“Yes for Tribe but No for Tribalism”

By: Weirial Gatyiel Puok Baluang, UNIV. of JUBA, JUL/20/203, SSN;

No doubt that we have multiple times been accused of tribalism and Human rights violations in South Sudan by the international community, but we’ve always presented fake voices that Tribalism and human rights violations do exist in the Republic of South Sudan. The truth must be said, “there is 100% tribalism and a 100% human rights violations in our country for sure,” these have happened many times when innocent people are ever killed at night by unknown gun men while government is the one responsible for the guns.

Also it has happened many times that our eye openers journalists were detained and some of them have even lost their lives like what happened to Isaiah Abraham and what has happened to Mr. Michael Koma, a member of editorial board, Juba monitor English daily newspaper, plus many more important journalists.

Is it the way we shall be living throughout the life? Freedom of expression is an international offer whereby a person has a constitutional right for him/her to express freely whether in a media or other places within the country.

It is true that all South Sudanese celebrated the first independence of the Republic of South Sudan together, a country they had exceedingly shed their blood for many decades.

This celebration has in turned came with its own challenges that require us as people of the Republic South Sudan to compromise the journey of tribalism which we have been undertaking in the last centuries. Although ill-thought attempts are made to put out the flames of corruption, we should not also forget to fight our known enemy called tribalism which the colonists had in the last centuries imported to South Sudan and used it as an exploitative tool of division.

Haven’t we recently deposed the colonists from our territories South Sudanese? If your answer is yes, than why shouldn’t we abandon all sorts of evil practices the colonists have historically imposed on us?

Many of our loved ones have perished in the course of tribal feuding under the swords of their own brothers and sisters. If we really need the Republic of South Sudan to be a free and equal society, then it should be tribally free, but if it’s to be tribally free, it must remain free and equal to all South Sudanese regardless of their tribal supremacy or backgrounds.

In this respect, I cannot falsely argue that some tribes in South Sudan have never been biased against other tribes, this is a part of our human condition, but the problem is not that we are biased; the problem would be when we forget that we are being biased against others. Once people start to believe that their tribes are superior than others’, then they could become bigots they are supposedly against.

The Republic of South Sudan is comprised with massive self-righteous groups who would in many ways identify themselves as: Nuer, Acholi, Murle, Bari, Dinka, Didinga, Anyuak, Taposa, Mundari and many more. These groups hold their tribal hatreds to the stage where they would attempt to project all evil deeds… I mean anything which is deemed evil onto other groups.

South Sudanese should acknowledge that all tribes in the Republic of South Sudan are important and those who endeavor to lecture supremacy of their tribes are the worst enemies of the new born state of South Sudan than Khartoum’s regime.

Tribalism in its broadest sense has become our major enemy than Khartoum’s regime which is detrimental to breaking the Republic of South Sudan into pieces if not managed adequately, especially at the onset of current nation building phase. We all need each other for the fact that different tribal values, beliefs and life styles form the identity of the Republic of South Sudan.

My experience tells me that we all have rich cultures which if utilized properly in my view can lay a concrete foundation of the new Republic of South Sudan which we should all as people of South Sudan be proud of now and in the future.

Some people had already pointed their fingers to the government of South Sudan that it has not done enough to end tribalism in South Sudan, but eradication of tribalism is neither government’s nor an individuals’ responsibility. It’s a collective responsibility whereby each and every one of us should perform his/her part.

South Sudanese in all walks of life should come out and preach the goodness of being a nationalist and badness of being a tribalist doer. Rather than preaching water during the day and drinking wine and whisky during the night.

You won’t be surprised in our capital city or in other cities in South Sudan when somebody asks you which tribe you belong to. It is true to say yes for tribe but no, This kind of question for instance, is simply a tribal practice, but those who indulge in such business do not realize that they are engaging in tribal practice.

Tribal system is simply a colonists’ system that they used to govern us; and our political leaders in particular have a moral responsibility to avoid nurturing the art of tribalism.

Our hopes and expectations have been that after we have attained our independence, so would the development follow, but tribalism appears to be a major impediment to development and also a greater threat to our national security.

Are we stupid enough not to stand up and face tribalism with all our strengths? If we do so, let us not forget the role inter-marriage and the church could play in our war on tribalism.

Many South Sudanese have been expecting that church leaders would stand up to their spiritual responsibilities to reduce the magnitudes of tribalism. But I would argue here in this respect if you don’t mind that churches in the Republic of South Sudan are as guilty as other ignorant groups by not standing up to fight tribalism.

The current state of our churches is neither healthy nor promising either as I write this piece. Churches in South Sudan are indisputably maintaining the status quo of tribalism. Church leaders in our contemporary Republic of South Sudan speak of Dinka congregation, Nuer congregation, Bari congregation etc. It would in turn work this way; all churches in the Republic of South Sudan should work together instead of maintaining the historical tribal divisions.

Another important ingredient that we need in our hands is indeed an encouragement of inter-marriages among different tribes. If this is done, then the next generation born from these unions will be devoid of tribalism. Can we try this step and see if it will work? I think it will definitely work.

In addition, let’s not ignore the fact that our current state structures are established on the basis of tribal lines and it’s not helping us at all if we are really serious about tribalism. We need to make drastic measures if we are to see gains in war on tribalism by abolishing the current state structures.

These structures have arguably confined people to the point where they would almost spend approximately most of their lives in their traditional geographical tribal territories. To end this trend however, Equatorians and others should go and work in different states and rest should also do the same.

This will minimize the chances of holding false and imaginary beliefs on others. In spite of underlying differences, these people can trust each other and they can co-exist peacefully as they share their common traditional foods such as walwal and Kisra with each other.

We cannot end tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan if we don’t cross our tribal borders, otherwise our desire to end tribalism in South Sudan may remain as a lips service!

Nevertheless, the media which the government of South Sudan sees as its major enemy would also occupy a primary defensive line in this war on tribalism. Although the long-decades war with Khartoum’s regime made it difficult for many talented South Sudanese to explore their educational opportunities, there are still few good writers out there who would otherwise if they are honest and care about their country, “use their writing skills to discourage practices of tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan.”

It would be an incurable mistake if these writers idiotically allow themselves to be used by their self-centered tribal politicians in the course of advancing their tribal supremacy and egotistic interests. This is an abuse of professionalism! I would love to see our professional writers using their ink and paper to end tribalism in South Sudan rather than perpetrating it.

We should be using talented South Sudanese artists to end tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan with songs that discourage practices of tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan. I would acknowledge that few artists have already boarded the plane and set the ball rolling, but other artists are highly encouraged to tag on a similar direction. I’m sincerely encouraging our artists to courageously take a Centre stage in the war on tribalism.

Therefore, utilizing music to close tribal gaps would save thousands of lives which would have been lost in regressive tribal feuding.

In conclusion, South Sudanese should all come out courageously and truthfully to confront tribalism and its associated evil practices. Engaging on ways to right the wrongs and put up ways to secure a good Republic of South Sudan for us and the next generations would be a brilliant idea. Tribalism in the Republic of South Sudan has become the serious heart disease to any individual citizen.

Email: makakopaul@gmail.com


  1. Big O says:

    Great article, author, and great to hear a lucid, energetic, sincere voice coming out of the neglected University. You students are the hope of the nation and are too often used by the men in the ministries to fight their petty battles. I feel honored and proud to read your wisdom and frankness online. Please keep it up.

  2. Aj says:

    Weirial Gatyiel Puok Baluang,
    I do think you are trying to paint way on how we can end tribalism in this country but I really feel that, crossing people to go and work in different States will not end the war on tribalism.
    Let us be honest, Weirial Gatyiel Puok Baluang. There are no common norms between equatorians and Dinka-Nuer. Let us not hide the reality. If you gonna try to force people to adopt cross cultures so that tribalism vanishes, it will only create more havoc.

    My chip to this issues is to have FEDERALISM where by those who share their common sense would work together. That means, Dinkas and Nuer for example share common norms and they can work smoothly and that goes to others communities who share similar culture and practice.

    I just see this as only way to end tribalism and may be after 10-20 years of working peacefully, the generation to come will find themselves bond to unite the nation slowly without forceful act. That’s my take and I am sure many will prefer federalism as a way to rule this nation which will also make government accountable and avoid corruption.


  3. STRONG TRIBE says:


  4. STRONG TRIBE says:

    i thank mr WEIRIAL GATYIEL PUOK AND ALSO MR AJ FOR his good contribution toward the eradication of tribalism in the country

  5. Lino says:

    Dear AJ,
    I’m really shocked the way you guys explain the federalism. In essence the decentralization of governance among other things are heart of the federalism. but the way you interpret it shows that you are trying to organize people into tribes, which may not necessarily yield the said results “Eliminating tribalism.”

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