Rethinking South Sudanese Identity: A Collective Consciousness Beyond Ethnicity
South Sudanese national identity has been a topic of debate for many years. In a recent article, Kuir ë Garang argues that despite internal ethnic differences, a collective South Sudanese identity exists. Garang uses archival records, memoirs by South Sudanese politicians, political and historical literature on Sudan and South Sudan, and state-building literature to support his argument.
Garang also draws on ethnographic observations collected in community meetings, social media debates, community leadership meetings, and local politics to provide a situated knowledge of the issue. He acknowledges that his epistemological situatedness and the fact that he is defending an argument may make some contentions advanced in the article appear methodologically problematic.
Garang also highlights the importance of contextualizing job grievances in a wider context to avoid trivializing South Sudanese suffering. He argues that answering the question of whether more than eighty years of being governed as a collective people, being collectively oppressed, and engaging in two civil wars has created a consistent collective consciousness is ethically imperative.
As a South Sudanese who has been writing about South Sudanese political and social issues for more than 15 years and as someone who interacts with South Sudanese on a regular basis, Garang’s disagreement with some scholars may be motivated by political and ethical concerns.
In conclusion, Garang’s article sheds light on the coherence of South Sudanese national identity and argues for its existence based on historical nation-building. It also explores the relationship between tribal and national identities and how they are activated contextually.
Garang, K. ë. (2022). Birth of a State: Rethinking South Sudanese Collective Identity through Identity Anchors. Modern Africa: Politics, History and Society, 9(2), 5–37. https://doi.org/10.26806/modafr.v9i2.330