Contributor's Opinion South Sudan

Nostalgia for Malakal

By Gwado J. Ador,

Women burying the deads in Malakal, South Sudan(Photo: file)
Women burying the deads in Malakal, South Sudan(Photo: file)

March 04, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— The feeling of nostalgia for homeland has been increasingly intensifying in my heart, while there was no any glimpse of hope for peace in the horizon.

Unbridled politics coupled by the use of subversive government machinery made it impossible for many of us and particularly our relatives set foot to the town we owe all our lives.

For the happy-go-lucky Aloungs, Chwangs, Jwacs, Thons, and Thucs, there was the momentum of ultimate joy, because, they were able to realise the long-cherished dreams of being in Malakal and other areas of their choices in the Collo Kingdom. Thanks for Salva Kiir ‘s unwavering decision to pay back in kind for tribal support and loyalty.

And for us ‘the Sons and daughters of Malakal’ obviously, the decision to award Padang the entire Collo land on the East bank of the Nile was the worst nightmare we have ever had since the independence of the whole Sudan in 1956.

As a matter of fact, such decision carries with a lot of prejudices. Basically, it means Collo by any stretch of the imagination, would not be able or allowed anymore to resettle or rejoice the habitual cultural activities and the ritual rites in the beloved land of their ancestors.

Following the sad incident of December 2013, Malakal town fell under Dinka practical occupation. The Kiir’s led-government prevailed declaring the town belonging to Padang. As a matter of principle, President Kiir allied with his cousins from ‘Ngok Dinka’ believing in the saying, ‘blood is thicker than water’.

At every opportunity, SPLA forces supported by foreign allies relentlessly and indiscriminately shelled Collo areas and the displaced camps using thus draconian methods to suppress and to keep Collo out in the wilderness.

For the last four years, most of the Collo surviving families, including children and elderly in appalling health condition were confined to UMISS protection camp under their mercy.

In the process, many who tried to venture outside the UMISS, especially women or minor girls looking for firewood or something to fetch for cooking, risk their lives or end up being raped.

As strangers in the newly acquired land and environment, Padang entrenched their grips to resettle, resisting thus any attempt by Collo people to set foot again or even to claim properties in Malakal.

Furthermore, they have vehemently opposed any idea aimed to discuss or to reverse the decision, which gave them legitimacy over Malakal as their rightful place.

Thus, their actions to change the landmarks, and features of the town have taken different turns.

Padangs however, managed to accomplish their desired change in Malakal within a span of short space.

The hurling of events in changing the names of the streets and features of Malakal took Collo people, other political observers and the entire South Sudanese by surprise.

By and large, the changes were fast and enormous and they surpassed all the norms and procedures known in the history of the internal disputes and land grabs.

Buildings were demolished, and a new survey of the town was swiftly carried out, perhaps to erase certain features, and partly to prevent Collo owners from returning home.

Discreetly, Trees were uprooted and the official plots’ registry in the department of the survey were tempered with, and altered. New plots in place of old ones were awarded and handed out to Padang members, including allies from the North. There was a fast track of everything, and everywhere was there feast to celebrate this big gain and achievement.

In the hindsight, people fought bitter wars against their oppressive governments or foreign thieves for such behaviour and for being cheated or neglected. There were many examples today in Africa and elsewhere around the world.

Currently, Collo people feel the same way and vowed to fight for their rights on an end. Undeterred Collo sons and daughters have pledged to fight and recover the confiscated land from the grips of Kiir and his ‘Jieng Council of Elders,’ (JCE).

In Collo land, young men and women were mobilised and bound to fight to the last drop of blood until the final restoration of every inch of land still under occupation.

Yet still, Collo are determined not to leave a stone unturned in searching for justice and bringing about a lasting peace in that part of South Sudan.

Whether he did it unknowingly or not, President Kiir who usually issues ‘such lethal and life-changing pronouncements’ from his comfort zones in Juba might probably have come to terms with the long lasting negative impact on such decisions. The Presidential order No. 36/2015 however, has already caused lots of damages and havocs in the country.

Sadly enough, his reluctance to reverse the establishment order or engage in a serious and meaningful dialogue show lack of concern to resolve the ensuing problem in the country.

Ironically, he is determined to proceed with his scheme of Denkanization of the whole country. This is done by altering maps and encouraging members of his Dinka community to resettle wherever they chose as dividends for liberation.

Beyond any reasonable doubt, many people from the aggrieved communities have come to the conclusion that Kiir and his JCE have destroyed everything. The communal cordial relationship, including the sense of nationality, which was regarded by many South Sudanese, as sources of pride were not any longer being perceived as before.

Against all the odds, his government staggered to stave off looming threats facing his leadership. Often it uses bribes to silence his opponents or entices corrupt systems to extradite dissidents from abroad. It engages mercenaries to fight on their behalf in most of the eternal disputes.

In fact, his leadership was hit to the core by a number of crises; including economic failure and looming hunger leave alone the patchy sustainable defeat on the battlegrounds. The last wave of resignations among his top generals who hailed from other ethnic origins could be cited as an example.

Hence, The brave ones among the generals came out openly challenging Kiir’s leadership. In their latest statements of resignation from SPLA to the press, the Generals Thomas Cerilo, Henry Oyay Nyago, Khalid, Yau Yau and others resented the way things have taken shape and called for Kiir’s removal.

However, the stakes are very high, the discontent was not only felt within the army ranks and files, but the entire population of South Sudan were also tired and fed up with the appalling conditions in the country.

Generally speaking, other ethnic communities loathed the set-up of the government. They have extensively and openly spoken out about it, particularly, the issue of Dinka ethnic domination of top ranking positions in every facet of life.

Although President Kiir casts himself today as the leader of all the people of South Sudan, he consistently claims innocence and would always want to appear distressed or very serious searching for peace and harmony.

However, Kiir’s latest calls for convening a national dialogue or national prayers day were not seriously taken by many people in South Sudan, because of the devious mechanism set and the people behind them.

To many people in Upper Nile, his recent call for dialogue or prayers was regarded as a ploy. They have argued saying if Kiir was really genuine, as a good gesture, he would have had scraped his Order 36, and then dissolved the JCE from existence and as non-constitutional.

As a former freedom fighter, presumably, Kiir should have had known every corner or tribal composition of some areas in South Sudan. He should have known which tribes have the dominant presence in some various major cities of South Sudan and how did this come about. At least this would have discouraged him from the tendency of occupying other people’s properties.

The fact that he lived among Collo people in Malakal as a young intelligence officer, but unfortunately, and after becoming the President, he developed sentiments of dislikes and prejudices against them.

Apparently, his hatred might have been triggered by circumstances known to him alone. However, he was always found bias tipping the balance in favor of his Dinka fellows in every contested area.

Invariably, Collo people don’t like him either and don’t believe in him anymore, because of his segregative attitude and negative motives toward the Collo people of Malakal.

Similarly, the people of South Sudan who overwhelmingly elected him following the successful referendum are even more disgusted. They don’t like him too. They are fed-up with Kiir’s ways of handling affairs and would want him just to pack and quit the stage.

Although Kiir has failed to provide an honest platform for mediation between Collo and Padang over Malakal, Collo is yet still committed to dialogue and peaceful coexistence in that part of South Sudan.

Ultimately, Kiir should be held responsible and account for all the lapses and crimes against humanity. His deeds, including the poor management of the affairs, have proven very disastrous and divisive. Surely, his actions had already cost the people of South Sudan dearly.

Like any dictator known in history, Kiir will soon leave the stage in disgraceful manners and not sorry for. He will most likely go down in history as the worst leader ever known and certainly, without any comeback or glory to proclaim.

The author is a concern South Sudanese. He can be reached at gwadoa@yahoo.co.uk

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