November 11, 2013 (SSNA) — In the last fortnight the Jieng of Bor and some of their distant relatives from the other parts of the country have come out forcefully, and rightly so, to condemn the government of South Sudan for its failure to protect the people of Twic East in Jonglei state. I use the phrase “rightly so” because one of the main functions of a government is to protect its citizens. Unfortunately the ruling ethnic groups and their party, the SPLM/A has since its inception in 1983 only cared to protect themselves leaving all the other people of South Sudan at their mercy. They abused the people and grabbed lands at will while uttering painful words like, “Anina akuma” meaning ‘we are the government’, “We liberated you” and so on to their victims. Many of the Jieng whether from Bor, Gogrial, Rumbek etc did not seem to see this as a problem since their misgovernance makes them feel good. So, everything was OK.
As I said many times in some of my previous articles that SPLM/A violence will eventually destroy all of us including the country. The Jieng whether by design or necessity of tribal solidarity or realisation appear to have decided to wage a writing demonstration against president Kiir. Article after article written by staunch Jieng government supporters in the various media outlets specialising in South Sudan issues poured out venomous stuff against the SPLM government for failing to protect the Jieng of Ajuong and Pakeer in Jonglei Twic East. The attack on these villages obviously is tragic and no human being would want such a thing to happen to any other fellow human being.
It is right that the Jieng and everybody should get outraged by these painful incidents. Painful as they are, South Sudanese people have to be honest to themselves to understand why such incidents occur which means everything has to be put in context if at all solutions are to be found. By doing so, equally the Jieng need to be reminded of their predatory behaviours and its consequences on others which generate similar feelings to what they are experiencing presently.
When the Jieng are the abusers all the Jieng writers making loud noise now zip up their mouths and pretend as if nothing is wrong. They do not empathise with the pain of others and if anything they are the first to condemn anybody who wants to highlight the abuses. They make no effort to condemn any Jieng orchestrated atrocities from open shooting of Equatorian police officers in Yambio; killing of an Equatorian doctor in Yei, disappearance of John Luis and Reverend Manas Matayo; shooting of Bari people in Kemiru; arbitrary kidnapping of Kakwa chiefs to violent land grab and the stories can go on endless.
To contextualise the attack on Ajuong and Pakeer in Jonglei Twic East, it is vital to look at the behaviour of the government of South Sudan. To date the government of South Sudan can hardly convince anybody that it is not a tribal government of the Jieng. From the people staffing the government offices to how the judiciary works in favour of the ruling ethnic groups. Take for example, the corruption saga. The overwhelming people who embezzle government money are Jieng and they are never called to account. The overwhelming number of murders and killings in the country are carried out by the Jieng. The culprits once arrested are freed from detention and no accountability whatsoever. The majority of the rapes in the country are carried out by the Jieng without accountability. So the Jieng dominate the forces and judiciary precisely to ensure that the system works for them regardless of the crimes they commit. This is just a small picture which suffices for this article.
The confidence that the Jieng has developed from their exercise of state power has made them to be blind to realities. If you remember, in December 2011 the ethnic ruling groups were so confident that they publicly declared their intention to exterminate the Murle people. They formed a force of nearly 5000 people who rampaged throughout Murle land with the government standing by as a spectator. This force of non state actors comprising 80 percent Nuer and 20 percent Jieng in alliance of convenience to wipe out the Murle devastated the villages of Murle with the authorities watching actionless claiming they could not stop the crime obtaining. An act that can be interpreted as abdication of state responsibility by the government. This callous behaviour of president Kiir’s government which proved South Sudan as a failed state was in fact taken to realise the interest of the ruling ethnic groups which as they declared was to exterminate the Murle. Please study the stories in these URLs for you to understand the full picture:
‘Nuer and Dinka White army to launch operation savannah storm against armed youth’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/news/press-releases/nuer-and-dinka-white-army-to-launch-operation-savannah-storm-against-murle-armed-youth ; ‘
Nuer Youth have captured lolkuangole and are advancing to capture all Murleland’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/news/press-releases/nuer-youth-have-captured-lolkuangole-and-are-advancing-to-capture-all-murleland ;
‘The Nuer white army ended operations against Murle tribe in South Sudan’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/news/press-releases/the-nuer-white-army-ended-operations-against-murle-tribe-in-south-sudan
‘The Nuer Youth in Diaspora declared the invasion of Murle tribe legitimate criticised the government for its failures to protect civilians’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/news/press-releases/the-nuer-youth-in-diaspora-declared-the-invasion-of-murle-tribe-legitimate-criticized-the-government-tor-its-failures-to-protect-civilians
At the time everybody kept quiet as if crimes of international nature falling under articles 5 and 7 of the Rome Statute were not happening in Murleland. Even Ms Hilda Johnson, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Juba, at the time gave vague excuses supporting the state of South Sudan pleading lack of capacity and resource in the nascent country. What a palaver? What a shameful behaviour from both the United Nations and the government of South Sudan? Is there any wonder why the United Nation’s office in Congo is seen by the locals as a “tourist office” with the staff as “tourists” on leisure trips. Here was a world body and a state that cave in to challenge from non state actors. Yet the government of South Sudan wants to call itself a legitimate government.
Supposing that this White army which was composed of illiterate, indisciplined and careless boy-villagers was marching to Juba with the intention to change the government, would president Kiir have remained timid and inactive as he did? Would he have given up power? Was this thinkable? No wonder Holland and Fletcher in their special report: ‘In South Sudan, plunder preserves a fragile peace’ published by Reuters on 22nd June 2012 described the current leaders of Government of South Sudan as “a rag-tag bunch of boys with guns that have never administrated anything.” There you are. What more could be expected from children running riots in the country.
The pain experienced by the Murle in the December 2011 attacks and the subsequent attacks that followed were met with silence, but this does not mean that they did not suffer emotionally and mentally from the devastation and displacement that occurred. On the other hand the attackers of Ajuong and Pakeer in Jonglei Twic East whose identities remain unknown have muddied the waters as no one knows what painful experience they might have had and from who in the lawless land of Jonglei. As for the Murle they may have had similar raw emotions and feelings resulting from the pain inflicted on them. The Murle, defenceless, isolated and labelled by the ruling ethnic groups were mercilessly hunted down like animals in Bor and other places. Those Murle civilians who were attacked only for being Murle and survived were tracked down to hospital wards where they were shoot dead in cold blood killings in government controlled areas without any accountability.
The raw feelings enraging the Jieng of Bor now because of the Twic East incidents can be destructive to their well being unless it is channelled and managed in such a way whereby it is turned into good use. These feelings should be harnessed towards realising a positive change in the country leading to sweeping off the current good-for-nothing “idiots ……rotten to the core”. These feelings need to be merged with similar feelings from other parts of the country to speed up the process of change. This entails the Jieng coming to terms with the fact that they have failed the people of South Sudan and if all South Sudanese have to be protected the Jieng must abandon their nefarious tribalism. Otherwise eventually all South Sudanese including the Jieng will sink together whether they like it or not. So the Jieng need to take responsibility for their huge contribution to the problems facing the country. The total sum of thinking of the entire tribe known in the world of academia as “group think” that promotes nonsense such as “born to rule” “we liberated you” has to come to an end if the Jieng truly want to ensure their future safety in that part of the world.
The Jieng of Bor with support of their other kith and kin from other parts of the country is largely instrumental for the massive suffering of many people in the country from Kharasana in the north to Nimule in the South and from Akobo in the east to Raja in the west. Take for example the case of Nimule only. The Jieng are tormenting the indigenous people there on daily basis. They dispossess the locals of their properties; they kill the local leaders and impose themselves as the local administrators with support of the government. In short they are terrorising everybody with impunity. This situation is also replicated in many parts of South Sudan like Chollo land, Bari land, Kakwa land and Fertit land and so on. The consequence of this barbarism of Jieng has huge consequences on the lives of the local people. Some people have lost their properties and land in effect becoming homeless in their own ancestral land. Many are marred and bereft because of the unceasing killings. Entire communities are by Jieng design forced to live under fear endlessly in their rightful homes. The consequence of this predatory and oppressive behaviour has resulted into serious injury to the collective feelings of the community causing emotional stress and distress generating deep resentment of the Jieng and the whole system.
Now this destruction that the Jieng are visiting on others seems not to move them at all as if the others are not human beings. Rarely do the Jieng who are now vigorously writing against the government in defence of their tribes mate regarding the Twic East incident show any solidarity with the suffering of their fellow countrymen resulting from their actions. Even their clergy keep their mouths shut. They do not condemn the abuses of the Jieng. Unlike in the cases of Kemiru carnage, Wau massacre, Chollo land abuses, Nimule atrocities, the Jieng clergy have come out with guns blazing. What a hypocrisy? Please see ‘The Bishops of Bor and Twic East Diocese on the Continuous Killings of Innocent Civilians by David Yau Yau Rebel Group.’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/press-releases/the-bishops-of-bor-and-twic-dioceses
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Juba, Daniel Deng is even worse than the clergy of Bor. He comes to the oppressed in Equatoria with songs of peace without any condemnation of what his tribes mates are doing. Remember that oppressive powers have since the empire of Rome used the clergy and Bible as an anaesthetic to lessen the pain of the oppressed. Karl Max put this point in a nice way by referring to religion as opium of the masses. The Jieng with their shallow thinking think that Archbishop Deng will do the soothing of the pain like the church did for early colonialists in Africa for them to realise the Jienganisation of South Sudan as revealed by Mabior Garang, the son of late Dr John Garang, in his interview with Pan African Vision (22/08/2013). If Archbishop Deng because of tribalism can not honestly represent Christianity as in the Bible like Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Rev. Trevor Huddleston in relation to Apartheid in South Africa he should just butt out of the church. I hope that Archbishop Deng is not a wolf in a sheep skin.
Archbishop Deng by now should very well know that the people of South Sudan are living under emotional distress due to the actions of his kith and kin in the person of president Kiir and the Jieng dominated forces and SPLM party. It is said that charity starts at home. Archbishop Deng therefore needs to first go back home and preach to his tribes mate the value of respect, empathy, non violence, honesty, respect for public properties, sanctity of life and peaceful co-existence with others. He needs to condemn the promotion of theft by the Jieng of state properties and fellow countrymen’s lands. The Bible clearly tells Christians in the 10 commandments that “thou shall not steal,” “thou shall not kill” etc. He needs to be seen condemning the theft and killings promoted by the Jieng government for the purpose of Jienganisation.
This is 2013. There is no room for hypocrisy and the Archbishop should not think that when he wears those robes people will just bow to him and his tribe’s abuses which he pretends not to know. The biography of this clergy must be opened up wide for the people to peer through to know exactly who he is. He can not be the left hand of president Kiir mock soothing pains of the oppressed while president Kiir is committing atrocities against South Sudanese with his right hand.
The Jieng clergy now are experiencing the pain visited on their people and they are furious. They are right to be furious. Equally they too need to be furious about the actions of their tribes mate in other parts of the country to proof that they are not tribalistic. It is sad that the Twic East incident has to happen for the Jieng to feel pain that others are already living with daily from their barbarism.
It is just dawning on the Jieng that they are not really strong and powerful as they falsely convinced themselves. It is the state power that they have hijacked and abused that gives them the clout of invincibility. This is why all the other people of South Sudan must come together and ensure that the people take back their power. The Jieng must not be allowed to abuse state power in the way they are doing: intense grounded tribalism, violence, corruption, wanton mismanagement, land grab, displacements etc.
The Jieng of Bor now realise that they are not really protected as they thought and believed. Thus they are venting their frustration on their already proven useless leadership and government. But if the current incompetent leadership and government is to be replaced by a non Jieng from the other groups, they will all run back to president Kiir and rally in support of any Jieng leadership. They would not care whether the Jieng they support is competent or not as they did with Kiir following Garang’s tragic death. If president Kiir now further empowers the Jieng in Bor as per their request to be armed, do not be surprised to see the noise stop with the reversal of the noise makers strongly backing him.
The Jieng only rally on issues affecting them. They do not care about the other people of South Sudan. The absence of empathy among the Jieng to the suffering of others from their own actions appears to be something that they have cultivated by dehumanising the “other”. This concretely proves their well grounded tribalism. They do not reflect on the fact that their own violence and predatory behaviour affects victims like themselves and surely it has now come home to haunt them. It is a case of chicken coming home to roost. Although I share their pain, I believe that the truth has to be said.
With the foregoing, let us recap. The incident of Twic East in Jonglei is barbaric and disturbing. There is no place for such behaviour in our world of today. However, this incident is not comparable to the immense suffering the Jieng have and are inflicting on fellow country men in places like Nimule, Yei, Juba, Mundri, Wau, Pigi etc daily. The outcome of such behaviour regardless of the magnitude is the same – psychological destruction of the people individually and collectively with the long term consequence of dehumanising the society.
Therefore, it is time for all South Sudanese to come together to work for a change and a genuine democratic constitution that protects everybody, promotes humane policies and holistic development. If South Sudan takes this path and adopts such a democratic constitution, slowly it will discourage tribalism and at the same time nurture positive citizenship ensuring an emergence of a healthy country with happy citizens.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]