Tuesday December 12, 2017

NHIAL K. WICLEEK: The Nuer Concept of Love, Integration, and Equality: A Comparative Analysis

CALGARY – For centuries, the Nuer concept of love, integration, and equality has been of significant importance on an individual to collective viewpoint. The reason being that Nuer concept of love, integration, and equality is derived out of spirituality and connectedness with the most high (Kuoth Nhial). Generally speaking, Nuer are the most feared people of divine spirit in the history of humankind. This is the evidenced by historians whom, for the first time, had delved into Nuer society from 1920s through to 1980s with some expressing interest in Nuer culture today.

To further extent, the Nuer concept of love, integration, and equality is markedly associated with power of divinity and its supremacy. The conceptual frame of reference is that God is the supreme creator, the spirited being, omnipotent, and supernatural, and cannot be challenged by earthly divine. This, for the nature of such concept, delineated that we are all created by God. Association can be seen with creation theory if considering, with higher regard, the genesis of humankind. For such reason, the following can be seen with beliefs that:

1) People are created to love each other,
2) Integration equates harmony, and
3) Equality equates humanity.

Moreover, the concept associated with the three principles such as love, integration, and equality set the bar higher because they are regarded as significantly important. These three terms encapsulated the important cultural values and societal transparency to Nuer. Societal transparency in this context refers to series of engagement and deep regard for the existence of the many circumstances for which people begin to build trust among each other. Such principles go beyond the rich of any cultural values; accepting the moral concept philosophically that all humans are equal. With equality comes acceptance, with love comes integration, and with integration comes humanity. The aim of this paper is to discuss the important cultural concepts of love, integration, and equality. Further analysis will be put to their meaning, comparison, and their fundamental function to Nuer society. What make them important will be looked at through social, cultural, philosophical, religious and psychological view points.

Concept of Love

The Nuer concept of love is deeply rooted out of curiosity for divinity. We are all God’s children and so we must love each other no matter what. Simply put, no one should claim s/he could make up a family, a community, or a society without the others. To accept the existence of certain beings, one must subscribe to integrity as a term and begin to approach humanity with care and harmonious view. As the saying goes no one can clap his/her hand without the other truly employs the concept of integration in order to make up a family, community, and society. Even though environmental explanation considerably accounted for such expression, the love concept is yet to be found from within such concept. To Nuer, I love you means you are of great importance, of great help/support, and of great contribution to my being in this world today. Therefore, I cannot live without you or exist without your presence. Conceptually, it is to be noted that this concept forms the basis for family to emerge/exist. Love intertwines with integration because it accepts the fact that we are all humans no matter what. If I love you mean you are my equal and can generally express it without showing discriminatory views against you as an individual being. I can attest that the same creation I came through is the exact same way the others have passed through and so I am not worth it of devaluing other individuals of my kind. This concept is generally found in Nuer society. The collectiveness the Nuer have simplify its arithmetic with great assurance that Nuer are of unique character. Even so the concept exists in other societies, the concept actually came with assurance that Nuer are of different beliefs and cultural values across humanity through their love for divinity and realization of God’s creation. In order to understand such cultural style, one must accept to live from within Nuer society or consult with a Nuer person.

Concept of Integration

The Nuer concept of integration originated from trustworthiness of God’s creation, and that all living beings are from him, and that they are of the same species and cannot discriminate against each other for they are of values. Such expression can be supported by the quote “naath dial diethke ke elor ka paarke ke ciang mala amani cugnkien,” literally translated “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Multicultural Community Services of Central Australia, 2013; p.8). Philosophically, there is a high degree of free will here, and can generally amount to acceptance without setting criteria to earn it. To Nuer every person is free and deserves acceptance. Nuer always say, you don’t have to disintegrate because you are equal with anybody. Others to ensure a new person is fully given a consistence love and a full sense of acceptance into the society can accelerate social adjustment to new a culture of host. Contributions can be made to help support the new person into the family or within the community emotionally, socially, and psychologically. Nuer concept of integration is to allow a new person feels home and meets some inheritance. Any child from a different family background has the same right as the biological one. In time of death, the head of family will divide his properties equally, and so an adopted child is not the exception.

Concept of Equality

The Nuer concept of equality is very psychological. It is a mix of religion and psychology. Emotional fears are bestowed upon Nuer by the heavenly divine spirit and equally regard all humans as equal before God. As far as the concept of equality is concerned, Nuer tends to regard equality with high degree. The reason is that any living beings created by God with exception of animals which are also regarded as important species, deserve equal value (e.g., cattle). For example, “God is the father of all men in two respects. He is their creator and he is their protector” (Evans-Pritchard, 1995; p.1). Such can also be seen with their love for cattle. Nuer always say, a cow is a gift from God to man; meaning, man cannot live without it. If a Nuer man tends to humiliate or begin to act abusively against another, the other may intervene by saying “you don’t fear God?” The intention here is that you are not the creator, and for that reason there is no way you can abuse or humiliate God’s living creature.


The Nuer concept of love, integration, and equality closely intertwine. The concept of love to Nuer signifies the important principle that makes Nuer people unique. Love is a binding pillar that brings together Nuer people from all walks of life using their genealogical lineage or kinship. Community relationships are lamented because of love.

Similarly, integration plays a key role in forming the basis for outsiders to be fully accepted into Nuer family. Without integration, many of the diverse people originally from different tribes and cultural backgrounds could not have been integrated. Nuer integration of others is very unique. The reason is that Nuer accepts somebody regardless of his/her race, color, culture, and religion. Preconditions (e.g., mat muot – literally means – independent inclusiveness) are set once a person is accepted into a family while respecting an individual autonomy.

Last but not least is equality. Equality to Nuer, fundamentally forms the basis for which they understand each other. Universally, equality to Nuer represents the moral concept of not being superior to the others because we are all created equal. Therefore, I have a right to living, freedom of expression, and a right to press. Intimidation has no value because it does not serve the purpose of us being created as human. Such can be protected by being acceptance/tolerant for each other so that we can love one another, integrate our beloved fellow human into our society, and equally give them the opportunity they cannot have from where they come. Finally, these are the core values Nuer as people believe in.

NOTE: The Opinions expressed herein are entirely for the author of the article. The Upper Nile Times did NOT endorse these views.


Nhial Korow Wicleek

Is a commentator for The Upper Nile Times. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta. He is currently doing graduate work in Professional Community Rehabilitation & Disability Studies at University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta. You can reach him for any question/comments at korow1st@yahoo.ca


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