Need for language conference in South Sudan to review and implement “the Rejaf language conference resolution, 1928”

Riak Lual Tiir/PHOTO: suppliedRiak Lual Tiir/PHOTO: supplied

Opinion by: Riak Lual Tiir

On 9 July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan got her independence from mother Sudan after a long struggle, 1947 to 2011. Thank goes to the people of South Sudan and particularly to the ruling SPLM party, the international community, and the regions. After independence, English was officiated as the formal language of instruction, in the council of ministers, parliament, judiciary, diplomatic mission corps, and Juba Arabic or Konyo Konyo Arabic as a second official language.

In the Southern region, Sudan; around 1928, the friends and regions presided over the Rejaf Language Conference on April 9, the governor-general of Sudan declared the conference open with an attractive message read by Matthew. The note acknowledged the noteworthy and crucial necessity of crafting a united system of orthography.

‘’An orthography’’ is a set of conventions for writing a language.

Orthography includes norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation. The delegates considered four (4) critical points on top of the agenda of the discussions:

(1) To draw up a classified list of languages and dialects spoken in Southern Sudan.

(2) To make recommendations as to whether a system of group languages should be adopted for educational purposes and, if so, what languages would be selected as the group languages for the various areas.

(3) To consider and report as to the adoption of a united system of Orthography. It is suggested that the most practical means of attaining this end is to consider and report as to whether the Memorandum issued by the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures can be adopted with or without modification.

(4) To make proposals for co-operation in the production of text-books; and the adoption of a skeleton grammar, reading books, and primers for general use.

Moreover, among the active participants were representatives of the American Mission in Southern Sudan, Church Missionary Society, Italian Catholic Mission, Africa Inland Mission, governmental officials of Sudan, Uganda, and Belgian Congo; (RLC 1928, 5).

Subsequently, the Rejaf conference to discuss local languages in Southern Sudan recommended six (6) local languages: Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Bari, Latuka, and Zande. The conference found that Acholi and Madi have related dialects with Shilluk (Collo).


There’s a need for a language Conference in South Sudan to evaluate, debate, and implement ‘’The Rejaf Language Conference Resolutions, 1928’’ and fix which language to select as national languages in South Sudan.

Just to mention few nations with diverse cultures but endorsed one local language as official and accepted by the nationals; Malaysian speaks Malay, Botswana; Tswana, Ethiopia; Amharic, Senegal; Wolof, Rwanda; Kinyarwanda, Namibia speaks Oshiwambo (Oshiwambo is dialect for Ovambo people) as an official working language. The Republic of South Sudan is 9-year old to 10, there is a need to recommend one native language as instant after English to supplant Juba or Konyo Konyo Arabic which is only spoken in Juba Town.

The writer is a South Sudanese national; former teacher and former local government administrator in defunct Jonglei, Eastern Nile, and Central Upper Nile States.

A situation analyst and researcher, he could be reached via or +211917553660

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