Nationalism or tribalism?: The South Sudanese citizens are yet to choose

BY: John Bith Aliap, South Australia, Adelaide, DEC/01/2013, SSN;

Accordingly, since the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, many people of South Sudan are caught up between choosing long-established tribal affiliation and adopting a united new identity, through nationalism. These circumstances of uncertainty in choosing the identity and loyalty may cause unprecedented perplexity amongst south Sudanese citizens.

The message I necessitate to convey to all South Sudanese in this regard is that the independence of our country has now been achieved and I consider that all South Sudanese should make a wise choice of nationalism and abandon the tribal hatred and habitual tribal loyalty in order to build a strong and prosperous, peaceful nation that respects its citizens.

It is an enormous challenge for the government of the Republic of South Sudan to effectively bring together all these tribal units under one and effective system of government.

It is a mission that needs the government to act responsibly and transparently to convince all the tribes in South Sudan that the current government is realistically a government that truly represents the people of South Sudan irrespective of their tribal position in the country.

Most of the debates in our modern-day South Sudan contain the question of diversity, and this has always been in the axis of debates. The Republic of South Sudan is made up of incompatible diversities which form its identity and international recognition as a sovereign country.

The government of South Sudan needs to comparatively balance the representation of different tribes in the government to evade the scenario of old Sudan that led to gash of the country that has once been the largest and most respected country in the African continent and the entire world.

Despite being part and key contributors of the problems occurring in South Sudan, the citizens of South Sudan always turn and blame the government that the government has not done anything most urgently to salvage the tribal feuds.

The hostility amongst the tribes in South Sudan is accelerating at the uppermost rate. The impacts of tribal feuds have manifested itself through cattle raids and other numerous attacks like the recent Lou Nuer and the Murle cataclysm in Jongeli state where many innocent people lost their lives.

The practice of tribalism in South Sudan as our experiences have shown costs us exceedingly throughout our history, and we can not afford to continue practising this old practice which has a prospective to break our hardly won and newly born country into pieces.

The president of the Republic of South Sudan, Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir has recently shown a high-quality example when he offers amnesty to rebels groups who have previously and currently fighting the infant government of South Sudan, although some of them have declined to accept the amnesty.

This is a way forward to formulate our people in South Sudan to realise the importance of forgiveness and acceptance.

As the South Sudanese youth in particular and potential leaders of tomorrow, we need to take extra care about our involvement in tribally based conflicts which have nothing good to offer for the welfare of our country.

The youth are always the ones to act in terms of inconsistency amongst the tribes. The Youth of South Sudan need to retrospect on the benefits and disadvantages of the tribal warfare throughout the history of South Sudan.

This is where they can realise that the tribal feuds have done more harm than good in our lives. We need to avoid our infant country in taking the course of Somalization through sympathy of our tribally based hatred.

Leniency is the tool we all need as people of South Sudan to deal with issue of tribalism and other evil practices.

In actuality, our Vice president has besides led a fine example when he apologized to the Bor community for the atrocities he has committed during the 1991 split between himself and John Garang, the leader of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

The message I extend to all of the people of South Sudan is that reunion is an important process in healing past wounds and ending tribalism for merit good of our nation and its people.

All South Sudanese need to contribute to the nation building process based on an equal grip and with opportunity for equal contribution.

As our identities and lives are rooted in tribalism, we need to change these practices into something valuable such as nation building and national commitment.

There is nothing significant in being a tribal member apart from being nationalist who can whatever is seems to be good for the country.

We can face enormous challenges ahead if we keep in motion the journey of tribal war with each other through tribalism. The Republic of South Sudan will fall at a distance, if we do not change our traditional tribal identities, affiliation and loyalties into a unified national identity governed by our constitution and envisioned in our emblems such as our national anthem, our flag and our coat of arms.

These elements can dismiss the Arabs claim that the South Sudanese are unable to rule themselves and are divided.

There are multifarious consequences if the government of South Sudan creates institutions without first addressing the issue of tribalism.

All the government institutions and private institutions in South Sudan need to be tribal, corruption, favouritism and nepotism free so that the people of South Sudan remain united to face the challenges which are currently facing the country.

There are so many complaints now that a certain tribal groups have dominated some government institutions.

The government and the people of South Sudan must be warned that if tribalism becomes institutionalized, these institutions may serve as avenues of tribal division and hatred.

The looming institutionalization of tribalism within South Sudan government institutions has a panorama to create imbalance of power, unfair government and unequal employment, and these may widen the gap amongst the tribes in South Sudan.

Tribalism has blinded the people of South Sudan to the point where they can not recognize the reality on the ground. It has been our traditional tribal view that anything done by a member of another tribe is not always rightfully done and can often generate criticism.

We need to change this tribal view, and espouse nationalistic views that can advance our nation the ‘Republic of South Sudan’.

For example, when people talk about corruption in the government of South Sudan, they often referred to Dinka as being responsible for corruption simply because the president of the Republic of South Sudan comes from the Dinka tribe.

We all need to discard this tribalistic outlook and begin to respect our leaders irrespective of which tribe they may be from.

The reality is, the president of the Republic of South Sudan must always comes from a particular tribe within South Sudan, and whether we like it or not we must all exist within the geographical area of South Sudan as people of one nation.

In conclusion, I have discussed the concepts behind tribalism and nationalism in South Sudan and conclude that adopting a new identity through “nationalism” is the way forward for the people of the Republic of South Sudan to achieve development and live in peaceful co-existence amongst others.

The author of this work is a concerned South Sudanese citizen and can be corresponded at


  1. John Bith Liep,
    your article is valuable if we are in the state of stability and truth telling, unfortunatly, it has no ground for implementation, Jienganization is now turning from how it was to Salvatorization. Previously many if not all Dinka thought that they were leading and dominating South Sudan, am sure they have realised the fruits of their advocacy. They have now known that Salva has his own agendas and propaganda which are unacceptable in Jieng society or elsewhere in the Country.

    If I should say, its now our time for all of us, to not go back to the previous agendas because they have left scares on our skins and history, there should not be Jienganization or how ever you call it, to exist in South Sudan as well as there will be no Salvatorization existence here!

    Salva Kirr was a very loyalist to the late father Garang Mabior, was it his ambition to kill John GARANG (he and his advisor Kaguta) and take over the leadership of SPLM/A? We should simply believe this by assuming the leadership style of Salva in addition to the loosing of vision of the SPLM, how can you give up providing something which you have already held in your hand after fighting for it for more than 20 years?

    Did he found it difficult to get rid of Garang from the leadership? was it the case that he revolt against Garang during the peace process? The history will judge our future differently, am sure the consequences will be high and miserable but that is exactly how it is!

    I don’t think that there will longer be a point of saying the gov’t is Jienganized or we Jienganized the government. Better saying it “The goverment is Salvatorized and he (Kirr) Salvatorized the government.” I don’t know if it’s a culture of some of our communities to dominate people through discrimination and harassment, I thought it was an Arab culture, Or do we have Arab blood in some of our communities to think that they can discriminate their fellows???

    • Dear Chuol Chot Puoch:

      The term Jienganization was created here on SSN forum and it doesn’t exist in the real life in South Sudan. You are now creating another term known as Salvatorization. In fact, Both terms Jienganization and Salvatorization are created by Non Dinkas and they use them to challenge Dinka until Dinka accepts those terms and adopts them as part of their political dominating themes.

      In 2004, President Kiir was angered by the plot to stripe him from his Vice presidential position, however he has no hand in the death of Late Dr.John Garang. I wonder, Why the 64 tribes of South Sudan were silent and submissive when the Dinka dominated the SPLA/M movement? Was it because there was no food and money involved? or Is it because it was a risky leadership? In fact, the SPLA/M movement was dominated by Dinka, it was fully Jienganized and Garanganized yet nobody complained about it until recently. Late Dr. John Garang was the Chairman and CIC. General Kiir Mayardit was a vice president to late Dr. John Garang.
      Was that not a Jienganization, Garangaization and Salvatorization? If so, then Why were you not complaining?

      “The truth hurts but it is worth telling it”
      Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang!

  2. M says:

    Point of correction ; Dr Riek is no longer our vice president but wani igga.

  3. This is good information for rising tribalism in South Sudan, which indeed is not good for both Youths and South Sudan in future. But any smart person will always simply say my tribe is South Sudan, and my identity is South Sudanese.

  4. K says:

    You are right Mr writer, there is no solution for spilt milk but to bear the pain.

  5. Taam says:

    Mr. John Bith.
    your article is good indeed. we the youth who are to be the leaders of tomorrow have great concern about this tribal divide but also take notice the person who divided us most is none other than president Kirr himself.
    take this example last week, he formed committees who are going to represent the the country in the negotiations with Sudan government, but what happened?
    The four heads of the committees are all from his tribal men- Dinka- despite the country’s 64 tribes.
    As youth we should ask what kind of leadership is this encouraging the tribalism in our beloved country?

    Therefore we all need to talk to the president if he can understand to stop these tribal appointments otherwise this kind of leadership will drive our country into regrettable situation.

  6. koang Choul Pal says:

    It is very important to examine how we struggled for this Nation.There is no victory for people in the country if they are not united together. let’s build this our beloved country peacefully ,Republic of south sudan.

  7. Kidepo says:

    Good article in theory but who will be the practitioners to implement when the activists themselves and recipients are pulling robes according to their own convictions in this two years old nation?

    There are three dangerous categories of communities grouping in this country; the so called majorities (with no proofs of statistical data), the minorities and other semi neutral. The majorities think they are super heroes and termed others inferior and cowards to them, whilst the minorities think they are learn and civilized enough to do on their own and look at the majorities as animals that are less human enough to be mixed up with. The minorities are blessed with beautiful and decent culture, land and even their animals are civilized like people and reserve to stay on their home grounds/backyards to avoid mixed with the so called animal majorities in one club.

    As for the semi neutral they are the winners group to my understanding because they are 200% super hero who do not show up their men hood carelessly but can respond to situations accordingly and when necessary like in early 1990s as some of us witnessed when real men emerged from nowhere to confront the dinosaurs and “am seeing the death/end of dinosaurs and their specifies comes 2015”.

    2015 will be the time South Sudan community not one majority tribe will choose a national leader for the nation of South Sudan and abandon the tribal leader for the majority (with no proofs of statistical records) single tribe


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