Chadi Michael Contributor's Opinion


By Chadi Michael,


Mass graves discovered by the United Nations in Juba a few days after the Juba massacre, thousands of Nuer were killed and their dead bodies were either burried in mass graves in Juba or loaded in trucks and dumped outside Juba (Photo: Nyamilepedia/file)
Mass graves discovered by the United Nations in Juba a few days after the Juba massacre, thousands of Nuer were killed and their dead bodies were either burried in mass graves in Juba or loaded in trucks and dumped outside Juba (Photo: Nyamilepedia/file)

May 23, 2018(Nyamilepedia) — This war has instilled a rift in the family and friendship, a discouraging phenomenon. A rift filled with dislikes, spitefulness and restrains on moral conscience. This is due to the fact that this war isn’t genuinely based upon construe politics as usual or ideological divide but an outright tribal conflict. Some can add that financial incentives explain why so many good men have chosen silence over voicing concerns with its ethnically-overtone and adherence.

It’s a war of survival, fear, and subjugation. I use these terms in their literal meanings because an ideological war often pits family members against each other but no serious harm is done. Minor missteps and overthrown personal attacks can easily be wiped out over a bottle of beer and a cheye, a form of Sudanese barbeque. Survival itself plays the central role in answering the brutish nature of the conflict. Innocent people are caught in the crossfire, deliberately massacred or forced out of their ancestral homelands with no fault of their own. Their guilt was being born into some ethnicity with the most wanted fugitive in the land.

The scale of devastation confirms the worst fears among the civilians as uncertainty rings louder in their minds. They are forced to live in total destitution in the swamps and bushes of the unforgiving savanna of semi-arid landscape. There’s nowhere safe for the civilians to hide in South Sudan as the newly purchased amphibious tanks now makes the killers’ task a lot easier. But why do they have to bear the sins of another man? Is ours any longer the country our loved ones died fighting for? The war is very deadly and has already claimed so many lives in the tenths of thousands based on inconsistent estimations. It’s not something people should take lightly. A relative of mine who continues to appease this tribal government in mute once told me something a few days into the Nuer Massacre in Juba.

“Important people were killed in the last few days. My life isn’t important than theirs. They can do anything to me if they want at any time because I have no bodyguards or means of protection at my disposal.” Despite the imminent danger to his personal security, he chooses to stay with the killers. The translated version can’t be said to reflect his exact words in Nuer but the meaning I confess was what he was trying to convey to me under heavy surveillance. His message is almost an admission of truth that the war was partaken by quest for extreme vengeance achieved by way of ethnic targeting.

A man I once looked up to now becomes his own prisoner of moral retreat as he grapples with several questions on his mind. Whether to risk everything he worked for by joining the rebellion, to fight another war and return to Juba a loser after a compromised peace that now puts his personal security at even greater danger. What benefit is there in the rebellion? Why should I care if they kill others? Why should I risk my own neck for them? What do I get out of returning to the life of squalors? These are some of the immediate thoughts that run through the minds of those who find appeasing the dictator is more profitable and rewarding than speaking out against the massacres.

Telling the truth as it happened. The rebellion can’t compete with a government that controls the resources of the country. A government that pays alien troops to help fight its war. But one’s moral courage can withstand any threat of death or amount of destruction unleashed upon him.

The first responders, the white army mobilized itself out of the need to rescue stranded members of Nuer community in the capital. People who were at the mercy of Mathiang Anyoor and Dinka vigilante groups who set up illegal checkpoints across the city in order to control the movement of people and identify members of Nuer ethnic. This didn’t happen by sheer coincident. It was carefully premeditated.

The touting of victims, the sadistic and gruesome slaughters bring so much agony to the survivors. It was a sad tragedy that will take perhaps a generation or two working really hard to mend the broken hearts and broken bodies of those who outlived the atrocities of the war. It will require more than just the nation-building strategies. Unless the victims are returned to their original position through retributive justice or redress of wrongs. Or, they will continue to live with the memories of their loved ones murdered in cold blood.

Rwanda 1994

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Genocide — PROOF: Media for Social Justice | Photojournalism | PROOF

In current Rwanda, there’s a sense of relief, tranquility, acceptance, and the embodiment of diversity because the victims found forgiveness in the end. That forgiveness didn’t suddenly happen. The targeted ethnic, Tutsi with the support of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, majorly consisted of Tutsi ethnic with military aid from the Ugandan regime of President Museveni ran out the incumbent, the atrocious Hutu-controlled government. This put an end stop to the Tutsi nightmares and eventually altered the killings.

In our case, the victims have been denied their victory, many survivors of the Rwandan genocide enjoy today. With the powerful UPDF, Tutsi rebels swept across Rwanda liberating towns after towns speedily. The same man who helped end the genocide in Rwanda, intervened on behalf of the perpetrators to accelerate the killings and displacement of South Sudanese. Now how can anyone in their right mind say the Ugandans’ intervention saved lives? How can anyone say their intervention stopped the ethnic cleansing? Some politicians out of invested financial and political interests seem to draw some parallelities between the Rwandan and the South Sudanese exterminations. They choose to maniacally suggest that Museveni and his purchased army ended the gruesome onslaughts. This is a direct insult to the South Sudanese whose death can largely be attributed to the Ugandan military intervention.

The war has encased, severed relations, and strangled friendship. There isn’t a thing as brotherhood anymore, especially if both see it from the competing interests, not from a moral standpoint. But the truth comes to this: Nuer were offended, assaulted and definitely ambushed on December 2013. They never gained momentum or recovered from that sucker punch. In their quest for justice, to return the bitter experience of war against their oppressors, they were instead confronted by their own sons, barricading their path to get even with their enemies. As the atrocities continue to unfold in Nuerland, Nuer sons and daughters take a huge chunk of the blame as their actions are inexcusable.

In Comparisons

Unlike the Shilluk and other marginalized populations, Nuer are divided than ever with many of them on the government payroll working to destroy social fabric, homes, and lives. Yet they get offended when criticized for doing so. They fail to imagine the long-term gravity of their action, encouraging the enemies to further destabilize Nuerland. Even in the periods of the African longest civil war that ended in 2005, it never occurred that the Dinka turned against each other. But that doesn’t mean they often agree with each other on the national or individual level. It’s just that they share relative interests and care for their own kinds.

In short, they respect each other, particularly their own leaders and elders no matter how stray they become. Dinka public continues to trust their leaders, especially if they’re pursuing the Dinkism. General Kerbino Bol, Hon. Arok Thon Arok, Gen. Athor and recent rebelled members of Dinka community never fired a single bullet on other Dinka, even at present their internal struggle for leadership and interests reached its climax. The absence of internal hostility among the Dinka proves they’re dominant in South Sudan. They’ve got everyone else down to the level of desperation, enmity towards their own people and infliction of self-harms. The same conclusion can be reached about other South Sudanese ethnics in similar situations.

Most ethnics in Wau and Western Bahr El Ghazel are equally affected by systemic ethnic cleansing and violence directed toward them by the SPLA under the pretext of quelling the rebellion in that region. The recent example was the protests in Wau in which the SPLA shot at the protestors. That even triggered a continual mistreatment of ethnic Jur and non-Dinka tribes. The Jur in Wau never resorted to in-fighting among themselves but remain adamant to face their oppressor.

A number of Equatorian communities suffered similar experiences from ethnically-acclaimed SPLA. Despite their larger number in the government, their sons and daughters still have not yet led the enemy forces to their homesteads in order to kill their relatives and burn down villages. So what is it about Nuermen, some once regarded the most feared, most admired who come from respected Nuer families to disown their own people? What makes them so fierce to cause such destruction in their communities? What is it about being led by a Dinka man that makes Nuer so disciplined towards him? Is it about money, fear of death, fear of defeat or all of these?

It’s a daunting situation that requires a great amount of research by tuning into the minds of these Nuer filled with bitterness and hatred toward their own community. It’s not the first time that Nuer went to war with each other but this time in history, this war in particular, is a war of self-destruction, retribution that is meant to dismantle the entire Nuer existence.

A war that is so tribally-inclined to put South Sudanese fate in the hands of the Dinka. Unlike the wars Nuer in the SPLA fought against the Anya-Anya II and other Nuer rebels in the past, this war has taken a huge toll in human lives. It has reduced Nuer person to a common beggar, a bloodsucker, a douchebag and a piece of filth. How would one express himself among the Dinka who ordered him to destroy his own village, his own town, and his own identity? Would it make one stronger, prouder, a statesman or simply a thug, a mob hitman, a pimp and a traitor in the exact meaning of it?

I have been struggling with these thoughts. I know I’m not an angel myself, I have my flaws and share of misdeeds. But one thing for sure, I wouldn’t live long to laugh in a bar with those who killed my own family without proper judicial accountability and resolution. I wouldn’t live to see another day when a man like me tries to subjugate me, harass me in the streets of Juba, takes me for a fool for sending me out to massacre my own people, looking for them in the swamps of the Nile, in the bushes of untamed wilderness and luring them out from the UN’s protected sites in order to make example out of them. Despite my own shortcomings, I wouldn’t come to that level of reducing myself to the mere gatekeeper, a waterboy for a Dinka man.

No human being should subject themselves to such enslavement conditions and purgatory. Even Stephen Sackur once embarrassed Dr. Marial Benjamin on the BBC Hard Talks for not standing up to a Dinka man who just mowed down fifteen percent of city’s population from his own tribe, his own, and his birthright. Even a white man despite his modern civilization and industrialization knows that when another man attacks your loved ones, your brothers, sisters, mothers and all other relatives and constituents, it’s ultimately a direct attack on your own person.

So when people like myself put their brave face on to denounce your actions in bedding the Nuer oppressors, demand justice and accountability, at least, all you the Nuer wew should have the audacity to own some of your misdeeds and refrain from threatening others because as we see it, you are on the wrong side of history. And history will never forgive you. The term Nuer wew as I understand it wasn’t coined by the Nuer but the Dinka to describe the very behavior they want you to exhibit. Nuer wew isn’t every one of you who resides in Juba, who works for NGOs, healthcare and non-profit sectors. It’s meant for those who willingly and deliberately set out to harm other Nuer and threaten Nuer way of life.

Term Nuerwew

President Kiir and his Loyalists from the Nuer tribe also known as Nuerwew in Juba 2014(Photo credits: File/Nyamilepedia)
President Kiir and his Loyalists from the Nuer tribe also known as Nuerwew in Juba 2014(Photo credits: File/Nyamilepedia)

The evil advocates, the talking heads who profess their loyalty to the Dinka man and Dinkism on the national radio, television and various media, to glorify his master’s name and normalize his actions. Those who praise their master, adore him and worship him in Godly form. Those who mobilize the Nuer to fight other Nuer, to displace them from their homesteads, to kill them and commit several heinous crimes in order to demonstrate their loyalty and unhindered support for the Dinka man. These are the people the Dinka coined the term Nuerwew for. They are the people who have no conscience, people whose ambition and self-worth are attached to financial and material wealth. A wealth that is earned by way of treachery, treason and by selling one’s soul to the demons to attain personal success.  

It’s great that we now know each other. Perhaps if a war like this didn’t occur, the wrong in everyone’s mind, the self-nature of everyman’s heart and thoughts couldn’t have manifested themselves. Our parents knew our differences when we were young. They knew who among us would be up to no-good later in life. Who would be easily weighed down by the sins of personal achievement and snatch out the intended inheritances from the right ones? It’s always the time of tragedy and turmoil that truth comes out voluntarily and our moral fortitude manifests itself.

The author of this article, Chadi Michael, can be reached for more information through his email at chad8204@gmail.com

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