RACE: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT


No sound-minded human being would ever say with a straight face, that human classification based on color [race], is inherently necessary. "Human racial classification,"
writes Richard Lewontin in 1972, "is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations." I totally agree with that. However, color-based human classification has become a social reality no one can ignore.

Race impacts our contemporary sociopolitical way of life even when many imminent scholars try to argue race into oblivion. While Europeans...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Transformational Leadership, Inclusive Institutions and Service Provision

Photo: News of the South
Leadership, given what is happening now in South Sudan, and generally in Africa, fascinates me. And it fascinates me not in a good way but because of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic ills facing the African continent and most of the so-called 'Third World.' To me, South Sudan, now, is a classic case.

Rebellion by disaffected politico-military leaders and repression by the government of South Sudan in Juba have stunted institutional development and leadership growth. This has made service provision almost irrelevant as political survival has taken primacy and supremacy.

But as the late Nigerian novelist and critic, Chinua Achebe, beautifully writes in The Trouble with Nigeria, there is nothing inherently wrong with the people, the land, and its air. The problems is mainly leadership. This same no-problem with the people has also been highlighted by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson in Why Nations Fail. 

Bad leadership in a given social setting and the self-serving institutions that are built by such a leadership usually reflect the problem, wrongly, as being the people themselves. However, without proper leadership, people are usually lost in anomic danger. Before the descent of South Sudan into civil in December of 2013, the country had no direction.

This means that South Sudan and Africa are being failed by the leaders ruling them. These so-called leaders confuse possession of power with leadership. Power is simply having the authority to decide things for people, but leadership involves showing people or countries the direction that can lead to the well-being of the people by spurring their creative impulses and abilities.

Transformational Leadership theory, as James M. Burns explains it to us, helps leaders bring social change that benefits not only the leaders but the general population. Transformational leadership, therefore, leads to positive social change and inclusive institutions as Acemoglu and Robinson put it. In South Sudan, institutions cannot be inclusive if tribes are suspicious of one another as a function of leaders' greed and the game of power. 

But the development of transformational leadership and inclusive institutions is only possible if leaders care about the well-being of the average citizens. Without this moral sentiment among leaders, it becomes nearly impossible for these countries to develop inclusive institutions. Lack of inclusive institutions affects how services and distributed to citizens and what kinds of services are availed. Even if South Sudan has no engaged in any form of service delivery since 2005, it has made sure that a few who benefited, benefited from the reciprocity of transactional leadership based on tribe. 

In Africa, the factors affecting institutional development are numerous. These include lack of vision and the guiding ideology, tribal allegiance, a sense of self that makes leaders focus on enriching themselves without any moral compunction, and the general misunderstanding of what capitalism is and the sense of being far removed from the needs of the average citizens. 

Service provision, therefore, depends on the existence of good institutions; but good (inclusive) institutions cannot come into existence without a good leadership. So in the beginning, especially in new countries like South Sudan, institutional development, leadership, and service provision have a transitive relation:

Good Leadership ---> Responsive & Inclusive Institutions ---> Inclusive Service Provision

A good leadership is one guided by a morally sound ideology with not only the knowledge of what the people need but also, the moral acknowledgment to fulfill such needs. Without this sociopolitical reality, the leadership becomes about power and the people became an afterthought in a selfish exercise of power. South Sudan has perfect that.

In Africa, people are only important to the governing parties if they support leaders' quest for power and not important otherwise. This means that service provision is only availed to people who support leaders' quest for power and the desire to remain there. And the people who mostly support leaders in Africa are mostly one's tribal members or elites [political and ecomomic] in reciprocal transactionalism. This is very true in South Sudan. Admittedly, there is no way a leader can empower people who'd not support their power base.

It's only a moral leadership that thinks beyond the narrow confines of its personal needs, that can build inclusive institutions. South Sudan has a very long way to go to build inclusive institutions not compartmentalized by tribe in order to provide services to everyone regardless of tribe.

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Kuir ë Garang is the editor of 'The Philosophical Refugee' website. He's an author of numbers books. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Prostitution has taken the highest toll in Juba

By Pal Chol Nyan


Photo: Aljazeera
With war and hunger, everything is possible. We cannot be surprised to see the ills now happening. Poverty is the cause of all evils. It is the cost of prostitution which brings about the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. It is good to bring it to the attention of those who want to live long that it is not only HIV/AIDS that is sexually transmitted. Hepatitis B and C are also transmitted through sex, blood transfusion and sharing of sharp needles just like HIV/AIDS. They have different ways of leading to death. B causes liver cirrhosis and C causes cancer of the liver. 

There are also other sexually transmitted infections like syphilis and gonorrhea besides other viral infections sexually transmitted too. They are many. We need to be careful and stick to our partners. Why do people want to die when they know the cause?  I know we are mortals and will eventually die no matter how long we live on earth but let us help God to safeguard our lives.

Love of money, excessive lust for unprotected sex, promiscuous activities, that is having many sexual partners, are risk factors for the transmission of STIs. Some are treatable but if left untreated, they cause sterility in both males and females especially urethral gonococcus which causes pelvic inflammatory infections usually abbreviated as PID. 

Chlamydia is easy to treat if detected earlier. The statistics now according to the department of HIV / AIDS, the rate of new infections rises as each day passes. 

HIV/AIDS cannot be completely treated but prevented by observing ABC (Abstention, Be faithful and use a Condom). The Antiretroviral drugs do not cure Aids; they strengthen the immunity mainly CD4 loosely translated for a cluster of differentiation. It is a type of a lymphocyte that AIDS attack. 

In Juba, there are many lodges; they are used to practice sex outside marriages instead of them being used by tourists and for commercial purposes now overridden by unlawful sexual malpractices. It is called prostitution if you meet or sleep with more than one person. It is not a term for women or ladies alone. Men, too like practicing unprotected sex and the risk of infections are higher, especially in uncircumcised men. 

It is observed that men with their foreskin not cut are prone to higher risk of infections than the ones circumcised. In the foreskin is a cell called Langerhan's cells which create a conducive atmosphere for the viruses. Once cut, it reduces the risk, scientists observed. 

It is hunger that brings about prostitution and theft. Families have broken up. Women cannot feed the kids alone. They have to use whatever means including going to the lodges to secure a meal for the kids, change their smartphones and go to the saloon

Let us protect ourselves from sexually transmitted infections by being faithful or abstain. What is the role of the Municipality in this case? Our social norms and traditions are already under attack.

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The author is a medical practitioner and can be reached @ palcholnyan2016@gmail.com

Editor's Note: The views expressed in this article belong to the author not 'The Philosophical Refugee' website. For the veracity of any information in the article, please contact the author.



Saturday, March 10, 2018

An Open Letter to Dr. Francis Mading Deng

Kuir ë Garang

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"Why would you expect these 'stakeholders' to join something that was formed by someone they are fighting? You've worked with many governments and in politics to know the vanity and self-interestedness of 'realpolitik.' Why are you surprised by something you expected? Did you expect Riek Machar to say, "Yes, it's a good initiative, we'll join it" without caring about the fact that this ND was formed by his archenemy? You dashed my hopes here when it comes to rational expectations."
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Dr. Francis Mading Deng
Photo: Foreign Policy
Many of us have read your books and reports on behalf of the United Nations.  When I tell people, casually, during conversations, that the person who formulated the 'Guiding Principles' and ideas now used by the UN to take care of the internally displaced is [South Sudanese], they stare at me with a confused sense of wonder and admiration. It is a good feeling in terms of the human communion and in terms of intellectual relatedness.

The Principles have not only been adopted by aid agencies and different governments, they have also been translated into different languages since they were introduced in the January of 1998. "A number of governments," you wrote in a paper in 2001, "publicly praised the development of the Principles and several governments in countries with serious situations of internal displacement have actively supported and participated in seminars on the Principles."  

This is indeed instructive on how valuable these Principles were and still are. You can understand why I'm inclined to speak about the fact that you were the brain behind these Principles with such a global appeal. 

Besides your work with the Sudanese government in terms of your foreign affairs services, your books, and other scholarly works, these PRINCIPLES speak loudly about how you perceive, and take seriously, the suffering of the internally displaced persons relative to their governments and your concept of 'sovereignty as responsibility.' This is a concept that I wished many African governments understood and practiced.

This brief reminder of your work with the internally displaced plays well into what I want to say and why I decided to write to you an open letter. This letter is about what is happening in South Sudan and what the government of South Sudan has become: a vengeful, suspicious force against the average South Sudanese and all critical voices. As you correctly said in your 2001 paper, The Global Challenge of Internal Displacement, that "Instead of being seen as citizens who merit protection and humanitarian assistance, these persons are often perceived as part of the enemy, if not the enemy itself." 

This, sadly, captures the reality of what is happening now to the average civilian in South Sudan. The government that is supposed to protect them sees them with a scary suspicion. 

So when someone of your caliber works for the government that is doing exactly what you used to advise governments against, someone like me assumes that you are doing something internally, something that would mitigate the suffering of our people. When you were appointed as the UN ambassador, my hopes were up. I told myself that "a cautious voice of reason will finally speak on behalf of the government of South Sudan." But I was being too optimistic or, to some extent, naive. Ambassadors are nothing but mouthpieces of governments. 

However, when I heard that you were again appointed as part of the national dialogue, my hopes were high again. But then I realized that the ND was merely a face-saving initiative with no real normative intent as resolving the conflict for it was very exclusive. Since President Kiir Mayardit is being opposed by the likes of Dr. Riek Machar and other opposition figures, it should have been clear to you that they would not want to be part of an initiative that was started by their 'enemy.' That Riek Machar refused to meet your delegation in South Africa was common sense. 

This statement, which you gave in December of 2017 in Addis Ababa, is troubling. You said that, "On the issue of inclusivity, however, it must be noted that it is a two-way challenge. When all the stakeholders are invited to dialogue, with flexibility on a mutually agreeable venue, and some individuals refuse to join, where does the responsibility for the lack of inclusivity lie?" That is strange.

Why would you expect these 'stakeholders' to join something that was formed by someone they are fighting? You've worked with many governments and in politics to know the vanity and self-interestedness of 'realpolitik.' Why are you surprised by something you expected? Did you expect Riek Machar to say, "Yes, it's a good initiative, we'll join it" without caring about the fact that this ND was formed by his archenemy? You dashed my hopes here when it comes to rational expectations.

However, you always have a way of warming our hearts by saying the right thing when we need it the most. You recently, in the February of this year, presented a noble address in Addis Ababa during the ill-fated 'High-Level Revitalization Forum' aimed at reviving the [2015] August Agreement that was meant to end the  December 2013 crisis. You wrote, with an eerie sense of impeccable humanness that 

I have always said that while it is sad and painful to hear that the outside world cares more about the suffering of our people than their own leaders, our response should not be anger or defensiveness, but to convince them that we indeed share that concern, perhaps even more than outsiders, and that we should join hands and work together to mutually reinforce our efforts toward our shared objective. We must also convince our people that we are indeed concerned about their suffering, and we can only do that through affirmative action.

Undoubtedly, this is a reminder of 'leadership as responsibility' as Robert Joss would say. That outsiders sound more alarmed than the very leaders who are supposed to be the most affected ones is deeply troubling.  However, given your history with the internally displaced, I do believe that you mean those words. I have seen your calm demeanor, calculated and carefully reasoned arguments that make one feel the need to listen. You bring out that traditional African wisdom within a value-impoverished contemporary African politics. 

Despite the fact that you are with a group of hardened and desensitized men, who will find it hard to listen to the suffering of the people, I still believe that you can help change things. However, I also believe that you are approaching this in the wrong way. 

First, for the ND to be inclusive, it has to be an entity formed by all the 'stakeholders.' This would force them to respect it and commit to it if they know they have people they can trust in the ND. These would be people they chose themselves. You also need to remember that the problem in South Sudan is the leaders so for peace to come to South Sudan, these leaders are the ones who are required to dialogue. Even if the average South Sudanese in the village and in towns reconcile, the bitter differences among the leaders will always divide them. Unless the leaders reconcile and the war ended, any ND would be futile. How do you reconcile people who are still fighting one another? 

While the ND is an excellent initiative, it's being used for the wrong reason and applied to the wrong people. You need to start by convincing President Kiir to dialogue with Riek and other stakeholders. You don't even have to go to Addis Ababa. 

Unless you help the leaders reconcile and end the war, you are wasting your time. Just imagine you going to Akobo and the people accept to forgive those who have wronged them. But then the government and the rebels fight again in that area and the very people who had accepted to forgive had their relatives killed. Would they still respect such a dialogue? 

Dr. Francis, while your heart is in the right place, you need to rethink what it means for something to be inclusive and who exactly needs to dialogue with whom and when. Inclusivity should not only be in the intended execution of the ND but also, in its very formation. The idea that calling people to be part of the ND is what it means to be inclusive, worries me. 

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Kuir ë Garang is the editor of 'The Philosophical Refugee.'