Thursday, September 4, 2014

No to Ethnic Federalism in South Sudan

Federalism is not a bad governance system as long as those leading it have the interest of the country at heart; and as long as the mindset leading it is selflessly conducive for development programs.

My only concern, and the word that I’ve always passed to fanatical proponents of federalism, is that ‘Federal System’ in itself wouldn’t change things unless our inter-tribal relations, inter-personal relations and our understanding of leadership and government change.
People’s attitude inform the system not the other way round.

While I’d welcome the Federal System of governance in South Sudan as long as it’s conscientiously structured, I’m gravely opposed to any form of ‘Ethnic Federalism’ … like the ones in Ethiopia or Nigeria.
Many misguided South Sudanese believe that South Sudan Federal system can be modelled after the ones in Nigeria and Ethiopia. While there are presumptions and face-value indications that some people love the system in Ethiopia, one can’t be certain that it’s an advisable, exemplary system of governance.

In a world that’s increasingly moving towards acceptance of diversity, it’d be a bad precedent to move South Sudan toward statehood that exist as pockets tribal homogeneity. We can’t unite a country by compartmentalizing it into pockets of tribal exclusivity. While it’s a feel-good proposal for some people, it’s a destruction of the country based on parochial presumption of ‘We-ness.’ We, the Nuer! We, the Jieeng! We, the Bari! We, the Kachipo! We….We…We….

While many Ethiopians were happy with Meles Zenawi’s idea of Ethnic Federalism in order to get rid of the Amharic face of the country in what some call the ‘De-Amharization of Ethiopia’, one can clearly see that the example of Ethiopia is a stone-age example South Sudan shouldn’t copy!

The Nigerian example is badly self-explanatory that one can’t even think of it. It’s a disaster!
While it might sound very ambitious, it’s in the best interest of South Sudanese to work toward the creation of a ministry (Tribal Affairs) that should work out long-term models of inter-tribal understand in South Sudan. Making Tribal leaders, Elders and grassroots part of the governance system in which each and every tribe feels included and heard is better than ethnic fragmentation of the country.

This would help the people in understanding the role of government in their lives. In the long run, it’d bring the government closer to the people with deeper appreciation of their local leaders; thereby making it hard for greedy politicians to mislead them.
Tribes don’t fight because they want to. They fight because they feel marginalization and insignificant. Besides, some fight on behalf of leaders from their own tribe because they don’t understand what government actually means. In South Sudan, we don’t just have ‘individuals’ but ‘individuals from a given tribe.’

Practical Federalism, not Paper Visual Federalism, can bring people closer to those who govern them; however, we have to resist attempts to ethnicize South Sudan any further. To further tribalize a new nation with no sense of unique, clear and understandable sense of ‘NATIONHOOD’ is to be hellishly irresponsible.
We have to first create an understandable national Identity before we gladly or mischievously disperse into our tribal enclaves in the name of ‘Ethnic Federalism’ or more appropriately, ‘National Destruction!’

We’ve been divided fatally enough! Let’s unite while accepting our differences!

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RECOMMENDED READINGS:

FEDERALISM IN AFRICA: THE CASE OF ETHNIC-BASED FEDERALISM IN ETHIOPIA

FEDERALISM, FEDERATIONS AND ETHNIC CONFLICTS: CONCEPTS AND THEORIES


ON CULTURAL IDENTITY & BELONGING

Dear Melbournians, the South Sudanese people to be precise. Do you think we have seen it all? Do you think we have seen that: I mean in the aftermath of yesteryears, in regard to our culture and the notions around identity and belonging? Do you think we have seen the true reaping of what we sowed years ago? Do you really think so? After all, did we really sow anything like seeds and that there’s something to be reaped? Did we really live it out well to be seen today?

I am sorry to have bothered you, my potential readers, with questions regarding our social, economic, and political location in our host society: Australia. I think we have not seen it all and as a whole: The idea that people are bound by certain values and beliefs of significance to them. This requires cooperation and role-specific obligations on the roles of every man and woman across a given people and their society.

TOLERANCE & INCLUSION


While it is possible for us to racially discriminate or judge people we know, the chances of judging people we know diminish significantly the more we know them. An easy example of the importance of understanding others is the attitude people develop when they want to harm others or when they want to deny them something valuable. Essentially, before you fight someone, you insult them. Insults are attempts at diminishing the value of people, an attempt at estranging them, as Toni Morrison argued in The Origin of Others. It is easy to discriminate against strangers or make others strangers or dehumanized in order to discriminate against them.

Transformational Leadership, Inclusive Institutions and Service Provision

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. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

‘Black’ as an Identity Oversimplification and Mockery

Black as a universalized cultural identity of the African Person (AP)* is a residual effect of slave and colonial mentality; a racial/race paradigm. It is a malady I call, conservatively speaking, stuck-in-the-past syndrome of color constraints. Black could be an on-the-street ‘social identifier’ of race figures not a meaningful phenomenon of deep cultural identification on a universal scale.