Between Mystery and Trust: An Emerging Issue of Prophecy Among the Nuer
Paper short abstract:
In post-independent South Sudan, Nuer people have to cope with diverse discourses (democracy, development, disarmament) and also with diverse Nuer actors (political elites, returnees, traditional elders). But a dead Nuer prophet has re-emerged as the trustworthy figure shared by most of the people.
Paper long abstract:
For the past decade, Nuer people have experienced various kinds of social transformation via development, democratization, widespread inter-tribal wars, and disarmament. Now, in the new independent state of South Sudan, Nuer people are embracing other diverse Nuer actors with different backgrounds. It is in these diversity laden circumstances that a dead Nuer prophet and his prophecies began to re-emerge and enthrall the myriad Nuer actors, regardless of age or educational backgrounds. Nuer prophets and their prophecies have played an important role in Nuer history. Among them, Ngundeng, who died in 1906, is the most prominent figure. Legendary actions and songs from his lifetime are now the focus of re-interpretation in relation to people's current concerns: not only the unprecedentedly devastating current 'inter-tribal' wars, but also the design of a new national flag and the way of voting in the referendum. In consonance with context, Ngundeng's prophecies are being re-interpreted as a trustworthy form of 'hope' and 'future'. Yet, the trustworthiness of prophecy is reliant on a 'mysterious' correspondence between the actual situation and the prophecy itself. How can a trust be constituted in the fluid realities faced by diverse Nuer people? This paper suggests that to share the discovery of the mysterious correspondence between the situation and the prophecy plays an important role in building a trust by diverse Nuer people.
Trust in super-diversity