By Deng Lueth Yuang,
June 07, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), US Founding Father and 3rd President once wrote in the American Declaration of Independence:
“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
This brings me to the topic of this piece that “rebellion” is a quick fix but the most expensive solution to South Sudan chronic problems. That is to say, at times, there are things people want to do but unpopular to the masses. But when the situations dictate them to act, the ‘end justifies the means’ in the sense that they later prove beneficial to addressing the widespread grievances of all people. Let’s take an example: David Yau Yau, my former high school student at Bor-Town Secondary School from 2000-2006 in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya has just achieved something strange but impeccable in the eyes of his marginalized Murle community. Also, retired Gen. Dau Aturjong Nyuol has just thrown his weight behind Riek Machar’s rebellion, a sigh of relief he badly needed to prop up his support among other tribes in South Sudan especially the majority Dinka. Late Dr. Garang’s family i.e. his wife and son Mabior Garang are conniving and cozying with Riek Machar to open up the ‘Dinkocracy.’ That is sarcastical anyway. Dr. Garang should be the first person to refute that.
What we learn from South Sudan is that when faced with myriads problems of such calibre, the best thing they can do is to form ethnic rebellion to chart their own community interests at the expense of destroying property and killing civilians perceived to be pro-government and rival tribes whose influence is strong on the political-military fronts of the regime of the day. That is why Riek Machar in 1991 ‘broke the camel back’ by attacking Garang’s tribespeople from behind, and leaving the ‘bowl of rice’ they were quarrelling over with Garang in Bilpam, and Boma. Match that with the 15 December 2013 war of the titans between the lieutenants of Kiir and Riek, and the history just exactly repeats itself. Attack Bor Dinka, even if the seat of government is resting with greater Bar el Ghazal region. This war again has proved to be futile – the White Army and Nuer renegade soldiers can attest to that in Bor town. In both incidents, Dinka Bor people died in their thousands. Now the war has shifted to the Nuer heartland and its end is farther in sight than the highest peak of Mt. Everest (Kiir’s outcry over being forced to sign peace). Nothing will compel him to end the war if it is in his favour like what he did by removing Gen. Hoth Mai from Chief of General Staff and gave it to Mr. Paul Malong, his trusted ally and the man behind Dinka military might. His community has just shown to be the most dedicated freedom fighters regardless of what conditions they are/were in. Dinka Malual Jiernyang are hardened battle fighters. They fought Juor Mathiang or Juor Maraam (the brown tribe), the Arabs, once described to be Janjaweed in Darfur conflict for decades and they have never given in. They have been enslaved but have not succumbed to it. However, this has shifted the dynamic balance of power from Dinka Bor to northern Bar el Ghazal. And for years to come, Dinka Malual can claim the fruits of their blood to rule the nascent nation called South Sudan!
David Yau Yau rebelled four years ago and increased his terror campaigns by attacking civilians’ establishments in Bor and Nuer lands. The White Army with its Bor allies tried to revenge but could not fight the jungle war of Murle sharp shooters and snipers whose few numbers troubled the thousands of allied militias who fought the war by numbers. The Kiir administration tried to send in SPLA forces after the insurgents captured Boma, the Jonglei state second garrison town after Bor town, and symbol of liberation struggle from the yesteryears of SPLA rebellion. They recaptured it but they didn’t win the war. Late Gen. Abraham Jongroor could have been a living witness if he were still alive. Furthermore, the ‘current G11’ member, Majak Agoot who was deputy defence minister at the time ventured into the Jie territory to recruit their youths into the government army so as to fight their harsh rivals, the Murle. It didn’t succeed. The Murles are invincible enemy that strikes fast like a lighting and disappear into the ground like ghosts. That is what they always do to the Bor Dinka. They attacked villages, looted and fled with a blink of an eye. The SPLA could not adventure into the dense jungle to hunt them down. They claim their vehicles didn’t have fuel and it was impassable! The fact, it is too deadly. Now the peace has come to the precious people of Pibor, Lokwangule, Boma and Gumruok. No more fighting, they have won their pride – the pride of owning a homeland, Greater Pibor Area. What an achievement! A quasi state with all the rights and traits of a self-ruled state within the spheres of South Sudan constitution. They are no more answerable to Jonglei state government nor listen to nonsense from other states that they are not state to discuss border issues like the current flare up of disputed payam of Kosengor between Eastern equatoria and Jonglei states. The GPAA will now directly discuss it with their Eastern Equatoria counterparts. They will develop their own land peacefully. But we are not sure if they will abandon their century old economic lifestyles of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping children and women, and human bounty hunting. Those are the root causes of conflicts with other neighbouring communities.
Similarly, Mr. Dau Ajurtong has just defected from the rank of the SPLA/M to join Riek in the bush. Others in the shape of shadowy politicians from Greater Equatoria region are planning their next move and some have hideously declared allegiance to Riek Machar led rebel coalition of Nuer militiamen and renegade soldiers. I call these new groups ‘political opportunists’ like the ‘G11” who want to exploit the precarious situation after realizing that the peace deal is within sight. And therefore they are racing against time for consideration in the rebel side of the future government. But one clear thing I know is that Riek Machar is a shrewd politician and military strategist who predict the future before others see it. He knows the real fighters are the Nuer people who are fighting vigorously in the dense jungle and swamps of Akobo, Bentiu, Malakal and Nasir to evict the ethnic soldiers of Kiir and his mercenaries from Uganda and Sudan. When the time to eat is ripe, this new group, call them ‘the fourth block,’ will be dropped like the parabolic story of the sower (Mathew 13: 1-23) who while sowing seeds on good soil, some fell in the thickets, rocks and on the path. Those that fell in the thorns germinated well but choked up by bushes; the ones that fell onto the roadside were picked up by birds, and those in the rocks germinated but withered for lack of soft soil and water to nourish. Only the ones that fell on fertile ground survived to maturity and yielded the sower grains. Anyway, that will be their story when that D-day comes. I am not a “prophet of doom” but that is exactly what awaits them in the unforeseen future. Surprisingly, who knows Cdr. Pagan Amum, the ardent, radical and vocal SPLM Secretary General and Oyai Deng Ajak, the decorated former John Garang’s chief of staff would ever cross ways with Pres. Kiir. That is politics and we must live to relive all these stories from the acute angle of our observation.
Henceforth, Mr. Aturjong and his cohorts are more likely to follow the footsteps of David Yau Yau in order to curve out their influences within the Aweil and other communities of their respective origin. He will do that by attacking his own people in Warrap, and Aweil Northern Bar el Ghazal states so as to get amnesty, sign a peace deal and attain a self-rule enclave of Aturjong & Co. Division 6 Faction like the Yau Yau’s Cobra Faction. That is the only way he will receive credence from Nuer rebel chiefs. If he only resorts to attacking government by word of mouth, he is not only betraying himself but also digging his own political bed like George Athor. The fact still remains the likes of Aturjongs are the people messing up everything in South Sudan. When you are in government, you speak defensively about its performance and do nothing about the suffering ordinary citizens. But once you are of the same government, you all break the hell loose by claiming betrayal and regime ‘dictatorial tendencies and ethnic cronyism’. What the hell is going on? Are we truthful to ourselves or we are just bunch of idiots who think about own selves?
In this space, we could have talked more about Nuers’ miscarriage of political unions and good lessons learnt from that but the fact still remains that militias, defections and rebellion are social fabric of Nuer society. Imagine from the times of Dr. Garang and Gai Tut, Abdalla Chuol, Riek Machar, Matip Nhial, Gardet Yak, Taban Deng Gai, Mathew Puljang, Gordon Buoy, Garwic Dual, Ngundeng, white army and the likes to the Kiir Dinka hegemony and dictatorship. There is nothing substantive we can learn from this except deaths and history of betrayals and unsatisfaction among the ruling elites. But one thing is true, current Riek Machar led rebellion is a wakeup call for wide sweeping transformation in the way the government of South Sudan with its institutions conduct business. The essence of time has just told us that. We need total overhaul of this rogue system to effect the change we deserve. That is the only ANSWER to South Sudan’s chronic problems, not the short term achievements of David Yau Yau’s Murle ethnic state. All citizens of South Sudan are entitled to sense of belonging, vitality and optimism to pursue their own dreams without limits. Long live South Sudan and God bless the people of South Sudan!
Deng Lueth Yuang, BA (Econs), MA (Bnkg/Fin) contributes to this piece and comments only on topical issues affecting South Sudan. He lives in Calgary, Canada and he is the chair and founder of CEFA, a public think tank on economic and financial matters. He can be reached at email@example.com
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