An Open Letter to Uncle Ambrose Riiny Thiik, Leader of Jieng Council of Elders.

By Peter Mabior Riiny,
Dear Uncle Ambrose Riiny Thiik,

Riiny Thiik the chairman of Dinka Council of leaders (Photo: Nyamilepedia)

Riiny Thiik the chairman of Dinka Council of leaders (Photo: Nyamilepedia)

May 22, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— I hope this message would find you well. I am penning this message hoping it will reach you in good faith. First, how does someone become an elder in Jieng community? In my own humble understanding, to be an elder is not because of age or wealth, there are other contributing factors that make one to be an elder. Chief among them are wisdom and good mannerism, selflessness, respect to others, honesty, good judgment, empathy, sympathy etc. I have miserably failed to spot this characters in your organization.

To be an elder in Jieng community, you do not elect yourself, this title should have been conferred on you by Jieng themselves. But then we do not have the so called Jieng Council of Elders in our system of governance either, so where did this thing called JCE come from? We have 64 tribes with each tribe having elders, were these elders consulted when this organization was formed? If this Council of Elders was intended to be national, then how come other communities were not included, why was it not enshrined in constitution? As a Jieng man, I believe Jieng is a tribe just like any other tribe in south Sudan, we have no any other special rights to make us form an organization to govern the country. All tribes should be equal under south Sudan’s constitution. But, since war broke out in December 2013, we saw the emergence of illegal and unlawful formation of Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), whose role is not spelled out in our constitution. JCE activities have aggravated our relationship as south Sudanese and have made Jieng a victim all over the country.

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Many Dinkas have so far lost their lives in targeted killings particularly in Equatoria. While These Equatorian gangs should be condemned for targeting innocent people going about their businesses, this can be squarely blamed on how the country has been governed. One would expect your organization to extend hand of reconciliation to other south Sudanese rather than delve too much on how government functions. Your job should be bringing communities together by reaching out to your counterparts in other communities. South Sudan would heal much quicker than was expected.

Dear uncle, I have learnt in history that you had served in Sudan’s government as a presiding judge, a Member of Parliament and you also served in south Sudan’s government as Chief Justice, if this is true, then you are among very few finest south Sudanese minds with rich and diverse experience still roaming south Sudan. With all these wealth of experiences, you are supposed to be the light of south Sudan, a bank of wisdom. As an elder in Jieng community and a member of royal family in Apuk Giir Thiik, your background goes contrary to the activities of JCE. As an elder who is also privy of Dinka culture, you would remember that, theft, lies, greed, deception, alcoholism, murder among other negative things are not condoned by our culture. Are these ill practices not enough reasons to attract your attention and warrant your condemnation?

During your school days in Sudan, I believe you must have had colleagues with whom you had graduated and worked together in Sudan, I am sure under normal circumstances, you would be proud to tell them how the organization you founded, Jieng Council of Elders, has changed the lives of south Sudanese to the better, you would be proud to tell them how south Sudan became a prosperous nation under your guidance. Instead as things stand now in the country, you would be ashamed to show off anything this organization of JCE has achieved so far. We are now seeing the opposite happening with country polarized to the core, your very existence as a council of elders is responsible for sending south Sudanese back to Sudan, most so Jieng themselves. We are seeing exodus of Jieng from Aweil and Warrap to Sudan. If the very Jieng you purported to be their elder are leaving the country, then what are you elder for? To whom would you be an elder? The abstractive political and economic institutions erected by this government to favor few well connected individuals are responsible for this structural violence that has imposed poverty on otherwise hard working people of south Sudan. What is intriguing most is how you have quickly forgotten universal inalienable rights such as freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom from servitude, slavery etc. As a revered lawyer, you should be advising President Kiir to uphold all these freedoms. The very fact that you are keeping quiet is a complete betrayal of your reputation as a respected judge.

One of your JCE member, Aldo Ajou Deng Akuei, in a report in Radio Tumazuj, equated reversal of 28 states to “regime change”. What is the link between 28 states and changing of the regime? What is the use of the regime that has made south Sudanese miserable than before? Instead of being obsessed with illusions of regime change, don’t you have any other agenda that can take the country forward? Why can’t you concentrate on issues that will assuage the suffering of our people and redeem them from this unforgiving hunger and poverty? We need to see better of you as Council of Elders beyond rhetoric or else you should just disband yourself and leave. I believe you do not need unwanted President Kiir’s decrees to send you home.

The author of this article, Peter Mabior Riiny, can be reached at pmabior@gmail.com


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One comment

  • UncleD

    Peter Mabior Riiny, I read your article with great interest and came to the conclusion that this is the most candid advice one can give to his elder or statesman for that matter, be it at family, tribal and national levels. I have no idea of the kind of relationship you have with Justice Ambrose however, it doesn’t matter whether you have any relationship with him at all or not but your advice to Justice Ambrose & his JCE is commendable and I challenge Justice Ambrose with his group to read this valuable article and responded to it if they really have sense of humanity. It is not too late for them to change course and admit that the role they played/continue to play under this tribal council was wrong to save this nation from the messes it is in today otherwise, I am afraid South Sudan will be like Iraq and Libya soon than later!