Our Communities: From Killing to Healing, then back to Killing…


One of the submachine guns used in our 'battle of cattle' rebellion against the public of the Republic South Sudan!

I am dismayed. We did not expect this! How come our communities, who fought the civil war, which brought them all the civic woes, are still dying in numbers greater than those during the real conflict? This cycle of strife is definitely fitting and befitting the description of the post-revolutionary period in Russia (former USSR) in a book called ‘Darkness at Noon’ by my favourite novelist, Arthur Koestler:

We seem to be faced with a pendulum movement in history, swinging from absolutism to democracy, from democracy back to absolute dictatorship.”

If it does not fit that, then it must not fit this:

“The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves”. (Stanley Baldwin (1867 – 1947), British prime minister. Hansard, Speech.

This, in other words, means our people who thought were now liberated enough are being dragged back to absolute annihilation. It is pathetic to see our leaders classifying death caused by their enemy within (weakness) to that caused by still our enemy without (somewhere in Khartoum). Now, not after Independence!

If we could allow the so-called northern enemy to arm and rearm our tribes by proxy, then why for God’s sake did someone declare us independent? If we know and confess that over 1,000 children and women could die in one week, then why for goodness sake does somebody try to convince us that it’s a ‘cattle battle’? If about 400 could silently die of hunger/disease in one village, then why call it ‘death from an unknown disease’? Where on earth (if not in Warrap) is there a disease which is wrapped up in myth or mystery?  For me, I think it is hunger which is wrapped up, say, ‘warrapped up’ into a malaria or cholera of the sort.

I think, in Jonglei, it is Athor’s war that is ‘jongleyed up’ into a battle for cattle by the Murle or Lou as the Jongleyans’ Hon. Speaker Chol Wal put it through Sudan Tribune like this, “He said the rebel leader is now operating in Nyirol and Uror counties, which is complicating the civilian disarmament process underway there. The speaker said Athor, a former senior military general and minister in South Sudan, was aiming to tarnish the peaceful co-existence among Jonglei’s communities.”

But these guys will never ever stop contradicting themselves or opposing one another just for the sake of doing it. Of course, former friends of Khartoumers! The reporter of the Sudan Tribune quoted another one, “In a separate interview with Uror County commissioner in Bor, Tut Puok Nyang denied the presence of rebels in his county and dismissed the claims that Athor was rearming young men in the area, calling it a baseless lie”.

Lou-Nuer 'Cattle raiders' returning from Murle on May 11, 2011. Photo by John Penn de Ngong at Akobo Airstrip.

Ok, Your Ex-cellency, if you call it a ‘baseless lie’ (I dread this word ‘baseless’ly borrowed from SAF spokesman), how about this one which I got from the real base of the information? The Lou-Nuer Paramount Chief, Gatluak Thoar, told me this in Yuai (Uror County headquarters) in May, “We all surrendered our guns to the government last year. The youth who have guns today did not survive the disarmament, but were re-armed by George Athor.” The same was echoed by several speakers in Uror, Akobo, Nyirol and Duk counties.

For your full briefingd and debriefing, click this document that I prepared with my fellow daredevils who toured the Jonglei Conflict Triangle in April, May and June this year. It is on my blog: Pages 13 through 34 of the whole PDF report. https://weakleak.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/peace-assessment-report.pdf

If our leaders think it is a slight thing that is happening in Greater Upper Nile and Warrap states, then they should ask why the international peacekeeping force is being deployed (I call it employed) for cattle rustling, while we are threatening to send our soldiers to save Somalia from their own youth. Please, Al Shabaab members in Juba (only if un/there), forgive us as you might have been doing. We are sending no youth to Mogadishu, yet, till we succeed in controlling the death toll that is higher than yours here.

Donors of Dollars…

It is equally as shameful as being the quick and first donors of dollars from our meagre oil money to save the starving villagers in Kenya and Somalia while hundreds have died and thousands have to die of hunger in our
own villages. Yet we call it a ‘modest donation, a drop in the ocean…’ as our president played with figures here!  “In this regard I wish to reaffirm our earlier pledge to contribute One Million United States Dollars to be devoted to the ongoing efforts to combat the devastating effects of the drought that has
affected our region,” President Kiir said in press statement. http://www.thecitizen.info/politics/president-kiir-donates-1m-for-refugees-in-horn-of-africa/

He further said the contribution is modest and may only be a drop in the ocean in terms of the enormous needs that have to be met and considers it as an important symbolic gesture that underscores government commitment to the region.

Sorry, this story is fit for my column, entitled: ‘Thinking Anti-clockwise’ on www.newsudanvision.com
If our leaders are really claiming to be thinking clockwise, then why put such blunders into the world media? It makes us very full fools!

Well, I would forgive somebody who would only convince me that we are ‘investing’ that one million for our international relations image-building, so that when we call our ‘harambee’ next time, they also respond likewise. But has Mr. Kibaki responded since we assisted Kenya with the same amount two years ago?

H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit (in cowboy hat) among the AU leaders after he dropped our one million dollars in the ocean as he confessed it during the harambee (fundraising) in Kenya.

Wash this space for another…

But as usual, I have another poetic illustration of the situatuon from my anthology of poetry, ‘The Black Christs of Africa’,  as follows:

Poem 62

The Summary of the War

In the aftermath of our war-peace euphoria,

Sudan is reduced into a vast village of sudatoria,

Where conflict convalescents await their fate in sanatoria,

As Doctors vendor words of war in wards of war or auditoria.

Lifespan is equated to a quarter in Eastern Equatoria.

The epicentre of conflict lies in Central Equatoria,

And war has wasted Western Equatoria,

And worn out Western Bahr-el-Ghazal.

Death is nursed in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal.

Warrap State is a war-rapped estate.

It is lakes of tears in the Lakes State.

Wells of blood swell wells of oil in the Unity State.

It’s all up and down, upside-down in Upper Nile state,

And tons of skeletons jangle in the jungles of Jonglei State.

Grave mounts outnumber the Nuba Mountains.

It blew up into blue night in the Blue Nile.

Abyei, an abyss of abuse!

Darfur: impossible to dare for!

Footnote Quote

Sudan became just another example of a resource-rich country torn by war and mass poverty—another
case of ‘natural resource curse’ (Stiglitz 2006). The ‘resource curse’ cannot be eliminated without a development process that combines growth with equity and quality of life and without the appropriate structures to govern the
development process. This is more easily said than done in the case of Sudan.

N. Shanmugaratnam

Post-war Development and the Land Questions in South Sudan

Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB)                                         

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