The Current wave of Nuer migration

By Obang Ojwok Jobi
April 14, 2006


This is a follow up of Ojoch’s article [Acquisition of citizenship by aggression, Sudan Tribune, 03/22/06] in relation to attention it drew from certain frustrated quarters. I am neither representing any organization nor political party but to disprove whatever reasons that caused conflicts and migration in an earlier misleading article by Toang [Conflicts and allocation of resources in Gambella region, Sudan Tribune, 03/10/2006]. This is not to generate debate between individuals but to bring back those who went astray in responding. [Toang's response, Anyuak Media, 04/04/2006]

I personally don’t have a problem with the Nuer community but with their political and social attitude toward neighboring tribes. I am a peace loving man. Here I use words that may hurt many individuals among Nuer community, and some one may think that I am preaching hatred, but it is “a matter of” we [Anyuak] can’t take lies. Toang, the SPLA/M Representative, should have approached this sensitive issue with caution.

Let me draw the readers’ attention to the main facts that Ojoch attempted eloquently to disqualify. Migration is evil and bad when initiated by lust and arrogance. Diversity by force cannot thrive between and among different groups even within a clan. It has to spontaneously develop in fertile conditions. Societies or individuals should not take law into their hands by arbitrary action to prove strength, bravery and manhood. And that the Nuer are happy when playing in the cracks of contemporary law. Some of these or all of them are being done from the Nuer side and thus causing conflicts with the Anyuak. However, scholars and ethnic politicians like Toang, who cover up his tribes mistakes, could not handle it because it touched the soft corners in their hearts. For that reason they personalized the issues and came out with straight attacks. It was expected that the respondents would justify the merits of the current migration and related points above. Unfortunately they failed to do so. Instead they wandered elsewhere.

It was stated clearly that migration should remain a thing of the past that fitted those periods and conditions. The American example of migration is self-defeating. They migrated from Europe, settled and stopped. The Nuer migrated, but their migration never stopped. They are still on the trail, as we speak, and causing more and more troubles on their way. This example does not support the Nuer arguments, if any.

The American democracy that we enjoy today is not only for freedom of speech in politics. It is for respect and discipline as well. The Nuers have trouble with this part. It makes their world very small as they cannot cross any backyard at will. You cannot stand in front of someone’s house. So, the American democracy is not a good example for the Nuer to justify anything. It is not in line with the Nuer democracy, because the Nuer democracy means ‘going anywhere like wild fire’. Every place belongs to God in Nuer sense.

The American democracy does not force you to agree, nor take property by force, nor displace you by force. It welcomes and respects. That is why you, I and many others are here. This is opposite to the Nuer democracy that says “if you refuse I will fight you.” “The Anyuak do not understand diversity” was a generalization made by those who denied it again in a later article. Actually, the Anyuak do not have reason to accept forced diversity. Let the scholars of those articles convince the public why the Anyuak must not refuse. They failed twice already to explain.

Anger and thus fighting are simple precursors of arbitrary action especially when the Nuer fail to reason or fail to get what they want peacefully. Cieng Nyajaani proved it by going out for new lands, water being the pretext. The scholars on this forum also proved it by presenting themselves indecently by vulgar words. It is not surprising or troubling to those knows the Nuer. It is the Nuer way of reacting to environment and issues.

In his two articles, the author alleged that the Anyuak killed their leaders.  Yes, indeed, it was a wrong occasional arbitrary action, if it happened. Those who did it faced their fate very quickly. This proved that arbitrary action has no place in the Anyuak way of life. There is no pride in such actions.  The Nuer swinging between Ethiopia and Sudan is nothing but evasion of law and order. Movement was appropriate during the war for security reasons. Now there is peace both sides. What is the motive if not evasion in the contemporary sense of ‘nyagat’ style? They simply do not want the rule of law. They are happy with lawlessness and loose life.

The coming of the CPA and thus the formation of GoSS makes the Nuer world smaller and troubling because it is a calling for law and order which the Nuer do not like. They see it differently because they always enjoy their lives when there is war between Southerners and central government in Khartoum, and Anyuak and Highlanders in Ethiopia. As a result they continue their rampant disobedience, and at the same time conquer people’s land. The rule of government is certainly a new thing. This assertion was found by E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Collins, etc, who wrote extensively about cultures and history of some Sudan peoples. They also found that most of the Nuer feuds are settled by fighting. The Nuer Prophets and the Leopard Skin men were respected but did not have authority of decision. That vacuum still exists today. Some settlement of feuds by village elders cannot substitute law or government. These sittings are temporary and momentary.

The CPA [and the GoSS], that somebody claims to know better than others, requires that all Southerners be in one boat to defeat the NIF. The people mostly weakening the efforts are the Nuer being proxy to NIF. Matiep made a very wise move by rejoining the SPLA/M but only to be called a traitor by the followers. The juniors took arbitrary action to stay with the NIF. Such action is called democracy by the opponents on this forum. Is it not a kind of democracy at the wrong time?

The above exposition is only an attempt to bring to light the facts that were misunderstood by those who were confused, frustrated and went astray to find answers. It is an opportunity to reevaluate their stand on the issues in question. It will be appreciated if someone can convince the public as to why the Nuer migration with suits and neckties must continue to find new frontiers when there is no lack of water, grass and soil. In the same way let the Nuer scholars prove the worth of forced diversity to make it appealing and attractive to the Anyuak, and why the arbitrary actions or lawlessness is the way forward. If you are respondent to this, please focus on justifying the merits of why the Nuer don’t want to settle if they are really a peace-loving people.

* Obang Ojwok Jobi is a graduate student at St. Cloud State University, MN, USA. He can be reached at



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