Finding the root cause of tribal conflict
One day George William one of my tutors of community development studies asked me a question and he said, “Why do you look angry today John?” and I said, “Because someone made noise in the room last night when I was writing my assignment”. “But why did you felt angry?” George asked, and I said, “Because he made me angry by making noise”. “But what caused your anger John?” George asked again and I said that the person who was making noise is the cause of my anger because if he did not make noise I would have no problem with him. But in reality was that person the root cause of my anger?
The person if he was indeed part of my anger may only ignite the fire which might have already existed inside me. My problem may be my assignment and not the person. It can be what I believe about myself or about the person making noise. Remember in previous lessons we have said that what we think about others influence how we respond to them. You get the point here?
The main cause of conflict in whatever level is deep inside the people themselves and it is not a natural force from the outside world. Slowly and slowly I began to understand what George was trying to communicate and this leads to the writing of the book you are now reading. My problem was inside me because my problem is that I wanted to finish my assignment and submit it to my teacher on time, so I was worried already before the person made noise.
The only solution is to change my thoughts about the assignment not to change the person that was making noise. What if I just advice or ask the person to reduce his voice in the peaceful way instead of feeling annoyed and getting angry with him? Blaming someone or tribe could not resolve the conflict because the person is not the real cause of conflict. We must learn and understand the real cause of conflict before we could resolve it in any level.
What is the cause of personal conflict, family conflict, clan conflict, tribal conflict or political conflict in your area or community? Let us find the real causes of tribal conflict in South Sudan before we can find the lasting solution for it in any community. Organizations and governments could not resolve any tribal conflict in the world not only in South Sudan.
The other process in resolving conflict is negotiation and it must come after finding the root causes of any conflict in any level. Finding the causes of conflict is also a process that may take time to be accomplished. You can see that the second thing after finding the root cause of tribal conflict is negotiation. This can apply to family, clan and tribal conflicts as well. When a husband and wife are in conflict for whatever reasons, the two must negotiate and find the lasting solution to their problems.
The dialogue is the only solution to any conflict, but the two sides must agree to negotiate or else no success in negotiation. What has been agreed during the negotiation process must be put into practice or else it will not take any effect. If you never negotiate anything with your spouse at home then you will find it hard to manage any small conflict in your family because small things grow bigger when not discussed earlier. The discussion is just another word for negotiation with hope to reach an agreement over an issue. Both sides must agree and accept their weaknesses and wrong doing before an agreement is reached.
No human being is without fault and we must accept our wrong doings before we reach the solution to the existing conflict. Self-justification is dangerous in any level being personal, family, clan or tribal. As communities at war, we must accept what our members have done to other communities around us in the past and this will lead to peace and prosperity in our nation. Appreciate other communities of the good things they have done in the past instead of looking at the wrong things only.
Reconciliation is the third thing in the process of conflict management. After negotiation comes reconciliation and the two sides must agree to reconcile or else the negotiation is in vain. There is no reconciliation without forgiveness. Jesus came from heaven to earth to reconcile humanity with God and he can reconcile you with yourself as an individual person. Jesus can change your life as he did mine and you can help others in the process of reconciliation.
Jesus came to reconcile me with myself, with God, with others around me and with the nature. Sin has changed the way we look at ourselves and the way we look at the world and the way we look at God and other people around us.
To reconcile is to bring the two warring parties together and let them restore the peace that was lost during the conflict. The word of God says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and if you seek reconciliation it does not mean you fear anyone but God and you will be blessed for doing this. It is not easy to reconcile the warring tribes but the process starts with us.
It is our duty as the changed men and women to seek peace and reconciliation even if it means death to us. We must die for doing good than for doing wrong in the eyes of God. A man dying because he is making peace and reconciliation is better than the one dying because he is waging the tribal conflict and war. God hates division among his people. God is the God of love and unity not disunity.
You have to start the reconciliation process personally today. Get reconciled with yourself if you have any personal conflict with yourself. Get reconciled with God if you have a personal problem with God and get reconciled with your immediate family. Get reconciled with your clan men if you have any conflict with them personally. Get reconciled with other clans within your reach and try to do your part in your clan to make reconciliation. You will be called useless or coward or whatever name people would like to call you. But stand your ground for peace making in your community and you will be remembered many years after your death when this confusion is over in South Sudan.
It is hard to forgive those who sin against us by nature. Our natural way of dealing with bad things people do to us is revenge and killing which does not glorify God. Forgiveness is the fourth step in the peace building and conflict management process. It is a very crucial and important step in conflict management because unless we forgive ourselves of all the wrong things we have done to each other yesterday, all the negotiations and reconciliation processes are in vain. No negotiation that will succeed if there is no forgiveness among the warring communities in South Sudan.
We have a saying in Dinka that, so and so have wronged me badly and I have forgiven him, but I could not forget what he had done to me forever. Did I forgive you if I cannot forget the wrong things you have done to me? Forgiveness is not really forgetting the wrong things the person has done to me, but remembering the wrong things you have done to me after forgiving you is the sure sign that I was only pretending to forgive but I did not forgave you in my heart.
You have to know that not forgiving others or people who have done you wrong in the past only hurt you in different ways. You feel bad when you see that person because you remember what he has done to you in the past. But to forgive is to forgive meaning you decide to do it yourself. It is action word not just something that exists in the mind. We have to decide to forgive each other in order to live in peace.
Keeping wrong records is not part of the children of God because the children of God must love each other as their father God loves them and the whole world that he had made. God still loves the whole world no matter how evil the people of the world are today. God is calling the world through you and me to reconcile with him as Apostle Paul put it right in 2 Corinthians 5:19.
The pain you bear due to what someone has done to you sometimes back only hurts you not that person, that means you are in pain and in bondage when you need not to be in chains for what someone else have done to you. Free yourself from that bondage and pain by deciding to forgive and forget if you can. Even God promised to forgive all our sins if we decide to forgive others. Revenge as mentioned earlier cannot finish because it keeps happening as long as there is no forgiveness between the warring parties.
God is the judge and he will judge those who commit sin accordingly. God is the only judge who judges with justice and fairly. He is righteous and his judgments are right not wrong. It is hard to forgive yet we are commanded to forgive others who do wrong to us in the past. The funny thing about forgiveness is that people say you are coward if you forgive those who do wrong to you. People will only conclude that I’m full of fear if I decide not to take arms and start fighting a tribal war. But do I listen to God or to mere men? Who is my guide? Is it not the Lord God of heaven and earth? God alone can revenge in his own way not you and not me. Let us leave revenge for God because he will judge those who wrong us at the last day. This sounds useless to the world but to God it is wisdom because we are only relying on God when we decide to forgive those who wronged us in the past.
Can you forgive someone who wronged you in the past? The past can mean yesterday or few minutes ago. Can you forgive your wife, husband or parents? Can you forgive someone outside your family? Can you forgive each other as the family members? Can you be able to forgive another family as the family (someone outside your family who did wrong to one of your family members or you)? Is it possible for your clan to forgive another clan that wronged your clan in the past? Is it possible to forgive other tribes who have just killed and take away all your belongings as family or tribe?
God is watching you and he will reward you accordingly if you only decide to forgive others. People blame themselves of the wrong things they have done in the past and they may not even know that they are in conflict with themselves. A family or clan or tribe that is divided cannot unit. A nation that is divided by tribal conflicts could never develop until reconciliation and forgiveness is done.
Unity of tribes, clans, sub-tribes, and families comes when there is forgiveness. If we decide to forgive each other as the people of South Sudan then we will surely be reunited and we will live in peace and prosperity in this nation as one people in one nation under God. Is there unity at your home? Is there unity at your clan? Is there unity at your sub-tribe? Is there unity at your tribe? Someone said that only two fingers can kill a louse and this is the power of unity. It is a common saying in Arabic and in many of our local languages that one hand could not be able to clap itself.
Unity is power and it is what we need as a nation. The Republic of South Sudan needs unity in every corner because without unity we must fall apart. It seems that there was unity in the South during the general war of Sudan then it is today. This is my view but I may be wrong or right since there were no radio stations those days in South Sudan for people to hear what is happening today in the other parts of the country. Today we can hear whatever is happening in the north, south, east and west of South Sudan.
Stay united oh people of South Sudan at your homes, clans, sub-tribes, and tribes and as political parties with one goal and that is peace and prosperity in the land and you will see what the outcome will be. You will be able to stand firm as a nation and as one people. Our God, the only true God is in three persons but united in one and this is the mystery that none could be able to interpret.
What are the benefits of unity? We love talking about peace and unity in the country but unless we forgive our wrong doings in the past, we will never experience that real peace, unity and prosperity in our nation of South Sudan. The real unity is in action not just in words that people speak. We must decide to unit because unity will never come to us on its own. It is also a process to unit as a nation. Our army must have one vision and goal. I must join the army with the whole nation in mind not just my tribe and people group. My goal must be one and the same with the goal of the nation not my own. I must fight a national war not tribal wars that are meant to destroy the citizens of my nation.