THE WINDS OF CHANGE ARE BLOWING OVER EQUATORIA

By Dr Lako Jada Kwajok,
Community Matching in Eastern Equatoria....

Community Matching in Eastern Equatoria….

Jan 10, 2015(Nyamilepedia) —- We have increasingly observed of late that a wave of change is slowly but inexorably spreading all over Equatoria. A sort of revolt against the current situation or simply what happens when you push people too far. It’s also a change in the way the indigenous population view the government in Juba. It’s not simply that the government has run out of favour but rather a growing awareness that its actions made no distinction between it and an alien or a colonial regime.

There is a lot of anger particularly among the youth of what has become of Equatoria. The main reason is the insecurity that is rampant all over Equatoria. Innocent lives are being wantonly lost on a daily basis; in fact, could be by the hour in the capital Juba. Equatorians have shown unmatched endurance over the past 10 years. They have been very patient believing in light at the end of the tunnel despite being at the receiving end of horrible acts. They have had enough, and all the indicators are pointing towards a consensus that something needs doing.

The change does not seem to be a well coordinated or organised movement under one leadership but rather multiple small uprisings all over Equatoria against the regime. This step is overdue but not a surprise as it’s typical of a nonviolent society. Violence is always the last resort in Equatoria while it’s often the first resort in other parts of South Sudan. This attitude is something to be proud of as it reflects our rich cultural heritage in addition to the influence of religion. The fact that resistance movements are emerging from different corners of Equatoria is a testimony that our folks mean business. The sleeping giant has finally woken up.

It’s good that all the Equatorian movements have declared a ceasefire in respect and recognition of the peace agreement including the movements that did not join SPLM/A-IO. Let us give peace a chance with full implementation of the compromise peace agreement. If done in good faith, it will certainly result in a lasting peace in South Sudan.  But regardless of what would unfold following the implementation of the compromise peace agreement, Equatorians have three fundamental issues that need addressing without delay. On the issue of insecurity that is rife all over Equatoria – the time has come to address it head-on. It’s unacceptable to allow others to change the way we live before our own eyes. Following the independence of South Sudan, the people of Equatoria thought the time to enjoy the fruits of freedom and liberty has finally arrived. Little did they know that what they thought has been achieved, and tangible would quickly turn into a mirage.

You are not a free person when your life is constantly under threat and you live in a state of siege. When a villager in Equatoria is unable to live in his village and till the land as his ancestors used to do since time immemorial; you know that the situation has spiralled out of control. The prevailing insecurity has forced him to abandon his village and move to town. He is a farmer and has got no other qualifications. How can he earn an honourable living in such a new environment? This poor villager who was previously self-sufficient has now been condemned to abject poverty. The regime has created a situation contradictory to its cliché ” Bringing towns to villages.” Instead, we have witnessed movement in the opposite direction where Village communities have moved into cities and towns.

The Equatorians are law-abiding and God-fearing citizens. They tend to solve their problems using peaceful means. But it makes no sense at all when you stick to that in the absence of rule of law. It’s even self-defeating and an exercise that works to your detriment. This is happening on the background of armed communities in the rest of South Sudan except perhaps parts of Western Bahr El Ghazal state. I have even lost count of the Jieng militias and armed youth groups. The Nuers have the white army that gained some international publicity by engaging the Ugandan army ( UPDF ) in combat. The Chollo and the Murle are decently armed and capable of defending their territories. It’s only the Equatorians and some western Bahr Ghazalians who are defenceless.

The principal duty of a  government is to provide security to all its citizens. I don’t think there is any reasonable person who disputes the fact that the regime has miserably failed to provide security to the people of Equatoria. To make things worse, it’s following a double-standard disarmament policy where the non-Jieng communities are disarmed while the Jieng are left to acquire stockpiles of arms or be armed as well. There can be no real peace if this situation continues. Peace can only prevail in a state of total disarmament or the opposite of it namely mutual deterrence. As the government has clearly failed to deliver what is expected from it, Equatorians are left with no choice but to take care of their own security. All options should be on table including forming vigilante groups or local militias to defend themselves.

Equatorian leadership has been the subject of discussion among Equatorians for a little while. The common theme is that Equatoria lacks effective leadership at the present time. While this may be partly true, It’s by no means the whole truth. I do believe that leadership is not an exhaustible resource. It has never been proven that nature ever left a generational gap where a community was devoid of capable leadership. There are always able leaders in any community; anywhere and anytime. What Equatoria lacks is not effective leadership but leadership backed by military might. We are under the reign of a kleptocratic regime that uses force to intimidate, coerce or liquidate its opponents. There is no room for a democratic debate regarding what is best for the country.

In fact what is best for the tribe has replaced what is best for the country. Equatorian leaders should abide by the rules of the game. Otherwise, they would continue to be irrelevant regarding political power. They should strengthen ties with their communities and do a proper homework. In 1935, the French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval allegedly asked Stalin to improve the situation of the Catholics in the USSR to avoid a quarrel with the Pope. Stalin with his sharp sense of humour asked, ” The Pope? How many divisions does he have? ” It depicts the mentality of a dictator and the man at the helm of our government is no different.

The third issue is where do we go from here? What are the options? Historically, Equatorians are the pioneers in the struggle for independence of South Sudan. All the wars were mostly fought in Equatoria. We have contributed heavily both in terms of lives lost and material destroyed. All this happened by fighting the real enemy and not our brothers. It’s disconcerting to see how Equatoria has been relegated by the regime to the third position despite the fact that it leads South Sudan in many aspects of life. Again this relates to the Stalin’s joke mentioned above – something that we could overcome in near future. It must be clear to everyone that Equatoria is the entity holding South Sudan together. There can be no South Sudan without Equatoria though the reverse is not necessarily true. We have embraced the compromise peace agreement wholeheartedly not because super powers forced us to accept it as some sceptics would like to say.

It’s out of a genuine belief that despite its inadequacies, it remains the best possible option to stop the carnage. Having said that, we should though be wary of what could happen 3 years from now. The creation of the 28 new states is akin to letting the genie out of the bottle. Thus, it would continue to pose a threat to the unity of South Sudan. Our bottom line should be real federalism, and should be regarded as a deal breaker if not adopted and implemented. The national cake would be divided proportionately according to population size in each state. Likewise political representation in the federal government would also be proportionate to population size in each state. In that context the Jieng could have as many states as they want. That would be their prerogative though they would run the risk of spending a large chunk of their revenues on unnecessary and unproductive state government positions.

There are those who throw at us lame arguments and excuses that a federal system of governance would need a lot of money to implement that we do not have. Well, do we have money to run the newly created 28 states?! Again some would say it would lead to secession and disintegration of South Sudan. This notion does not hold water because the leading world powers are federal governments. The truth of the matter is that the sceptics have ulterior motives centred around domination of other communities through a decentralised system of governance that is not federalism. The carving out of chunks of ancestral lands from other communities and awarding them to the Jieng is a recipe for a state of continuous war in South Sudan. Equatorians do not want to be part of it. We have already lost a decade and would not allow more of the same to happen in the next decade. We should not allow ourselves to be held hostage to communities supporting leaders who are borderline lunatics. Equatoria should have a plan B in store where it could take full control of its own destiny or forge unity with others in what I would call ” Unity of the willing.”

The author, Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, can be reached at lako.jada@hotmail.com

12 comments

  • well written article, very informative

  • Tolio

    Jiengs neither invade Equatorians nor annex their lands. The new states in Equatorians are all for Equatorians, not Jiengs. If they are fully developed many villagers will move into such urban centers to enjoy urbanization rather than living in Medieval rural areas where their lives are always caveman like. After all nobody would wants to stay in the bush when they should live in modern towns.

    Chollos,Juurchol and some Nuers claim their lands are annexed to Jiengs are liars. All tribes know their borders very well. Dinkas have never been landless in history and they don’t want other people’s lands. Claims that President Kiir annexed the lands of other tribes to Dinkas are politically motivated and a propaganda to fail any good initiative from Dinkas based on tribal hatreds.

    Some who hated Dr John Garang for leadership hate President Kiir for the same purpose that they are all Dinkas.

    Those haters even try to discredit the SPLM spearheaded by both Garang and Kiir simultaneously by saying they didn’t bring the independence of South Sudan when there is no doubt they had worked rentlessly putting more military pressure on Khartoum and ensuring we got the CPA which led to our independent more than they did while fighting on behalf of Khartoum.

    The SPLM is an equal opportunity movement. If people stick with it since they joined it,they deserve a respect. People like James Wani and others don’t have any disputes with anyone because he doesn’t think on tribal lines like the rest.

    People should trust their government. In the west governments developed the whole countries through states. Citizens can live and work in any state they like. They don’t have issues like – this is a government of white/black people or because you are a black or white person from such particular state/town, you must not move to another town/state to buy a house,live or work there,because discriminations like these have no place in their societies. In South Sudan, it is like because you are Dinka you have no right to live and work in Equatoria or even pass through Equatoria as a trader from Dinka tribe using the public road to go Uganda without being accused of taking over Equatoria.

    Before the independence of South Sudan, the capital city for all Sudanese regardless if their regions or tribes was Khartoum. Many of the all tribes chose/choose to live and work there. South Sudanese were never told to stay in Juba,Wau or Malakal because they stemmed from those places. The same goes to Nubians or Darfurians.

    • Log

      Tolio, we are fed up of your lies. The government of south Sudan have shown their weakness in leadership and if by election, no body will ever vote for Kirr again. No body trust the government of south sudan, except the Jenges and their JCE. People of South Sudan need real change and ever lasting peace.

  • Sambala Kutekimang

    Thank you DR. Jada, You have said it all, I wish you can stand to propagate this good ideas and share it through the news papers, Equotoria conferences and other avenues. May God bless you and give you more wisdom to chart the way forward. We need a change to the status quo.

  • Wedjuba

    Thanks Dr. Lako,

    Something must happen in Equatoria. We just can’t afford it any longer. We’ve been too patient, for too long, putting the lives of our fellow Equatorians at continues bondage.

    Equatoria must converge and THINK DEEP!!!. Enough is Enough!!!.

  • The issue of 28 states will died alone. Do not allow yourself to be scare by the names. the initiators of such weak ideology must keep silence or face international community as well as south sudanese who belief in unity and diversity of our people.

  • DINGIT NA TUGGÖ

    tolio, you always go like a lame person. who in south sudan do not know the history of land grabbing? who in south sudan do not know about imprisonmnet of many people without any reason. who in south sudan do not know that citizens are short to death because they talk the fact?

  • DINGIT NA TUGGÖ

    tolio,

    last time you insist the galant SPLA/M-IO will not be in Juba. Now you know that you are pvoved to be a defeated bird. Today you get very farious by giving false reasons defending your tribe though you know very well that no any country on earth has a president who listens to council of advisers from one tribe. Can you name to us such a country? what i know is that advisers are selected according to the background of their studies. But in south sudan, the jenge has to take the whole job. Is it not shame on you who claim to be educated?

    Today when you hear equatorians talk you get so agressive. Let me point it out to you that we are not satisfied by this rule and we are not going to give up or keep silent and you are not going to stop us or silent us. And this is how it is with us people who are used to lead a peaceful life.

    tolio, have you really been in the western countries? If yes, have you ever withnessed nepotism in Scandanavia, USA, Canada, Australia like the one of jenge in south? Please do not decieve yourself. your lies are read by equatorians who live in the modern world, you have to shut your mouth.

    We need a true democracy not autocracy. we need respect to human rights, we need freedom of speech. we need a government where citizens have rights to say their opinions. Has kiir asked our opinion when he came out with the decision of creating the 28 states? answer me you idiot tolio. I know you will never answer for you did not answer me about the presents of the SPLA/M-IO in Juba.

  • DINGIT NA TUGGÖ

    tolio,

    mark the call of the people of this country, OUR BOTTOM LINE is A FEDERALISM. We will not stop in the middle of the road before we reach FEDERAL RULE. It is going to happen and everybody knows this very very well especially you because you already have an experience of my comments. What I have been telling you is happening right in your face. Hope you are not an old man so that you withnessed the ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FEDERAL SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY. tolio, enough is enough. This country belongs to all and who are you when all want FEDERAL RULE? You have been doing negative things in this country including killing of innocent citizens, do you think there is another bigger crime than killing your own people?

    Already you know that the peace is getting on well which will be followed by accountability of the massacre in Juba. This means some of your uncles will be found guilty. How will you defend them? Will you tell the world that the innocent cilvilians killed were thieves like you? I know you will say that because you always say bad things are the good ones. I do not blame you for this is the way how you are created but mark my words. We will never give up until real FEDERAL RULE AND TRUE DEMOCRACY IS ESTABLISED in South Sudan. Waiting to hear from you…………….

  • DINGIT NA TUGGÖ

    tolio,

    any village in Greater Equatoria is better than any of your dinka town. We have to develop our areas the way it suits us and it must be through FEDERAL SYSTEM and we are satisfied with our 3 states, not through your tribal 28 states. You have looted the whole money of the 10 states, where will you get the budget for 28 states? why dont you have common sense or logic to reason?

  • DINGIT NA TUGGÖ

    log,

    thank you so much. good that you already know the lies of poor tolio. Let him remain in his mura convincing his jenge council of elders to believe him not us. It is good that the reforms are on the way and soon the FEDERAL RULE. No any vote to jenge hahahahahahhaaa

  • Gero

    Thank you Dar Jada. You have relieved my mind in that I’m not alone in the race to find peace in our land Equatoria. The Jienj were angry when woe used to call them ‘jenge’ this was because we didn’t know how to pronounce Jienj. They have come up with their hidden agenda and real color plus the language of understanding so why then can we not speak their language so as recover our land from them before it’s too late. Our we prepared for Neocolonialism by the so-called Jienj Council of Elders? Don’t we have Elders in Equatoria? And what and why are we holding our hands in silence since we now know their language? Let all Equatorians awake from sleep for a battle of real freedom and independence. God bless.