Response to Dancing with a wolf: A reflection on Gambella Politics

By Mr. Ujulu,


The newly police headquarters of Gambella, 2009(Photo: file)
The newly police headquarters of Gambella, 2009(Photo: file)

Dec 7, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — I would like to gratitude Mr. Choul R Kompouk for his article “Dancing with a wolf: A Reflection on Gambella Politics”. He articulated the problems of Gambella’s politics eloquently as an intellectual who understood the root causes of the problems. He spoke well on government injustice toward Gambella people and some leaders who ruled in the region.

However, I found some fallacies in his article which made me to respond to his piece of writing. He failed to address some issues fairly which I think he needs to re-consider his view on Gambella politics as an elite.

The fallacies I have found in his articles are as follow:

Migration to Gambella from South Sudan
He attempted to re-write existing history dating back the arrival of Nuers’ in Gambella to 17th and 19th century. I think it would have been better for him to put the word…..respectively. In particular when he said, …….” both the two ethnic took a U-turn to Gambella administrative region. I think there were no Nuers in Gambella in the 17th century even in Nyiuum the present day Nasir in upper Nile South Sudan. Nuer’s arrival in Gambella was in 19th century. If I ask him who were ruling Bure and Shebel between these two tribes by this period of the time, would he give me the name?

My argument is that as a scholar he shouldn’t re-write the history according to his interest, but the facts. I am not arguing that Nuers are not citizens of Gambella. Forget someone who has born in one locality, even a refugee do claims citizenship as far as he lives in that locality for some years and has properties. It depends on government policy. I think no shame to say I am living on Anywaa land provide that you are included.

Charges against President Omot Obang

Gambella people accused former President Omot Obang of many charges as listed by Mr. Choul. However, I disagree with him on one of the following charges and pay attention to one of them as I quoted it here:
1.    Master minded the killing of innocent Nuer in 2002, 2003 and 2004 in Ochom along the Baro River when he was head of Police Commission,
2.    Participate directly in repatriation of Nuer who resided in Ochom village and other parts of Gambella areas for more than 15 years back to Jiokow and Akobo districts, a violation of the constitutional rights of Ethiopia citizens

I will be on the same boat with him on the first charge, and pay attention on the second one. The first charge which is “the killing” is a crime and there is no one to be immune from being charged if he committed it. My argument here is, were only Nuers killed or there were some Anywaae too? If there were Anywaae killed by Nuers why Mr. Choul failed to mention them in this charge? As far as I knew, the killing mentioned here did involve both tribes. Some culprits of Anywaae and Nuers did the killing along Openo River including Ochom. There were victims from both sides. Mr. Choul should not fail to make a fair judgment and implicated only Anywaae and President Omot Obang?

By the way I am not Mr. President Omot Obang supporter not his stooge who follows him.

The second charge is a charge that I won’t buy. It is the core issue that create problems among two tribes for years. The reason is very clear to both of us. Nuers wants to take the land and assimilate Anywaae on their ancestral land which is something I believe is wrong because Nuers have their own land too. I can see his point arguing on traditional beliefs and government land ownership or reform policies made by emperor and Derg governments in comparison. Both past governments and the current one differ in logical principle (private land, land to the tiller and government own land or lease).
However, whichever form of stance he or anyone takes still there is private ownership of land. If we look at the reality it may makes the Nuers’ communal land ownership belief out of the window.

For instance, if Anywaa goes to dha Adura and find empty land and claims it without asking the Nuer’s elder or chief whether the land is own by somebody in the community or not; what would be the reaction of Nuers? Nowhere in Ethiopia or any nation in the world where you can claim an empty land because you find it empty.

Even though Nuer believe in communal land ownership, no Nuer could go into somebody land he has cultivated or grazed on it for years and claims or tills it without consent of inhabitants because he found it empty or no activities have been done on it. I think there are rules and regulations we do follow. Otherwise, we would be inviting problems. I can cite the conflict between Lao, Gajaak and Gajook Nuer over grazing land as an example.

Therefore, what happened in Ochom, really, was wrong. It reached to point where Nuers’ culprits would go out not stealing, but took Anywaae mangoes by force. If you are stealing you have a sense that there is owner. Even they craved their names on Mangoes trees as if there is no one who had planted them. This was one of the causes of conflict between the two tribes which is something we have to eliminate to bring meaningful co-existence among our people.
I believe this was the case of repatriation which became a charge against President Omot Obang. If this was the case and it was, Mr. President Omot Obang who took a legitimate action. He was nipping the root cause of the conflict at the bud. There is no point for the people to kill each other for nothing while they can exist in their respective localities peacefully. The question should have been asked, what had made Nuers to come to Ochom? Was there a problem? If there was a problem, it has to be addressed by the government to avoid such useless confrontation that waste our innocent people lives.


Mr. Choul attempted to claim that Nuer struggling against GPLM (the Anywaa led party) was a liberty to minorities in the region leveling GPLM’s struggle to zero sum. I would challenge this view because without GPLM he wouldn’t have a right to struggle for what he is claiming today. I would say, let him talk about regional power sharing inequality, but not liberation. Any tribe in the region was liberated by GPLM despite the bush mentality of I am the boss or the one who struggle I should get the lion’s share which is the principle of their master EPDRF.  Even though, everybody in the region didn’t get what he wants by the time, at least everybody was represented in the administration. I think without GPLM none of us wouldn’t get anything or go anywhere. The point I would like to make here is give credit to good work done and disprove the wrong one, but don’t generalize.

Bragging about Nuer’s supremacy:

The worst fallacy I could see in this article is the statement,……”Should the Nuer of today forget the rich history embedded in the struggle for the change in Gambella politics, it will be a systematic mistake in exchange for seat; a seat that will not recover the losses Nuer incurred in the process of climbing the top leadership in Gambella history and name recognition.”
I don’t think this is a good move that would bring us what our people are looking for. It is a motivation to develop endless division. I wouldn’t buy such kind of idea to exist among Gambella people. Mr. Choul is inviting common enemy to prevail forever in the region. He cannot rebuke the government and GPLM on lack of equality and democracy and on the other hand, called out Nuers to cling to the power. When he said, “it will be a systematic mistake in exchange for seat…” What does he mean? Would he be different from both parties he had blamed that they hadn’t done enough in respecting the rights of Gambella people?

I do believe in giving power to the right person who is elected democratically and not to hand picked person as we have experienced for the last 23 years. We should not be stooges to central government (EPDRF) or betray and kill our own people to climb the ladder to the top. Leadership should not be reprehensible, but should be based on merits. A leadership should be given to a person who can give back to people who have elected him to the post and not because he/she is Anywaa or Nuer. If this is the case we have learnt nothing from the mistakes of EPDRF and GPLM.

In conclusion, I do believe that I and Mr. Chuol have to be ambassadors of peace and stability in our region. We have to preach peace and co-existence. We know who our enemy is and what strategies he has formulated for our demise. It won’t bring comfort to any of us in the region if we are looking for fame, supremacy and dominance. For time being it seems worst for the Anywaa and excellent for Nuers, but it will come for Nuers the next day. Then nobody survive at the end. We have already sipped from the cup of the hell as a taste of what is awaiting for us. Please let’s encourage spirits of unity rather than division.

Related article: Dancing with a Wolf: A Reflection on Gambella Politics

It is responded by Mr. Ojulu. You can reached me at Ojulu_O@hotmail.com

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