Editor Media Projection Ltd
London, 26 Dec. 2020
The past seven years of South Sudan independence have presented us with a very serious challenge in terms of stability and coexistence as people of one nation.
Leaders of the newly founded South Sudan have robbed us our basic human values, denied us our fundamental rights and sense of belonging.
Overnight, civil war broke out and some communities in South Sudan lost everything, all that they have had worked for and enjoyed for over sixty years since the independence of the old Sudan from the British colonial power started to shatter and slip away from their hands.
We have lost close relatives and friends in a senseless conflict ever witnessed in the region. We lost homes, our dreams shattered and most importantly our sense of belonging to South Sudan became elusive. Rejection, denial and deprivation have become a rule of the day!
Many among us started to ask serious questions today whether we are being tested of our faith in South Sudan or we are actually intruders and must just pack and find our way out.
Since, the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity among us has diminished, it became shaken and seriously eroded.
We have felt that our comrades of yesterday who are now dominating every inconceivable benefit in Juba spoke out claiming that the liberation of South Sudan was realized through their war efforts which were fought only by Dinka ethnic majority. ‘The rest was just a mere added number.’ Unfortunately, many among them supported this claim!
Those of us who were officials in the government businesses in Juba by then were targeted, singled out and taunted. We were purged or arbitrary demoted or dismissed not because we were incompetents, or misbehaved, but because we were non-Dinka.
Some among us were immediately replaced by junior incompetent Dinka fellows, especially at top levels. So, all government institutions and private sectors were purged of people from other ethnic backgrounds leaving only insignificant numbers of lower ranks to wallow in the agony of discrimination and tribalism.
Not only that, but they started scaling down every part of South Sudan creating major land disputes and havocs here and there. They had systematically campaigned to evict certain natives from their ancestral lands, claiming rights of belonging and without any proves or justifications. Often, they use military draconian measures to ensure that these occupied zones are secured and renamed such as what is going on in Malakal today.
All these illegal activities against human rights are being done in the watch of UNIMSS leaders and personnel who are reclining and enjoying the rewards of their lucrative engagement and privileges that come with it in the conflict zones.
UNMISS had claimed that its mandate extends to protect human rights principles and to stop the perpetrators from using force against innocent civilians. But instead, they couldn’t stand against attackers, instead, they were turned into ‘prison warders’ by the regime in Juba to keep innocent people permanently locked up in an enclosed large barbered wire-like ‘Nazi’s concentrated camps.’
It has proven to me that UNMISS doesn’t have the power to stop government forces and its backed militias from committing human rights abuses in areas where UNMISS forces were deployed around Malakal and other areas in South Sudan.
There are occasions when innocent people were attacked in the UN protection facilities leaving several people killed and many others wounded. Often, this happened without any intervention or reaction from the UNMISS personnel to mention. Owing to such incidences, many had thought it wise to desert the camps and to fend for themselves and their children outside the UN protection scope.
UNMISS leaders are happy to continue with such arrangements as long as there are no threats or harms to their lives and their assets. They frequently prevent people to go out into Malakal town. They would always warn Collo natives of threats to their lives and would advise them to watch out in case they face enemies. However, going out from UN civilian protection facilities would be solely at their own risks. Sources said.
However, the only thing UNMISS does positively was to report directly to the UN Security Council about the appalling situation in South Sudan. They solicit for more funds to reconstruct and rehabilitate areas under their mandates. Regrettably, they train and rehabilitate non-Collo natives to adapt to the new life in the newly acquired areas so that they carry on with their lives permanently in Collo occupied territories.
Until today, Kiir’s government has flatly refused to create a conducive environment so that displaced persons could return to their homes, even after the revitalized peace agreement was signed. Malakal is still bleeding and its citizens are being shot at and taken down one by one by Dinka Padang’s Militia snipers active in the area.
UNMISS seems to be powerless to argue strongly against such targeted and deliberate killings of innocent Collo men and women. UNMISS is contented with this arrangement, they just carry on with their role to guard and keep people within their protection as long as tension is still brewing outside their areas of confinement.
It’s very unfortunate that this state of affairs in which we have found ourselves since the independence of South Sudan was deeply rooted in the policy of the government of the day and being fanned mainly by President Salva Kiir Mayardit himself to ensure that South Sudan at the end is transformed into a Dinka state.
While South Sudan has started a soul searching for peace, and binding wound, it’s still uncertain whether this would be possible because President Salva Kiir isn’t ready that peace should come to South Sudan soon, he’s not convinced yet that the country’s huge natural resources and peace dividends could be enjoyed by all the ‘64 tribes.’ He would instead prefer to deal and share resources with dubious personalities, international thieves and greedy neighbours claiming protection in return against trespasses and unnamed terrorists.
When coming to the point whether President Kiir is a man of peace or not, it is evident that Kiir is not for peace at least for now, because his intention and attitude are very obvious. He claims to protect Dinka’s interest because they were so long been marginalized.
His declared attitude is not hidden to everybody. For now, peace isn’t feasible in his mind eyes and would remain intransigent, especially when the idea of peaceful coexistence and demarcation of boundaries as to 1956 comes into play. He would always reject anything that jeopardizes the interest of some ‘few Dinka hooligans’ in certain parts of South Sudan.
But, on the other hand, he shades crocodile tears, he plays innocence and a victim of circumstances saying that some politicians from a certain ethnic minority are undermining his leadership and therefore he wouldn’t forgive them and their entire generations.
In Upper Nile, he has flatly rejected the appointment of Gen. Johnson Olony Thubo as the governor of Upper Nile even though his nomination came from Kiir’s peace partner Dr Riek Machar whom he perceived as his avid opponent and enemy no.1
The current revitalized peace agreement, on one hand, hasn’t yet met all the benchmarks for peace to reign in the whole country, especially, the idea of security arrangement and unification of forces are yet to be carried out. There is a period of stalemate, and owing to the issue of finance and lack of political will, everything seems to stand still in the whole country.
President Kiir treats Machar with contempt and suspicion, whilst, Machar treats Kiir with respect and trust, a partner with whom he signed gentle man’s agreement in the presence of regional and international grantors. In theory, the revitalized peace agreement gives Dr Machar the right to choose whom he wants to fill the position of the gubernatorial of upper Nile State!
Both Kiir and Machar are in deadlock nowadays over the naming of Gen. Jonson Olonyo Thubo to fill the vacant position. President Kiir is thus, unhappy with the status quo, especially the issue of peace being imposed on him all the time by the regional mediators and friends of IGAD. He is bound to reject the candidacy of Johnson Olonyo and wouldn’t back down any soon.
President Kiir will always insist that the SPLM-IO candidate in the person of Gen. Olonyo is not in his good books because according to his words, ‘Olonyo is a warmonger and peace spoiler’, but Dr Machar, on the other hand, wouldn’t either back down, insisting that Gen. Olonyo is his man for the position.
It’s not yet clear what President Kiir would do next, but one thing is certain for sure: Both sides would agree to end the stalemate very soon. They would compromise giving Salva Kiir upper hand to pick one person of his own choice to lead Upper Nile in the turbulent period into an unknown future.
‘It’s his proactive to choose who he wants to work with at the level of states, Dr Machar would announce very soon’. Machar will simply decline and distance himself from any responsibility or blames on the ensuing conflict simmering now in Upper Nile.
Conversely, there’s no mechanism in place yet to bind or force President Kiir to assent to Machar’s demands. Kiir is not bound either to capitulate to the will of the majority people of Upper Nile.
While this has become Kiir’s business, because, he’s adapted or skilful in using tactics of appeasement and buying off wicked individuals among other tribes, Kiir would resort single-handed to appoint somebody among many contestants to fill the position.
Some opportunists have already been busy shuttling between President Kiir and Vice President Dr Machar; they are giving allegiances and personal commitments in a seemingly endless circle of defections from one side to another within the very government establishment.
Most of them are competing today for Salva Kiir’s grace and for financial rewards throwing aside the main reason why they have had taken up arms or rebelled against Juba regime in the first place, Kiir might have wondered!
Collo people aren’t short of such individuals who are lining up at Kiir’s palace’s doorsteps. They are ready to compromise their sworn convictions of protecting ‘Piny Collo’ at the expense of their suffering relatives at home.
Some of them have already developed a sharp appetite and pose themselves as alternatives to replace Gen. Johnson Olonyo in case Salva Kiir changed his mind to fill this controversial position with another person.
Envoys have been shuttling between Khartoum and Juba with devious personalities of diverse motives and interests. Collo opportunists knew very well the rule of the game. ‘Buying off some of them wouldn’t be a big deal. They are ready to abandon the struggle and relinquish their rights selling out ancestral land in exchange for some few dollars’ notes and position.’ Sources indicate.
Kiir insisted that if Gen. Olonyo wants to be appointed into that position, he should first report to Juba, but Olonyo feels very wary and suspicious about Kiir’s motives as some of his advisors, close relatives and friends were already pushing him very hard to accept the offer. They urged him to give in and prepare to go to Juba!
It’s not yet clear that Gen. Olonyo would fly to Juba soon, but, unsurprisingly enough he had sent an advance team to pave his way for a trip so that he could be appointed as the governor of Upper Nile as conditioned by President Kiir!
I believe this is one of Kiir’s bluffs to lure in his arch-enemies who stood firmly against his grand project of Collo land occupation in Upper Nile. Olonyo, however, might not set his foot in Juba, because he knows very well the ill intention behind Kiir’s ploy. It is very clear in his mind eyes that President Kiir would want to set him up and deal with him, no doubt.
Kiir had done it to many opponents before. Time and again, he would do it, again and again, employing the same tactics to neutralize his enemies and to prevent them from standing up against his grand project of turning South Sudan into a Dinka state.
Subsequently, Kiir would prevent certain figures who are now congregating in Juba, including Dr Machar to reach out to their base in Upper Nile. If Gen. Olonyo were to set foot in Juba today, he would be dealt with or confined to the same virtual prison as his boss Dr Riek Machar does.
Both Dr Machar and Gen. Johnson Olonyo would remain toothless as long as they still give President Salva Kiir Mayardit benefit of the doubt as honest peace partners within the current peace stalemate. We don’t know for how long would that continue! One thing is certain, Kiir is intent to dismantle SPLM-IO forces.
Eventually, Machar’s followers and supporters would end up being appeased or lured in, then gradually evicted from hotels or stripped off basic needs forcing most of them if not all to disintegrate. Some would just vanish to look for support outside and from their relatives abroad.
In the worst-case scenario, many among them would be turned into beggars on the streets of Juba and others who would find their way back to Khartoum secretly especially among Collo cadres would be renounced by Gen. Olonyo forcing some of them to abandon the idea of struggling for ‘Piny Collo.’
It had happened to many people before and it would happen to those claiming shrewdness or success today when dealing with President Kiir Mayardit in the real-time scenario!
The end game would certainly show President Kiir announcing a handpick candidate of his own choice among Collo leading figures in Juba or opt completely to appoint a neutral person and in this case, a Nuer fellow deputized by one of Collo figures not necessarily from Agwelek circles as this deems remote for now. This is how politics surrounding Upper Nile gubernatorial issue would play out in the runup to the new year eve.
To me, this isn’t about a political game anymore, it’s about the Collo survival in their ancestral land. Most of Collo natives have been driven out from their homeland. They are ready to put up stiff resistant to return home using conventional means to fight for their rights.
Malakal is a home where we have had saw light for the first time; grew up in it and had our fathers, grandfathers and all relatives of many generations buried in it. We are ready to put up a fight and die for it.
It’s worth mentioning that all struggles around the world have centred around land dispute, natural resources and the right to equal representation in a government that should embrace all the people irrespective of their cultural background or religious affiliation.
Other nations fought to gain their independence and take control of their destiny into their hands including the people of South Sudan which fought to liberate itself from the old Sudan.
Kiir has chosen to destroy the Republic of South Sudan allowing other ethnic groups to fight for their own rights and form their nation-states. Collo Kingdom is not exempted from that!
We are ready to go extra miles, including opting out and go our own way if coexistence in South Sudan would prove difficult in the foreseeable future.
In our contemporary world, many examples are there. We have seen how Biafra region had sparked the civil war in Nigeria on Delta Niger since 1967 because the central government undermined Biafra regional interest to existing as people of one nation. It’s still simmering until today.
In Ethiopia, we have seen recently the crisis triggered between Tigray, TPLF and Ethiopian National Defence Forces, government-backed militias of Amhara and Omoro because of wrong approach and handling of ethnic charged simmering conflicts in the area.
In Europe we have seen how Britain fought fiercely to take control of their borders and laws from the EU, Scotland, on the other hand, is fighting to separate from greater Britain because they think they have been dragged out against their will in a Brexit referendum conducted in June 2016. Also, Spain had a problem of a state that was fighting to gain independence and Hong Kong in the east is fighting to gain independence from China…etc.
Similarly, Collo isn’t exempted from doing that, we didn’t have any formal treaty that could bind us with the Republic of South Sudan. Pachoda Kingdom had been there for centuries with a strong established royal system. It had international recognition even before South Sudan could be viable on the world map.
We could remember Pochoda incident of 1898 of which Lord Kitchener of Britain and Marchand of France imminent fight over the control of Upper Nile, Pachoda area because of strategic roots on the Nile to access their colonies countries across Africa.
Currently, Collo Kingdom has everything to qualify it for statehood, it has vast natural resources, skilled manpower in every conceivable aspect of life. It has a land larger than Rwanda, Burundi and Gambia combined. Collo Kingdom could present a unique quality of leadership and can exist on its own as a nation to reckon with unlike the current system of anarchy in South Sudan which shows only abuse of system and failure of statecraft.
It’s now time for Collo sons and daughters to reflect on this situation under which we have been subjected. We must explore other options if the leadership in South Sudan continue to show hostile attitude to Collo Kingdom.
We will be part of South Sudan if there is respect of the right of others to exist as citizens at the equal footing and without discrimination based on ethnicity, we would want to coexist living side by side in peace and harmony with other communities as prior to separation on 9 July 2011.
In case this proves impossible, then we will have no option, but to fight for our own rights and to create our own statehood which we will defend and exist as a sovereign nation in the world map.
This is a wakeup call to warn others that Collo people wouldn’t tolerate and accept anymore any provocation or continuation of systematic humiliation being carried out by Padang controlled government in Juba, we won’t either Condone the hidden agenda of confiscated land belonging to Collo Kingdom while lying down.
Ultimately, we will react and fight to take back control of our Destiney as long as the system in Juba continues to deny us the right to settle in our ancestral land.
Long live Collo Kingdom, Long live the struggle for Collo nationhood.
God bless you all, happy Christmas and happy new year.
Gwado J. Ador
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