CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS FOR NATION BUILDING IN SOUTH SUDAN
The most daunting post-independence task that faced most colonized peoples was the imperative of forging a nation out of the multitude of ethnicities that European colonialism
coerced together in one geographical unit – the colonial state. The academic dust has settled to the notion that “nation as a kind of abstract community, abstract in the dominant level of its integration, in the mode of its subjectivities as well as in the symbolic representation of that relationship. It is an abstract community but one which always subjectively and ideologically reaches back to more concrete ways of living and representation; this makes it the best and worst kind of human association.” This quote summarizes the socio-political engineering processes leading to nation building and the emergence of the nation states first in Europe and in the rest of the world. A corollary of this notion is that ‘nation’ is a political construct linking it to particular polity (state), identity, etc.
The evolution, emergence and construction of nation – nation building, involves conscious crafting of policies and undertaking practices that leads to integration and unity in diversity of the different constituent ethnicities or sub-nations. The emphasis on integration, unity and diversity is deliberate to underscore the historical fact that the social, economic and political engineering processes leading to a nation. In this, we recognise two different historical trends in the emergence of nation first as an association based broadly on common territory, economic life, common culture and language; and the other based on forceful political and military coercion.
The changes that have occurred in the world means that coercion may not obtain as a means for post-colonial nation building. The attempts to form monolithic nation-states based on the dominance of the largest ethnic, cultural or religious entity generate upheavals, conflicts, civil wars and separatist movements in different post-colonial countries in Africa [Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon], Asia [India-Pakistan, the Kurds in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey], even in Europe [Catalans, Basque, Flanges] to mention a few. Modern nation building of necessity must be consensual based on common interests and core values of justice, freedom, fraternity/solidarity and prosperity.
This is a contribution to the emerging debate on nation building in South Sudan. This has become imperative and of paramount important given the political failures that precipitated the civil war and the threats facing the young republic and its people. The paper identifies and links the challenges to the political and ideological bankruptcy of the dominant political reflected in their lack of scientific understanding of the fundamental problems of socio-economic and cultural backwardness of South Sudan reflected in abject poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and superstition of its people. The paper argues that the need is imperative for a paradigm shift in the political thinking of the dominant political class to address those contradictions in order to domesticate the principles and core values of freedom, justice and fraternity. This is because without this shift South Sudan will remain in this state of freeze for a long time.