SUNDAY QUESTION: Does ‘J’ Stand for ‘Jieng’ or ‘Jesus’ in that ‘Parish’?
In 2010, I raised a concern about the naming of our church as ‘Emmanuel JIENG Parish’, which is one of the parishes of Juba Diocese. As a member of the church, I wanted to take the matter up to my pastor, Rev. Philip Aduong Thiong, after a non-Dinka friend of mine made fun of it (Jieng) in reference to my poetry book (The Black Christs of Africa)’s dedication that reads:
EMMANUEL J. CHRIST,
HE, SHE, IT,
THAT IS LAIN
Front cover of my first poetry work, The Black Christs of Africa, whose title should not be borrowed into the controversy of localizing the church and government into e.g. Jieng, Black, Africa, etc.
The friend asked, “What is that ‘Jay’ in your dedication?” I answered in a nursery school line, “J is for Jesus!” So he laughed and dropped his tone: “I thought it was for ‘Jieng’ as on the label of that former Greek cinema hall christened ‘church’!”Of course, that irony has left the areas called ‘Hai Cinema’ instead of ‘Hai Kanisa’ after the church took it over.
I was silently offended but had to swallow it. Trying to mobilize a good quorum from among the intellectual membership of the church, one told me, “Where were you when it was passed by the church council? You’ll be taken for a spoiler!” He warned.
So I quit that ‘activism’ against that partly ignorance and partly tribal blunder of this naming the church with that name. After all, I convinced myself that we were ‘revenging’ on how the ‘Bari Parish’ administration oppressed our ‘Jieng Congregation’ till Garang Deng Aguer (of the defunct Alok Company bought and donated that cinema hall to his people as (Maybe) part of his fortune’s tithe. What puzzles me is why the owner of the church i.e. Jieng (Oops sorry), Jesus, allowed Garang’s business empire to disintegrate! Well, I was of the name ‘Jieng’ or ‘Jesus’.
Mama Rebecca and Dr. Majak in front of the Congregation in Emmanuel Parish in Juba by the time of the woman’s protest.
Before this Mama Rebecca versus Achol Ngarjok’s saga, I was told the name ‘Jieng’ was just dropped following the invasion and politicization of the so-called ‘Jieng Council of Elders’ into the name. So why are writers of this unfortunate disgraceful fracas in the church still using the name ‘Emmanuel Jieng Parish’, which was dropped sometimes back?
By the way, my concern was not only in our ‘Jieng’ name being used in religion and politics but also in the phonetics or technical sounding of the name. It actually appears as if ‘Emmanuel Jieng’ was a certain South Sudanese saint or church legend like Daniel Deng Atong, Archibald Shaw or ‘Machuor’, the founder of Protestant Christianity in South Sudan. Thence, I would request that the name be reversed or reserved till later as ‘Nathaniel Garang Parish’, in case we continue shying away from giving God what is God’s and Caesar what is Caesar’s. I mean, if we are too mean with the name, then let’s bestow it upon ‘Nathaniel Garang’ instead of ‘Emmanuel Jieng’, which has no role in the evangelization that brought about the civilization of this nation.
This is the gift I offered Bishop Nathaniel Garang upon his recovery from Nairobi Hospital in August 2013. Instead of honouring our tribes, let’s honour our nationalists and heroes as such.
As if that is not enough, let me grab this chance to tell my brother Deng Bol Aruai, who is campaigning to localize the founder of this nation, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, into just a ‘muony-boor’ (a Bor hero). How? By agitating that the name of the proposed new ‘Jonglei State’, which comprises all the three counties of Bor communities, he is saying so. For me, I am saying no! If there is such a desperation to change names, then Dr. John Garang’s name is equivalent to that of the Republic of South Sudan, not the state of Bor or Jonglei. He fought for the liberation of the whole Sudan, leave alone South Sudan. So where does one get the sense of Bor or Jonglei in the name of ‘Garang’ without South Sudan? I would rather Deng Bol, whose pro-government projects of the Red Army are getting wilder everyday, had campaigned for the ‘Republic of Garang’, which is proportionate to South Sudan. Ha, this ‘Jiengization Virus’ is spreading, whallahi!
Should the communities of South Sudanese Christianized tribes pray in their own customized churches as the PoC sites’ label shown in the UNMISS camp above…and also as reflected in the ethnic division of the country by President Kiir and the Jieng Council of Elders recently?
Before the conclusion, I recommend that you read the linked article on Paanluel Wel blog, by Maker Garang Makol, here. http://paanluelwel.com/2015/12/03/politics-deeply-embedded-in-emanuel-jieng-parish/. It exposes the naivety the natives of this land (Bor) are subjected to through the not-so-proper propaganda churned out by our leaders. If a writer like this (Maker Garang) can ignorantly or intentionally miss the point as such, why then do you blame the woman whose mind was stuffed with that political garbage and not cleansed of it before the peace implementation kicks off (with prayers over Mama Rebecca Nyandeng)? I mean it is the role of the church, the civil society and the intellectuals (non-politial ones) to heal our local population of the poison pumped into their minds by the politicians and the trauma brought on them by this war of greed.
And the first dose for this healing is telling the TRUTH. e.g. If the poor woman was aware that Nyandeng belongs to the Former Political Detainees and not Riek’s camp, the SPLM-IO, where Mabior belongs, she should have not mixed things up, unless the intention was otherwise. She should have known before hand that Nyandeng cannot come with Mabior because they are not in the same group, something nobody even told her after the mistake. This is the hypocrisy Jesus condemns in our churches and communities of the present day South Sudan: hoarding the reality in the face of adversity.
Here, read the article and save the guy from misleading our people further in the advent of peace, truth and reconciliation. Otherwise, with this deliberate ignorance of what happened before, during, and after the December 15 war, we are headed for truth and humiliation!
The picture that I took outside the church with its name bearing ‘Jieng’ after the referendum in 2011.