Analyses Jonglei state

Akobo’s Inter Clanish Conflict: My Response to opinion by Mak Banguot Gok

By Simon Elhag Kulusika,

Akobo town in Jonglei state, South Sudan. Alison Martin/Oxfam.
Akobo town in Jonglei state, South Sudan. Alison Martin/Oxfam.

May 13, 2021 — Akobo, Pibor, Paucala and Boma mount areas are occupied by many small ethnic sub – groups belonging to Nuer, Annuak, Murle, Taposa, Parri, Latuka Dinka, etc. The areas mentioned are between 5 – 7 months submerged under water. Little land is left for humans and herds. So competition is fierce leading to bloody clashes. During the dry spell of 4 – 5 months little water is left in isolated ponds for humans and herds, another cause of clashes.  

These sub- groups do not have chiefs as traditional leaders. They have Bully who emerged as a strong man to lead. If he succeeds in this he remains on the top or another Bully will take-over.  Many such Bully from the other sub – group compete resulting in clashes between them.  The State or national Government can do nothing to stop these events as the areas during rainy seasons are not accessible, except by Choppers hovering over!!  

Here are some suggestions. They should apply to all Marshlands and people without leaders: Nilotics and some Nilo – Hamatics. 

1.  Deliberate policy to introduce a system of rule by persons appointed as leaders with specific authority and power to issue instructions and binding commands.  At present in these areas ‘All men are equal’ No man issues order or obeys orders. It is only necessity or dangers that create front men.

2.   Canals and artificial ponds to be constructed to store water for the dry seasons for use by people and animals.  This will reduce fighting over water. The canals will also provide means of transport by fast moving boats to link those areas and enable administrators and security authorities to move quickly to provide services or to contain clashes. Canals and reservoirs can also be utilized for irrigating farms thereby improving life styles.

3.    But there is need to put stress on 1 that it needs sensitization of people by both Government and NGOs. So that people appreciate and understand the importance of traditional governance. It should lead, issue commands that bind everybody in the areas concerned. The campaign will be long and expensive. But it must be done for change to take place in South Sudan.

Professor Simon E Kulusika is an Associate Professor of Law based in Lusaka, Zambia. He can be reached through email through sophie.chibale@zaou.ac.zm

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