Reading South Sudanese constitution 2011, you will not go further than article 6 in part one of this constitution. That is titled as “Language.” It states that: All the indigenous languages of South Sudan are national languages and shall be developed and promoted. English shall be the official working language in the Republic of South Sudan as well as the language of instructions at all levels of education. The state shall promote the development of a sign language for the benefit of people with special needs. Is Arabic our indigenous language? Is it a sign language? It isn’t. The clauses that are in the constitution should be implemented now. What are we waiting for?
Arabic is being supported and used as a tool of keeping Arab identity in South Sudan. No one takes into account that we as South Sudanese have histories so dreadful that they should not be revisited. I want to put it clearly and mark my words. The fear of disunity should not scare us from telling facts. Arabic in its classic and Juba style has been/is being used as tool of hatred and tribalism in South Sudan. Ever go against Arabic and the one who will respond first will be from Equatoria. Well, Equatorians have their indigenous languages but I wonder why Arabic especially the Juba Arabic is so precious than their indigenous languages?
We should highlight areas of letting the country down. Areas of depriving some as some benefit more than others. If you want the people who have really suffered in South Sudan, they are the graduates from East Africa and the rest of the world most of which are jobless. They have a lot of them holding degrees but have nothing to do with it. The best way of identifying them is letting them speak Arabic. They kick the butts of Arabic, meanwhile some speak Swahili and good English. Arabic has been used as the tool for screening them out. Anyone who speaks and writes Arabic or knows classic Arabic in addition to English is mostly taken at the employment table. There are classified groups of South Sudanese who do not have Arabic background. These are the Nuer, the Dinka Bor and parts of Dinka Bhar el Gazal. All the Equatorians lived in areas where Arabs resided thus earlier took Arabic as their spoken language. They benefit a lot from Arabic now and thus don’t want to let Arabic go at all because this is how others get discriminated against.
Arabic spread among the freedom fighters of Anyanya movement and the then SPLM/A because the leaders of the aforesaid movements studied in North Sudan, the current Sudan. They know how Arabic as a language was an assimilation tool. They learned Arabic more than English. That was like integrating South Sudanese into Arab culture. Some of the students were given Islamic names and circumcised yet those who refused had it rough. Arabic was among the reasons as to why South Sudanese fought for freedom. Does it sound like there is freedom when what we fought for is still being used by us? I don’t think so. Arabic being used after the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement and as well as after independence was and is still not an attempt to revive Arabic and Arabic accent in South Sudan be it Juba or classic as they call it. The vision that was and is to be revived was and is to be an independent state. Arabic classifies South Sudan as an Islamic state. We are not an Islamic state. We are a Christian nation. If you didn’t know or wanted to outsmart Sabbath, you are utterly wrong. I have known this but gave it time.
Who is not tired of Arab rule? Who was not tired of their mistreatment? None at all. Leaving even a tint of Arabic in South Sudan meaning the so called Juba Arabic is an attempt to return Arabic to South Sudan in future especially when the current leaders who are thought to be supporting removal of Arabic now have stepped down. SPLM/A fought for the children whom we are. We were said to be the future leaders. No one among us who were kids then can speak, read or write Arabic lest a few that cannot read and write too. The current use of Arabic is being used to discriminate against these future leaders. We should no longer be talking of future because the time we are in is the future.
South Sudan has sunk in a pool of hatred and tribalism. We are not right at it. It is time to stop accusing Dinka of claiming to rule South Sudan. Those are ideologies which don’t make anything of us. That Dinka are mistreating us too which makes kids out of us. Dinkas are said to be land grabbers and more. Equatorians are said to be collaborators and damp the papers which have Dinka names at the employment table too. It does not help us as well whether it is done so or not. The Nuers said to be fond of being rebels. These are childish thoughts all for the way forward will best make a bright future for South Sudan. As the current rebellion goes on, I am aware especially in my longest stay in South Sudan from 2013 to 2015 of what really happens. Equatorians are sensitive to Dinka names at the employment table. There is a serious war between Dinka and Equatorians on the employment table. A Dinka will not want Equatorians to work in their companies as does Equatorians.
A week ago, I visited a Savings and credit cooperative society for loans. I was told that when you need 5000 ssp, the interest rate is 4% to be refunded on monthly basis for six months. According to my mathematics, the money would be refunded as 5200 ssp because 4% of 5000 ssp is 200. I was not speaking Arabic but English. I might have been identified as either a wewe or a Dinka. It was said that it would be refunded as 5500 ssp. I condemned this in front of them that they were wrong and just scaring away customers. Arabic is grossly used to Identify Dinkas and Wewe. This is the kind of war I have seen so far. It is not a national spirit. It is sheer hatred. It should be stopped by stopping Arabic for use only in the army.
Every educated person living outside South Sudan is not interested in coming to South Sudan because of Arabic. When will they start working for development? It is only when Arabic is no longer a language in South Sudan. They may not entertain being in Juba to waste their money searching for jobs they will not find because they are wewe. Because they are from East Africa and the rest of the world. As South Sudanese leaders have interest in those from other parts of the world to come and develop South Sudan, unless otherwise Arabic is dumped, they will not come. Some will come and start their own businesses to stay away from divisiveness.
It is high time to drop Arabic and teach English only in schools.To drop Arabic and speak English and indigenous languages everywhere in the country. We should use our indigenous languages as national languages. Our indigenous languages stem from our cultures which reflect our roots. Arabic reminds us of our bad past and keeps our previous enemy following us. We are tired of Arabic. Drop it for the future of South Sudan. If Arabic can unite us yet it is not widely spoken like English in this country, can’t English and our indigenous languages unite us? They in fact will do better. They will unite us as the civilized South Sudanese. Our indigenous languages will benefit those in villages. English will give us better friendship with our neighbors thus, speed up development. The constitution should be implemented now because now is the future we fought for.