To Hon. Samson Oyay
Chairman of Chollo Community in Khartoum
18th September, 2020
From Joshua Dau Diu
Dear Hon. Samson Oyay,
I came across a document without a date purported to have been crafted by a certain “Jalpan Samson” indulging in our correspondences with Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba. I first thought that this was a ‘pen name’ or descriptive dog fashion you are using to disguise yourself out of fear, but later on someone told me that ‘Jalplan’ could be a name of one of your kids. However, I could hardly persuade myself to believe that, while you are alive, your child/ children can dare to contemptuously address your age mates in the most uncouth manner such as depicting me to have “… diabolical scheme to grab Chollo land east of the Nile including Malakal town.” (Page4).
Your own children have their peers among my children with more or less capacities to engage in all spheres of life problems. Hon. Samson Oyay, you know very well how long we lived and worked together in Malakal as health workers, as youth leaders, in Khartoum as politicians of USAP till you represented us in parliament in Juba, as co-chairs of mediatory and reconciliatory ad hoc committees between our respective ethnic communities. This long-time acquaintance, I am hoping, cannot and should not end up in contempt and disgrace of one another.
Firstly, what you allowed your son to do would not be in line with African cultures, norms and code of behaviour and more so amongst the Nilotics. But if such an awkward pattern of lifestyle without borderlines between juniors and seniors or social distances in Chollo community is not categorised as indicated by the same marks at the forehead of men and women, youngsters and adults, you should not allow it to surface publicly to be known by other communities with lofty standard codes. Although there are no physical visible marks these days, it alienates you completely from the decency of Nilotics mode of life particularly in regard to respect for elders in general. How can you permit your child, no matter how much of age he has become or what level of high education he has acquired, no matter how disobedient he might be, to write disgracefully about leaders of other communities whom you claim “…they have lived harmoniously together punctuated by intermarriages between them…” but describe Joshua Dau, “Due to his disrespectful behavior” (page 2). How does a youngster disparagingly accuse their in-laws saying “The Jieng community of Thiony and their neighbour escalated the matter and Chollo was targeted leading to fighting between the two communities in which innocent lives were lost on both sides instigated by Jieng elites. Indeed that was the first schism which occurred between communities that were in peaceful co-existence for centuries” (page 2).
We all know that it was Nuer SPLA-IO that destroyed all the Chollo villages – Obel, Dolieb Hill and Pajur and not Padaang. The Chollo and Padaang were forced into U.N. Protection of Civillian Centers (PoC’s) until you led Chollo Community Delegation to surrender to Nuer led SPLM/A-IO in Pagak. After that Agwelek militia under the leadership of Gen. Johnson Olony proved their submission to Nuer led SPLM/A-IO by rebelling against the government and destroying Malakal town. This is a proof that Malakal area does not belong to Chollo; otherwise Gen. Johnson Olony and Agwelek militia could have not demolished to the ground the infrastructures in Malakal. It was at that moment when the Chollo and the Nuers in the U.N. POC in Malakal forged their solidarity and fought Jieng – Padaang out of the POC.
Thirdly, let me turn to shed light on the fallacious issues raised in your ‘pen name’ literature. I expect all of you to know that the genesis of the current conflict originated and continues to reign as a political power struggle among elites of all classes and from all ethnic communities whose primary interest is to control power. Nonetheless, since you are interested in branding it tribal, then let me go into some specifics.
The first outstanding confrontation was when SPLM/A in Nasir staged an abortive coup d’état against far away leadership of the SPLM/A, later found to be in Torit. This was the beginning of tribal politics in South Sudan, initiated by Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin: Nuers and Chollo against Jieng.
In spite of the genocide inflicted upon disarmed Jieng officers and men of the SPLM/A and civilians in Nasir in 1991 by Nuer and Chollo dissident armed forces under the command of Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin and the subsequent holocaust of civilian communities of Bor; Jieng, although more powerful in the mainstream of the SPLM/A, never resorted to revenge on Nuer and Chollo. SPLM/A leadership under Dr. John Garang de Mabior considered it as an act of subversiveness by an enemy that had penetrated the ranks of the SPLM/A. Thus, had he given it attention, that could have diverted the objective of the people of South Sudan Revolutionary war of independence from Sudan, to an internal South Sudan Civil Strife. For that reason, the leadership deemed it a betrayal deliberately designed and calculated to interrupt and to delay the execution of the war. However, it was a momentous transitional political crises, though it lasted over ten years (1991-2001), it eventually became exhausted and leaders of that mischief surrendered to the very Movement they betrayed. However, it has now transpired to have been a tactical surrender in 2002/3, while the hidden agenda remained to be pursued.
In 2013 – 2016 the same actors of the failed military uprising in Nasir attempted similar insurgency in Juba and when defeated, they went back to their NCP Islamists in Khartoum who hired them to fight as mercenaries against their own people in the South not to be politically liberated. They formed themselves into SPLM/A-IO and SPLM/A-DC. Similarly, in 2018 –
2020 the rebellion expanded to include others versus SPLM/A in government. Then the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ACRSS) was crafted and guaranteed by Foreign Political hawks, intended to accommodate leaders of those groups in a government which cannot deliver services or achieve peace, leave alone economic development. As such, the current R-ACRSS Government, which was formed in February 2020, is comprised of all the political rebellious factions, represented by five (5) vice presidents as heads of clusters of ministries. This is a government of numbers, accommodation and political appeasement. Therefore, to naively conclude that it was the issue of Chollo land grabbed by Padaang, Bari land grabbed by Bor, Madi land grabbed by Jieng, Mundari land grabbed by Bari, Fertit land grabbed by Jieng, etc. is a simplification of political leadership crises and a deliberate diversion of the realities of failures in nation-building and lack of economic development and mismanagement.
In any case, let me respond to your queries as contained in the literature or document of your “pen name” of unnecessary interference in dialogue between mature political ideologues and age mates (Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba and Joshua Dau Diu).
1. Padaang –Chollo contest over land ownership: East of River Nile:
a) Chollo migration from Bahr El Ghazal to Upper Nile – East Nile dispute shall be presented and deliberated upon during a tribal conference between Chollo and Padaang. Or in an arbitration that shall be convened and each ethnic community be represented by a team of experts of which none of the current proponents shall be qualified to participate in it.
b) Malakal town as a municipality may not be an issue as administrative arrangement shall determine its status.
c) Agwelek militia led by Gen. Johnson Olony and others who are resolved to end the contest through military warfare, if successful to conquer Padaang and occupies the land or vice versa, might be a quick solution.
2. Attempt to survey East Nile land
During High Executive Council (HEC) 1972-1983 late Molana Natale Olwak was the minister for Legal Affairs. Engineers Matthew Othou Deang and Angelo Othou were senior engineers in the Ministry of Housing and Public utilities. Eng. Matthew Othou was the Director General of the Ministry. The three (3) prominent members of Chollo Community decided to send a team of surveyors from the Ministry of Housing to Upper Nile province to demarcate the area east of River Nile and North of Sobat River with the ill intention of claiming it as Chollo land. The plot was discovered only when the team arrived Atar where they were stopped by local area authorities. Paramount Chief John Gaijang Awol and Executive Chief Michael Miakol Deng stopped the survey work on the basis that there must be authorization document from both the Ministry of Housing in Juba, the Province Commissioner and the District of Fangak authorizing such a scheme, Court President John Gaijang approached the relevant authorities (The Ministries of Local Government Administration and Ministry of Housing and Public Utilities) in the Regional government.
On receipt of his complaint Hon. Natale Olwak persuaded the Minster of Regional Administration, Kuot Catim to dismiss the complaint. However, the chiefs stood their ground and surveyors never went back till today to demarcate the land which the Chollo assume to be their ancestral land within the midst of Padaang territory East of the White Nile and along Sabot River.
3. Obel Peace Conference
This was a murder case of Monyyik Yor, from Luac (section of Padaang). A Shilluk man, who never had any problem with him without provocation, speared Monyyik Yor to death. He murdered him in cold blood, typical of characteristics of Shilluks. The incident took place at Khorfulus Court Center. After instant death of Monyyik Yor, the entire physically fit male population of Shilluks from across Sobat River: (Panyidway and Pajur villages) crossed to the Southern side of Jieng land – Khorfulus Court Center
– to obstruct the burial of the remains of Monyiik Yor. The few policemen at the Court headquarters could not prevent them to save the situation.
When the age group of Monyyik Yor learned of the never-heard-of before, inhumane, humiliation posed by the Shilluks, to let the birds of the wild devour the body of their fellow age mate, they took off heading to the scene of the incident. This was to them an intolerable insult that must be challenged. The young men ran throughout the night to arrive at the scene in the following morning. In the afternoon of the second day after the death of the victim, the contest ensued. After a brief engagement the Shilluks ranks were broken into and they lost the demonstration of their manhood and found themselves defeated. Some who escaped death swam across Sobat River back to their villages. In light of this incident, Gen. Kuol Amuom, who was then Minister of Interior in the High Executive Council Government, went to Obel to convene and oversee the reconciliation process between the two ethnic communities.
On the second day of the reconciliation conference, Paramount Chief of Khorfulus Court, Piot Yak Buk, in his address remarked, saying, “How wonderful and great it is that there is a higher authority, the government minister, the Mekh, before whom the Shilluks kneel in adoration and address him as child/son of god (nyajwok) can now sit down before him with us his equal tribal chiefs.” Mekh Ayang was terribly enraged by the remarks of Paramount Chief Piot Yak. He murmured in Shilluk language/ tongue but all the same, the conference procedures continued uninterrupted. There was no chance given for non-court members and the minister’s delegation to speak, neither Uztaz Acuil Lual nor Joshua Dau Diu could be permitted to talk.
The Conference in its final resolutions concluded that the two neigbouring tribal communities must return to live in harmony and to co-exist cordially. That brought the conference to an end. However, the Shilluk intellectuals and politicians continue to agitate for the revenge of their lost ones during that past confrontation.
4. SPLM/A Concession for Peace
Many enlightened Chollo community leaders are vocal and capitalizing on the circular Dr. John Garang de Mabior issued; approving Dr. Lam Akol’s counties for the Chollo immigrants and settlers east of Nile River. [These counties were later in 2016 – 2017 created again by Dr. William Othwon then Governor of Pashodo state, across west of the White Nile]. This circular on Chollo to have ownership of land east of the Nile was instantly refuted by Padaang SPLA Generals and community in the SPLM/A controlled areas. Since the claim of Malakal as well as the entire Eastern Bank of the White Nile, from the confluence of Zeraf River up to Renk (eighteen miles) deep inland, is claimed and being militantly fought for by Agwelek Militia under Gen. Johnson Olony Thuba and politically pursued by all Chollo politicians, I strongly advocate that the matter be adjudicated by arbitration to be followed by negotiations and reconciliations. Fighting will not help any party to gain the land, rather it will deepen animosity and perpetuate long time bitterness.
However, it is worth noting that Dr. John Garang was hard pressured by a host of international, regional and local mediators concerned for peace in the region in general and in South Sudan in particular. He was constantly advised to pursue a negotiable settlement rather than a bloody chronic conflict between North and South Sudan whose root causes go deep down into slave trade and oppressive governance by Arab – Islamic Administrations in Khartoum after the colonial Anglo-Egyptian rulers relinquished power and granted independence to Sudan on 01/01/1956. Intelligently enough, Dr. John Garang designed a humble political strategy to unite the Southern dissidents and defectors by offering to them attractive terms of amnesty for all sorts of blatant betrayals. Traitors were permitted to return to the SPLM/A without conditions even to be reinstated into their previous positions both in the revolutionary army and in political portfolios. It was under these relaxed circumstances that Dr. Lam Akol came back with his package of demands for approval of the four counties for the immigrants and settlers on the eastern bank of River Nile, which is his constituency.
Dr. John Garang did not foresee the implications of his concession. I believe that he thought it was a simple genuine request for administrative efficiency that was befitting the Movement’s transformation process of raising the village standards to township.
The irony of the counties Dr. Lam Akol created and subsequently approved by the leader of the Liberation Movement (SPLM) Dr. John Garang where there was not yet a government, would not be operational to deliver services to the people on the ground. The area was even not under the SPLM/A control. Dr. John conceded to grant approval of acknowledgement of the request in order to let Dr. Lam Akol not object to the peace talks under negotiations (CPA) in Naivasha – Kenya. They remained hollow just like the 21 states of Dr. Riek Machar Teny which were created in Pagak when he had no legal status to establish any workable entities; so they remain void and baseless. To consolidate the position of South Sudan in the peace negotiations, Dr. John Garang had to offer a great deal of concession to the Nasir faction that defected to the enemy camp in Khartoum and were being used against the South, both militarily and politically. Hence, although the entire military forces of Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol remained behind to be used as mercenaries against the South, it was better to win back the leaders of blatant betrayal – (Nasir Faction).
For instance, Dr. John Garang de Mabior allowed 50% of the oil of the South to North Sudan in order to buy peace, which led to full independence and liberation of South Sudan from the yoke of Arab domination and exploitation of resources.
Hon. Samson Oyay, in conclusion, let me remind you that in my first letter dated
14/01/2016 which was a reply to your “declaration of war on Padaang”, I had said in the final remarks:-
“Firstly, I wish to advise you that since you are now Chairman of Chollo community in Khartoum, contact your counterpart of Padaang Communiry Association Dr. Ramadan Chan Liol… Secondly, it is evident that our ad hoc committee work is superseded by the community councils as well as the revolt of Gen. Johnson Olony to fight for the liberation of Chollo land as much as you are. You may continue to find the solution the way you think best. I will no longer be in a position to mediate as we used to do together in the joint ad hoc committee… Your options are intimidation and violence.”
Now, that you have insisted on foul play through your son Jalpan, the intention is evidently clear, for us to part ways. When I was proposing an Independent Administrative Area or State for the Chollo, it was in good faith and a genuine suggestion to bring to an end the subservient life the Chollo people are mostly subjected to in others’ towns, cities and areas specifically in Khorfulus, Akoka, Malakal, Renk, Melut, etc. to do the humiliating activities.
Of course, being from a minority tribe with poor and limited subsistent livelihood, people feel intimidated, inferior and dependent on the protection of strong shields and big arms. This is what happened in Nasir when Dr. Riek Machar took the leadership from Dr. Lam Akol and again, you led Chollo Community Council and the Agwelek militia to submit and pay allegiance to Nuer-led SPLM/A-IO in Pagak. It was all for protection in exchange for service and submissiveness.
The reality is that I wanted to help save the Chollo people from a horrible situation to be free by having their own state or Independent Administrative Area like other people and in-advertently even safeguard the decaying Chollo Kingdom. However, Padaang people, like other level headed Africans, the Europeans and the Americans or the Arabs have no problem in accepting immigrants and settlers who volunteer to be enslaved by doing most of the domestic functions. In the final analysis, the immigrants and settlers are not the owners of the motherland, no matter how numerous and capable or skillful they might become. So the Chollo people refusal of being in an Independent Administrative Area or State, is not going to bother anybody hereafter.
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