Abyei: Misplaced Civility at the Heart of an Intractable Conflict

By: Deng Vanang

May 11, 2013 (SSNA) — Until death do us part, seem to be the rapturous echoes ripping through the throbbing heart of bewildered Ngok Dinka citizens in Abyei. The disputed territory is aging as it is well over its centenary year in self-imposed exile. It is to be recalled the tiny but much priced territory straddled into the faulty lines dangerously laying between North and South of two Sudans back in 1905. The patriarch also known as paramount chief Kuol Deng Majok thought of rare benefits to bring within the grips of his Abyei off springs {both sons and daughters} when he decided rather opportunistically to kiss goodbye to the South, then considered Sudan’s back water of anything thought credible. The perceived benefits to grasp were modern education and Arabs civilization with which North was enviously associated. Not to forget, one more additional benefit whether subconsciously perceived of or not was conversion to Islam that as well accrued a few more bountiful goodies for people derogatorily regarded as infidels willing to cross over to the dubbed last Prophet’s holy land. All these coveted gains turned regrettable poisoned chalice one hundred years later. With Abyei striking it rich in oil wealth and South Sudanese clamoring for the independence, then began Abyei present day perpetual woes of an intractable pogrom.

The Abyei Dinka as truly South Sudanese in all social characteristics of ethnic origin, yet black skin complexion and Nilotic culture turned out to be the tug pulled in between beyond an elastic limit by both sides of political divide. Consequently, that strange twist and turn has attracted a legion of countless regional and international peace keeping interventions all under one leaking roof of the UN, collectively referred to as UNISFA. And from which arises the present day stalemate or be it sheer miscalculation of sorts that makes it difficult for one rival side to take Abyei over either through brute force or shrewd diplomacy. Nor is there possibility of a peaceful referendum insight as stipulated in an already defunct Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA that is now regarded as never comprehensive by still suffering peoples of Abyei, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains. For so many timelines on that matter mysteriously as indefinitely come and go under protracted non-substantial arguments predicated on ownership rights.

While the tenancy over who should be given the keys turn bloodiest, the victims ironically happen to be the rightful owners but self-acclaimed civilized Ngok Dinka at the hands of hired goons – the Miseriya settlers on the suspected pay list of the bloody game spectators in far flung Khartoum. Fleeing in the face of genocidal Miseriya tribal raids followed by Sudan Armed forces mopping up operations, Abyei Ngok Dinka have a fairer share in their perennial predicament too. Their treacherous over reliance on external muscles while partly eating with those they call enemy are the conjoined debacles they have to clear on their tortuous journey to freedom. No amount of proxy wars waged by murk-racking press, local mercenaries paid from South Sudan increasingly shrinking public coffer and neither are international mercenaries under the UN financial benevolence shall win over Abyei to their side on silver platter. This brings forth pertinent questions for them to answer. How many times their paramount chiefs have to be slaughtered like chickens in that abattoir called Abyei under their hapless watch, how longer is the time for patience or veiled cowardice to pay and how many more cheeks remaining for them they the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms in Abyei to turn for unremorseful slapping? Eight years are long enough even for the faith-based patience or rather disguised cowardice to wither as there are only two cheeks a normal human being has to give away in self-inflicted indignity and concocted helplessness.

Despite all indications that point to the grim reality that future – as bleak as it is – of Abyei will not be decided at the ballot box. Since the conflict has hitherto defied well crafted amicable solutions that came far and between such as that of Abyei Boundary Commission, ABC, The Hague based – International Court of Arbitration and now the on-going shuttle diplomacy to determine Abyei troubled future which all have ground to a halt if not come to nothing. With one more saddest and time wasting thing at stake typical Nilotic ethnic groups lack but Abyei Ngok Dinka strangely have; being the false modesty under which they have recoiled hoping for never coming one day when the territory shall peacefully return home – South Sudan – to roost.

Deng Vanang, Journalist, Author of the upcoming book: ‘’South Sudan Contested Legacies’’ and Executive member of South Sudan’s leading opposition, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement for Democratic Change – SPLM-DC. He can be reached at: [email protected]

NB. This opinion piece is solely mine and not attributed to the official position of SPLM-DC as the party on Abyei’s issue.

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