By: Weirial Gatyiel Puok Baluang
September 4, 2013 (SSNA) -- Unity state is a state in the northern part of our country South Sudan, it border Upper Nile to the East, Jonglei state to the South, Warrap state to the west, and Lakes state to the south west. The capital of Unity state is Bentiu. It has an area of 35,956 square kilometers (13,883 sq. mi). Unity is inhabited predominantly by two ethnic groups, the Nuer (90%) and the Dinka (10%) the counties of Unity State are: payinjiar, Rubkona, Panrieng, Leer, Guit, Koch, Abiemnom, Mayiendit, and Mayom counties. The larger towns are Bentiu, Mayom and Leer. Other towns are Riangnom, RubKoni, adok,Mankien, Wang-Kay, Koch, Rubkuay, Nyal, Nhialdiw, and Ganyliel. Before an administrative reorganization in 1994, Unity state was part of a much larger province of Upper Nile, and the state is still sometimes called Western Upper Nile, Western Nuer, and Lich state. The author was shocked to hear the news of changing the state name from unity state to western upper Nile state, why did they leave the very important name called Lich state if they are really in need of change. I can see it is not fair to change the name without representing the entire people of south Sudan and unity state in particular. People of unity state would have been asked to go for a state name referendum rather than dictating them with the non-productive name western upper Nile.
Let me go down a bit to the history for the reason that brought the name Unity to be effective in the respective state of unity state. State (known as Al-Wahda in Arabic) is an oil-producing region of South Sudan on the international but largely un-demarcated and contested border with north Sudan’s South Kordofan State. Former Sudanese president Jaaper Nimeri named the state ‘Bentiu’ as; unity’ due to the fact that it has the petroleum which was important to them. They name it ‘wehida’ in Arabic so us to be annexed to part of the Sudan’s southern kordufan state. They named it like that so that it becomes a strategic political mean to annex it to Sudan if southerners would decide to separate from Sudan. The name was not necessary during the time Sudan was one but it is necessary nowadays since we became independent. Does south Sudanese not in need of south Sudan unity? The word unity has nothing to do with state. If it was a separate state than it would sound good to change it from separate state to the Unity State?
I do believe the new government of unity state is a bit transforming the state to the democratic practice since the newly appointed caretaker governor is a peace loving leader and he is much loved by the entire people of unity state. But the only thing that may turn away his lovely followers is that move of changing the name of the respective state without considering the views and opinions of the people of unity state from different walks of life. For instance, if I were a member of the committee for the state name change I would suggested the inclusion of all the people of unity states from different state nine counties or representatives from nine counties so that it sound fantastic democracy. The author is not happy for that name, unless through the majority of unity state rights.
Most of the citizen of unity state proposed the name Lich state since Lich is an historical place for the people of unity state and Nuer as a whole. For the name western Nuer, it would not sound good because unity state is inhabited by two Tribes namely Nuer which marked the 90% of the state population comprised of seven counties out of nine counties, and the Dinka which marked 10% of the state population comprised of two counties out of nine counties. Therefore, we need a comprehensive name for all the people of the lovely state.
It is good to start the democracy from the ground, no matter how a state is. It has been said in the proverb that ‘’the small thing which you have is better than more things which we don’t actually have” Once the democracy is start at the state level like Unity state I am sure it will be automatically adapted by the people in different respective states of mama land and would reach up to the national level [Juba].
Unity is an English word no matter the founder was an Arab, if it is the case now that all Arabic names are to be eradicated than we should not leave all the places named in Arabic language in the state. The name ingas, Daira, Dareslalam, Khalibalek, sukelshaba, Amulhisap, and many more Arabic Names must effectively go away with the wanted name Unity. I wish for unity through the life, for example I was in Malakal town for a certain workshop for greater Upper Nile States last year in 2012 where the people of unity state were considered as the ones for Reconciliation due to the fact that their state name is Unity.
They were very lucky to have that valuable name, but now they seem to be unlucky for their wonderful state name to be change. South Sudan have almost a half of its names in Arabic language, for instance in Juba city which is our capital city you will find that most of the names are in Arabic, e.g. Mhata Yiey, hai malakal, hai kwait, jebel, and khor William to mention but the few. We need not to waist our economy on creating such non-productive names. Government must just be serious on how to allocate the unlimited resources to entire people of south Sudan and to deal away to the unemployment in the country rather than allocating budget for such a thing. It will surprise many of you my readers that the word SUDAN is and Arabic name for black, it is suoda which later translated to Sudan after sometimes like Unity state capital was at first called Betim and turned to Bentiu after sometimes.
The author appeal to Unity state Law makers for allowing this change happened, further more Western Upper Nile is indeed a good Name but it will never reduce any of the problems people were expecting from the name Unity.
In conclusion, I and many citizens of the respective state whom their voices I am representing here do not support that name simply because Unity always the patriotic one. There is a Nuer theory which believe that it is a curse for a name of a person to do the same as that particular object of your core name, for example when your name is borrowed from wine than people believe that you would one day become a drunkard, if your name is borrowed from fights than you would for one reason or another be a war monger. Unity state citizen do love themselves since the time of Adam and Eve. This new name may for one reason or another divide them. The only comprehensive name is Lich if they were to be asked to choose one from three names. My question to conclude this article is ‘it is happening now that we dislike Arabic Names, than are we going to change the name South Sudan since Sudan an Arabic Name?