Contributor's Dak Buoth Opinion

OPINION: SPLM-IO Chief of Staff Must Apologize to the People of Panyinjiar 

By Dak Buoth Riek-Gak

September 25, 2019(Nyamilepedia)I learnt of SPLM-IO Chief of Staff Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual’s visit to Payijiar County through one of our Whatsup groups dubbed, Payijiar Intellectual forum (PIF). He has already landed safely in Ganyliel town, and I presumed he is now interacting with people there. Maybe in few days to come he will visit other conspicuous places like Pathiel, Payijiar, Nyandong and Nyal et cetera.

SPLA-IO Chief of General Staff Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

Though I have not yet seen any video clip, I’m pretty sure he was warmly welcome by everybody there because Payijiar people are very welcoming and hospitable by nature. I can tell you for fact that out of five Payijirians maybe one is not hospitable. The Payijiar people are more kind, hospitable and courteous to visitors than themselves, and that is a trait which is rooted in their culture.

In those days, if you go to Payijiar and make a stop in any home for a night, you will be the first to drink, eat and sleep before anybody else in that home.

In unlikely event that someone attempt to harass or attack a visitor, the all village will fight among themselves in defense of the visitor.

A visitor in Nuer language is called Jall or Rami-jaal and s/he is often regarded as special guest in the family and the community as a whole. It is Payijiar County where visitors hardly cry foul. If you choose to reside in Payijiar chances are that you can live a long and happy life for happiness add life.

It’s been long time since I flew into exile, but I have not yet heard a scenario indicating that some of these good cultures had changed as things evolve with times. Of course, Payijiarians share these culture with other Nuer Sub-tribes and the rest of Africans in general.

In 2017, Reuters which is an International Media Group described Payijiar County as an Island of peace in South Sudan. They termed it that way because of these accommodating behaviors of its people.

As a native and son of the soil, born and rise up in Nyandong village, I must applaud and appreciate the payijiar residents there for keeping the original culture of our ancestors intact.

It would be remembered that it was the maintenance of this good cultures that have put the name of Payijiar County and its people in the global map for good and not bad. Thus, Payijiarians must all be proud. The Maasai people in Kenya are known globally for their good culture except their one culture called Femal Genital Mutilation (FGM) which has been criminalized in Kenya.

As I brings this part to a close, let me also say that it will be a remiss not to mention one bad culture of Payijiarians which is none other than ‘cattle rustling’. This is culture that must be criminalize to deter or reduce the massive loss of lives year after year.

Over the years, the Payijiarians respectably known as Gatlastang or Nyuong have been looting cattle and livestock on the side of their nomad cousins Yirol in Lake State. Also, the Dinka people of Yirol are good livestock looters. I know cattle rustling is in Yirol people’s blood. So the Payijiarians and Yirolians have been looting and stealing livestock from each other for number of years now. However, I’m now saying and declaring that this criminal lifestyle must end to save young lives for other human productions.

Anyway, this is not about the people of Payijiar themselves, let me leave some to those who had visited payijiar to say what their experiences are, though as a native I’m obliged to mentioned it.

Indeed, Payijiar County is a society, hence I cannot talk of one issue and end without touching on other aspects that are of paramount important to the same people. Sometimes, I hear people saying that Payijiarians are ‘witch-doctors’, and hence they often claimed Payijiarian’s bravery is due to their use of witch-doctors in all their undertakings. But I always dismissed these people as cowards who are uninformed on African set up.

These people talk as if they do not know that Payijiar County is place inhabited by ancient people of African descent. You will agree that in African communities, people believe in many things, and they possess other divine powers which they acquire from their ancestors from time immemorial.

At times, they use these traditional powers to settle their own wars and disputes over societal issues. In Payijiar County, there are gods of the land, water as well as god of the children who make sure that all daughters of the land must get pregnant and deliver on time.

Back to the above subject. Simon Gatwech Dual’s visit to Payijiar County is historical one. He left Payijiar in 2014 weeks after coming out from Juba in the wake of the Nuer massacre on 15th December 2013.

The day he was chased away from Juba by President Salva Kiir and then chief of Staff Gen. Malong Awan’s militia, mathiang anyor, he ran toward the direction of Payijiar while very starved and tired. And before he arrived there, the home guards led by the Payijiar county military commissioner Gen. Tap Puot rescued and brought him to Payijiar together with late Gen. Gatwech Chan alias Tangiye and Gen. Lado Gore. His pursuers, Mathiang Anyor were repulsed and chased very terribly. They were received and treated as heroes of the revolution at the time.

On arrival in Payijiar, they were accorded an overwhelming support from the residents; they received perfect treatment both materially and morally. Payijiar women group gave them wines, delicious foods and other soft drinks. Bulls and goats were slaughtered for them, and within short time they became very healthy and happy. They can testify that they not only get wines and foods but divine prayer and spiritual blessings which later resulted to him surviving and succeeding in all his endeavors.

Immediately after their wounds and bruises got healed by our traditional healers; they regain and retain their strength. After sometimes, they were airlifted to Jonglie State. And after short while Gen. Simon Gatwech was chosen as Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s liberation/ ARMY in opposition by former South Sudan vice President Dr. Riek Machar.

For six years now, Gen. simon Gatwech has been serving as head of the opposition forces. Luckily, Payijiar had been the stronghold of the SPLM-IO throughout this time.

In spite of the aforementioned outstanding performances, Payijiar leaders have been crying foul all along in the hand of Gen. Gatwech Dual and the likes. The SPLM-IO’s military and the political wings have been treating Payijiar like no man’s Island. The successful Military fighters and officers in Payijiar have not been given the military ranks and accolades that they deceive. And no single military cantonment site was located in Payijiar.

In April this year Payijiar county military commissioner Gen. Tap Puot who had protected the land and united the payijiar people for good five years was removed from his position in humiliating manner, and they later demoted him to lead small brigade in Payijiar.

At first they tried to oust the Commissioner in coup and attempted to install new commissioner in the person of Gai Riak, and when this plot did not work, they again mobilized people to do unprofessional exercise which look like an election. Eventually, the real winner was allegedly rigged out in broad day light. Good enough the allege winner has forget, forgive and move on with his life.

Those who follow the happenings in South Sudan will agree that the recent sad events which resulted to massive loss of lives and properties in Maiwut County were meant to happen in Payijiar county through the aforesaid exercise if not because the people there have unique sort of wisdom and vision that enabled them to see far.

How can one remove a preferred leader for sake of it, and suddenly imposed an election in time of war? Was that not unnecessary incitement or call for war? Gen.Tap Puot was not supposed to remove in humiliating manner.

If Gen. Gatwech is removed and demoted how will he feel and what will he decide? General Gatwech must be asked about these burning issues, and he must provide not just empty answers but real solutions to the demands of the officers in Payijiar. He must be told that he had betrayed the People of Payijiar who rescued him in 2014.

First, General Gatwch Dual must tell Payijiar people why these wrongs were devised and done in his watch while he was still the head of the military. Was he not aware, and where was he? If he was not the one doing these, what did he said after these things unfold?

The bottom-line is that Gen. Gatwech must apologies and then give orders that General Tap Puot and few others like Lony Biel be promoted to rank of Major General and or Lieutenant General. He must declare that General Tap Puot will be elevated from where he was demoted. I consider it as an insult for Payijiar not to have Lieutenant General (s) given the formidable roles they played in the ongoing struggle. Lastly, Payijiar must have at least two cantonment sites failure to which tell them they will see.

Also, General Gatwech’s going to Payijiar at last speak volumes. When US President, Barrack Obama first visited Ghana in his first trip to Africa, he was giving meaning to the work of Ghanians and the instrumental roles of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, he again visited Kenya the last because he knew they killed his dad, Obama Snr. The timing of his trip to Payijiar cannot go without a question. By the way what is his trip about?

It is betrayal of the cause for which thousand died for to give ranks to ghost officers, supporters and students merely because they are related to the people with highest ranks. They purport to correct wrongs but what we can see now is an attempt to do more wrongs should they get power.

I’m not surprise at all because I have always said that anything to do with SPLM is as bad as the bad you know.

It is now evident that the solution and change which south Sudan require will not be deliver in SPLM basket because it is bastard party whose leaders are ideas bankrupt.

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya, the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com

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