Thursday, January 4, 2018

SOME WORRYING PROBLEMS WITH THE DIASPORIC COMMUNITIES*


Photo: The Atheist Freedom Wall
American renowned novelist, Virginia Woolf, wrote in her novel, Orlando, about society’s perception of women, arguing that “As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.” Indeed! Societally, we tend to embrace things if they benefit us; and we ignore or dismiss them otherwise. This is a common feature among our diasporic communities.

Undoubtedly, there are many South Sudanese living abroad, who have this factually fallacious idea that living abroad makes them better than those living in South Sudan. Some unashamedly blurt it out while others insinuate the sentiment. Such a state of mind is not only poisonous to our togetherness and prospects, it also shows that we have a long way to go and that we should do a lot to self-assess if a better South Sudan is to be realized.

In this short article, I’m going to go through a number of things, which I feel are issues South Sudanese who live abroad should pay attention to or change.

INTERNAL DIVISIONS

We tend to give this false impression that tribal divisions are only in South Sudan when we in  the diaspora don’t even see eye to eye. We conduct our weddings and other social functions in the seclusion of our tribal groupings and yell on top of our lungs that “they are tribalists!” Yet we are quick to point out what is wrong with South Sudan. This is shameful.

WRANGLING FOR COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP

Like the infamous infighting within the SPLM, many South Sudanese living abroad have a knack for fighting over leadership. Some even refuse to leave office when their terms of office have expired. However, these people are the first to criticize SPLM leaders when they [diasporic communities] are doing exactly the same things the SPLM did or is doing. This is hypocrisy that borders on foolishness

PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTHS

Having community programs that can make sure that our young people are taught community and traditional values within the community is indeed invaluable. Young people also need rehabilitative programs that can help these young offenders avoid reoffending. If young people have something to admire within the community then these young people usually end up being people of substance. However, the very people who fail to initiate programs within their diasporic communities will be the first to criticize the failure of leadership in South Sudan. Yes, President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar have failed as leaders. But haven’t you also failed? Putting on a tie and a clean suit to address community gatherings isn’t the measure of leadership. Leadership is in the deeds one performs for or in the community.

LOOKING OUTSIDE THE COMMUNITY

We tend to admire what’s not ours. How do we expect other communities to admire our community when we shun the very things that can make other communities admire us? Communities aren’t admired because they ask people to admire them. Communities are admired because they have something inherently beautiful and admirable within that community, something which stands out.

ASSUMING KNOWLEDGE

I encounter people who are so certain that what they are saying is the truth. They profess their assumptions so fervently that one who’s not informed about that given subject matter would believe such a version of ‘truth’ and ‘facts.’  However, one might rationally ask this question: “But who can know whether or not a given person is not knowledgeable about that given topic? Who’s this person who can claim to know things such that he or she can determine whether or not others are knowledgeable in that given topic?” The answer is simple! Research! If a person professes something which cannot be corroborated, or something that is factually out of place given available facts, then it’s wise to tell such an assumer to go back and research.

INTOLERANCE TO OTHERS’ OPINIONS

There are many diasporic people, who become so much offended by other people’s opinions so much so that they assume a fighting-mood. Instead of countering other people’s opinions with their own opinions, or countering an opinion with factual analysis, they brood over the fact that Mr. X or Ms. Y has the nerves to say such a thing. That opinions are opinions and can be freely debated no matter how ‘strong’ they appear, has escaped some of our brothers and sisters.

How can we change society if we can’t change our states of mind where we live?
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*Kuir ë Garang is the editor of 'The Philosophical Refugee'


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.