Confronting the policy of land grab in South Sudan

By Elhag Paul

April 7, 2016 (SSNA) –– The reaction of General Thomas Cirilo Swaka, a highly renowned liberation war hero against the Jieng land grabbers who descended to his village, Gwu’duge in Rajaf should not surprise the people.  It is an expected outcome to an undeclared and unspoken Jieng policy being implemented by the state in South Sudan.  This policy is destroying South Sudan social ties at an alarming rate.  It is dispossessing people, pauperising the victims, generating vile hate among the people and constructing the Jieng social group falsely as the upper political class in the new state.

The reaction of General Swaka is an outcome that all of us eventually in our own ways will be pushed to resort to in order to protect our human rights from the Jieng regime of destruction.  Critically, every non Jieng must know that they will be affected and dispossessed by the current system in favour of the Jieng and they will resort to saying like the General did, ‘I am ready to die for my land’.  To be dispossessed and pauperised through land grab is something nobody is going to accept.

It is sad and shameful to see a well-respected and honoured member of the society in the person of General Swaka being frustrated and provoked to resort to self-defence to protect his home.  It is further disgusting to read in various media outlets that the system is planning to arrest him.

General Swaka from personal observation appears to be a very patient person who hardly gets swayed by political events.  This is what makes him a truly professional soldier.  When he served in the Sudan army, in spite of the suffering of South Sudanese he controlled his emotions, lived with the pain and remained loyal to the system until the Arabs overstepped the mark in 1992 that he reacted heroically to fight for emancipation of his people.

The independence of South Sudan is the product of the work he contributed to massively.  His own elder brother Major General Peter Cirilo too fought for the same objective under General Joseph Lagu.  How on earth can a family that contributed immensely to the independence of South Sudan find itself in such a predicament?  It is only in South Sudan under a tribal regime that such aberration take place.

The threats on freedom of General Swaka must be taken seriously for two reasons.  First, the General is an Equatorian.  Secondly, the Jieng want to settle in Equatoria in huge numbers to establish themselves as the local people.

In the article ‘The decapitation of Equatoria’ enough has been written to highlight the problem Equatoria as a region is facing from the current regime.

General Swaka unfortunately may not be exempt from this Jieng policy and the recent media reports should be read within such context.  However, the General’s colleagues need to stand up in defence of their commander as he led and stood with them shoulder to shoulder in those trenches drenched in sweat and blood liberating the country.  You worked together tirelessly to liberate the country, now you need to rise up to the challenge to make sure that the country you fought for is a true home to every South Sudanese.  The grapevine stories circulating regarding planned arrest of General Swaka simply because he is an Equatorian who has confronted land grab is unacceptable.

Land grab is illegal, but because President Kiir and his JCE have disabled the other two branches of the government namely: the parliament and the judiciary, the issue is allowed to go on in order to benefit the Jieng and to also achieve their long term tribal plans.

The issue of land grab is something that must be debated now vigorously because it is not going to go away as it is an undeclared policy of the regime whose intention is to settle Jieng in Equatoria using the state.  The JCE’s plan to settle Jieng in Equatoria in huge numbers is part of a strategy laid down by the late leader of the SPLM/A Dr John Garang De Mabior.

The birth of the SPLM/A in 1983 came at a time when South Sudanese were torn among themselves by divisive politics introduced by Abel Alier and his supporters in mid 1970s, most of whom are members of the current JCE.  Alier’s discriminative rule during the autonomous government of the Southern Region in the Sudan led to Kokora, the redivision of South Sudan into three regions based on the colonial provinces of South Sudan: Bahr El Ghazal and Equatoria and Upper Nile.

The Jieng political class were totally opposed to Kokora and this included Dr Garang who expressed his views in his book, ‘Dr John Garang Speaks’.  Right from its inception, Dr Garang was telling the Jieng that when they liberate the country the Jieng would be free to settle anywhere.  This was given in a form of promise which acted as a motivation to the Jieng flocking to the movement in anger of Kokora.

Dr Garang intelligently used the anger generated by Kokora to recruit the Jieng in big numbers to build the monstrous SPLM/A as the Jieng machine of oppression and revenge which is why the Equatorians initially hesitated to join the movement until the introduction of forced Islamisation by Khartoum pushed them.  Basically SPLM/A has been constructed on promises to make the Jieng people the ultimate rulers and owners of South Sudan.

Arop Madut-Arop in his book, ‘Sudan Painful Road to Peace’ on page 56 confirms this point by writing: ‘the resentments (of Kokora) were meted against the North through mass exodus of Southerners (Jieng) to swell the training camps in Ethiopia.’  It is in these camps that the idea of settling all over Equatoria was sown, nurtured and grown to be the cancer that it is now.

The renaming of places in Equatoria as New Bor, New Site, Jebel Dinka, Bilpham etc is central to this policy because it enables the settlers to put roots in the new area which then allows them to claim legitimacy.  This combined with the ferrying of dead bodies from Jieng lands to Equatoria for burial strengthens that argument.  The Jieng have gone to unbelievable levels to remove evidence of Equatoria in lands they forcefully grabbed.  For example there are documented cases where such settlers (aided by the disgraced clown JW Igga) have not only desecrated graves but they dug out the remains of deceased Equatorians in rest from their graves which callously they threw away.  Cruelly they converted the emptied graves into pit latrines.  Utter disrespect to Equatorian cultures re honouring the dead and the place of the dead in our lives.  In this, the Jieng do not empathise or consider the cost of emotional and mental torture they are inflicting on the dispossessed legitimate owners of the land.

Claims to land are evidenced by names of places and graves.  Names provide evidence of local language and the rich stories behind them; and graves provide evidence of history and ancestry.  So if you carefully look at the behaviour of the Jieng on this issue of land grab, it is clearly calculated to dispossess the local people in the long run.  Therefore, this is a combined short, medium and long term policy that if not stopped by all means available will result in Equatorians losing their home.

It is worth remembering that President Kiir was a close officer of Dr Garang who must be well indoctrinated with the Jieng ideology of settlement.  With the JCE comprising most of the people who initiated the idea of Jieng supremacy and settlement, no wonder President Kiir’s government is fully committed to implementing the idea.  It clearly explains why the parliament and the judiciary have been deliberately crippled by the executive.

The objective of settling the Jieng all over the country is intended to promote the false claim of the Jieng that they come from all over the country.  They want to create a situation like that of the Tutsi in Rwanda in which they are found everywhere in the country.  It is astonishing that the Jieng have completely ignored the local contexts of both countries.  Copying the Tutsi does not work .  The reason being each situation has its own unique context and produces a unique outcome.  Therefore, the Rwandan context that produced Tutsi among the Hutu can not be recreated in South Sudan because South Sudan’s context is totally different.  For example, in Rwanda there are about two major tribes (Hutu and Tutsi) with two or three tiny ones while in South Sudan there three major tribes (Zande, Jieng, and Nuer) with sixty other sizeable ones.

The Jieng believe that if they are able to settle everywhere in the country like the Tutsi spread throughout Rwanda, then they will be the ones to legally represent the various social groups of South Sudan in the parliament and therefore they will have achieved their objective of ‘Born to rule’.

Given the above, arguments such as the issue of land grab is coincidental, or it is a consequence of poor governance, or the Equatorians are the ones selling their land is intrinsically not true.  These arguments are deployed by the Jieng to confuse the Equatorians while land grab goes on.  The important fact is that land grab is part of a bigger well planned, well-coordinated and well executed policy of the Jieng intended to construct South Sudan as a Jieng nation.  Just think of the imposition of the 28 states through illegal means and think about who are the beneficiaries of this elaborate land theft.  Think about it.

Thus, every non Jieng is going to fall foul to this obnoxious policy that has caught up with General Swaka.  This is the reason why it is not a surprise to some of us.  General Johnson Olony after accepting President Kiir’s amnesty in 2013 told him point blank that he rebelled because the Jieng grabbed Chollo land.   But did President Kiir listen to him?  No! He did not.  President Kiir instead went ahead to grab more land through the Establishment Order 36/2015 creating 28 ethnic states.  General Olony is now back in the bush fighting for Chollo land.  As said, with this undeclared policy in place, many other army officers will be faced with critical decisions of what to do when this evil reaches their door steps.

Before each one of us experiences this horror, something can be done about it.  The tribal government of President Kiir and his JCE needs to be changed and this calls for a strategic alliance of all the other tribes of South Sudan.  In 1930s the Nazi in Germany arrogantly set out to dominate the world and to a certain extent they succeeded to control Europe.   However, when they attacked the United States in 1941 using the U2 boats, the world had to come to its sense to confront Nazism.  It took the logical and workable strategy to build up an alliance of purpose to fight Hitler and it did work beautifully resulting into a decisive defeat of Nazism from which a peaceful Germany emerged.

What can we learn from the German lesson?  The one most important lesson is that bullies including dictators and totalitarians must not be appeased or accepted.  They must be confronted and cleanly defeated.  In the context of South Sudan, we have a nasty tribal-totalitarian bully in the form of Jieng armed with the machinery of SPLM/A who hijacked the state and is using it to destroy the South Sudanese society.  This should not be tolerated, it should not be accepted, it should not be compromised with and it should not be allowed to continue.  The other 62 tribes of South Sudan and the peace loving Jieng like the rest of the world in the case of Nazi Germany should come together and form a strategic alliance of purpose (common good) to decisively defeat the Jieng and recover the state of South Sudan.

From what is going on in the country, the reality is that South Sudan will not see peace and development under President Kiir and his JCE.  As all of you know very well their only ideologies of Dinkocracy and Dinkonomics have sunk the country.  These ideologies must be destroyed and uprooted from the psyche of the adherents through education.  These ideologies seek to cleanse some ethnic groups as well as subjugate and dominate the rest of South Sudanese in the interest of the Jieng people only like what Nazism in Germany tried to do in 1930s and early 1940s.  The only panacea therefore is for the Jieng regime to be changed by whatever means available in order to save South Sudan.

In conclusion, land grab is an undeclared policy of the government for the interest of the Jieng.  This policy affects every South Sudanese but Jieng.  With President Kiir and his JCE in power, this policy will not be stopped and there will be many Thomases, Olonys, Dukus, Bakasoros , Otims, Oneks falling victim to it simply because the government supports it.  As each and every one of us will be affected now or in the near future it is imperative that an alliance of the people of South Sudan is built soonest to bring an end to the chaos in the country.  Yalla! Yalla!

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].

Previous Post
Citizen’s Power, National Security and the Intimidation of Civilians
Next Post
How Much Can We Celebrate May 16

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.