Re-respond to Dancing with a Wolf: Reflection on Gambella Politics

By Ojulu
wolf640Dec 21, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — I would like to thank Dr Chuol very much for his respond to my respond to his article “Dancing with a Wolf: Reflection on Gambella Politics” In respond to his re-respond, I would like to address some of his mistakes in pervious discussion and new issues which he fails short of knowledge in regards to Gambella history and general events.

In responds to his points of argument in this article, I would break down his arguments in following titles:

Migration and land ownership

Dr. Chuol on his argument on migration he ascertained that he did put the world “respectively” in his statement. I would thank him very much for admitting that Anywaa is the first who inhabiting the land. However, there are two issues he has mentioned in his argument which I disagreed with.

First he argued that, “the Gambella land is ancestral land for all the Gambella people (Majengir, Komo, Anywaa, Nuer and Opo) period! The highlanders are also part of Gambella people since the Federal Constitution of Ethiopia stipulated loud and clear the rights of every citizen to live anywhere in Ethiopia provided it’s within the Ethiopian sovereign land”  and refer  to  my migrating to Australia to back up his argument.

Here I would say no Anywaa had denied any indigenous people of Gambella from living in the land. However, in any nation there is territorial division based on geography or inhabitant’s culture and values. There are clear demarcation of borders for each tribe living in that nation.

I think this is what Anywaa is following as a norm when it says this is Anywaa’s land. Having said that Anywaa did acknowledge land ownership of each tribe in the region and has no problem with most of them except Nuer who believe in no man land, it doesn’t mean that Anywaa hasn’t move to others territories which I will come to it later.

In regards to constitution as he put it, the constitution asserts the rights to live, but not to claim somebody land. Gambella people have right to live in Oromia, but they should not deny or abuse Oromo’s ownership of land. As a citizen you can own a plot of land if the locals/government have given you the right, but you shouldn’t pick up a fight over that land because you own it. You have to respect your neighborhood and live peacefully.

In reference to my migration to Australia and exemplifies Australian Aborigines case, I would assert Dr. Chuol that I have right to live in Australia, but not to claim a piece of Aborigines’ land. It is something I would never ever attempt to do. Even the British (White Australians) who did believe in terra nullius idea (no man land as Nuer did) when they migrated to Australia were proven wrong by Aborigines in Mabo case in 1992 which forced Australia government to change its constitution and acknowledged or recognize the Aborigines landownership.

Further, on February 13, 2008 Australia government did apology to Aborigines for the atrocities they had committed against them (stolen generation, their family and community at large) since occupation of their land to the present.

The equivocal Nuer’s expedition up to Gojjam and U turn made because of tsetse fly, tick and smallpox needs citation. Otherwise, it will post a question; from where did Dr. Chuol brought this history? I did study Ethiopian’s history book twice during my study in primary and high school. I can see from his academics background he is an art student; he should have come across Ethiopian’s history. What I found daunting is the reason for U turn to current position of Nuer. Despite the unavailability of this information in Ethiopian’s history, the reason given makes the argument unbelievable when we look at breeding areas of tsetse fly in Ethiopia.

I believe tsetse fly would not reverse Nuers from settling in Mountainous Party of Ethiopia. Is Dr. Chuol telling me that Ilubabur, Wellega and Gojjam don’t raise cattle? As far as I knew the tsetse fly areas in Ethiopia are in South Omo refit Valley, Western Wellega and Baro-Akobo basin which Gambella (predominately low land areas). Maybe, I haven’t learnt his history in Ethiopian’s history because Gambella’s history is not covered in depth in most cases. He might bring this kind of claim from anthropologies works on Nuers in Sudan which I haven’t read any of them yet, but as scholar he better cites his sources to convince the reader.

Killing and repatriation charges against Omot Obang

Dr. Chuol said, I have watered down the killing in Ochom as retaliatory action against Nuers. Nothing happens spontaneously without a cause that triggers the action. To my knowledge the event took place after Anywaa who were waiting to be registered as refugees by ARRA were killed by Nuers at Ochom.  It was this incident that triggered the killing of each other and some petty attacks along Openo River.

I made it crystal clear when I stated in the last piece of writing that nobody is immune from crime. Whoever kills won’t be free from being guilty. He/she should be brought to justice regardless of his/her ethnicity.

I think my message was, don’t point your index to Anywaa only, but to both Nuers and Anywaa who had committed the crime. Dr. Chuol shouldn’t be bias and judgemental because he is from Nure tribe. What is wrong is wrong no need to find excuses to get away with it.

When I come to President Omot Obang case, I would like to post a question to Dr. Chuol. Why he is alleging President Omot Obang now? Anywaa was telling the world that President Omot Obang was a killer and they filed a case against him in 2004.

On the contrary, Nuers were praising President Omot Obang for his good governance and awarded him with the so-call “Ambassador of Peace” which made him to brag of his excellent administration in the region on media.

Here is an idiom from Amharic language which says, “After hyena has passed, the dog barks”. For those who don’t have Amharic knowledge they might find it offensive, but its simple meaning is “cowardice”. Where has Dr Chuol been for all these years?

Assimilation or expansion

Regarding assimilation or expansion Dr. Chuol argued by the same token that Anywaa had assimilated and expended its territory to Majanger and Komo’s territories claiming that Gambella town was inhabited by Komo.  Abobo and Gog was inhabited by Majanger.

I don’t think Anywaa is interesting in assimilation. His gut knows it very well. If this was the case, quarter of Nuers’ population should have been Anywaa because of inter-marriages. However, the reverse is true. If Anywaa hasn’t assimilated Nuers, how could they do it to others? Anywaa has a nature/culture that won’t assimilate others. If Anywaa got mixed with others tribe the Anywaa identity will disappear and that tribe identity will be recognised forever. Someone may argues that Anywaa is a racist, but on the other hand it’s a golden idea to recognise others identity, culture and values rather than assimilation.

As Dr.Chuol mentioned that the assimilation process between Anywaa and Nuers was peaceful. Why there is clashes like what he is publicising now? People who settle peacefully won’t have resentments nor fight each other, but love and peaceful co-existence. That is what we have witnessed among Komo, Majanger and Anywaa in the past, but not now when divide and rule policy became the norm in the country. Even though the situation changes still there is no regular clashes among them.

I can see here Dr. Chuol lack knowledge of the areas he is talking about. Anywaa do have a clear demarcated landmark with Komo and Majanger. If Anywaa enter others land they do recognised ownership of its inhabitants like “Po Komo” and “Po Ojang”. Komo’s land is well known to the Anywaa (Pokong and Geme).

When we talk about Gog, Gog is a large district extended up to South Sudan border. Mostly it has no connection with Majanger except one Kebele “the Gog Kebele”. The same in Abobo district it is only Okuna Kebele that has connection with Majanger. These two Kebeles do recognise Majanger’s ownership of the land. They reserve the locals’ villages’ names contrary to Nuers who do gives names to existing Anywaa’s villages.

Lack of resource in Nuer land

In light of social cost Nuers had suffered in term of lack of resources mentioned, I did ask in my first respond that what brought Nuers to Ochom. I did express that the government need to address the problem which made Nuer to leave their own vicinity and come to Ochom.

Lack of resources is something Dr. Choul wouldn’t blame it on Anywaa. It was the regimes that left us in the dark. All of us were in the same boat. The education we got was either via missionaries or government. There was one elementary school in Nuer area and two in Anywaa area run by missionaries and one elementary school for each district throughout the region which run by the government. Here Anywaa may have got more than Nuer because of their number in the region. We didn’t have access to education in all villages as we wanted them, but they were only opened in areas where government set Police post for the children of policemen in service.

Another problem was making use of these facilities. I think each culture did play a role in limiting the number of students attending these schools. Nuer wants their children to look after cattle and Anywaa wants their children to look after farms keeping out the birds from eating maize or sorghum.

However, there is something Nuer should not take for granted. Anywaa has paid great contribution in educating and providing health services not only to Nuers, to all tribes in the region.

In my life time in the region, I knew only three Nuers’ teachers and two Nurses. The remaining were Anywaa and highlanders who provide services in Nuer’s land despite the rough conditions exist among Anywaa and Nuer. To remain Dr. Chuol there was a time when a Nuer student was killed by false identification among those who went for illiteracy campaign because he didn’t has marks. He was mistaken for Anywaa.

I bring up this history to tell Dr. Chuol that all of us are contributors to the problem including himself.  If he is keen enough to solve his community problem, this is the right time for him. He shouldn’t go to South Sudan while he don’t has any problem with current government as he asserted to me leaving his people behind which he is advocating for them on web page.  He should have been with his people constructing schools, clinics and hospitals to catch up with Anywaa.

I personally, do believe that lack of resources is one of the problems made Nuers not to settle in their own localities. But how do we solve it? Is it by encroaching on Anywaa’s land or going out and bring the resources to Nuer’s land? I will prefer the second to avoid conflicts and to develop Nuer’s land.

Nuer’s liberty, innocence and kindness Vs Anywaa’s criminality

In regards to liberty, again I made it clear last time that we have to praise GPLM for good it has done and condemn it for wrong done. Dr. Chuol wants to deny the contribution of GPLM in liberating Gambella People. Well, this is not worth debating issue, fact speaks for itself.

In addition, Dr. Choul argued that GPLM didn’t liberate nobody nor a village. I think it worth praising somebody who have done something than somebody who sits back waiting for opportunities to come. Opportunities won’t come without sacrifices. GPLM has struggle alongside all Ethiopians’ oppositions in the North as well as at home to topple Derg regime, even though it hasn’t capture a village. Its’ participation in the struggle to free Ethiopians made a name to Gambella people.

Furthermore, Dr. Chuol amplifies Nuer’s assistance to Anywaa during December 13, 2003 genocide. Well, any normal person with conscience this is what he has to do when somebody is in that kind of situation. It is not something to beat a drum about. If this is an issue, what about 1991/92 when commander G/Heiwot massacred innocent Nuers who were boarding a bus to Itang at bus station and surrounding? Some Nuers were hiding in Anywaa’s houses in Owelinga. Won’t that qualifies as a kindness of Anywaa or it lacks kindness criteria in his evaluation?

Secondly, Dr. Chuol attempted to make Nuer too innocent towards highlanders and refugees and brought trivial information which he has no idea at all. He accused Anywaa as a killer of innocent highlanders and refugees without knowing what Nuers did to both. To my surprise, who does Dr. Chuol want to please with this statement? Highlanders or Dinkas?

Of course, there are culprits who kill for nothing and some who kill of a reason. Either Anywaa or Nuer does the same thing. Let me remind him of what refugees did to Anywaa in Itang, Akado and Pinyudo in the eve of Ethiopians’ New Year in 1989. We have mass grieves of Anywaa massacred by the refugees as evidence.

If Dr. Chuol wants to highlight Anywaa’s criminality, what about the following incidents?

In 1991 Nuers were misled by Prophet Ngun-Deng and took deadly attack against highlanders in Itang killing all they found on their way. This incident became a reason for commander G/Heiwot to take wrong action against the Nuers at bus station and attacked Nuers using helicopter gun-ship later in Jikaw. Did Dr. Choul forgot this event or ignored it as a nonsense?

Regarding refugees, in 1984/85 Nuers did kill Dinka refugees on their way to Itang along Openo River in Jikaw in supporting commander Gach tut’s war against SPLA.

Who is Dr. chuol trying to fool here? Is it highlanders or Dinka refugees? Maybe he might fools Dinkas, but not highlanders. I think highlanders are in better position in documenting the events. They knew what atrocities Anywaa and Nuer had committed against them and what they had committed against us. When, where and by who the atrocities had been committed.

Another false information he disseminated, was his implicating Ato Ojulu Ogala with the attack on Caam village that killed innocent teachers.  Ato Ojulu Ogala as far as I knew him he was not a teacher in 1978 in Akado. He was studying in high school in Gambella town. He has no connection with attackers in Caam village which Dr. Chuol re-named as Chotgur. Ato Ojulu Ogala joined GPLM in 1984.

Double taxation

This is something ridicules if really those who pay double taxation were citizens. Dr.Chuol knew about Ethiopian’s constitution that allows any citizen to live anywhere he/she wants to live. He knew one person pay one time to taxation office which is paid to Waredas/counties’ finance offices. Why he allowed his people to be exploited by Anywaa in his present? This is 21st Century every citizen knows his/her right even though our societies are backward in education. They are well informed in one way or other by government officials.

I think the bottom line was those paying double taxation were not citizens. They might be Illegal Nuer’s refugees who were bribing Anywaa’s chiefs to live in the region. I don’t think there are chiefs this time in Gambella because Dreg regime abolished chieftain/king administration all over the country in 1975. To who are they paying tax then?

Why am I double tax in my own country without legal action? If this is true, well your argument on no man land and Ethiopian’s constitution on land ownership went out through the window again. This means there is a legitimate land owner in Ochom who tax those living under his administration. And most probably, his friend/classmate President Omot Obang whom he is accusing now because he is from Pinykew where Ochom is located.

Finally, even though Dr. Chuol has claimed my statement as his, I realised that he understood my point of argument when he said, “Mr. Ojulu Cham as educated and well versed with the lives of both the Nuer and Anywaa plus the rich customary laws should have acknowledged the past mistake committed against the Nuer and condemned the GPLM in the strongest term possible instead of branding the GPLM as the liberator”.

It seems I did repeat myself again in this article from the above when I said, praise GPLM for good done and condemn it for wrong committed.

In conclusion, I would like to let us work together to resolve our differences to pave a foundation for our societies. I don’t wants to see Nuers moving from place to place. I am sick with word “Zelaan” which means nomad an insult inflicted on us by highlanders. I need Nuer to settle in one place they call home and develop themselves.

We have to avoid further confrontation which lead us to nowhere. It doesn’t matter who own the land; there is a shadow looming over indigenous of Gambella; all are going to hell soon or later if they keep pulling apart. We need to re-think and know what ahead of us and formed strong solidarity to tackle the obstacles to our survival in our ancestral land.

Thanks Dr. Chuol and see you in the next discussion.

This piece is written by Mr. Ojulu. You can reach me at Ojulu_O@hotmail.com

One comment

  • Afera Alemu

    I think this piece of work is one I would want to read again and again. The fact that it is not detail makes sense. Had Ojulu talked the details of Majang Vs Anuak, Highlanders Vs Anuak, it could have been hate speech. So it is good to forgive the past for good reason and work hard to unit the indigenous Gambella with no intention to fight back highlanders but to catch with what is lost and missed opportunities in the last 24 years. More importantly to bring back the glory of the indigenous people of Gambella. It is sad to hear that Anuak have lost chief system for what ever reasons but I would say Anuak still have strong traditional leadership mechanism, so work on that to bring the glory of Anuak. I thank you Mr Ojulu for your decent response, but slightly harsh towards Dr Choul’s personal opinion. I can see Ojulu can do better than this and bring a solid argument about how people in Gambella can live together in harmony, with mutual benefit and with determination to save the generation from disintegration (Particularly health including HIV, peace and security, poverty and luck of standard education (both traditional and modern)).

    Thank you Ojulu for the briefing

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