The Salient Reasons Behind Planned Eviction Of Chollo From Their Homeland

By Joseph O. Odhok,
The Shilluk tribesmen in a ceremonial function in Collo Kingdom wearing traditional attire in 1960s(Photo: unidentified)

The Shilluk tribesmen in a ceremonial function in Collo Kingdom wearing traditional attire in 1960s(Photo: unidentified)

March 06, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– Dinkanization or Jiengnization continues to overshadow the agenda of political life in South Sudan. We need not to state the obvious as Dinka hegemony of the State is a reality that is reflected in every aspect of life in the country. The representation in the country’s political and security institutions does not reflect the demographic and geographical realities of the country. Also the appointment to public institutions is not done on the merits and credentials basis, but on tribal and partisan affiliation. In all the cases the SPLM/A and the Jieng kitchen cabinet being the ultimate Authority, with this interwoven amalgam body. The Dinka with its associates from other tribes behind the façade of SPLM party, continue to wield the strings of power in the interest of the Jieng — ­­the masters of the presumed Jieng State of South Sudan.

With the enormous powers of the president which in most cases, if not all, are unchecked, the Jieng turned the country into an autocratic State. The Party and the State organs rendered dysfunctional. It is within this political context that the jieng and their president run the country at a personal whim to further their fancy ambition of turning the country into a tribal state. And in the process adopted a strategy of alienation and if necessary lynching of the political leaders from other ethnicities who may prove to be stubborn and would dare to swim against the current. Following this policy, many Chollo political leaders and senior military and security personnel were victimized.

Those who were easy going remained to serve within the regime political structures but with no say in political matters that are deemed to be prerogative of inner core; they were merely puppets.

Before delving into details of why the Jieng decided to evict the chollo from a part of their homeland, it is worthwhile to give a brief historical background on some Chollo former liberation fighters and their immense contribution both politically and on the front and whose contributions were indispensable to the success of liberation struggle itself. Giving their profiles is very important for the benefit of those readers who might not have the knowledge of those great sons of South Sudan:

 

SPLM/A senior officials from Shilluk during the liberation war, interim and post CPA period (2005 – 2013)

Like any other tribe in South Sudan, the Shilluk made a tremendous contribution to the Liberation Struggle in all the stages leading to the final independence of the country— In fact the Akobo Incident of 1976 where the ex- Anya-nya 1 soldiers staged a mutiny killing their northern Commanding Officer and several others over the integration of southern and northern forces was spearheaded by a Chollo soldier, corporal Bol Kur who led some of the mutineers and took to the bush well before the Bor incident , the genesis of SPLM/A in 1983.

Amongst the Chollo gallant sons who played the greatest part in 1983- 2005 liberation war and whom nobody would dare to deny them this honour whatsoever are:

Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, and Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, Mr. Pagan Amum Okiech and Lt. Gen. Oyay Deng Ajak, just to mention a few.

Dr. Lam along with others such as Edward Lino played a pioneering role of founding JUWAMA — an underground movement that worked to mobilize Southern Sudanese intellectuals and students into one cohesive political body to lay the ground for liberation struggle. He was better placed to manage this clandestine movement given his teaching position at the University of Khartoum which allowed him free coordination with the students from the South who had the credit of spreading the ideas and organizing the masses in Khartoum and in the Southern Sudan Region. Lam continued to mobilize the youth and send them to the front before he finally left the country to join the other comrades on the front. He remained in SPLM/A until he quit to found his SPLM/DC in 2010.

Dr.Peter Adwok Nyaba is another revolutionary character and a veteran Anya-nya 1 soldier. Nyaba is well known for upright personality and outspokenness which had earned him the respect of his colleagues thereby allowing him to serve in the executive body of Sudanese Universities Teachers Union for many terms. After completing his field military training he was given a command of SPLA battalion which he successfully commanded and liberated Jekou from the Sudanese Army.

With the tribal hegemony of political and military affairs in the realm of SPLM/A, Nyaba chose to join Dr. Riek and Dr. Lam in 1991 SPLM/A split. Professor Nyaba held a position of Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research until July 2013. Following the Mid December 2013 crisis, Nyaba was detained briefly by Kiir’s security operatives and then put under house arrest from where he published a series of articles in South Sudan papers, exposing the government shortcomings and corruption practices. He officially resigned from the SPLM accusing it of failure of leadership and corruption and later joined the Opposition.

The duo influence in South Sudan politics before and after the liberation cannot be taken lightly. They were always vocal against any kind of injustice and stood firmly against acts of discrimination and tribal hegemony. They seemed not to bend or sway with the wind. A situation that did not go down well with the top on the hierarchy and hence their being part of the system was just a matter of political expediency and not that they needed them. There is no need to revisit the history of the movement before the CPA and its ramifications which still linger on to this day and shape the politics of the country.

Dr. Lam did not wait to be thrown out in disgrace but opted to quit with dignity and founded his SPLM/DC Party without which South Sudan would be One Party System now. Not only that but also contested against Kiir for the country’s top job in 2010 Presidential elections. By such daring action, Lam and his tribe the Chollo, in the eyes of the Jieng are becoming a threat to the Jieng Grand Project ( Jiengnization of South Sudan ). If left unchecked, they could forge alliance with other tribes and embolden their political aspirations to again challenge their candidate in the next elections and ascend to power thereby resulting in preventing the Jieng hijacking the country.

 

To counter this impending threat, the Jieng through its Organization, the SPLM/A came up with a new strategy, and that is to weaken the Chollo through pecuniary deprivation. And this would be best realized by grabbing land and depriving them from the already existing infrastructure that is the source of the wherewithal to them. The same strategy was also to be applied to the public institutions and the security sector. This explains why the Chollo in the Security Sector are deprived of promotions, are not given assignments even those holding professional positions are to work on the orders of their subordinate officers.

Mr.Pagan Amum Okiech and General Oyay Deng Ajak were the two gentlemen who for some times continued to enjoy some degree of acceptance by the Jieng inner core. Oyway, who was appointed by Dr. John Gerang as the first Chief of General Staff of the SPLA following the interim period of the CPA, and later relived of his military position and appointed Minister of State Security by Salva Kiir, rejected openly the creation of Pigi county on a land curbed out from Chollo’s. Nothing was heard from Pagan who was until then the Secretary General of the ruling party. But it is logical to make an inference that the ambiguous position of the government by not coming out with a decision to forcibly dispossess the Chollo of their land at the time could be largely attributed to the presence of both Pagan and Oyay within the regime institutions. The government position would later on change drastically with emergence of FDs and the affiliation of the second duo to it. This situation is made worse by the decision of Pagan and Oyay not to return to the country. Because of that, President Kiir driven by outrage and idiocy and with the influence of Padang and the JCE went a step further to evict the Chollo from the whole land on the east of the Nile—The land Chollo inhabited since the 16th century—300 years before the Dinka arrived in the area. In fact taking Malakal and the surrounding areas from Collo is like taking Juba from Bari and Wau from Jur. This decision is irrational and it is driven by racial hatred and long political feud within the rotten party.

Conclusion: Given the above account of events in the Chollo homeland is not to conclude that it is the only part of the country that has been subjected to cruel treatment. There are several similar others. Such as parts of Western, Eastern, Central Equatoria, and parts of Western Bah el Ghazal State, just to mention a few.

Migration of Dinka nomads with their cattle to various parts of Greater Equatoria for grazing and settlement cannot be described with something less than occupation. These uncivil acts prompted some citizens of Equatoria call on their citizens not marry off their daughters to members from Jieng communities.

The recent unconstitutional division of the country into 28 tribal states further aggravates the situation. In fact this division means building walls between communities and will only serve to isolate them from each other than uniting them. It will augment hatred and spark conflicts between communities. And even if peace is implemented it will not be durable as the animosity will transcend ethnicities and infiltrate into the army.

I doubt and so are many others that the slogan “One People One Nation” which is borrowed from South Africa is put in the right perspective. Nationalism entails Unity of purpose. It is not something you and I can impose into being without due course. It is a long process that requires cultural transformation that should be reflected in our behavior. The government has a moral responsibility to demonstrate political will and do all that it takes to allow for evolution of a hybrid culture that will make it possible for the people of South Sudan to realize the slogan it has raised and not to hijack the country and impose their backward culture of violence and thievery on the peaceful people of South Sudan. They should know that the country is already sitting on a smoldering fire. That the chances for South Sudan to continue existing on the global map or not rest with them as a tribe. To continue thinking of military victory over the people of South Sudan is an illusion that will not see day light.

Joseph Odhok is the author and can be reached through josephodhok@yahoo.com


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