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Why our ‘Intellectual Journey’ doesn’t lead to ‘a Coherent Political Ideology’

By Kuir ë Garang

Charity begins at home and the originator of that charity most likely ends at home.

February 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- I was advised by some colleagues several times to join a certain policy forum. I refused three times citing the fact that the forum is too 'elitist' and most of the times the elites are out of touch with the average folks like me. When the reminders to join the forum became really constant, even from people I've not met personally but know me from my writings, I finally gave in and joined the forum.

My innocent assumption was that the forum would merely be a discussion or critiquing of policies that'd be beneficial to the country. I expected to see policy suggestions [only] and how they could be modified and perfected into usable policies for the government of South Sudan.

Naïve me! I was disappointed to realize that the debates were no different from those vexatious ones on my Facebook wall: circular, partisan, hypocritical, dishonest with education taken at face-value. Big theories are suggested without context! Partisanship is so much intellectualized that it takes one through rigorous analysis to discern disguised partisanship. My disillusionment became so intense that I had to unsubscribe from the forum in less than two weeks.

Believe me, if leaders argue with ‘take it or leave it’ conditionals then I wonder how the leadership we have (or are building) inside and outside the government of South Sudan can be salvageable. Leadership is about relationship building and bringing the best out of people (Corrales, 2007). The purpose of leadership, Corrales argues, can only be achieved through building of strong relationships. Are our leaders (inside and outside) the government doing that? Even Dr. Nyaba, who’s done more through writing than anyone in South Sudan to highlight the problems we have in the country, does little to build relationships with ‘the other side’ or even within the Chollo community leadership. It’s always a blame-game (see IGAD’s ‘Peace Talks’ & Arusha Intra-SPLM dialogue).

Perhaps the RISC model (Rapport, Initiative, Structure and Commitment) can help in our leadership purpose; and that is, influencing our people into coalescence of canonical togetherness…or simply, doing good (Corrales, 2007).

If the learned, veteran politicians and the nation's elites have the same mindset my younger Facebook friends have, then Kiir and Riek aren't our major problem. It seems our ‘intellectophere’ is either irrelevant in national coexistence, or our national future is being intellectually crippled by intellectuals with holier-than-thou attitudinal ontologies. We are learned but we don’t know how to give our knowledge context and relevant usability. We seem to have what cognitive psychologists call ‘declarative knowledge’ as opposed the helpful ‘procedural knowledge’ (Van Greenen, 2004).

And this reminds me of a very excellent article written by Dr. Adwok Nyaba (SSN December 30, 2014) about ‘Our intellectual journey towards a coherent political ideology.’ Anyone who’s not read that article should do so in its entirety. The article pinpoints, with surgical precision, the problems in South Sudan and within SPLM. These problems range from poverty of democratic mentality and ideals, indifference to development of institutional capacities, incoherent sense of nationhood (post-1956 & post-2005), the infamy of militarism mixed with the malady of tribal essentialism, lack of essential development programs, the Siamese-twins problem of the SPLM-SPLA, the primal nature of our tribal relations etc.

We can all agree that Dr. Adwok’s article is very crucial to our structural, functional and governance problems in South Sudan. The question then becomes: are the power holders in South Sudan able to easily apply the content of the article? If not, then the appropriation of what Dr. Adwok wrote needs to be procured in a manner that’d make it beneficial to us through the power holders.

Pointing out the problem is part of the solution but devising how the problem should be tackled shouldn’t be left out. Without intersubjective understanding among the political actors, nothing can be possible. Institutions aren’t ‘brute physical facts’ as Stephen Krasner (1999) has said. They exist because people exist.

Political leaders are audience and consumers of intellectuals’ works. Understanding the general psychology, state of mind and intellectual capacities and consciousness of who is in power helps in devising mechanics and avenues of knowledge provision for purpose of ideological creation and reification.

Intellectuals (whatever that means) in South Sudan needs to remember that leadership is about relationship building and appropriation of knowledge with people-people relationships in mind. We in South Sudan seem to think of knowledge in the abstract or in self-serving appropriation!

Besides, we have the problem of hypocrisy in South Sudan. Most, if not all of us, are mired in what I call ‘stuck-in-the-past syndrome’ in South Sudan Ideologically (2013). And as Adwok highlighted, some South Sudanese leaders don’t want to let go the past and embrace future-relevant ideas and facts to develop the country. We are all stuck in the past in one way or another.

With no doubt, we have ten states in South Sudan. These ten states, midwifed from the previous three regions of Bahr El Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria, are constitutionally recognized. However, most of us (Nyaba included) talk and write as if the previous three regions have constitutional relevance. These regions are stuck in our heads and we simply can’t let them go! Some of us talk of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Equatoria!

However, our intellectual and political integrity depends on saying things that make sense. We tend to ignore this fact; however, it exposes the hypocrisy we exude on daily basis.

If the learned in South Sudan can’t let go this simple fact, then why do they blame the semi-illiterate generals and politicians, who can’t seem to understand that SPLM is now a political party and that SPLA is the national army.

No one should advise if he/she can’t lead by example! Greater Upper Nile is constitutionally defunct and exists only in our heads. If we have nostalgia for these three regions then let’s wait until we go back to them through the abolition of the current ten states. There and then can we have political and intellectual currency to utter that [Greater X…]! Let’s be consistent to be believable and respectable! What in God’s name is ‘Elders of Bahr El Ghazal?’ What’s the contemporary or constitutional relevance of Bahr El Ghazal to Lakes State and Warrap State? Nothing! The only relevance is a past that’s stuck in our heads!

Yet, we hope to develop ‘a coherent political ideology!’

Another good example of intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy (in this discourse) comes from my own county (Twic East). Some potential intellectuals, who can help in the development of ‘a coherent political ideology,’ come out here as very hypocritical and untrustworthy, intellectually!

Twi people (or Twi Dinka) were part of Kongor District from the mid-1970s to mid-1990s and prior to that, they were part of ‘Bor District’ (Sammani, 1984). Kongor District is the one that is now divided into Duk County and Twic East County. The ‘Bor District’ housed (until mid-1970s) the Dinka sub-tribes of Hol, Nyarweng, Twi and Bor before being divided into Kongor District (Twi Dinka, Nyarweng Dinka & Hol Dinka) and Bor District (Bor Dinka & Thony Dinka). These subtribes have distinct Enthno-dialectal differences (see Ethnology of Africa, 1930; Beswick, 2004) despite having forged a close existential relationship for centuries. Because they were part of the ‘Bor District’ they were known collectively as Dinka of Bor District (see Raymond Kelly, 1985, Willes & Douglas, 1995).

Sound intellectuals and politicians know that this close relationship, good neighborliness and brotherhood can be maintained without falsification of identities.

However, against the required intellectual integrity, the intellectuals among the four subtribes are mentally stuck with the old, defunct ‘Bor District’, which they left in 1970s. While the District was named after the now inhabitant of ‘Bor County’ (Kelley, 1985) the other three subtribes were erroneously referred to as ‘Dinka Bor’. The inhabitants of Twic East County and Duk County are not ethnolinguistically ‘Bor.’ The Bor Dinka (now the inhabitants of Bor County) would call me ‘Cuir’ and President Kiir would be president Ciir!

Bor only applied to Twi people because of their administrative inclusion in the ‘Bor District,’ however, Twi intellectuals, while they apply research-based debates or methods in some aspects, refuse to apply the same method in the case just cited. You wonder why! They want to look politically good…but they know what that means in terms of intellectual and scholarly integrity!

There are tons of books to establish what I just cited (in addition to what elders can say). And Dr. Nyaba should probably ask the likes of Dr. Majak D’Agoot and Dr. Lual Achuek Deng (in the spirit of intellectual journey) the essence, intellectual and scholarly soundness of ‘Greater Bor.’ What historical facts (Oral or written) support ‘Greater Bor’ etymology? Is it an administrative area, a geographical area, or a dialectal group?

Consulting historians like Douglas Johnson may help! Here, intellectual soundness and historical-facts are sacrificed for political expediency or prudence. It’s not about scholarly establishment of facts, which is required, but political necessity. Is that the message to our youngsters?

And we wonder why we have incoherent political ideologies and a herd of confused young ‘intellectuals’; and some misled western scholars like Stephanie Beswick in Sudan’s Bloody Memory, who beautifully presents the correct ethno-histories and ethno-dialectal categories of the four subtribes but added that the ‘Eastern Dinka’ are now referred to as  ‘Dinka Bor’. Or Deborah Scroggins, who says Kuol Manyang is a ‘Twic Dinka’ in her book Emma’s War (2004).

What does that say about our ‘intellectual journeys’, ‘incoherence’ of ‘our political ideologies’ and how we make political decisions? Is preferring political gentlemanliness over facts a good way to act as role models for the younger ‘intellectuals?

Sadly, this is the very problem we have in Juba! And as Peter Thatcher (2013) argued in Leading by Example, “Behaving with integrity is…about standing up for what is right however uncomfortable that might be.” To create a sense of togetherness through gigantic falsehood (or conscious misleading of uninformed masses) is to create a great disservice to our people, the integrity of our intellectual force and a blemish on our scholarly claims.

Does this tie in coherently with our ‘intellectual journey toward a coherent political ideology?’ Sadly yes!

We need to ‘live what we are thinking’ as Weldon Long said. Some folks in Kiir’s leadership see research-based or knowledge-based decision making as an inconvenience to their political agenda. They understand its value but it’s an ‘inconvenient truth’ as Al Gore said about the facts of climate change. Democratizing SPLM would chip away on the powers of the president! Strengthening institutional structures for accountability would reduce the chance of the corrupt to embezzle public funds.

For younger learners like me, I’d love to see our leaders and intellectuals appropriate their knowledge in a usable manner, lead and live by example and take it upon themselves to embark on people-people creation of honest understanding. I’d want to look up to leaders and intellectuals who don’t make decisions because of their convenience but because of certifiable facts future generation can learn from. If intellectuals make decisions because of convenience then why would we blame Kiir Mayardit? If we are stuck with defunct administrative centers that no longer exist then why would we blame an illiterate commander, who sees the power of the guns as the only solution to his remaining relevant?

Even if SPLM had a sound political ideology, a coherent policy framework and feasible programs to implement, all would mean nothing if inter-tribal relations are still thorny or if they are informed by falsehood or conscious skewing of facts. Our intellectual journey and coherent political ideology needs intellectual honesty, reduced partisanship and tribal essentialism; and application of reductionist appropriation of knowledge.

Theories can be understood or interpreted differently. And postmodernist theories (while ridiculed as ‘everything goes’) are a cautious reminder that positing something without providing context is to either leave one’s audience with confusion, or to have done nothing helpful at all in a functionalist sense.

If our intellectuals aren’t consistent or functionally honest in their intellectual outputs, then we can’t wonder much as to why our ‘intellectual journey’ doesn’t lead to ‘a coherent political ideology!’ It’s informed by politics rather that facts!

Kuir ë Garang is the author of ‘South Sudan Ideologically.’ For the list of the cited works see the version of the article on www.kuirthiy.info

‘A government that wages war against its own people is not a legitimate government’

By Elhag Paul

February 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- At the beginning of this month a phenomenal declaration was made by the South Sudan Catholic Bishops which under normal circumstance should have caused political tremors. However, surprisingly this extremely important event passed on without South Sudanese noting its importance as one of the most potent weapons to end President Kiir’s government.

It would be an abdication of duty to refrain from bringing this topic back to the attention of the people of South Sudan because that would be tantamount to condoning the wrong going on in South Sudan. 

“Citing a Biblical passage (Mark 10: 42 – 45) in which Jesus criticizes the ‘rulers of the heathen’ for lording it over their people rather than serving them, the Bishops argued that a government that wages war against its own people is not a legitimate government.”  Please see, ‘Bishops declare that South Sudan ‘has abandoned God’”. https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/bishops-declare-south-sudanese-nation-has-abandoned-god.

This bold declaration by the South Sudan's Catholic Bishops offers the quickest solution to the ongoing conflict in the country. However, it appears that the Intergovernmental authority on development (IGAD) has brushed it aside in its quest to see the SPLM/A warring parties share power and wealth at the expense of the people of South Sudan. This of-course is not a solution in any way as it does not address the root causes of the conflict. It is only a postponement of the conflict to some future date.

IGAD needs to note that the government of President Salva Kiir is illegitimate as highlighted by the Bishops and therefore there is no ground for allowing IGAD to dictate things in Addis Ababa. President Kiir is a war monger. He started the war based on the lie that there was a coup. Please see, ‘President Kiir’s strategy to cover up ethnic cleansing collapsed in London.’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201402241137.html

In the middle of 2013 President Kiir recruited and formed his own personal tribal militia in Bahr El Ghazal in violation of the constitution and against advice of the then Chief of the Army, General James Hoth Mai. He then relocated this force of over three thousand men to Luri, a Bari village south west of Juba for further training around October of the same year.

In the first week of December 2013 President Kiir made speeches rekindling the emotive event of 1991 schisms between the Jieng and the Nuer in the SPLM then under Dr John Garang. This prepared grounds for the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer in Juba and country wide starting from 15th December 2013 and thereafter. The Revolutionary Movement for National Salvation (REMNASA) in their document, ‘REMNASA: view on the South Sudan crisis and approaches to solving it’ provide the context for the grave crimes against humanity committed by President Kiir and the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE). http://nyamile.com/2015/02/16/remnasa-view-on-the-south-sudan-crisis-and-approaches-to-solving-it/

Having plunged the country into a senseless war and prevaricated for 14 months President Kiir is now contemplating further violence. He confided in one of the IGAD head of the states on 26th January 2015 that “when I come back from Addis Ababa don’t expect me to obey your rules.” Please see, ‘South Sudan talks adjourned without power-sharing deal’.   https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/s-sudan-talks-adjourn-without-power-sharing-deal

“This war is evil”, the Bishops strongly stressed. This observation of the clergy is something that most people familiar with South Sudan would completely agree with. President Kiir due to his limited education seems to believe that he can do anything because believing he is a legitimate president, when in actual fact as already noted he is not.

President Kiir’s continued insistence to legitimise himself by singing: ‘democratically elected!’, ‘legitimate government!’, ‘democratically elected!’, ‘legitimate government!’ etc is simply a load of trash. It is crass and demeans the office of the presidency.

The regime has lied to itself and the people so much so that it now believes its own lies. Confronted with the fast approaching expiry of the fabricated legitimate period, they are running around like headless chickens. Initially, they tried to stage a fake election to refashion their legitimacy which did not work. With lightening speed they switched to the parliament to get legal extension to allow them to govern for two more years. 

Will this work? No, it will not. The reason being the parliament itself has no powers to extend life of a government and itself. Dr Lam of SPLM-DC has already made this point clear in his article, ‘South Sudan opposition parties welcome election cancellation, condemn terms extension,’ published in South Sudan News Agency. http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/

Even if the parliament were empowered to do so, it has no legitimacy because among the MPs in the House, there are over 66 legislators appointed on the whims of President Kiir. For example the NCP (National Congress Party of President Omar Bashir) converts and others. These MPs do not have any constituency in the country. They are cronies of the president in corruption and abuse of power. They represent no one but themselves. 

Further, the parliament is supposed to uphold the constitution and it has not done so since coming into life at the time of independence. President Kiir breaks the law left and right without the parliament holding him to account, for example, in the case of Panthou war and the formation of a private tribal militia funded by the state. The real test was the events of December 2013 when President Kiir committed grave crimes against humanity. No one in the parliament raised a motion to debate the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer to hold the leadership to account.

That parliament is a joke. It is a house of dummies. Whether the parliament extends President Kiir’s term or not, it does not matter. The whole government with its three branches of judiciary, parliament and executive have lost legitimacy and the South Sudan Catholic Bishops have now certified it. What more? 

Dr Luka Biong Deng in his self serving or rather Jieng serving article, ‘Why government is right to postpone election is South Sudan’ tries hard to present the Dinkocratic system as a democracy seeking the right legal avenue to remain in power. This kind of antics does not wash. He and the Jieng controlled SPLM should shed the delusions and accept that their entire system is illegitimate with or without parliament approval. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article54003

Now the South Sudan Catholic Bishops have given their verdict that President Kiir is illegitimate. They unequivocally stated that “a government that wages war against its own people is not legitimate government.” These words are weighty. Churches are known for discreet ways of approaching issues. Seldom do clergy make such statements unless the issue has really reached a critical boiling point endangering the country. 

The declaration therefore is very significant because the Catholic Church represents a considerable percentage of South Sudanese people. The population of the Catholics in South Sudan according to World Christian Encyclopaedia is around 2.7 million people. This makes roughly 30 percent of the entire population of South Sudan. The other Christian denominations combined could make about 40 percent with the rest being people who practice traditional religions.

In South Sudan Christians do not segregate themselves according to their sects. They socialise and pray freely among themselves. They too respect all the clergy of the various churches. This is always evident in social occasions such as birth, celebrations, marriages, death and so on. In such occasions the Christian inter-mingle freely with each other regardless of their sects. This phenomenon is Characteristic of the South Sudanese, though it may astonish outsiders watching.

So the call by South Sudan's Catholic Bishops would practically be taken seriously by all the Christians in the country. What does this mean? It means that the Church has expressed the will of its adherents who make up 70 percent of the country. Democratically speaking the edict of the clergy translates into a vote of no confidence in the government by majority of South Sudanese. 

The illegality of president Kiir’s government is something that can no longer be disputed. His presidency from a legal point of view as well as on constitutional grounds can not stand. This view has been argued elsewhere exhaustively. However, with the church finding President Kiir illegitimate according to scriptures does not only concretise the facts but urges him to vacate the presidency at once.

Christians around the world must take South Sudan's Bishops declaration as basis for action. The Vatican, Canterbury and others should now put pressure on their members of parliament s in their respective countries to ask their governments to cease cooperating with the ‘evil’ regime of President Kiir. This issue now is clearly more of a moral problem requiring instant action.

The South Sudanese Diaspora should now mobilise and wave the declaration of the Bishops to the clergy of their local churches as well as their members of parliament demanding their support in calling for their government to take action against the criminals in Juba. South Sudan's Bishops recent declaration is a spiritual manifesto that no local church can ignore. 

South Sudan's Bishops declared position further means that the basis of the talks in Addis Ababa is now futile because there can be no grounds for negotiations with an illegitimate regime which basically, “wages war against its own people.” 

Thus the talks in Addis Ababa should be re-opened under new impartial mediators, preferably under one or some of the eminent persons to bring all the people of South Sudan (stakeholders) to a table to hammer out an interim government with clear objectives.

In conclusion, the Bishops guided by the Holy Spirit have helped in shining light on the darkness in Juba. Now that the regime is certified as illegitimate it is up to the people to use this certificate effectively to realise a peaceful change in the country. This said it must be remembered that the Bishops call is a duty to Christian people wherever they are to do their bit to rid South Sudan of evil.  That evil is the SPLM/A in its totality. In other words this call from the church endorses resistance against the evil doers in Juba for a humane and caring government that fears the Lord to be established to care for God’s people.   So, “together let us once again make South Sudan a God fearing nation.

[Truth hurts but is also liberating]

The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

South Sudan continues to sideline war veterans, wounded heroes and heroines

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. Arnold Schwarzenegger popularly known as John Commando

February 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- In this article, I will clearly state that the contradictions within the armed struggle would likely play themselves out after the struggle, resulting in struggles after the struggle that would compromise the achievement of the ideals of the liberation struggle.

I intend to write this article about our war veterans, wounded heroes and heroines on different issues affecting them at the moment under President Salva Kiir leadership.

Especially given what happened in the bush and after independence where we saw the ruthless elimination by any means of any potential rivals to President Cde. Salva Kiir Mayardit. These men have not moved an inch in their minds from the past.

It is my contention here that a lot of issues that arose during the struggle were never adequately dealt with after the struggle and, as a result, SPLM never really transformed itself into a democratic political entity.

This, of course, includes the plight of genuine war veterans who never really received legitimate recognition and honour for the sacrifices which they made, but were sidelined after the struggle by the so-called nationalists who usurped power and, therefore, its benefits post-independence.

Only those war veterans who will dare not challenge President Kiir’s hegemony and sing his praises have prevailed.

In my opinion, SPLM has remained, throughout the years, a liberation struggle political party that happens to possess a State and has proceeded to abuse that State and its resources to meet its narrow political objectives without adequately attending to the contradictions that it carried over from the struggle.

The line between State and party never existed in their minds and to this day, there is this inherent and pervasive entitlement to power and State resources.

SPLM has also failed dismally to address the economic and social agendas after the struggle and has, instead, relied on a patronage system that has fed a predator cabal.

This patronage system is underpinned by fear, intimidation, violence and false loyalty as a means to an end.

The misleading prediction of “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added onto you” by Kwame Nkrumah has been a big lie.

Instead, “Seek ye the political kingdom first and plunder all” is a better reflection of the truth whose consequences we have borne for the last 10 years.

Our situation has been worsened by Salva Kiir’s leadership style and the tendency within the party to suppress dissent, purge dissenters, kill ambition, and rule by stealth, while pretending that the party is a broad church of revolutionaries glued together by a common history and objectives and is by right well-endowed with skills and competence to run a democratic and inclusive developmental State. Nothing can be further from the truth!

In my opinion, SPLM is a broad church of cowards brought together through fear, intimidation and greed without any intention whatsoever of creating the South Sudan we want.

It is a cesspit of personal ambition for power and status without responsibility. Unfortunately, the masses, like sheep, continue to be duped that the revolution is still alive.

The unresolved struggles within the struggle and the struggles after the struggle that we are now seeing as succession battles are in essence the consequences of the assassination of Dr. John Garang De Mabior which started SPLM’s race to the bottom.

It is quite funny, if not ridiculous, for SPLM to, therefore, claiming that they brought democracy to south Sudan and yet there really has never been democracy within SPLM.

Instead, we know that only Salva Kiir has been its leader. This, he has managed, not through exposing himself to fair democratic selection, but rather through political intrigue, manipulation, threats, violence and the purging of potential rivals. History is repeating itself.

Rule by fear and elimination, not through persuasion and building consensus, has been the practice; this is exactly what many feared most.

Make no mistake; I am not shedding any tears for those underlings who are being purged from SPLM nor am I at all sympathetic to the plight of those leaders who now face corruption accusations.

They have all been active participants and beneficiaries of a tyranny and must now reap what they have sown.

Throughout the years, SPLM cronies from all walks of life have taken advantage of the brand to steal, cheat and intimidate in order to gain economic advantage.

Some of its leaders have clearly abused their positions to steal land, abused State resources and plunder. Our country, South Sudan, has been a victim of their interminable and unbridled greed. The chickens are coming home to roost.

The danger we face is that we are not fully behind the SPLM-IO as unified alternative to SPLM - Juba. I remain hopeful that South Sudanese will realize that we need to put our support to the new alternative political system [SPLM-IO] that is inclusive and is based on a new narrative and new values that respect our dignity, rights and ambitions as free citizens.

We all want to create a new narrative, but we can never move on until we address the pain and loss of the past. More important, the truth about our history must be exposed so that we may not repeat the same mistakes. Only then shall everything else surely be added unto us.

Cde. Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut is Chairman of SPLM-YL chapter in Egypt, Writer, commentator, staff at Nyamilepedia; He can be reach through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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