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A Response to Clooney and Prendergast USA Today Article

By Yual Chiek, PhD

December 28, 2014 (SSNA) -- One fact about the current war in South Sudan that is quickly fading from memory is the slaughter of thousands of Nuer in Juba. This is evident in Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast’s article. He is so quick to cite the tragic deaths in Bor, but makes no mention of the genocide of Nuer civilians by government forces in Juba. A mass murder that ignited this conflict. Frankly, as tragic as those deaths in Bor were, the fact is that the number of dead is only 70. And I might add that these individuals were most likely deaths resulting from cross-fire. There are even eye-witness accounts from Dinka citizens in Bor saying they were protected by Nuer fighters and even given provisions to aid them in their trek out of the region. But even if these individuals were victims of targeted killing, it is surely these deaths that were the result of revenge, crimes of passion, and not some botched Nuer attempt to ethnically cleanse the Dinka in Bor. The same cannot be said for Salva Kiir’s killing of Nuer civilians in Juba. This is a clear cut case act of genocide: the government is Dinka led and Kiir’s private militia – the one responsible for most of the killing in Juba – is composed entirely of Dinka youths from Warap, Kiir’s home region.

This brings me to the first of my two bones of contentions with Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast’s article. Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast cite that these killings were revenge for the 1991 Bor massacre. The implications of this statement are dangerous. Let me highlight this point with a Human Rights Watch case in which 200-400 Nuer men were rounded up, forced into a room and fired upon by Kiir’s government forces. To say that the killings of at least 200 Nuer men by government forces in Juba is mere-revenge is to clearly take sides whether Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast realize it or not. It is incendiary to even bring up the 1991 Bor Massacre itself, for I remind Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast that in 1991 there was no South Sudan. The SPLA was split between forces loyal to John Garang and forces loyal to Riek Machar, so to compare that situation to a government sponsored genocide of Nuer civilians in Juba and Malakal is deplorable. Perhaps this is okay with Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast, after all, these were Dinka youths who just wanted revenge for the 1991 Bor massacre. What is more, approximately 2,000 people were killed in the Bor massacre over a span of six months, this number has been more than doubled in only a matter of day in Juba. I am by no means trying to justify deaths by using numbers, I only wish to show the magnitude of Kiir’s crimes in Juba and Malakal.

But so long as we are on the topic of revenge why don’t we talk about what instigated the Bor massacre itself? In 1985 the Garang led SPLA waged a campaign against the Gaajaak tribe of the Eastern Nuer. In this campaign thousands of Nuer were killed, many villages were razed to the ground and much live stock was destroyed. In fact it was this massacre of Nuer that provided the catalyst for Nuer support of Riek Machar’s split, and the subsequent attack on Bor by enraged Nuer soldiers and Nuer civilians from Nasir. The attack was never even officially authorized by Riek Machar. But this is all history Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast might say. I agree. But then Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast should not bring it up in such sensitive times. To do so is irresponsible. In any event, Riek Machar offered an official apology for the Bor massacre. There has not been an apology to the Gaajaak from Kiir, or any of the Dinka SPLM officers who took part in the war against the Gaajaak Nuer.

The second issue I wish to bring up is this confused talk of child soldiers. With respect to the South Sudanese context this term has been so over sensationalized that it is difficult to make any clear sense of its meaning, or to the its possible referents. Moreover, Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast seem to conflate the “Lost Boys” with “Gash Amer.” The former were children who found their way abroad after Northern Sudanese raids that left many of their family members dead. Just as Clooney and Prendergast say. The latter was a program put in place by John Garang, Salva Kiir and other high ranking members of the SPLA in which children – sometimes as young as seven – were taken for military training in a town called Bilpam. The parents of these children were told that their children were being taken to attend school. There were two wings of this program. In the first wing children were shipped to Cuba through an agreement between Garang’s SPLA, Ethiopia’s then communist government under Mengistu Haile Mariam and the Cuban government. These children were taken in 1986 and within three years of their arrival in Cuba the SPLA quickly forgot about them. After numerous failed attempts by the Cuban government to get in contact with Garang’s SPLA, Cuban contacted the UN. It was then that these children received aid. My aunt was one of these children. As you can see this is a sad sordid history that requires careful retelling. The last thing we need is to conflate areas of this history that are better left distinct.

Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast’s insinuation that the Nuer rebels are using child soldiers seems to me to betray a lack of knowledge regarding the culture of the people in this war, and of what the implications of his statements are. Let me begin with the implications. The Kiir regime was the first one to state that there Riek Machar is using child soldiers in this war, so to my mind Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast are just endorsing the claims of a regime that should, by all rights, be the subject of sustained condemnation. In any event, there is no doubt that many of the fighters on the Nuer side are young, some of them teenagers. This much is sure. But to say that these youths are children is hyperbolic. But if the Nuer are vilified for having youth in their army, what about the Kiir regime? Kiir illegally trained 15,000 Dinka men and youths from Warap as a personal army “in case something happened.” Why is this not of chief concern? Let’s not forget that the Kiir regime is recognized as the legitimate government of South Sudan, Kiir’s actions are all the more egregious. Why vilify a people who are the object of ethnic cleansing when they, form a popular uprising in order to protect themselves? And that is what this war is all about on the Nuer side. It is a war to protect themselves against eradication. As a Nuer I cannot hesitate to say that the Nuer are not the villains here, we are the victims of an attempt to marginalize and silence us. This is an attempt to destroy Nuer, and it is fueled by a fear of possible Nuer political and cultural ascendancy in this young country. One doesn’t have to take my word for it, just look at the key positions in South Sudan. The great majority of them are filled by Dinka. How can this be anything short of an attempt to lockdown a social hierarchy in a young multi-ethnic state like South Sudan? It would be childish to remain recalcitrant in the face of such evidence. The use of violence is key to the establishment of a social hierarchy. If Kiir’s regime can execute Nuer civilians with relative impunity, then he can silence the great majority of them in fear while giving the illusion of impartiality by employing a class of Nuer comprador bourgeoisie. These tactics are not new. These were the very same ones employed by European Colonial Powers. If these tactics worked so well and for so long for Colonial Powers, should it be surprising that one African nation would use the same tactics against another? Again, only a flawed, and all too simple model of South Sudanese ethnic relations would bar this possibility from consideration as unlikely, or unrealistic.

As a Nuer, it is my cousins, my uncles that are in the frontline of this war. And my relatives were butchered in Juba. I cannot be silent, I will not. Nor do I have the luxury of not taking sides. For Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast to write as though we are the hapless victims of ambitious politicians is disappointing. It seems to us to be yet another reiteration of outdated rhetoric that envisions the African masses as deluded slaves under the sway of great men. Let me assure Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast that in the Nuer case this is false. My sentiments are shared by Sir Evans Pritchard, a British Anthropologist whose extensive work on the Nuer helped fuel the development of Social Anthropology. I recommend Pritchard’s work to all interested in an outsiders’ impression of Nuer political culture. In particular I suggest Pritchard’s monograph on the subject entitled The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People.

Strictly speaking, Riek Machar did not mobilize any of the Nuer forces in this war. To think that he did is just to lend credence to the idea that there was a coup d’état. There was no coup. And even if there was, why would civilians be targeted by the Kiir regime? The truth is Riek Machar fled for his life. He was unprepared for this war. The mobilization of the White Army among the Lou Nuer, the mobilization of the forces of Commander Gatdet Yak, and the mobilization of the Gikaany Nuer in Wulang County under Commander Garhouth Garkouth was in retaliation to the massacre of Nuer in Juba. Many Nuer in these three groups are not even political followers of Riek Machar. So it is simply wrong to assume that these Nuer are blind followers of Riek Machar. Riek Machar’s name was used a name to rally under.

But just consider the fact that the fighting rebels are entirely Nuer, and that this one ethnic group has been the object of Kiir’s SPLA, JEM mercenaries from Darfur and Ugandan forces. Make no mistake about it. This war is being waged against one ethnic group, one people: The Nuer. It is the Nuer who have been subjected to cluster bombing, and it is the Nuer who have been the overwhelming majority of the casualties of this war, and yet it is they that have been repeatedly portrayed as the aggressors. And when this is not done explicitly there has been consistent obfuscation of issues by insisting that it is simply ethnic strife. This is simply amazing to me.

I should like to say, however, that I like many South Sudanese are very grateful for Western countries that have provided shelter and aid to us during the years that Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast cite. The United States in particular has opened her doors to more South Sudanese refugees than any other country. For that we shall be forever grateful. I would also like to reiterate that without US pressure on Sudan, South Sudan might not be a reality. Our gratitude extends to individual American citizens of which Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast have been leading voices. These are people who, moved by the plight of our people, have contributed sacrificed their time and energy to bring awareness to South Sudan. That said, I do not see my comments on Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast’s article as an attack on their willingness to help, in fact I think the candor with which I have tried to address the issues is the beginning of Mr. Clooney and Mr. Prendergast wise call for reconciliation. But for reconciliation to be possible the entire conflict, in all its gruesome complexity must be brought into the light. South Sudan is a land of meandering paths, there is no easy way out.

Dr. Yual Chiek lives in Ontario, Canada.

President Salva Kiir has betrayed his people and the nation

By James Gatdet Dak

December 15, 2014 (SSNA) -- After many painful decades of destructive war of liberation against successive oppressive regimes in Khartoum, people of South Sudan gained their hard won freedom on 9 July 2011.

The independence which resulted from an overwhelming vote in favour of separation from the rest of Sudan, in an internationally monitored referendum, was thought to be the beginning of the freedom at last.

It was thought that lives would be rebuilt in the state-nation building as good governance with selfless spirit would supersede selfish gains. It was thought that peaceful plural democratic politics would be adopted and embraced as prerequisites for justice, stability and prosperity.

Little did the down trodden masses know that they were going yet for another protracted cycle of unnecessary internal bloodshed and self-destruction.

General Salva Kiir Mayardit, the first president of the Republic of South Sudan, has betrayed his people and the nation. He has betrayed the trust of the people of South Sudan bestowed upon him in August 2005 and April 2010.

Kiir had an overwhelming support from his colleagues, and of course from the South Sudanese masses, irrespective of ethnicity, who stood behind him from the onset when he succeeded our former leader, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, in August 2005.

He also started well when he boldly decided to reconcile and reunite with the Other Armed Groups (OAGs), led by late General Paulino Matip Nhial, returning to the fold their supporters among the populace.

Kiir also had a committed able team of colleagues in the ruling party (SPLM) and government. This team led by his former right-hand man, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, went through thick and thin, shuttling between Juba and Khartoum, and successfully negotiated the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The team also ensured that Kiir was elected in April 2010, renewed his mandate and continued with the mission to achieve independence. Despite the fact that there were unbearable weaknesses in his leadership as captain of the ship, the team continued to tolerate such weaknesses so that any internal conflict did not arise and overshadow the main mission.

This was to avoid chances by Khartoum to take advantage of unfavourable internal situation which might jeopardize the long awaited exercise of referendum on the right of self-determination.

The team made independence of South Sudan a priority number one above other critical issues on democracy and governance.

Unfortunately, President Kiir was not prepared for the state-nation building after independence. He displayed an apparent act of apostasy and deviated from the vision and principle objectives of the party. The President defiantly displayed a misguided one-man show and continued to do so even in post independent era and after eight years in power.

President Kiir dashed the hopes and high expectations of the people when his fascist administration continued to indulge in corruption with impunity. Tribalism, acute inadequacy in delivery of basic services and lack of well-planned socio-economic and physical infrastructural developments were lingering on.

Instead of appreciating and compensating the people of South Sudan with untrammeled freedom, rule of law and democracy, unity and development for their suffering in the liberation struggle and for standing behind him for eight years and counting, Kiir chose to walk the path of dictatorship, division and lack of development. He finally plunged the young nation into civil war on 15 December 2013 and the consequent predicament.

A patriotic statesman who claimed to have liberated his people would not betray the very people and the nation in the way president Kiir has done it!

He has stooped so low that he decided to defend his position with bloody iron fist against reformists and democratic processes in leadership successions in the party and government. He did not learn a positive thing from the political life and leadership of the South African icon, Nelson Mandela, whose burial service he attended, nor read books about Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.

Kiir as chairman of the SPLM (currently in government) defied messages which he, his colleagues and the populace clearly read on the wall when all the states secretariats of the ruling party in 2012 summarized their report after exhaustive consultations with the people in which the report clearly stated that the SPLM had lost vision and direction.

The party chairman and his colleagues were reminded of the need to check what went wrong that led to the loss of vision and direction. Thus, they understood there was need for reforms and maybe change of guards in order to rejuvenate the party’s leadership and revitalize its vision and redirect its policies.

The party’s constitution necessitated leadership contest in every five years, and in this case, from May 2008 to May 2013. So it was never a crime for any leader or member of the party to decide and express desire to contest for the top seat or any other position ahead of a planned national convention?

Machar as the next senior officer and some of his colleagues had to act in trying to salvage the party and nation from near collapse. They declared their interest to constitutionally contest for the chair.

In reaction, president Kiir decided to unconstitutionally go around the process by first blocking further follow up meetings of the political bureau, the highest executive organ of the SPLM, from taking place.

He went on to unconstitutionally dissolve party structures with the exception of his own office, strangely.

Finally, the president faked a military coup in order to arrest, dehumanize or eradicate the reformists and contesters. This was an attempt to silent voices critical of the way he was running the party.

There was never a planned coup in the first place. This is why the case collapsed in his own court in Juba. There was no single evidence. There was no single army officer in the army headquarters implicated for allegedly taking part in the military coup attempt.

Those arrested on the night of 15 December and the days that followed were all party leaders who were awakened and surprised by sounds of AK-47s when they were asleep and unaware.

This is because their meetings days before the 15 December incident were simply calling on President Kiir to convene a meeting for the party’s political bureau in an attempt to reconcile the differences and chart a way forward, where basic documents were to be passed.

This author was in attendance and actually took the minutes and participated in the drafting of the resolutions of the last meeting chaired by Machar with participation of more than ten senior party leaders, most of whom were the current former detainees led by the former SG, Pagan Amum Okiech.

The meeting was held in the house of Mama Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior days before the 15 December. There was nothing militant about it. It was all about reconciliation in the party.

But when Kiir called for an abrupt meeting at Nyakuran Culture Center in Juba and bent on forcefully passing the basic documents [manifesto, rules and regulations, code of conduct and constitution], without the necessary discussions and amendments, he was already in bad mood during which he sprayed insults, threatening his colleagues, instead of reconciling with them.

Certain quarters in South Sudan and from foreign countries however contributed to the confusion and helped in hardening the dictatorial tendencies which president Kiir developed. Bad advisors who only saw their interest in fishing in the dirty water didn’t want a democratic process which would have seen their bread winner exit the throne.

What the heck is democracy, they whispered in confidential circles. Kiir seemed to have picked such ill-intentioned advices from his close loyalists and foreign mentors, taking it as an assurance of not being alone in the encouraged collective greed for power and wealth.

These are the individuals and groups who now try to throw the blame on Dr. Riek Machar for challenging Salva Kiir in the first place, ignoring the fact that the constitution allowed any party member to expressively challenge the chair ahead of a national convention.

Thus, Machar and two other colleagues including Mama Rebecca Nyandeng and SG Pagan Amum expressed their respective desires to contest for the chair. This they revealed in February 2013 just three months to the planned SPLM convention in May, if the schedule was to be followed. Therefore there was nothing wrong about it.

There are some who continue to argue and ask, but why did Machar dare to contest against his boss while he was still his deputy in the party and government? These hypocrites should be reminded that there is no article in the SPLM constitution which stipulates that a deputy chairman shall not contest against his chairman.

Yet the same people would contradictorily argue and ask, but why didn’t Machar challenge Kiir’s weaknesses when the two were in the fold for eight years from 2005 to 2011? I believe the same people would equally blame him if he persistently did so before independence and Kiir resisted and war broke out. It was wise to concentrate on priority number one (independence).

Nevertheless, Machar tried so hard to advise and show Kiir his weaknesses and offered him remedies which the latter rejected for so long. Even though he delegated some of his executive powers to his deputy, Kiir continued to sabotage Machar’s efforts. Machar only hanged on with him for the sake of unity, hoping that Kiir would change in time, particularly after independence.

Long story short, president Kiir should save the nation by let-going his burning desire to remain president for life. He should not continue to hold South Sudan hostage when he failed his chance for nearly 10 years now.

His visionless rule is characterized by rampant corruption, tribal divisions, lack of development and deadly violence.  He should step down and allow others to put the house in order. This would be an applauded bold decision if he did it.

A meaningful peace agreement on the basis of a federal system of governance needs to be reached between the warring parties and the war stopped.

The SPLM party and leaders, without Kiir, would then reconcile, reinstate and reconstitute their pre-15 December leadership hierarchy to lead an interim period before the next national convention and general elections.

A genuine democratic political multi-party system needs to be instituted in the South Sudanese politics. Mergers or alliances between like-mind political parties should also be encouraged in order to come out with few, but strong political parties capable of challenging and checking each other.

Reforms in the party and in the various sectors in government should be introduced and implemented.

Finally, president Kiir should be mindful of whatever good legacy he is destroying in whole. He should be courageous enough to wake up one morning and decide that the nation is above what seems to be his desire for lifetime presidency. Ten years in power is enough for one to explore his or her ability and capacity as a leader.

He has to quit for the sake of the people he claimed to have liberated, but yet let down at the critical time when they were yearning for unity, stability and prosperity.

The author is a Spokesperson in the Office of the Chairman, SPLM/SPLA. The opinionated contents in the article are however his personal views, and not an official statement. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Re-response to Dancing with a Wolf: A Reflection on Gambella Politics

By: Chuol R. Kompuok, PhD

December 14, 2014 (SSNA) -- On behalf of the Nuer of Gambella and on behalf of myself, I would like to take this golden opportunity to congratulate Mr. Ojulu Cham Ogola nicknamed Gamjot on the task he took upon himself in response to my article titled “Dancing with a Wolf: A Reflection on Gambella Politics.” Mr. Ojulu Cham with his excellent analysis as educated Anywaa tried to appreciate the contribution I have made, however, the inner ego of him being an Anywaa overshadowed the unearth truth to the extent of not seeing some of the clear statements even the blind person (s) can see.

In my understanding I thought I have addressed with fairness the problems of Gambella people and indicated plainly in the document the perpetrators who under normal circumstance could been held responsible but most of them went unpunished. In his response, he said to have found some fallacies, here I quote “However, I found some fallacies in his article which made me to respond to his piece of writing. He failed to address some issues fairly which I think he needs to reconsider his view on Gambella politics as an elite.” Here is another quote, “He attempted to re-write existing history dating back the arrival of Nuers’ in Gambella to 17th and 19th century. I think it would have been better for him to put the word…respectively.” In his first attempt to challenge my contribution with respect to the “Migration to Gambella from South Sudan”, there is no where I left out, “respectively” unless Mr. Ojulu Cham was reading between the lines and may be obsessed with hatred of thinking the Anywaa land was taken by Nuer, which was not the case, “the Gambella land is ancestral land for all the Gambella people (Majengir, Komo, Anywaa, Nuer and Opo) period! The highlanders are also part of Gambella people since the Federal Constitution of Ethiopia stipulated loud and clear the rights of every citizen to live anywhere in Ethiopia provided it’s within the Ethiopian sovereign land.

Here is what I said in the original article second paragraph line two (2), “History tells us both ethnic groups migrated from the original homeland, South Sudan eastward to the present day Gambella, Southwest Ethiopia in 17th and 19th century respectively.” To be more precise in term of migration/expansion, Nuer went as far as further north of Ethiopia Gojjam Administrative region of Amhara region, let a lone Bure and Shebel, which I indicated in the original document. The expedition was led by the following people and their names are as follow: Meen Diew, Jonyaang Thiwat, Maybai, Reath Yach, Thon Meat, Mut Dung, Jiokthiang Kir, Jock Wie (grand father to Ato Mark Chol Jock), and Yioy Binik. The expedition dated back between 16th century and early 17th century and the U—turn was taken as the condition in the highland areas of Ethiopia became unfavorable for cattle and human beings; tseseflies ticks and smallpox known in Latin word as “variola” were the main problems that halted the migration/expansion. If Mr. Ojulu Cham considered migration as setting bad precedent, he had migrated to the western world where nobody including the “Aboriginal Australians” complained of him being in Australia so to speak. If need be he would have remained in Gambella and carried the cross of eviction from the job as he was opposed to the GPLM policy. Therefore, Mr. Ojulu Cham should learn from vast experience as migrant and stop complaining about Nuer migration since he is also part of the “movement of migrants to the western world for a greener pasture.”

Mr. Ojulu Cham went on to agree with the first (1) charge and disagree with the second (2) charge against former president Omot Obang by Gambella people;

(1)    Masterminded the killing of innocent Nuer in 2002, 2003 and 2004 in Ochom along Baro River when he was head of Police Commission,

(2)    Participate directly in repatriation of Nuer who resided in Ochom village and other parts of Gambella areas for more than 15 years back to Jiokow and Akobo districts, a violation of the constitutional rights of Ethiopia citizens.

Mr. Ojulu Cham agreed with me in the first charge but seemed to have contradicted himself by adding that Anywaa were also killed in retaliation, which watered down the sense of humor and the consent he had shown in condemning the killings of the poor Nuer in the first place vindicating the former president Omot Obang and the Anywaa. However, such a war of mind will be left to him to put it to an end.

The second charges Mr. Ojulu Cham appeared to disagree with me is the core of the problem according to him but this shouldn’t be the core of the problem because Anywaa took over the ancestral land of some other ethnic groups in Gambella. If the Anywaa thought that Nuer took over their ancestral land and implemented the policy of assimilation, Majengir of Gog and Abobo districts pushed further to Godere of today’s Majengir Zone (County) who got assimilated, would have launched a rightful claims and made Anywaa resettled back to Jor district, Gambella town and Itang district shared with the Nuer. The inhabitants of Gambella town originally were (are) the Komo assimilated by the Anywaa and those who resented were pushed further north of Gambella along the Baro River and along the road connecting Gambella and Dembidolo of Oromia region are very much marginalized. Therefore, the Anywaa dispute of Nuer policy of assimilation is null and void for Anywaa are the actors and should have righted the wrong to Majengir and Komo of Gambella.

Mr. Ojulu Cham goes on by citing the Ochom case and here I quoted, “Therefore, what happened in Ochom, really, was wrong. It reached to point where the Nuers’ culprits would go out not stealing, but took Anywaa mangoes by force.” He goes on by saying, “Nuer craved their names on Mangoes trees as if there is no one who had planted them.” However, Nuer who had lived in Ocham for more than 15 years lived through the invitation of Anywaa chiefs and those whom they married to. Though they were invited, the Ethiopia Federal Constitution has actually stipulated it very clear that any Ethiopia citizens irrespective of race, color or creed, has all the rights to live wherever he/she wanted to live without prejudice. Does this mean that Mr. Ojulu Cham did not read the Ethiopia Federal Constitution or just wanted to bypass it for his self-interest? Nuer are mature enough not to crave their names on the mangoes trees to have the ownership of the land as was claimed by Ojulu Cham. It’s to be noted that the Nuer relationship with the Anywaa in the villages not limited to Ochom was so cordial and the process of assimilating Anywaa if it existed was peaceful unlike the case of Anywaa assimilating the Majengir and the Komo.

When the Nuer lived in Ocham, they suffered social cost—cost of their children not going to schools and lack of medical services while paying double taxes; one to the government of Gambella district and another one to Anywaa chiefs in the Ochom village with no meaningful returns. Despite all the due respect Nuer paid to the Anywaa as the host community, the Anywaa without shame would still go out to steal Nuer’s cows. If Nuer were bad guys as the way Anywaa perceived them, the December 13, 2003 Anywaa massacre would have created wrong precedent and Nuer would have not been used as human shield to protect their own brothers, the Anywaa from the tyrant government of EPRDF. Anywaa ran to Newland of Gambella town inhabited purely by the Nuer and Ochom village along Baro River and all were protected given all the bad things they did against the Nuer in the past. If Nuer had not pardoned the Anywaa bad deeds in the event of December 13, 2003, they would have revenged all the human losses incurred when Gambella was manned by the ruthless GPLM.

Therefore, the action taken by the former president Omot Obang to repatriate Nuer to their respective districts was wrong act condemned in a strongest terms possible and Ojulu Cham as educated Anywaa would have not supported the action of the most wanted criminal Mr. Omot Obang, the former president of Gambella. Nuer for very long time have been deprived of the regional resources by the GPLM leadership and access to social services was equal to none in the Nuer administrative areas in the region prompted the move toward where access to resources is possible; thus settlement in Ochom village should not be blamed on the Nuer. Ostensibly, the distribution of the regional resources meant for socio-economic development appear not to be fair with the application of model that favored six (6) Anywaa districts against two (2) Nuer districts plus one (1) special district of Majengir. Therefore, the Nuer inaccessibility of the resources from the center served as the pull factors toward Gambella and Anywaa would have contained the movement of Nuer by providing them equal access to all social services.

With respect to “liberty” Mr. Ojulu Cham challenged the liberty of Nuer from the bondage of the GPLM led party in Gambella. According to Ojulu Cham, GPLM liberated all the tribes in the Gambella region.” However, the claim Mr. Ojulu Cham put forward was not a legitimate claim since all the other four ethnic groups have rather suffered a great deal during the reign of GPLM. The liberation the inept GPLM party claimed to have brought to the Gambella people was only bloodshed and grieves. To put the record straight, the disgruntled Anywaa teachers with their ringleader Ojulu Ogala who was by then teaching in Akado village of Itang district ransacked and Killed teachers who came from highland area of Ethiopia in Chotgur village of Jiokow district. The killing of teachers in Chotgur village took place in 1978, four (4) years after the Ethiopia Revolution of the Junta regime of Col. Mengistu Hailemariam. Therefore, GPLM as a party did not liberate anyone from Gambella but the party is remembered for the worst human rights abuse and extra judicial killings of Nuer most of whom were educated including the helpless refugees resettled in Itang district summer of 1992 after the fall of the Derg regime. The barbaric act of the GPLM military wing towards the Nuer refugees in Itang district and around Gambella prompted the UNHCR to relocate the refugees to Dimma district for their safety. Nonetheless, the refugees in Dimma refugee camp after relocation were attacked by the GPLM military wing that cost lives of many Nuer, culminated the clashes between the EPRDF and GPLM military wing. If one would ask a simple question, why would Anywaa resorted to killing helpless South Sudanese refugees when they have nothing to do with land encroachment and Ethiopia politics? I would leave this question for Mr. Ojulu Cham and other readers to judge…

Bragging about Nuer supremacy: Mr. Ojulu Cham opposed to the statement I made as the worst fallacy, here I quoted, “The worst fallacy in this article is the statement, …… “Should the Nuer of today forget the rich history embedded in the struggle for the change in Gambella politics, it will be a systematic mistake in exchange for seat; a seat that will not recover the losses Nuer incurred in the process of climbing the top leadership in Gambella history and name recognition.” There was nothing wrong in telling the truth about the Nuer suffering in Gambella when GPLM took charge of Gambella affairs. It’s this rich history that would cement the unity of Nuer not to be divided no more as what former president of Gambella Omot Obang used to do for a cheap seat, which lasted only for a month or six months at max. Omot Obang was the worst president ever corrupt to the core in Gambella history coupled with the bad record of human rights abuse almost synonymous with the GPLM, a party, which did not control or capture any town let alone the village around Gambella and beyond during the liberation struggle of the EPRDF. The GPLM as a party after the EPRDF controlled all parts of Ethiopia was groomed and charged with the task of administering Gambella as sympathizer not as liberator and this is the strong message Gambella people should now know from today onward.

In conclusion, acknowledging the past mistakes and advancing the knowledge of the traditional methods of conflict resolutions would always serve as strong springboard binding the region together to move forward. Mr. Ojulu Cham as educated and well versed with the lives of both the Nuer and Anywaa plus the rich customary laws should have acknowledged the past mistake committed against the Nuer and condemned the GPLM in the strongest term possible instead of branding the GPLM as the liberator. The ordinary Anywaa and some elites suffered a great deal in the hand of GPLM but the degree of damage impacted negatively on the Nuer exceeding that of the Anywaa. For unity of Gambella people to be more attractive, Anywaa should drop the idea of them being called the “bona fide” Gambella inhabitants and….“we are more equal than the others.” Mr. Ojulu Cham for the Nuer and Anywaa to come to term as one family and fight the common enemy from the center, the Anywaa elites should stop praising GPLM as the liberator, thus condemn the GPLM for the worst atrocities committed against the Nuer and other ethnic groups in Gambella and beyond in the first place. In this line of argument, any qualify person (s) be it Komo, Opo or Majengir has all the rights to lead Gambella to the promise land, a land free of poverty with strong human security and peace. Land with no people is no man’s land. Therefore, people of Gambella should rethink their positions in term of looking at each other as enemies for the land of Gambella almost remains empty and the migrants from other parts of Ethiopia take advantage of indigenous conflict exacting the rights of land ownership.

Dr. Chuol R. Kompuok holds a PhD (Economics) from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and he can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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