25 Nov 2020

 

Time To Stop Dependency In Jieng (Dinka) Communities Of South Sudan

"In spite of the modernization, a few Jieng who moved to towns seeking education and employment still practice those customs. However, their children who never grown up in villages face obstacles to accept or adopt those practices."

By Ater Yuot Riak, Ph.D.

Roughly, more than 80% of Jieng communities are living in rural areas without a proper access to modern services such as electricity, schools, and health services among others. Modernization started by colonization era and the notable firsts of Jieng went to schools at around 1940s. Most of them were born at around 1940s or earlier 1930s and started their schools at around 1950s or 1960s. They were born in villages where education was not a right and only younger children were sent to school.

Jieng is a very communal society in which everything is almost shared. For instance, marriage is a family responsibility rather than a personal. The main purpose of marriage is then to raise big family and produce many children. Normally, Jineg marry girls immediately after their first menstruation starting from 14 years old onward.

Big family means wealth, power and protection as well as reputation in a society. In this regard, Jieng normally marry wives to their dead people (brothers, cousins, sisters etc.) And attentively children of the same man name themselves after ghost fathers. Everything depends on cattle, the bigger the number of cattle herds, the many wives and children you have. Interestingly, Jieng in villages will leave to seeking treatment but at the expense of a relative in town.

In Jieng communities, one man can reach to over thirty (30) wives and that children are still born and name after him despite of his death. Many explanations can be traced in here that his elder sons continue to marrying his wives. These sons can be older than some of his wives by 10 to 20 years which qualified them as their husbands.

Another practice is that a man can marry to his uncles who are still alive. Further, if one of the family has fertility problem, his wife may secretly get pregnant from a family member probably a brother or a cousin.

In spite of the modernization, a few Jieng who moved to towns seeking education and employment still practice those customs. However, their children who never grown up in villages face obstacles to accept or adopt those practices. This in turn has remarkably increased the level of burden to those Jieng living and working in towns.

Jieng are relatively rich people in terms of natural resources that include fertile land, livestock, and fishers’ resources among others. Even the current oil operation in Upper Nile State and Unity state are mostly in Jieng areas. These are opportunities if properly enhanced could create prosperous societies which entirely depend on themselves.

For instance, more than 20 million of cattle herd is own by Jieng communities; still these resources are not yet economically utilized. The fertile land not yet cultivated and fish in rivers and swampy areas not yet economically recognized by Jieng.

Oil is a national commodity but law gives a percentage to Jieng communities living inside operation zones which is another prosper opportunity.

Dependency has become a very big issue in Jieng communities. Many use kinship to force their relatives deliver services. Productivity in Jieng community is very limited because of its communal characteristics. Jieng communities in towns should have introduced innovative or complimentary ideas.

Marriage is a personal decision but this does not mean we should not involve our parents. The main purpose of marriage is to have a partner who completes the rest of his/her life with you. After marriage you are mandated to three priorities and responsibilities whether you are a man or a woman. The first priority is your family (wife/husband/children), the second priority is your parents (Father/Mother) and the third and last priority after you got married are your father/mother in laws.

Productivity and independency are to be encouraged and that livestock, fishers and lands should be economically oriented resources.

It is true that some Jieng in towns own cattle herds in camps in rural areas, now it is a time to introduce veterinary medicine and improve health of livestock to better benefit the community.

It said “You shall not covet”. Productivity and Independency must be practiced and that this culture of desire what does not belong to us should be abandoned immediately. God helps those who are helping themselves. There is a different meaning between a person under a mountain and a person who is climbing.

Education will reduce illiteracy in Jieng communities. Education does not mean attending classes in schools and acquiring degrees or certificates only but phasing out conventional and adopting modernization culture. Education and modernization are better to improving our living style tremendously. It does not make sense if educated Jieng persons with tools of change and improvement in their hands still follow the traditions which are described as strange customs.

 e-mail: ater.amogpai@gmail.com
 

Posted in: Home, Opinions
Comments
RSS comment feed
29/06/2020, 8:47 PM
 - Posted by Karl Afadiaer
"Education will reduce illiteracy in Jieng communities".But education and marriage practice are separate practices by and of the Dinka that are not opposed to each other. Having stated this, however, Dr Riak has not defined, as to what does it mean to be educated in the Dinka Community or Society? Could it be one's ability/capacity to be able to speak and/or write foreign language(s). Bottom line, Dinka is a community of multiple worlds. For instance: "more than 80% of Jieng communities are living in rural areas without a proper access to modern services such as electricity, schools, and health services among others". Dr Riak's article's main themes are: Education and marriage practices among the Dinka, also known Jieng people.
I disagree completely with Dr Riak's perception of the Dinka's practice on marriage. His argument has a lot of difficiencies and above all, lacks clear thesis. My view is that: Dr Riak's account is no different to many of the accounts on Dinka's practice on marriage that equate dowry to selling of the Bride to the Bridegroom. Such an account misrepresents one of the Dinka's most meaningful practices. But on education. And as Ater Yuot Riak, PhD, makes it clear here:"Education does not mean attending classes in schools and acquiring degrees or certificates only but phasing out conventional and adopting modernization culture". This being one critical aspect of an education, the author, however, fails to outline reasons why Dinka ought to seek or pursue education with relevance and contexts to its mode of life and conditions that Dinka face. More over, Riak makes no definitions and limitations of his claims.

For instance: Dr. Riak thinks that modernity or modernization are separate things; another in Dr. Riak's mind regarding education in the Dinka or Jieng's Community is that he defines educated Jieng persons as individuals with tools of change in their hands. According to Dr. Riak(2020),"Education and modernization are better to improving our [life] style tremendously".One such life style of Jieng people is: marriage. Marriage is one of the Jieng's oldest social practice and responsible for the Dinka's network of social relations; only means responsible, also, for wealth distribution among the Jieng people of both Sudan(Abyei region) and South Sudan. Marriage to the Dinka is no compulsory; also, not all the Dinka people do pay or settle the dowry through the use of cows only. The introduction of Money in Dinka has also led to considerations of dowry being settled in forms of money. The Dinka has also been narrowly presented: as people who keep cattle only; among the Dinka are: Atooc(fishermen/Thaany in Jonglei state); also those who cultivate crops and/or entrapment of wild animals for their survival. A new section to emerge within the Dinka is composed by those who migrated to urban centres/towns.

However, the author fails to identify one sociological issue facing this new section of the Dinka and how to deal with it. Social ills within this section of the Jieng people; for example: Divorce rates among Dinka women in urbanised centres is much higher than their rural counterparts.

I refer to this section as "urbanised Dinka". Members of this section could come from all the sections of the Dinka. Reasons for going to urban centres among the Dinka could range from seeking medical care to looking for a change of life style. This's to say that: Education and employment were not the only reasons for Dinka Rural-to-urban migration.

In short, this migration is no less similar with the international migration one achieves through being resettled into another country. The Rural-urban migration among the Dinka: whether this was during the colonial British administration or afterwards, fundamental reasons/purposes for this migration could be simply due to search for basic services.
According to Dr Riak, communality and rigidity to change are Dinka's top most important ailments. He goes on to say that: "In spite of the modernization, a few Jieng who moved to towns seeking education and employment still practice those customs" and one of these customs in Dr Riak's mind is marriage. I want to also add that: the sorts of Dinka people or individuals choosing this resettlement in urban areas/centres that Riak has in mind are adult Dinka men. " However, their children who never grown up in villages [but in towns do] face obstacles to accept [and temptations to] adopt those practices". In other words, being stopped with the Dinka individuals who came from the village. Their offsprings turn out to be different people; not Dinka and are divided between embracing the marriage custom or continue being indifferent to the practice.
Traditionally, incest is outlawed in Dinka society; and so is an adultery. Committing an adultery in the Dinka society leads to a fine to be paid by the man to the government and a total of 7 cows to be given to the husband of the woman who committed an adultery. Marriage is also only possible between two opposite genders: between a man and a woman; both of them must be in their adulthoods; a man must ignited and introduced into adulthood; a girl on the other hand, must reach her puberty before her marriage. And while a woman can be re-married, a man can marry more than one wives; this could those of his own and/or wives married to by the man but belonging to his relatives. Dinka's marriages can be performed/ carried out anywhere, and in any society throughout the world.

Dr. Riak discusses Dinka marriage alongside productivity; he says that: " Productivity in Jieng community is very limited because of its communal characteristics". The term "productivity" means the ability to raising one's stakes/amount of quantity and also improvement of the produced items/products. There are reasons as to why productivity either falls or rises. To measure productivity of marriage in Dinka society calls into an examination of value marriage has throughout the Dinka. For this reason I think Dr Riak's views on Dinka marriage and perception of change are misguided.

Over all, his association of productivity to marriage is also untrue. It's untrue because: marriage itself among the Dinka is one of the fruitful cooperations:between two of the clans involved in it. And to evaluate marriage productivity would call into an evaluation of an outcome to marriage itself. In this regards, children are measure to the effectiveness or productivity of marriage in Dinka traditional practice.

Furthermore, the author also makes no mention of the differences of marriage within the Dinka. For example: Marriage carried out in accords with Atuot sub-community's practice is different from that one of Agaar Sub-community. Despite this, however, there are various forms of marriage still practiced by the Dinkas. Anthropologists are aware of this. But Dr Riak makes no references to one of these various forms of the Dinka marriage practice and which ones need reforms.

It worth also that: Marriage is one practice among the Dinka to have embraced education. Educated girls are prized high; also, men trying to marry educated girls face fierce competition among themselves. That's to say there isn't anything within the Dinka's practice on marriage that's in opposition to an education. In my view, an educated Dinka person or an individual is a cultured Dinka. Dr. Riak could be correct in highlighting that: "It does not make sense if educated Jieng persons with tools of change and improvement in their hands still follow the traditions which are described as strange customs". This, to me, suggests that Riak's interlocutors here are no Dinka individuals or persons in Rural areas but those living urban centres and this could range from those living in Juba to outside South Sudan. In sum, the article is poorly presented and argued. But it remains an important point of entry into the dissuasions on possible reforms within the Dinka.




Add Comment

Name (required)

Email (required)

Website

CAPTCHA image
Enter the code shown above in the box below
Featured Videos
THE SOUTH SUDAN NATIONAL DIALOGUE
  • What is The National Dialogue?South Sudan Peace Process
  • Expectations of the National DialogueSouth Sudan Peace Process
  • Gurtong Mobile Cinema
What is The National Dialogue?1 Expectations of the National Dialogue2 Gurtong Mobile Cinema3
 

 

 

Gurtong Radio

Peace Efforts Earn Bishop Paride Taban Top UN Award

 
 English Programs     |      برامج اللغة العربية