with Sudan. That was understandable because the Addis Ababa Agreement did not address all the grievances of the South Sudanese people.
But before we jumped into the bush against the Arabs, the ten years period of self-rule was full of problems. One was Kokora (re-division) of southern Sudan regions into three provinces (Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile).
By then Juba was a very small town, in places such as Konyo Konyo and Gabat there are fighting along tribal lines. In markets there are grouping along tribal lines, settling in neighourhoods were along tribal lines.
The Bari speakers, the Madis, Mundari, and the Dinka are not in peace among themselves. Emotions were very high. A Dinka and a Bari cannot see eye to eye, eat together, stay together or dance in the same Disco Hall. You can clearly see there was a problem but the politicians tended to hide them that there are no problems; everything is fine.
In one of Francis Mading Deng book called the war of vision, he wrote that “what is not being said is what divides us.” In that book Francis was talking about the situation in the old Sudan. Why the south and the north are divided, why the Arabs felt superior to the so-called African brothers in South Sudan.
By then we were divided because Khartoum saw there was no problem in the Sudan. Kulu Sii tamam (everything is alright) they claimed on insisting that “nahnu ikwa”. We are brothers while the facts and realities on the ground say we are not.
It was a pure posturing. Khartoum defines Sudan as an Arab-Islamic State where Christians are forced to coexist with the Islamic salafists; the jihadists or the hardliners against their will.
Can we or can you, who is an African Christian really co-exist with the types of the current Islamic State as is the case now in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and by then in Sudan.
South Sudanese have foreseen that the imposition of Arab Islamic identity on the whole Sudan was a problem. But Khartoum attitude was that there was no problem. The setback was constant denial of no problem. So Attitude can be equated to arrogance. (Arrogance is a pride, overconfidence, superiority).
The Arab-Islamic face of the Sudan were/are (Saggiya, Jaaliya and Dongolayi). These are the first class citizens of the Sudan. They are positioned in strategic ministries: – Defence, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Energy, Mining while the Junubi (a South Sudanese) was given the Ministry of Stores.
These classifications were not in the constitution. The constitution was fine. These things were in the unwritten constitution of the Jallaba Council of Elders as is the case now with the Jieng Council of Elders (mostly represented by southerners who served under the Jalabas in the old Sudan).
The problems were not being said as Francis Deng noted in his book but were being implemented arrogantly against the cries of the Junubeen (South Sudanese). Whether you like it or not, it is not their business. If you want to rebel, it is your choice. If you want to stay humiliated as a second class citizen in your own country it is your choice.
After years of wrangling with the Arabs, this abnormal relation between the Arabs and the Africans in Sudan was clearly demonstrated in the signed peace deal of the year 2005; the CPA.
The CPA accepted the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior to assume the position of the First Vice President but on condition that when the post of the president falls vacant, constitutionally Garang was not allowed to become the President.
By that arrangement the ruling Arabs elite in the Sudan have cemented that an Arab person is a first class citizen of this country where Africans are the majority. It is a country where an African Muslim person is a second class while an African Christian or Animist person is a third class citizens and the others are the commoners.
So what is the link between Khartoum and Juba; does that attitude relate to our situation as of today?
First let me say this. You may agree or disagree with me on this. What was then in Khartoum wasn’t different from today’s South Sudan political and economic situation. As you read this opinion piece, it might reflect in your mind that some of us are too arrogant and aggressive. We are missing humility.
The attitudes of Khartoum’s elites are deeply embedded in some of us. That is why there is conflict in our country. To move away from old Sudan style we need to embrace modesty in our lives.
Humbleness is peace. It can create relative form of homogeneity in a diverse society such as South Sudan. One of the characteristics of a nation-state is uniformity and equality.
Unfortunately we are full of arrogance. This unnecessary pride is the tearing us apart. I have reached to a conclusion that we are a tribal nation. We are a country made of tribal kingdoms.
We are more proud of our tribal belongings than positive nationalism. We are overconfident of our tribes. We are blinded of our superiority. With all these do we still have courage to say that we are really one nation and one people?
Are we relatively homogeneous people who inhabit a sovereign state? The answer is simply no.
How this arrogance is demonstrated:
Even before the 2013 crisis erupted, the language of not only politicians but many South Sudanese was of violence or was preparing for war. In the internet you find words such as you are a “nyagat,” a reference to a Nuer as a traitor or an enemy. How come you have betrayed us in 1991 and you want the presidency by any means?
The statement such as “the problem is that he wants to become president” is an expression of arrogance. It has to do with inner feelings, it represents emotion of the speaker that nobody deserves the presidency except him or his tribe.
It is a similar attitude of the Jaaliyin. The statement cited above indicates that those speakers are against anybody having or have expressed ambition to rule, to become a governor, minister or commissioner.
He is expressing a sinful desire that “others” should not ‘think’ of leading this nation.
This is an attitude that encourages conflict in a diverse volatile society such as South Sudan. As an example, even in the University of Juba there is one group which wanted to dominate student’s bodies. The attitude of conquering others is a colonial attitude. Colonialism has no specific colour. It is not necessarily related to the white man or an Arab.
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