November 20, 2014 (SSNA) — The long list of murdered Equatorians by the SPLM system continues to get longer day by day. The latest victim is Cecilia Oba Tito, a young, intelligent and promising leader of Equatoria. Cecilia hails from Morsak village near Yei. She was born in 1974 to late Tito Towongo and Araba of Kakwa tribe. From 1981 to 1987 Cecilia attended Kagelu primary school after which she went to Yei Girl’s Secondary School.
However, due to the war at the time Cecilia relocated to Uganda in 1991 where she continued with her secondary school education at Nyangilia secondary school in West Nile district. After completing her secondary education in 1994 she proceeded to do a one year course in 1996 at Nsameji National Institute where she graduated with a certificate in social development.
Armed with her qualifications Cecilia returned to South Sudan and did a lot of community work promoting human development in former Yei district. In 2005 Cecilia served as a minister in Central Equatoria government. From 2008 to 2013 Cecilia went to South Africa for further studies where she graduated with a master’s degree. On her return home, she was elected as the first female mayor of Yei town. http://southsudantoday.net/default/2014/07/29/through-intricate-corridors-to-power-a-story-of-yei-mayor-cecilia-oba/
Painfully, Cecilia’s life was cut short to advance the Jieng expansionist policy of settlement and orphanisation in Equatoria.
Upper Nile Times on 10/11/2014 reported the murder of Cecilia under the heading ‘Mayor Hon Cecilia Aba Tito dragged and gunned down over a plot of land.’ http://upperniletimes.net/south-sudan/hot-topics/mayor-hon-cecilia-aba-tito-dragged-and-gunned-down-over-a-plot-of-land/ The motive for the crime could not have been clearer. Equatorians have suffered and endured the most degrading and humiliating treatment from SPLM over the issue of their land. To put this in context, it is important to go back to the recent history of the SPLM/A.
Right from the inception of this monstrous organisation in 1983, as argued elsewhere, the SPLM/A was formed with the aim to conquer and subjugate Equatoria. The rebellion of Bor which was a product of corruption was seized on by the Jieng as a means to avenge Kokora. Kokora itself was a reaction of the Equatorians to the unruly behaviour of the Jieng under the leadership of Abel Alier in the regional government of South Sudan during the reign of General Jaafar Mohamed Nimeiri in the late 1970s. Please see ‘Fudging the issue – President Kiir and Corruption in RSS’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/fudging-the-issue-president-kiir-and-corruption-in-rss and Jacob Lupai’s articles on the subject in South Sudan Nation and South Sudan News Agency websites.
When SPLM/A ventured into Equatoria it treated the people brutally as if they were not South Sudanese brothers and sisters. It killed more people and raped more women and young girls than at any time in the entire history of South Sudan. From early 1990s, ironically it was common to hear people in Equatoria preferring the Arabs to the Jieng because of the rampant atrocities meted on the people.
During the war, the Jieng soldiers routinely displaced Equatorians from their homes in their villages under gun point. This continued until 2005 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was concluded. After the CPA land grab became the order of the day with Equatorians frequently murdered without any accountability, for example, the disappearance of engineer John Lewis. Often, the Jieng boldly and promptly declare their intention to settle all over Equatoria. They refer to Equatoria as a Jieng colony.
A certain Deng Ajak on 13th August 2014 had this to say to a certain Ben Tombe: “ Ben Tombe, let me remind you slaves don’t talk like that to the masters. Dog without tooth? You are colonized remember? Is it dog without tooth that colonized you or us Dinka, the hero tribe in South Sudan? Just for your information colonization is not over yet. Does of you who don’t want to respect our right to colonize will very soon have no where to put their heads. We colonized Bari Speakers, Zande, Kakua, Madi, Taposa, Acholi, Lotuka and every single tribe in Equatoria and Western Bahar el Ghazal. We will continue to neutralize you people until you diminished. It is true you people are not humans. You don’t have the right, we do. Clement Wani Konga is misleading you today, but if we want tomorrow he will disappear. He talked about no one will sit on the heads of Equatorian, do you people really are human? do you think you have any home left? There is not Equatorian family which have never given birth to a Dinga. If Gay is to be legalized today, all Equatorian men will marry to Dinga men. Even today almost all the servants in Dinga homes every where in the country are Equatorians too. You feel ashamed Ben Tombe.” Please see the comments on this article, ‘Angry Security Council visiting Nairobi for South Sudan sanctions talk’ http://www.southsudannation.com/angry-security-council-visiting-nairobi-for-s-sudan-sanctions-talks/
Indeed they are in every nook and cranny of Equatoria with their cattle terrorising the locals to realise this objective. Nobody in Equatoria is against the Jieng coming to live in Equatoria, but this needs to be done through the right channel following the law of the land and not through thuggery and abuse of state power.
Now, Cecilia, a promising daughter of Equatoria has become a victim of this heinous policy of the Jieng. But the murder of Cecilia must not be seen from this angle only as it also fulfils another horrendous policy of the Jieng which is to render Equatoria leaderless: orphanisation.
As already pointed out, the Jieng desperately want to control Equatoria and its people and this goes back to the first Anyanya war of liberation. From 1983 Dr John Garang cleverly adopted the undeclared policy of destroying Equatorian leaders in order for the Jieng to prevail. Equatoria had to be made an orphan for the Jieng to control it.
The literature on social control and domination posits that for any powerful group to exercise their power in order to have control over any other group depends on their ability to render the targeted group leaderless. Without this, it is almost impossible to succeed in colonising any people. This is why the imperialists and colonialists in the yester century destroyed indigenous leaders in their colonies and replaced them with handpicked leaders honed to serve their interest.
The SPLM has consistently since its birth worked to destroy Equatoria leadership. In the bush, capable Equatorians were not recognised and promoted in the forces even when they have all the necessary qualifications. Deliberately, they were kept in the rank and file to be led by illiterate and incapable Jieng officers such as the likes of President Salva Kiir. Those whom they could not control whether in the forces or civilians were brutally murdered. For example, Peter Kidi, Luka Kpakaciro, Col. Martin Kejivura, John Nambu, Didinga chief, Acholi chief, Madi chiefs and so on. Prominent Equatorian leaders like Bishop Paride Taban and late Dr Samson Kwaje were slapped literally by Kuol Manyang Juok and others for no good reason but to humiliate them in front of their people reducing them to nothing. These acts in themselves not only erode authority but have a huge psychological effect in how these respectable people would view themselves and in turn how others view them. This was deliberately done to make Equatorians feel helpless in order to submit to Jieng.
From 2005 the SPLM targeted the would-be future leaders of Equatoria and they set out to kill them. For example, the Equatorian police officers murdered in Yambio, the doctor murdered in Yei, the two new graduates from Makerere murdered in Maridi over the issue of federalism recently and now Cecilia. The common factor in all these cases is that these eliminated young lives possessed acumen and have demonstrated promising leadership skills and qualities. In addition, all those cases have not been investigated and allowed to fizzle out with the killers roaming the streets in contempt of the people. No accountability and no justice.
The destruction of these Equatorians would have been future leaders is met by constant training and promotion of young Jieng to positions of power. The ministry of education discriminatively sends young Jieng abroad for training using state resources while obstructing the other tribes from receiving the same service. The purpose is Jieng investment in education to build future leadership capability that will allow them to dominate South Sudan for generations to come. Their formula is: kill the skilled Equatorians and replace the same with Jieng and over time Equatoria will be properly subjugated and settled.
The impact of these evil Jieng policies if not stopped will have grave consequences for Equatoria in less than two decades from now. The immediate consequence which is seen now is that they have almost succeeded to decide who can lead Equatoria and not who Equatorinas want as their leaders of choice. So, in a sense the Jieng have taken the power of decision from the Equatorians which means Equatorians basically are subjects. Here the red light should be flashing to any concerned Equatoria to think of the future.
The relentless killing of skilled Equatorian persons and prospective leaders without corresponding training to replace the lost would-be-leaders due to: 1) deliberate marginalisation in education, 2) pauperisation – the inability to afford educational fees, means that there is a constant reduction of talents and skills in Equatoria. The net effect will be the re-stratification of South Sudan social groups with Equatoria turned into an underclass, a group without leaders and educated people to protect the community and their lands. Should the Jieng succeed in this policy, it will directly feed into their settlement plan because powerless people without leaders can not protect themselves and their land such as the case of the Aborigines in Australia and the Indians in the Americas.
Given the danger facing Equatoria now, SPLM/A needs to be stopped. The key to halting this deadly plan lies with Equatorians and it is a simple one. First Equatorians need to desert the SPLM to deal a mortal blow to the Jieng power base in South Sudan. Secondly, they need to follow their true leaders who no doubt have plans to stir the whole country away from the ongoing catastrophe.
Though the murder of Cecilia might have been done by few people from the ‘born to rule’ for their personal gain, the force behind its implementation comes from a policy that advances the interest of an entire group: settlement and orphanisation of Equatoria. The whole Jieng ethnic group benefits from this barbarism in terms of depleting skilled Equatorian people and also in terrorising the people to deepen control over Equatoria which surely constitutes an aggression on Equatoria.
Cecilia’s murder is not only a political homicide case, but it is also a case of violence against women. Men in South Sudan generally are uncomfortable with women leading them or women in position of authority. The fact that the accepted policy that women must occupy twenty five percent of positions across the board in South Sudan government has not been implemented is due to the male-centric attitude that have long permeated the South Sudanese society.
The suffering of women, especially Equatorian women under the SPLM system is heart breaking. The Jieng are taking liberties with Equatorian women simply to humiliate them. For example, working Equatorian women are daily subjected to threats of sackings and unemployment if they refuse to have intimate time with the illiterate ‘born to rule’ placed as their bosses. Other women, especially the morally principled ones face threats of death. The Jieng have gone as far as to design something called IIB which means interview in bed. If a woman applies for a job, she is likely to be subjected to this degrading and humiliating process.
The worse case scenario which people do not want to talk about due to shame is the forceful rape of mothers in front of their husbands and children by Jieng soldiers. This happens frequently in Equatoria. The victims need to speak out about these crimes to remove any shame or stigma attached to it. Keeping quiet allows the assailants to continue with their crimes without the prospect of accountability. Equatorians need to support such families as a duty to help them recover from their traumas.
The gruesome murder of Cecilia symbolises two things. First, the intense hate towards women. For if it was not the case why did the murderers abuse the body of the late? Cecilia being an Equatorian, intelligent and a woman combined all the elements hated by the the Jieng. The brutal murder is to send a message to all Equatorian women that they either submit or they face the consequences.
Secondly, Cecilia is a symbol of resistance. Her personal fight to protect her property is one of the cases that make the millions of cases of land grab in Equatoria. Therefore, she is the embodiment of Equatoria’s struggle against the Jieng policy of land grab and forceful settlement. As a woman, that must have come across to her murders as an affront.
Thirdly, even if Equatorians are members of the ruling party the SPLM, they are not protected. If they stand up to the system they will be kidnapped and murdered like Cecilia. They are only there to be used to advance Jieng’s interest and once they are not needed they will unceremoniously be disposed of.
Sadly, no prominent woman has come out openly to condemn the gruesome murder of Cecilia. Even Rebecca Nyandeng who masquerades as a leader has failed to advance the cause of sisterhood. Indeed, tribalism has taken deep root in South Sudan. Were Cecilia to be a Jieng, the media, Jieng Council of Elders and the Jieng SPLM machine would have been roaring with its loudest voice condemning the barbarity of the crime and asking for justice. But since it the Jieng machine operating its well laid out policies of settlements and oprhanisation, it goes eerily quiet.
Will Cecilia get justice? Not easy to answer given the pattern of similar crimes committed against Equatoria. However, justice may come to all the victims of SPLM’s policies through other means in the future. Ryszard Kapuscinski in his book, ‘Shah of the Shahs’ shines some light on such means. Here, he argues:
“It is authority that provokes revolutions. Certainly, it does not do so consciously. Yet its style of life and way of ruling finally become a provocation. This occurs when a feeling of impunity takes root among the elite. We are allowed anything, we can do anything. This is a delusion, but it rests on a certain rational foundation. For a while it does indeed look as if they can do whatever they want. Scandal after scandal and illegality after illegality go unpunished. The people remain silent, patient, wary. They are afraid and do not yet feel their own strength. At the same time, they keep a detailed account of the wrongs, which at one particular moment are to be added up. The choice of that moment is the greatest riddle known to history. Why did it happen on that day, and not on another? Why did this event, and not some other, bring it about? After all, the government was indulging in even worse excesses only yesterday, and there was no reaction at all. “What have I done?” asks the ruler, at a loss. “What has possessed them all of a sudden?” This is what he has done. He has abused the patience of the people.” (Kapuscinski 1985, p105 Kindle version)
Kapuscinski wrote his book in the mid 1980s to tell about his experience of the Iranian revolution of late 1970s. But the above quote since then has been vindicated in Tunisia, Burkina Faso and many other places. Nobody expected a radical change in Tunisia and Burkina Faso at the time. It came as a complete surprise to the Tunisian and Burkinabe rulers with Mohamed Bouazizi setting himself on fire in a market and the Burkinabe masses setting the parliament on fire. The rest is history. While the Jieng terror machine concentrates on its war with Riek, the real problems are in Juba. It demise will come from within and not without. For three decades they have abused and terrorised the people. Their main weapon: fear, is losing its power to subjugate. Soon or later they will be seen fleeing with their system in tatters. It is then that true accountability for their excesses will be appropriately addressed.
Finally, as Cecilia is a victim of a long practised policies of SPLM/A to promote Jieng settlement and orphanisation in Equatoria, it is absolutely important for Equatoria to not let Cecilia’s death be just another statistic. Cecilia stood up against both policies in her life. She never shied away from leading and she personally fought the land grabbers though she lost her life. Cecilia should be kept alive by Equatoria government naming a road in each of the Central Equatoria major towns and also by naming a land mark building in Juba in her name. This should ensure that the murderers’ intent to destroy her comes to naught.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].