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Yirol, Sit Down and Learn from Bor!



The new leap motion in recent years has been education; obtaining certifications and evaluating communities based on them. Bor folks, as you would have thought, win this race. They have more PhDs than other South Sudanese communities.

People are therefore perplexed. Why are there more PhDs in the Bor community than in other communities? What is it that they are doing differently?

Some claim that the Bor people are wealthy, with Western sponsors. Others have said that the Bor people had Dr. John Garang, who took them overseas on scholarships. Many of them, therefore, received their documents in this manner. Others think that the Bor community receives opportunities with organizations since they have been on a run. First, there was the 1991 conflict, which forced them to different refugee camps across Africa. Second, there was the 2013 conflict, which also forced them to the camps.

As Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the international community sympathize with them and provide them with opportunities that are unique to them. These opportunities include free housing, food, and education. With free education and feeding, they could study for as long as they wanted, as far as they longed to go and so, they were able to get their papers.

In light of these theories, I would argue that factors other than those described above also contributed to the Bor community’s academic achievement. That is to say: communal love and unity on a greater scale.

Bor community is perhaps the only community among the communities of the Dinka tribes that have seen far into the future. They do not look at the little differences of today—the money of now. They see a future bright, a future beautiful only to the educated.

I’m writing this from a little bit of experience I have had with people from this community. I had been a Seventh-day Adventist for nearly five years, and during this period, I have interacted with many people from Bor.

Needless to say, Bor people are great at religious stuff. So, it would not be surprising if one thought it was religion that caused them to be so united. I personally thought so until I left Seventh-day Adventist years later.

I then interacted with them in school and community gatherings in Yirol and recently in Nairobi. I listen to their pep talks and conversations closely. I tried to spot one of them gossiping about a fellow, but I could not. All I heard were positive words about their fellows who were absent from the conversation. I watched them closely if anybody was full of himself and if there was one among them who despised others in an attempt to appear great in the faces of the people around. Still, I could not spot one.

Then I took my time to do the same for Yirol people. It is horrible! No other community tears itself down like Yirol. No positive words. No chance for the others to shine. Many are gossips. Many are slanderers who strive to gain favors at the expense of other people’s reputations. It is horrible!

I know it is sad to write so negatively about the community I was born and raised in. But this is the bitterest truth we have to tell each other. We must drink of this bitter truth so we can change.

Yirol people are brilliant. When there is a Yirol person in a class, his presence is felt by his outstanding performance. Even people from Bor will agree with this. But the problem is the unwillingness to compete on the larger scale; the inability to see far in the future; to grow beyond one’s selfish desires and work for what is perhaps the most important asset we as humans possess—reputation.

This is the problem. If only we could grow; if we could see beyond the now favors we are seeking; the now money we so much want to have…how bright would our community have shined!

It is by growing beyond our little differences that we can have a greater impact on our community and our country on the larger ones.

If you look at Yirol community on social media in recent years, you lose hope for the future. If you see their gatherings, you see your nightmare. The old are throwing insults at each other. The kind of insults a typical primitive teenager from Yirol would not utter with his mouth. There is apparently a loss of shame.

Our people talk of protecting names. This has been lost to the little politics we are trying to develop. Since the split of SPLM into its various opponents, Yirol people have particularly taken the issue into their own hands. They have forgotten that they are brothers and that no matter what a political party does to one, being brothers is a truth that no one can change.

But we continue to abuse this ancestral knowledge by engaging in gossips and insults. Yet we wonder why Bor people have so far seen much in education. The answer has always been with us. Bor people are united. They have grown beyond money and politics to being intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

I know, some of you reading this are probably thinking “education is not about papers.” That is true. But not as you perceive it. Papers are the token of the level of education one has reached. That is why when you are looking for admission, your previous academic certificates are required.

Further, brilliance without advancement is not a great education. We are brilliant. But we must also have a quantitative education. In the definition of knowledge, “qualitative” and “quantitative” appear. The absence of one makes an incomplete definition.

Let’s also strive for quantitative knowledge; consolidated knowledge. Let’s achieve this by being supportive of one another. Not tearing one another down using false claims.

And if we do not do this, we will wake up ten, twenty years later, when most of the old guys we gossip for have gone to their graves, to find that only the educated are ruling. Then we will find ourselves continuing on praising the educated by insulting the uneducated. And since the less educated will be us, we will be insulting each other to get favors from the educated community.

A time will come when the educated will rule South Sudan. When the educated will run businesses. When the educated will till the farms. When the educated will work in the army. And the less educated will be sweeping the streets, cleaning the toilets, and attending to the dogs of the educated by brushing their teeth, taking them to poop, and bathing them.

That brothers and sisters are the future to which political money has blinded us.

Gai Manoah James
Proud son of the soil, Yirol.

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