Peace Assessment Report on the ‘Conflict Triangle’ of Jonglei State (PDF)


Peace Assessment Report.pdf

The following link leads you to the PDF report of the fact-finding mission assessing peace in the “Conflict Triangle” of Jonglei State conducted from April to May this year. This Conflict Triangle consists of Greater Bor (Bor, Twic East and Duk), Greater Pibor (Pibor, Pochalla and Boma) and Greater Akobo (Akobo, Uror and Nyirol). Here the war rotates in a loop of attacks and counterattacks. In this report, I made a recommendation that for the final peace to be realized, we, the youth in particular and other stakeholders in general, must join hands and heads to:

1- Convert cattle raiders to cattle traders

2- Tame rustlers into wrestlers

3- Turn chiefs into thieves.

In the following extract from the abstract of the research, I made the following analysis:

ABSTRACT

Jonglei State, the largest of the 10 states of South
Sudan, comprising 11 counties, 18 Payams and 88 bomas, has been the epicentre
of the Sudan Civil War since 1983. It is the state that released the first
bullet that ignited the over two-decade war, and is again the one that is still
releasing the last bullets despite the six-year old peace that is prevailing and
resulting – in a month’s time – into a new state in the name of the Republic of
South Sudan.

 Geographically,
the state spreads out over the world’s biggest swamp, the Sudd, and straddles the
most productive part of the longest river on the face of the Earth, the Nile.
Economically, Jonglei is host to one of the biggest wild life migrations in the
world today (Wildlife Conservation Society’s survey, 2008), and owns the lion’s
share of oil and arable land of South Sudan, still lying idle. 

Ethnically, the region boasts of having the biggest
population of the most distinct peoples, the Nilotes, of all the states. In
fact, Jonglei is biblically alluded to as one of the constituencies of the
imaginary Garden of Eden in the Sudan. The region hosts the majority of the
Southern tribes, halving the two biggest tribes of the greater region. Its
inhabitants, by human design and geographical influences, have spilled over
other states like Upper Nile State and other countries like Ethiopia.

 However, they
are still cohesive to their origins and cultures despite such strategically
dividing factors they are exposed to. Historically, Jongleyans are believed to
fit the biblical description of the ‘tall, smooth-skinned (black) people whose
land is divided by rivers”. These people include the Nuer, the Dinka of
Bor sub-tribe, the Anyuak, the Murle, the Kachipo, and the Jie.

Nevertheless, all these historical and geographical blessings
have primitively or politically been turned into a curse. Jonglei State is one
of the African regions suffering from their own resource curse. These ethnic
and geographical endowments have been turned into factors of division rather
than of unity. The region, which is peopled by  tall and smooth-skinned, black human race who
are (supposed to be) feared all over the world for their potentialities, is now
being feared for their hostilities.

It is a region that has churned out generations of
leaders after leaders, some of whom have achieved the status of prophets (like
Ngundeng) and saviours that resembles the biblical Moses who delivered his
people out of slavery in Egypt. Despite all these historical, geographical and
ethnic wealth in the region that is supposed to be the breadbasket of not only
South Sudan as an entity but Africa at its entirety, Jonglei is the least among
all the regions of South Sudan in particular, and of the Sudan in general. In
the advent of peace and the birth of the new nation, it is known to be the land
of death and misery as seen in the facts and figures shown on Table 2 (a,b,c).

The finger of blame does not squarely rests on the
colonialists or other ill-will powers that plant weeds of discord in the
region, the problem lies on the inhabitants of the land themselves. In terms of
land size, population size, education and the competence of its people, Jonglei
is among the leading. However, the question that needs to be answered by every
native of this land, young and old alike is ‘But Why the death, the suffering?
In other words, why the gun instead of the hoe? Why the rustling instead of the
wrestling? Why the campaign for fights instead of campaigns for rights?

 

QUICK FACTS ON JONGLEI STATE

Table 1

a)      State (miscellaneous)

– Land Size:                           122,497 Sq.KMs

– Population size:                 1,358,602

– Administrative Division:                             11 counties, 18
payams, 88 bomas

– Capital
Bor

– Governor
H.E. Kuol Manyang Juuk

b)
Counties (by names
and population size)

 

-Bor                                                                  221,106

– Uror
178,519

– Pibor
148,475

– Ayod
138,282

– Akobo
136,210

– Fangak 110,130

– Nyirol108,674

– Pigi
99,068

– Twic East
85,349

– Pochalla                                                        66,201

– Duk
65,588

                                                                                                                                                                          Sudan
5th Population and Housing Census, 2008


SSCSC, Jonglei State.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The Jonglei State’s diverse ethnic and geographical
background is supposed to be a blessing but is now turned into a curse. The
curse meanders in the communities in a triangle of tribalism/ethnocentrism,
Conflict and then underdevelopment/poverty.

Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is an assumption by an ethnic group (tribe)
of superiority over the rests. This is backed up by our African traditional
history and contemporary politics of numbers and tribal loyalties. Parochial
ethnicity breeds contempt of one ethnic group over the other. This results into
tribal frictions, intolerance and eventually violence, the situation more
widely believed (as seen by the peace from the speeches, expressions and
references) to be fuelling the conflict in Jonglei.

Insecurity

As mentioned above, violence is always the quickest
resort by many ethnic groups in this and other regions of South Sudan. When,
for example, one tribe is freckled over aggressions, mainly of cattle rustling,
child abduction and politics, they respond with violence. Unlike in the past
when they used rudimentary weapons like spears and bows/arrows, the communities
today use submachine guns which they acquired from warring parties who directly
or indirectly arm and re-arm the civil population. This phenomenon results into
heavy casualties on both sides of the attacks and counterattacks as shown on
Table 2. All this culminates to underdevelopment brought about by insecurity.

Underdevelopment

As the region is labelled insecure and believed to be a
no-go zone, no developmental projects venture into such affected areas. Of
course, the whole region is engulfed by fear of insecurity. When there are no
roads and other public amenities, communication is hampered. The only movement
and interaction that is taking place at the intra-tribal, inter-tribal and
inter-state levels is by the illegally armed group whose project is
destruction, not construction. This makes the state lag behind in terms of
development and standard of living.

Other Causes of the Conflict

Since the cattle rustling has been embedded into the
cultures and ways of life of the pastoral communities of South Sudan in
general, and of Jonglei State in particular, many people and poorly analytical
media have long preached that every attack is part of a cattle war. This has
blurred other causes of conflict ignored, hence inflicted much damage on the
communities. According to the responses of those the peace team interviewed,
the tribal conflict in Jonglei is fuelled by the following factors:

1-
Local and cheap politics: some politicians do take side with their
communities and approve their actions in order to win their support.

2-
Rebellions: it has been discovered that some rebels who are
fighting to overthrow either the government of Jonglei State or that of
Southern Sudan have infiltrated the local communities and influenced them to
attack other communities with the aim of enlarging the size of their movement
and punishing the tribes that are majority in the government

3-
Government of Northern Sudan: Most of the respondents in Jonglei
State point another finger of blame at the malicious activities and influence
of Khartoum in the South, which has deeply been rooted in tribal politics. For
instance, Khartoum government has been accused of using all means like politics
of divide-and-rule, money, intelligence, guns and militias to turn one tribe
against another with the intent of destabilizing the South.

4-
Land Wrangles: land disputes are probably the next top cause of
tribal conflict, next to cattle rustling, among the pastoral communities. The
leading cause comes in form of wrangling over pastures and pastureland. This
fact gives the tribal conflict a seasonal character since pastures vary
seasonally.

5-
Black Marketeering: due to break down of morals and laws, poor and
redundant youths in the communities tend to turn into stealing other peoples’
livestock and barter them with others from other communities. This fact led to
a new mafia of cattle rustling, and has significantly resulted into child
trafficking also. Murle speakers had maintained that some Nuer and Bor criminal
accomplices have sold them children, encouraging their own youth abduct more
children for sale.

Peace Assessment Report.pdf

Jonglei State is a land of myths and mysteries. I made more elaborate description of this land in my analysis, The Younique Generation Magazine, last year:

http://ustassgroup.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/younique-magazine.pdf (Page 18)

Historically, Jonglei State has been a land of myths and mysteries, writes John Penn de Ngong. One of the factual myths about this mysterious land, of the world’s largest swamp (The Sudd) in the largest state of the largest country of the world’s poorest continent, is responsible for its name: “Jonglei”. By the way, if I were the aspiring governor of Jonglei State in the year twenty20, I would curve out of the Great Jonglei a new state and christen it The Sudd, because the current state is too big to be one state or too vast to fit under one leader. As if that is not enough, if I were the president of Southern Sudan (if that name will still be valid) after 2011, I would call our virgin nation The Sudd or The Republic of Cush (consult your dictionary/geography for the meaning of Sudd and The Bible for Cush). The Sudd is not an abbreviation or a nickname of The ‘Sudan’, it is the character of our “land divided by rivers”.

In the late 19th Century, a British explorer-cum-misssionary, Sir Samuel Baker, came trailing the current of the world’s longest river, the Nile, and pitched his camp somewhere along the ‘Toic of Twic”, the today’s Paker Payam of Twic East County of Borland. That was apparently the first time the naïve natives of that area saw a white man, so they thought he was a ‘jok’, meaning a god, a ghost or a spirit. For that matter, he was a foreigner (alei), hence a foreign god or “Jong lei” according to Bor tongue. Hitherto, that historical spot where Samuel Baker (known by the locals as Ajak Bakeer or Ajak-Keer) had camped, now a Payam with its inhabitants is called ‘Pakeer’, and the campsite referred to as ‘Jonglei’, out of which Jonglei Boma has emerged. That explains according to local historians the name of the state, Jonglei state (this assumption largely depends on the writer’s reasoning, hence is subject to research, verification, or correction like any of African oral literature).

Another myth from oral historians is the name, Bor, which is directly and dialectally tagged to Bor word for flood (Aboor) or the process of flooding (Boor), whereas others attached the name to an individual ancestor’s bush camp (bur), and the likes. To the Dinka or any other African community in their traditional setting, a name is believed to influence a destiny. So unlike Cush, the name Bor is not biblical, but one wonders why it sounds diabolical to non-Bor natives of Sudan. Of course, this allergy to the name, if not the natives therein, explains why Borland is the first to start the war and maybe the last to stop it.

This piece of the planet Earth, whose soil is floating on the lake of oil, the inhabitants believe, is the epicentre of Southern Sudan’s wealth, as seen in their biblical allusion to it as ‘the land flowing with milk and honey’, or the ‘land spoiled by rivers’, and inhabited by the ‘tall smooth-skinned people’ who are troublesome. In short, Jonglei state has been described as “a paradise lost” by the Cable News Network (CNN) TV on its wildlife survey, reported on December 8, 2009.

Historically, Jonglei State has been a land of myths and mysteries, writes John Penn de Ngong. One of the factual myths about this mysterious land, of the world’s largest swamp (The Sudd) in the largest state of the largest country of the world’s poorest continent, is responsible for its name: “Jonglei”. By the way, if I were the aspiring governor of Jonglei State in the year twenty20, I would curve out of the Great Jonglei a new state and christen it The Sudd, because the current state is too big to be one state or too vast to fit under one leader. As if that is not enough, if I were the president of Southern Sudan (if that name will still be valid) after 2011, I would call our virgin nation The Sudd or The Republic of Cush (consult your dictionary/geography for the meaning of Sudd and The Bible for Cush). The Sudd is not an abbreviation or a nickname of The ‘Sudan’, it is the character of our “land divided by rivers”.

In the late 19th Century, a British explorer-cum-misssionary, Sir Samuel Baker, came trailing the current of the world’s longest river, the Nile, and pitched his camp somewhere along the ‘Toic of Twic”, the today’s Paker Payam of Twic East County of Borland. That was apparently the first time the naïve natives of that area saw a white man, so they thought he was a ‘jok’, meaning a god, a ghost or a spirit. For that matter, he was a foreigner (alei), hence a foreign god or “Jong lei” according to Bor tongue. Hitherto, that historical spot where Samuel Baker (known by the locals as Ajak Bakeer or Ajak-Keer) had camped, now a Payam with its inhabitants is called ‘Pakeer’, and the campsite referred to as ‘Jonglei’, out of which Jonglei Boma has emerged. That explains according to local historians the name of the state, Jonglei state (this assumption largely depends on the writer’s reasoning, hence is subject to research, verification, or correction like any of African oral literature).

Another myth from oral historians is the name, Bor, which is directly and dialectally tagged to Bor word for flood (Aboor) or the process of flooding (Boor), whereas others attached the name to an individual ancestor’s bush camp (bur), and the likes. To the Dinka or any other African community in their traditional setting, a name is believed to influence a destiny. So unlike Cush, the name Bor is not biblical, but one wonders why it sounds diabolical to non-Bor natives of Sudan. Of course, this allergy to the name, if not the natives therein, explains why Borland is the first to start the war and maybe the last to stop it.

This piece of the planet Earth, whose soil is floating on the lake of oil, the inhabitants believe, is the epicentre of Southern Sudan’s wealth, as seen in their biblical allusion to it as ‘the land flowing with milk and honey’, or the ‘land spoiled by rivers’, and inhabited by the ‘tall smooth-skinned people’ who are troublesome. In short, Jonglei state has been described as “a paradise lost” by the Cable News Network (CNN) TV on its wildlife survey, reported on December 8, 2009.

 

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