The Nuer Culture of Violence, Lawlessness and Anarchy.

By Obang Ojwok Jobi*
May 24, 2006


This article is written in response to two contradictory articles: The Empty Cry of a Baby: Nuer/Anyuak Co-existence, by Mr. Peter Lam dated May 13, 2006, and the Lawless Nation, by Mr. Duach Mach dated April 14, 2006, respectively.  In both articles, the two authors addressed one of the most controversial issues in Southern Sudan, the disarmament of Nuer civilians.  Mr. Mach’s article, which was addressed to South Sudan President, gives emphasis to disarmament of the Murle tribe only and bringing the culprits to justice; whereas Mr. Lam’s article focuses on keeping the guns in the hands of lawless, nomadic, and vulgar tribe (the Nuers) in Southern Sudan and resisting the coming of law and order in the country.  However, this article focuses mainly on Mr. Lam’s Article, in which he chants for destabilizing Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and to mention the carnage of the innocent Anyuaks in Akobo County in the 1980s which he proudly confesses. He is now a material witness.

Mr. Mach concern is one of the best concerns most peace loving Southern Sudanese would pursue during this precious occasion because Southern Sudanese have had enough killings during the civil war, and can not persevere another one.  By the way, on behalf of the peace loving Southern Sudanese, I would like to convey my condolences to the victims’ families of the Anyuaks and the Gaajaak Nuers who were brutally killed by the Murle gunmen early this month. Mr. Lam should know the horrible part of retaining guns in the hands of untrained, lawless, and anarchist community members.  A gun can kill everybody including the Nuer, the Murle, the Anyuak, the Shilluk, and other tribes, but nobody wants killings any more in the South.  What the Southern Sudanese want at the moment is viable government to restore law and order, and good management and policies. But the Nuer militia groups are a great obstacle to peace. Which part of Mr. Lam is belonging to South Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF), a political party represented in the government of South Sudan, and which part of Mr. Lam is in the opposition to the SPLA/M/Dinka? I hope you will answer this question when responding to this article. 

When the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was formed in 1983, all Southern Sudanese, including the Nuer tribe joined the movement and the struggle for freedom went on until the movement got attention both in national and international political arenas. It was obvious that all tribes in the South gained access to guns and everybody was armed to teeth. Consequently, the Southern people suffered from anarchism and many lives were lost as a result of misusing the guns.  There is no doubt that the SPLA/M leadership had flaws in the course of the struggle which generated the anarchism among the tribes which I believe needs another national reconciliation, and it is beyond the scope of this  article. We all know that Southern people have suffered enough during the civil war chaos.  However, the hard time has somehow gone and the people are now looking forward to forming viable and stable government for the future generations.

When the SPLA/M split in 1991, Dr. Riek Machar and other Southern politicians rebelled against the main SPLA/M and formed another SPLA/M faction called South Sudan Independent Movement (SSIM).  As its name implied, SSIM’s political program was supposed to be for the separation of the South which would be welcomed by most Southern politicians if its leader, Dr. Riek Machar, had a stable political competency. But before the leaders of the movement reached out to the Southern people, the movement again ripped apart. Why? Because it was led by the Nuer swinging politicians. During all this time of political vacuums, both in the main SPLA/M and the SSIM, the Nuers used their guns to exterminate what they considered to be their foes: the Anyuaks, the Dinkas, and even some Nuer clans leaving the common enemy, the Arab. The heinous crimes were then committed by the Nuers at the time until they finally went to Khartoum and signed the bogus agreement with the Arab government. The Nuers formed a variety of militias through out Southern Sudan and carried out their carnage. The Arab government in the North subsequently funded SSIM, and now South Defense Force [SSDF] South Sudan United Democratic Alliance (SSUDA and so on to execute their divide and rule policy.  

The Nuers militias caused a lot of damages on SPLA/M struggle for freedom, peace, law and order. The Nuers Militias moved the Southern people’s struggle ten steps backward.  The Nuers militias injured and crippled the SPLA/M during the struggle for freedom and now they want to kill the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) for the sake of their lust for leadership, and “gargooch” (bread).  Disarmament of the civilians in the South, if not adamantly opposed by the people whose culture is mixed with violence, and anarchism, would be the best start to implement CPA. However, the Nuers are scared of independent Southern Sudan, viable state, and restoration of peace in the South because of alienation, humiliation, and labeling they are going to experience. They are used to killing and free unaccountable life. Traditionally, the Nuers scramble for leadership but when it is given to them they can not do it properly. Everybody is equal. No respect for law. They are spoilers of good things. The Nuers have a tendency of overt nepotism, and corruptions. The best example of this was seen during the 1980s when DK was given the governor position in Malakal. At that time, all Nuers from countryside came to Malakal and occupied all offices without professional skill. The Nuers do not have feeling of shame. Every villager wanted to be equal to DK in rank.

At this time when the whole country is gearing up to mend its broken part of society, the Nuers like Mr. Lam, are beating the drum of tribal hatred, and tribal politics. What is the reason of forming movements like South Sudan United Democratic Alliance and South Sudan Defense Force at this time when all Southern people, including rational Nuers, are coming together to form a government which comprises all tribes in the South? If joining the SPLA is hard, should these organizations not control the direction and Nuer activities?  You, the Nuers politicians, have disgraced yourselves by implicating yourselves and innocent Nuers in frequently forming tribal politics. When will the Nuers politicians learn the language of unity, peace, and law? If the Nuers repent for the crimes they have committed, they can be exonerated by the Southern Sudanese like Riek Machar and Matiep. Why do the Nuers elite, like Mr. Lam and his comrades in SSUDA/SSDF, obstinately resist the disarmament in the country? Is it because of vengeance for the crimes they have committed? I think the Nuers just want to carry on their culture of violence, lawlessness, and anarchism.  Any law abiding citizen in Southern Sudan today would welcome the disarmament of any unauthorized gunmen unless one has a guilty mind, fear of reprisal, and unrest because of the southern blood in his hands.

The Sudan government in the North, the Nuers boss, under pressure, is trying to mend the broken stability in the country, and it has been trying to be a good global citizen by previously signing peace agreement with SPLA/M and now with Darfur rebel groups. Why the Nuers do not mend their notorious political reputation and try to be a good citizen of the Southern Sudan by accepting their criminal activities before the civil war, during the civil war, and after the civil war and be good citizens?  Dr. Machar, and Mr. Mutip, the former Arab militia leaders, and other Nuers politicians have already realized that being political puppet did not either help the Nuers, the people of South and even themselves. They are now a part of the government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). They have repented for their transgression. They are now good citizens.              

In order to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Government of South Sudan has to disarm all illegal militias including the Lou Nuers militias and to do that there must be a social contract between the state and citizens. What it means by social contract is that citizens have to give up some of their rights (in this case guns)  to government entities like police departments which are in charge of internal security and military which are in charge of country sovereignty. Thus, safety of civilians would be in the hands of police instead of individuals.  Fortunately, the southern government has both entities and they are led by H.E. Hon. Daniel Awet Akot, Minister of Police and Security, and H.E. Paulino Matip Nhial, Deputy Commander of Chief, SPLA. It is not my duty to educate Mr. Lam about the GoSS structure and how the public safety in the South should be handled after the disarmament because he resides in the U.S.A. where social contract is in place. He is also a graduate in management and policy and a member of the SSDF.  He should know how the government is run in civilized way not in a nomadic way. Mr. Lam should know that the “White Army” is not only harming the Lou Nuers but also all tribes in the South. The consequences of fighting the government are not always small.  According to Head Chief Mr. Gatluak Thow Kuny, a Nuer himself, the Cie-Matel (clan) who fought with the British had decreased their population. Is that what Mr. Lam wants to happen to small section of Lou Nuers, the Guun clan or the Mor? The latest news indicates that more troops are heading their way to fight Lou Nuers. Are you also packing up to go and help them fight the Multi-White Military Force or help them [the white army]? If you are not, please just refrain from exterminating the Nuers tribe while living in the glassy house in the United States.

In his article, Mr. Lam, who claimed to be a graduate student in management and policy, stipulated Mr. Ojoch as the SPLA/Dinka worshipper. However, in rational thinking, Mr. Ojoch and other Southern politicians, who want the law and order back in the country, are not worshiping the SPLA/M or the Dinka but they are worshiping the coming of peace, tranquility, love, law and order, and freedom which Southern Sudanese had awaited for so long. I hope this time around, the Nuers might improve their vicious way of life. It is good that some Nuers like Mr. Mach have started to talk words like “lawless nation,” because I would not expect a Nuer man to mention the word lawless. If there is lawlessness in Southern Sudan, the Nuers, regardless of their clans, are major contributors in anarchism. So, Mr. Mach, it is a good start; but if someone wants to change the world around him he should change himself first and then the world.

Obang Ojwok Jobi resides in the United States and he can be contacted at   

Related Articles:

Open letter to Southern Sudanese
The Empty Cry of a Baby: Nuer/Anyuak Co-existence
Intimidation is Dreadful Politics
The Nuer fear of neighbors is not a big excuse not to disarm.
Upper Nile: No Genocide in South Sudan
Nuer: "A good way to present grievance"





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