The Politics of Fear in South Sudan

Generating Chaos, Creating Conflict

Daniel Akech Thiong


South Sudanese analyst Akech Thiong reveals how the politics of fear lies at the heart of Sudan’s civil war, and explores how the country’s rulers have exploited fear and ethnic hatred to secure power.

When asked in 2016 if he would step down as President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir replied ‘my exit could spark genocide.’ Kiir’s words exemplify how fear and the threat of mass violence have become central to the politics of South Sudan. As South Sudanese analyst Daniel Akech Thiong shows, it is this politics that lies at the heart of the country’s seemingly intractable civil war.

In this book, Akech Thiong explores the origins of South Sudan’s politics of fear. Weaving together social, economic and cultural factors into a comprehensive framework, he reveal how the country’s elites have exploited ethnic divisions as a means of mobilising support and securing their grip on power, in the process triggering violent conflict. He also considers the ways in which this politics of fear takes root among the wider populace, exploring the role of corruption, social media, and state coercion in spreading hatred and fostering mass violence. As regimes across Africa and around the world become increasingly reliant on their own politics of fear, Akech Thiong’s book offers novel insight into a growing phenomenon with implications far beyond South Sudan.

Author Bio

Daniel Akech Thiong was born in southern Sudan (now South Sudan) and spent his early life in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. He is currently an independent consultant on the politics and economics of South Sudan, and also runs a scholarship programme for refugee students as part of the Walking Buildings Project. His writing has appeared in the Oxford Journal of African Affairs, openDemocracy and African Arguments.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Integrating Existing Approaches
  • 3. Internal Dynamics of South Sudan’s Ruling Elite
  • 4. Corruption as a Manufacturer of Grievances
  • 5. Propagation of Fear/Hate through Social Media
  • 6. Role of Coercive and Violent Tactics
  • 7. Emptying the Fuel Tanks of the War Machine in South Sudan
  • 8. Conclusion


Publication Date: 20 May 2021
232 pages


Product ISBNs: Hardback: 9781786996787

In Print

Product ISBNs: eBook ePub: 9781786996817
eBook Kindle: 9781786996824

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