By Abai Okwahu
The term ‘arian’ is from Juba Arabic meaning ‘naked’ or unclothed, and has been loosely associated with the DInka. Like most tribes in South Sudan who live in the rural areas or villages the use or wearing of garments (clothing) is optional, and it is not unusual to see men and women go naked.
In Juba in the early ’70s to mid ’80s the Dinka tribesmen brought their livestock for sale and after transacting these animals most of the men remained in the city often walking naked with a stick, a string of beads around their waist, barefoot, wondering the streets of Juba. Some invested their money in petty shops (tabulia), street vending, etc., and others worked as common labour, water carriers or involved in making charcoal. Many of those folks smoked local tobacco, ate snuff, and spat just about anywhere, cared less about cleanliness. The Dinka get intoxicated very quickly on small amounts of alcohol and get unruly. They pick fights on the slightest of provocations and often other Dinka who maybe passersby join in confronting an alleged aggressor.
Folks in Juba quickly realized this behaviour by these newcomers to the town and began to call them (Dinka) by the derogatory term of ‘Arian Jienge’, to mean backward, unkempt, display outbursts of anger and often react violently towards non-Dinka. Non-Dinka folks started to use the term loosely against each other as a form of endearment, it became fashionable. The Dinka detested it, their anger came to a boil when the autonomous ‘South Sudan’ was split into three provinces and most of them were unceremoniously forced to leave Equatoria. The ‘Kokora’ movement that led to the breakup of the South Sudan became a rallying cry for revenge, the Dinka promised to teach the Equatorians a lesson they would never forget.
The opportunity for payback happened during the war against Khartoum, the Dinka victimized many non-Dinka in the SPLM/A, a series of mistreatment that led to many deserting the movement. The anger of the Dinka did not subside after the peace deal but continued on in the interim period until today. The Dinka is a very angry man indeed that cannot be tamed. Perhaps Equatorians should disown the term ‘Arian Jienge’ just for starters.