The Nuer plight against marginalization
By James Ojoch*
Are the Nuer the pure champions of equality and fairness? Hell knows.
Dec 4, 2005 — The Nuer have voiced their dissatisfaction with the formation of GoSS (Government of Southern Sudan) and GoNU (Government of National Unity) that they were insignificantly represented. In other words, they were and are marginalized. This is evident in the Open Letter by the SPLA/M Caucus Nuer in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly to Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit on 10/26/2005. This letter is floating everywhere. All other Nuer platforms are in chorus with a very strong grudge against the Dinka Elite. In their eyes the Dinka tribe has cornered them as a revenge for the events of 1991 and also for the frequent changes of positions back and forth in between Bashir and the SPLA/M. The legacy of those changes is the SSDF which Bashir still uses as a sharp leverage needle pricking the SPLA/M to weaken it. Also the SSDF uses Bashir in the same way. The Nuer expect that the pressure by SSDF and Bashir will overcome the marginalization. But what the SSDF doesn’t want to tell is that Bashir is an enemy to both SSDF and SPLA/M. Bashir is interested in foiling the CPA. However the Nuer threat is that if the SSDF is not accepted by the SPLA/M as equal there will be chaos and CPA will crumble dead. Another threat is that if the Nuer aspirations are not met the Nuer will quit from SPLA/M to join other parties taking the minorities with them. That is the gamble to loosen the SPLA/M.
That withstanding, the Nuer have a point to ask for equal rights and representation. In fact this interim period should accommodate ethnic groups for smooth implementation of the CPA. Accordingly the SPLA/M must also find ways to get the SSDF on board to seal off the hostility for the sake of peace. Getting SSDF on board is not a defeat but a good gesture. Doing so will isolate Bashir who is now enjoying the company of the SSDF. SPLA/M is struggling with two bad guys. It would have been Bashir sitting in that position.
While the Nuer have the right to claim for rights and equality, are they democratic in their treatment of other people? While the Nuer feel the pain of marginalization and “Dinkanization” do they have mercy on minorities whom they hope to carry along to other parties? Obviously no minority will sail away with the Nuer. The minorities know how much suffering they endure under the Nuer tyranny. The Nuer is interested in building a big Nuer empire accross the Southern Sudan landscape. It is obsessed with outdated idea of conquest as the main goal of life.
To justify their claim for equality and freedom they abhor the Dinka presence in the Moro and Mundari country where the Dinka are a cause for loss of life these days. It is a good point. But the Nuer are very brutal against the Anyuak, the Shilluk, the Murle, the Burun and the Dinkas in their borders. The Nuer have forcefully occupied lands of all these tribes and call it their own even during this time of peace. The Shilluk Kingdom was devastated by forces of SSDF dominated by Nuer with the Arab gun. The Nuer have built homes in Obel and Doleib Hill which are Shilluk domains. People like John Luk Jok, Timothy Kueth Luak etc, had their intermediate in Obel School. They know it is Shilluk land. Today they are the colonizers.
The Nuer marginalization of the Anyuak is extreme. Again with Arab gun the Anyuak country is devastated and is still under siege. Today, the Nuer call Akobo their country by force. All peoples of the Sudan including the enemy Arab know it is the Anyuak land. The Anyuak IDPs want to go home. They cannot because the Nuer have built on the homesteads pushing the Anyuak of Akobo further inland. If the loss of government representation is painful to the Nuer the loss of land should be more painful to the Anyuak. Yet the Nuer are against marginalization by the Dinka. Do they really deserve to cry?
Talking about representation in government, Akobo commissioner is a Nuer. All deputies are Nuer. In Jonglei State Government and Assembly Akobo is represented by Nuer. The Anyuak commanders have been dispersed away from Akobo by the Nuer to silence the Anyuak voice. These actions were and are not by accident. It is a well planned brutal assassination of a tribe. Yet the Nuer are thirsty for equality and representation. The big SSDF is also thirsty when it has been the main cause of delay of Southern Sudan liberation.
There are several clans of Nuer in the Anyuak land today. But the main clans are the mor and the Gon. While they both have occupied the lands they fight day and night for the share of lands. They cannot mix and stay together even while in their mainland in Lou. The whole Nuer territory is full of trouble. Gajook against Gajaak. Gon against Mor, Jikany against Lou and crisscross fights. Cieng Nyajengni clan is a refugee group chased away by the another clan because of blood feud. The Upper Nile and Jonglei States are in chaos created by the Nuer.
With all the pains that the Nuer inflict on other tribes they claim to be more democratic and champions of peace and equality. If the Nuer think that the Dinka Elite caused them problems, it is the Nuer Elite causing problems to the Anyuak. People like John Luk Jok, Timothy Kueth Luak, Tap Kota, Wal Duany, James Sejin [ including Riek Gai Kok who is part of the bunch around Bashir] are the think-tanks behind the strategies of occupation of Akobo and to make sure the Anyuak don’t exist there forever. Luk Jok, Riek Gai Kok and others like Nyang Keak, Nyang Dak, Loang Puot, Gatreay Luak, Taban Luak, [sorry some have passed way], learned their first ABC in Anyuak vernicular in Anyuak schools because they were aliens to the region. Today they call themselves the real Akobo citizens without shame.
The Anyuak and the others do not oppose the Nuer claims for rights and representation at all levels of government. It is up to the GoSS to judge whether those claims are legitimate. The message to them is therefore for them to stop marginalization of others if they are also looking for justice. They should vacate the Anyuak and other peoples’ lands unconditionally. They should reverse the old ideology of colonization. The time for colonization is over with the British in 1956. If the Nuer and the SSDF want a good gesture from the Dinka and SPLA/M they must also show the rule of law to others.
Let the people of Southern Sudan see this: Lou Nuer alone have created three counties in the middle of nowhere to get more seats in government. This is a typical cheating. On top of acquiring three counties in Lou area they have taken away Akobo county. All four counties are represented by the Lou Nuer. The Lou Nuer cannot say there are no Anyuaks fit to be appointed. The fact is it was a design to seal off the Anyuak they [ Lou Nuer] are the ones manipulating that part of Jonlei State.
The message to the GoSS is to protect the minorities against the brutal majorities like the Nuer. It is a responsibility of the GoSS not to wait too long to issue a decree that all ethnic groups who are IDPs or occupiers of other peoples lands must go back to their origins of 1956. If the GoSS needs Abei to be part of the South then it should not difficult for the Southern nationalities to go back home. The Governor of Jonglei, Philip Thon Leek, is doing a great job by trying to find ways to bring back the Dinka IDPs from Equatoria and planning to disarm unauthorized people in the Jonglei State. He should also move further and quickly to effectively protect minorities evicted by tyrants from their ancestral lands for them to go back to rebuild their lives. The time now is for peace and development. The peace and development will not happen if the inter-ethnic antagonism still exists. Unnecessary suffering must cease. No Southerner must suffer at the hands of another Southerner.
* J. Ojoch is a Sudanese based in the USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org