Presenting concerns to the President is not Tribalism.
By J. Ojoch*
Aug. 25, 2006 - When Anyuak talk of rights the Lou world opens loose. Who is not territorial? The ants and the elephants and all the living things in between are all territorial. The people of Southern Sudan are no exception. All people therefore have their democratic rights to use the right avenues to find solutions. The Anyuak met President Kiir for that purpose. Let us see the Lou media and their sympathizers’ reactions.
The reaction from the Lou Nuer circles to the Anyuak Petition [to and] meeting with President Kiir in the USA has been mixed, interesting and revealing. Some of the reactions were: The Lou Nuer took the Anyuak land by force and as such the Anyuak must reclaim it by force. The Anyuak must stay on one side of the river and the Nuer on the other side. The Anyuak must be pushed further inland away from the Akobo town and the river. The Anyuak must co-exist with the Lou Nuer whether they like it or not. The Nuer have the right to be in Akobo because the British annexed the Lou Nuer to Akobo to increase the population for Akobo to be a district. The Nuer must vacate Akobo and go back to Lou which is their rightful place. The Anyuak are tribalists, separatists and agitating violence. The Anyuak should not talk about losses; the Lou Nuer lost too. Where were the Anyuak when Akobo was liberated? The President will not solve this problem.
The Anyuak petition and meeting with the President caused a lot of panic and outrage among the Lou intellectuals, especially the generation born at the wrong time in the wrong place. This young Lou Nuer generation is a lost race because they do not know facts about their origin and background of their own fathers who have not attempted to tell them the truth. They have lived in a false world all this time. They were born at a time of violence and hence their motto is violence. This is the group that wants the Anyuak to use violence to reclaim their right of land. They do not see that a government is already here. These young amateurs call the Anyuak tribalists, separatists and agitating violence. They are the hot blood who do not care about truth, love and peace. They want to maintain the dangerous pride of killing and looting.
Portions of the Lou people want to go home with respect. These are the rational ones who vigilantly see no reason to keep on fighting. They may not talk much and openly because the others will intimidate them and call cowards, a word that hurts the pride of any Nuer. In the long run they will speak. The truth will push them forward and lift them up.
Unfortunately, there are these MPs/Ministers who were once deserters and spoilers of the SPLA/M. Their statements reveal their real colors to the rest of the Southern Sudan. One of these MPs/Ministers is a wrong representative of Akobo. He is not neutral as expected of a person in that position. Instead he sided with his Nuer followers and lied on their behalf to regain confidence. He said the Lou was annexed to Akobo to increase the population and therefore the Anyuak have no reason to complain. This is an open lie and not consistent with the stature of an MP. The MP/Minister clearly wanted to downplay the Anyuak concerns by writing a false history. Note that any action taken by the British, as big as annexation, would appear in literature compiled by historians and anthropologists. It should also be available in the Sudan archives. Assume that it was true, it would have been a wrong action that cannot bind the Anyuak to a bad fate today. We are claiming Abei today because it was wrongly annexed to the North. Is this action wrong? If this MP/Minister is a man of the people who are rivaling, he should have waited to arbitrate to find common ground instead of taking sides. Where is “my prime duty to my people of both communities”? The man was simply embarrassed that the Anyuak bypassed him to meet the President while he was handily around. Worst of all he was embarrassed that the President showed him what he was hiding. It goes against his credibility as a very unreliable person.
The Anyuak lost twice during the twenty one years of war. The Anyuak were targeted by the Arabs. Any true Akobo citizen cannot dispute this. Today the Lou settlers who inflicted all this pain find reasons in thin as a defense. The Anyuak lost lives to the Lou Nuer who were hunting for land and water. They took advantage of Anyuak vulnerability. The Anyuak were fighting a war within a war. Therefore the comparison by the MP/Minister does not hold nor justified. To downplay the Anyuak plight will not also work. After all, the President already got it in black and white.
Akobo was not liberated from the Arabs. It was liberated from the proxy Arabs. The proxy Arabs were the Nuer militias like the white Army. These very militias were the backbone of the Lou community in their quest for new territories. The Arabs supplied them well to weaken the SPLA but used the same gun against the Anyuak. The Anyuak essentially was fighting a double sided enemy.
This MP/Minister is himself a good example of a settler. He is well known to the Anyuak. He learned his first A B C and 1, 2, 3 in Anyuak. He went to school in Akobo and went back to Lou area during school breaks. He did not have a choice. He was in the wrong place. He had nowhere to learn his Nuer language. Today he is the one rewriting history. The Lou Nuer claim of right to Akobo citizenry is a talk of a man with an upper hand in the events. The lion, king of the forest, said his bull delivered a calf simply to cheat the cow owner who was no match to his power. This is the thing with the Lou Nuer position. However, time is just near for the Lou Nuer bulls to stop bearing calves.
Here is another example of a peaceful arrangement for watering in the dry season. Kot Wal was a man of wits, healing and medicine. King Agada summoned him to his court to foresee his health and future. During his stay in the King’s court he asked the King to talk to Anyuak chiefs at Akobo to allow his clan access to water. The King did so. To respect the King and not to let him down the Chiefs allowed Kot Wal to camp at “Meer” where his people are found today in a more aggressive way. Meer means peace or love. The son of this great healer is alive today. If he is sincere as his father he should be able to recount this to his Nuer people. This is not annexation. It was a good will to co-exist when this clan returned to Meer seasonally.
The Anyuak are happy and honored by meeting the President. Now the whole of Southern Sudan knows their plight better. The Lou Nuer have nothing to hide or suppress anymore. Sooner or later, the Anyuak and the Lou Nuer will sit face to face to talk and iron out the false history written by the ungrateful settlers. Yes, these settlers have been behind the Arabs for a long time in their varied forms, as administrators, militias, ete., which they used to deny the Anyuak the right of existence in their land.
There is this talk of who fought and who did not fight in the SPLA. The amateur young writer [of New Zealand] said the Anyuak are not loyal because they did not fight the war. Well, if he talked of proportions he can have a point. A complete denial exposes him as immature and insufficiently informed. If Anyuak did not participate, the Anyuak did not form militias against the SPLA either as the Lou Nuer who played double standards. To this point in time, a large proportion of Lou Nuer are still spoilers of the good things that the CPA brought to the Southern Sudan. The Anyuak are still loyal. The very young writer of New Zealand is not even loyal to the SPLA that he claims to be part of. He has denied being part of the SPLA during the resettlement process in the West. If he said he fought and killed someone, he would have been denied resettlement because resettlement is for innocent refugees. The MP/Minister cited above was himself a spoiler. He represented SPLA in London but deserted and betrayed the SPLA/M to join the Nuer factions simply because it was led by his tribesmen. What is less tribalism than this? By switching back and forth he returned to the SPLA like a wife who ran away from her husband. Today he is a minister. It is a good thing because a sinner can repent and be forgiven. If the Anyuak did not fight but did not spoil anything of the movement why should the GoSS deny them the right to claim rights? The message to the young man and the MP is: do not expose yourselves too much. The old men in the USA are wiser than yourselves and know more than you thought.
Accusing Anyuak as separatists, tribalists and violence agitators is a cry of a weak person. After all, who is not territorial? The Nuer talk of Nuerland or Lou Land. Other Sudanese peoples talk of their lands. Why is it tribalism for the Anyuak to talk about land? Claiming right is not tribalism. It is not separatism either nor agitating trouble. It is democratic for any person or group of people to forward their concerns to the right authorities. The Anyuak told the President that their voice should not be heard by violence. Where is the agitation for war? The whole thing is just the Nuer usual terror way of boasting and dangerous pride. If this was a warning there is a better way of doing so. Somebody must learn how to present an opposing view in a substantial manner and not by intimidation and lies.
Elsewhere in the media, the Anyuak have said that co-existence cannot come by force or cheating. The Lou Nuer do not know co-existence. They want it all for themselves. They cannot co-exist with the Dinka [Nyarweng, Powiny, etc], the Murle, the Shilluk, the Nuer of Gawar, and of Jekany. There is no border with the Lou Nuer where there is no trouble and blood. With their intimidating way of life why should the Anyuak accept cheating and forced co-existence? Worst of all, the Lou Nuer clans cannot co-exist. The Mor and the Gon are at war every time. Within Mor sub-clans blood is flowing. Within Gon blood is flowing. There is a crisscross of feuds and yet they are are very territorial. In Akobo itself there has been much bloodshed in between the clans and sub-clans not more than two months ago. It is a sorry state of affairs that the young Lou Nuer amateurs live in a cloud of history. Where is the democracy and fairness that all amateurs and Lou politicians talk about? Cultivate those things before forcing co-existence with other tribes. You are still behind the steps of the centuries.
Without further delay, the reader must go home with the following. The Anyuak are very happy that they met the President who listened very keenly to their plight. The ball is with the President who would not want to hear of violence. The Anyuak are dealing with an ungrateful neighbor. These are new times, however, that the Anyuak wisely approached the President stating that they did not want their voice heard through violence as already happened elsewhere in the South. This is not an uncommon wisdom. It is an opportunity of having a government that listens to the citizens. The GoSS is up to cleaning the house in every corner of the Southern Sudan. One of the dirty corners is the mess in Akobo brought in by the Lou Nuer unnecessarily forced settlement. The Anyuak want peace. They will continue to respect a peaceful neighbor not intruders. The Anyuak do not want a piece of Lou or a piece of their cattle. The Anyuak do not want the Lou to impose on them an aggressive life.
The Anyuak meeting with the President scored high marks not only for the Anyuak but also for all Southern Sudanese who lost property during the years of war. The Anyuak applaud the MP [Oliver Mori Benjamin] who boldly told the Southern Sudan lawmakers through the press that property lost during the war must go back to the owners and that all displaced persons must return to their rightful territories. This is in direct line with the Anyuak plight. The Anyuak plight is not simply a community problem. It is national in nature because all corners of Southern Sudan are affected in more or less a similar way. The MP/Minister [of Lou] must listen carefully. President Kiir will not as an individual draw maps. The laws are there for him to implement. He has presidential powers to declare decrees. There are many ways for the president to reign in any case. He knows clearly that the Southern Sudan will not rest until the house has been cleaned of militias, and all other notorious groups including corrupt MPs.
*J. Ojoch is in the USA, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org