Monday 10 January 2011

Southernization irks

On 05 January a youth association by the name of the ‘Nuer Youth for Equality and Justice’, issued a public letter of the Black Book genre deploring the preponderance of Dinka Bahr el-Ghazal in the ranks of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). The association, claiming to represent Nuer youth in South Sudan and East Africa, expressed particular grievance regarding recent appointments in the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, the emergent foreign affairs ministry of the independent South. The letter referred to the appointment of nine new diplomats as another instance of “the fever of Gogrialization of the South which has become the dominant recruitment policy of the government of President Salva Kiir”, Gogrial being the President’s area of origin and the Dinka Bahr el-Ghazal his ethnic kinsmen.
The angered effendiya hopeful advised President Kiir to take courses in ethnic equality to guarantee the independent South Sudan safe passage considering that symptoms of ethnic violence have already made themselves manifest in the rebellions of the discontent SPLA officers, George Athor, Gatluak Gai and David Yau Yau.  
The complaint of the Nuer Youth echoes the distress of the Southern elite at their meagre share in Sudanization, the process by which the Sudanese took over positions formerly occupied by their British colonial masters at the eve of Sudan’s independence, a concern that continued to fuel the civil war between North and South despites attempts at redress in the Addis Ababa Accord (1972) and in the CPA (2005). In the words of Bullen Alier, a leading figure in the anti-colonial Southern Officials Welfare Committee and a cabinet minister in the 1954 self-rule cabinet, “each boat and aircraft brought Northerners for appointment to the administration, police or the army, and the flow at times looked like an invasion”; and rightfully so, the Sudan-wide process of Sudanization turned to a strict programme of Northernization. Out of the spoils of 734 vacant positions Southerners occupied only six, a situation that the prime minister of the self-rule government, Ismail al-Azhari, explained away with an excuse worse that the deed. Al-Azhari claimed that “no Southerner was fit to occupy a post above assistant district commissioner” (Ibrahim, A.A. “Sudan Nationalism or Sudan Nationalisms”).
The spoils of liberation, as it were, are now on display. In the late years of the Addis Ababa agreement the Lagu vs Alier dispute evolved into a self-defeating row over entitlements sacrificing the very South at the feet of Numayri. How the independent South handles the demands of its hungry effendiya today will eventually establish the route of its development, de-ethnicization or gogrialization.   

1 comment:

  1. This is an important issue, but 40 years after the Addis Ababa Agreement there are other credible ways to measure government prformance and fairness than the tribe and sub-tribe of government officials.

    For example, Southern Sudanese can now monitor the allocation of government budgets to the States and Counties, the geographical distribution of facilities, the delays in the payment of teachers' salaries, infant mortality, and many other metrics.

    In addition there are many more opportunities for educated Southern
    Sudanese than government jobs, particularly in the for-profit and non- profit private sectors with international and international organiztions. Moreover, many are starting their own organizations and businesses. The SPLM would be wise to treat them fairly and honestly.

    There are also many forms of private media from radio stations, newspapers, to websites and more advanced fora. These impact of theses media can be and will be amplified and informed by the impact of cell phones, e-mail, and satellite phones.

    The effendi no longer need to imagine the problems of their people. They can ask them. We need to help them and hope that they will listen to their elders and that as members of the "educated age set" they will not forget the obligations of all "age sets" to contribute to their communities and to learn how to lead and not just to argue and complain in a foreign language and not to assume that they are the leaders because they speak the loudest in this foreign language.

    They can help democracy work and survive in Sudan if they represent well before they expected to be asked to lead. They may be surprised that if they represent their own people well, many people will ask them to lead.


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This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.