National Dialogue to Revitalize Traditional Authority Rule in South Sudan

26th September 2018

For South Sudan to conquer its present governance challenges, it must embrace its past and emphasize centrality of traditional authority and cultures in contemporary rule in the country, ND Steering Committee members agreed today in an extraordinary sitting chaired by Hon. Angelo Beda, the Co-Chair.

Among those who presented at the plenary, were the eminent South Sudan scholar Dr. Francis Mading Deng, the King of the Azande, His Majesty Wilson Penny, and Hon. Acuil Malith Banggol, a scholar and researcher who specializes on traditional authority rule in South Sudan.

Dr. Francis presentation dealt on how to properly wed the past with the future and use it as bedrock of fashioning a constitution that’s in tune with the people’s cultures. “There’s no globalization without localization,” he said.

In a similar address to the Ebony Center for Strategic Studies on Saturday, Dr. Francis stressed that a human is like a tree in as far as it has roots. Without roots, a tree cannot survive, he said. “Instead of genocide, we have ‘culture-cide’.”

Ambassador Francis decried the role of modern education system, which he said was largely out of touch with African realities and values.

He said that it’s sometimes difficult to imagine that ‘radical change has been accepted in our conservative culture’ while ennobling concepts such as those of human rights (that are coherent with African traditions) are frowned upon.

On their part, Hon. Acuil and His Majesty Wilson underscored the necessity of empowering traditional authority leadership and returning their usurped powers from local administrators.

The Azande King also called for establishment of National Council of Tradional Leaders in South Sudan to function as the ‘house of the chiefs.’

In vibrant responses to the presentations, some members of the ND Steering Committee spoke of nexus between traditional authority and nation building, ideas that the body has been enthralled by.

Hon. Lual Deng Kon, the first to give his reaction, agreed with the presenters that ND has to promote or revitalize traditional authority as an integral part of modern governance. “It’s us to revive our culture and put it right,” he said.

Hon. Arthur Agany, also a member of the Steering Committee, expressed his congruence with the experts. He said, “We have to bring back the traditional rulers. Without culture, you cannot go anywhere.”