DEBATING A SOUTHERNER (4): Journalist Luk Kuth Dak
1. Akol Liai Mager, SPLM,
2. Ezekiel Gatkuoth, Head, South Sudan’s Mission to USA,
3. Professor Jok Madut Jok,
Loyola Marymount University,
4. Luk Kuth Dak:
Born in Nasir,
Journalist since 1979. Former anchor with
Juba Radio. Former correspondent for “Alayaam” and “Alsahafa” newspapers. Currently a weekly columnist with “
Sudan Tribune” and others. Pursuing BA at
USA. Vice-President, Association of Sudanese Journalists in
Q; Will you vote for separation of the South? Or for the unity of
A: Sudanese unity is beyond repair.
Q: Will the Southerners vote for unity if the Northerners construct major projects in the South to make "wihda jathaba" (appealing unity)?
A: It could have played a major role. But, it's too late. The Northern National Congress Party wasted the last five years smearing the South, instead of constructing major projects that might have changed some minds to vote for unity.
Q: What should the Northerners do for the Southerners to vote for unity?
A: They must admit their past mistakes, issue an apology and seek forgiveness from them.
Q: Some Southern leaders put impossible conditions on the Northerners. Pagan Amum, SPLM Secretary General, said that the Northerners should stop calling Southerners “Abeed” (Slaves). Ezekiel Gatkuoth, Head of South Mission in the US, agreed. Do you agree?
A: The word is racist and offensive to say the least. The question thus becomes: How could anyone be called a slave in his own country by those who invaded it?
Q: Of course the word is racist and offensive. But, should its elimination be a condition to end the differences between the North and the South?
A: It could have been a good gesture.
US laws against discriminations, some Whites still call Blacks "Niggers." But, Black Americans don't say its end is a condition for better relation with Whites. Why are the Southern Sudanese so pre-occupied with "Abid"? Isn’t it “natural” that some people insult each other?
A. I can't speak for the Black Americans.
Q: The Black Americans have come a long way, with the help of some Whites. And the Black-White relation has improved greatly, to the extent that, right now, there is a Black President -- Obama. Does that mean anything to the Southern Sudanese?
A: African- Americans are still victims of racism, but they came a long way nonetheless.
Q: Why don't the Southern Sudanese be like their Black American brothers? Why don’t they open a new page? I have never heard Obama talk about slavery.
A: Slavery is alive and well in
Q: Are you sure?
A: It is well documented that the regime in
Khartoum sponsors slavery in all of the marginalized areas, especially in South Sudan and
Darfur. Isn't there a street in
Khartoum named in honor of the slave master, Al Zubeir Pasha Rahama?
Q: Here in
America, after the 1960's civil right movement, the government abolished discrimination laws. Didn’t the Sudanese government abolish all discrimination laws?
A: There are all sorts of discrimination in
Sudan. I studied in Shendi, and I know what I am talking about. Also, the Southerners are being discriminated against in joining the military and police colleges and universities. I didn't even mention the so-called “national” radio and TV. If you are from
South Sudan, you have a zero chance for the new anchorship. That's just a fact of life.
Q: What if the Northerners stopped "Abid", apologized, paid reparations and established a secular constitution? Will the Southerners stay in a united country?
A: All South Sudanese ever wanted is to be treated with dignity and respect as full citizens in their own land. So yes, if the Northerners show some good will, I believe it would make a positive impact in the healing process.
Q: Isn't the talk about 90 percent of the Sudanese being Africans contrary to the fact that Muslims and Arab Northerners are also AFRICANS?
A: Well, they are the ones who deny the fact that they are Africans.
Sudan a member in the African
Union? Even in the African Soccer
A: The Northerners are trying to have it both ways! They only use
Africa when it serves their best interests. Their loyalty is to the Arab world.
Q: I was born in Argo, in
Northern Sudan. My father a Kababish Arab and my mother a Bidairyia Arab, and of course I am a proud African. Can I say that?
A: Of course you can. In fact, any Sudanese should be able to celebrate and be passionable about being an African. However, for the overwhelming majority of Northern Sudanese, their loyalty is clearly directed towards the Arab world.
Q: Why do you say the Muslims Arab Northerners deny that they are Africans?
A: It's nothing more than an inferiority complex.
Q: I don't think so. I would have an inferiority complex.
I believe there is a basic difference between how you and I identity ourselves.
My color doesn't have anything to do with my identity. I repeat: my color doesn't have anything to do with my identity.
The core of my identity is my faith (I could have been a Christian, a Jew, worship Buddha, a cow, a tree, a kojor). Then, my culture: a mixture of Arab and African.
So, I don't look at myself as a Black (color), but as an African (culture).
Of course, here in
America, if I rob a bank and escaped, the police would describe me as “A Black old man with gray hair.” But, this is a description. It is not my identity, not my personality, not my way of thinking.
A: Northern Sudanese have made their choice crystal clear between being Arabs or Africans. They proudly picked the former. This identity crisis has always been at the centre of all the problems that led us to this deplorable state of affairs.