Kuir ë Garang
"She wasn't a divine dog so everyone knew that where there is pregnancy coitus may have happened. No immaculate conception."
My dad used to relate this story about the ridiculousness of some British colonial officials. One incident was about an official’s dog. But what makes the story interesting was the response from a certain Bor chief. It was not only wise, but it was also debilitatingly logical. The rest of the chiefs reportedly acquiesced to the official. This chief did not.
Note that the details are sketchy as I’m remembering from my childhood. The story may not also be true as I assumed it may have been one of the stories exaggerated to make fun of the vile dictatorship of British officials. They had no respect for the local chiefs.
Those of you close to elders in South Sudan, please ask them about this story. We can get the name of the official, where the chief was from and the year.
The story goes like this. There was a cantankerous British official in Bor District, now the counties of Bor, Twi and Duk, with a dog he really loved. He did not like his dog fraternizing with local dogs. But then dogs are dogs and the natural was inevitable. His dog became pregnant. An ‘uncivilized’ dog had impregnated a ‘civilized dog’! That was an offence, an offence to civilization.
She wasn't a divine dog so everyone knew that where there is pregnancy coitus may have happened. No immaculate conception.
Unsurprisingly, the official was not pleased. He summoned the district chiefs because he wanted to know the owner of the dog and the offending dog. The official travelled throughout the district so the dog may have been impregnated by any dog from all the four communities.
Most of the chiefs, the story goes, were asked in turn and they promised to investigate the incident and find the offending dog. It was a ridiculous circus as the chiefs did not understand how they could be called because of a pregnant dog. But dictators always believed their truth must be accepted. Besides, the chiefs could not really oppose the colonial officials without reprisal. These officials acted like mini-gods against Africans.
But one brave Bor chief found the whole incident ridiculous. Being a wise man, he asked a logical, informed, and relevant question. He knew the consequences of opposing a colonial official, so he worded his response in a way the official found gagging to counter. He wanted to show how ridiculous the official case was, so he also countered with a ridiculous scenario of his own.
He said that this looks like a grievance case being brought before the chiefs for a solution. In Jieeng traditions, the chief said, a person who has a grievance must report it and then sit before the elders. The elders and chiefs would then deliberate about the merits of the case.
Since the dog is the one that was pregnant, the case should be between the pregnant dog and the offending dog, he said. The offending dog was not present, so the case was one-sided. They could not deliberate on it. He also wanted the official to sit before the elders as he was the one reporting the case. He could not dictate the terms of the case.
This caused stir and laughter among the chiefs. The official was not pleased, but he was challenged. African wisdom.
From what I remember, the official found the chief response ridiculous. But that’s what the chief wanted the official to understand. How could the chiefs respond logically to an irrational person?
Kuir ë Garang is the editor of the Philosophical Refugee. Follow him on Twitter @kuirthiy.