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I don’t know about you; but this was not the South Sudan I had dreamed about

By Ms. Kuyang Harriet Logo Mulukwat

Year’s back I was told that even at the time of death, a wounded SPLA soldier had one slogan – SPLA Oyee! In the most difficult times, the gallant solders always ensured that the candle burnt on even after their demise. South Sudanese resilience paid off during the vote for separation – for that whole week, we were the most united. We stood together and waited for the results of our vote. When the results were announced we jubilated. Every year we mark our independence with pomp and pride. We look to our flag with tears in our eyes, as we remember the heroes and heroines. Unlike other African nations, most of us have our flags flying in our homes. We liberated ourselves. We became free and looked to the future with great expectations.

Two years after independence, we descended into war and despite an official end to the war; there are pockets of conflicts in nearly all locations. The reasons behind the constant conflicts and misunderstandings are because of scarce resources and also the different lifestyles of the tribal groupings. The patterns of the conflicts are the same – resource based and triggered because of the different lifestyles. For an agriculturalist, whose source of livelihood is the crops he cultivates, the crops are his treasure. Also a pastoralist whose source of livelihood are his cattle, the cattle become his treasured possession. When the two have to co-exist, they have to manage their different sources of livelihoods properly in order not to tramp on the rights of the other. So when the pastoralists graze their cattle and other form of livestock on the crops of agriculturalists, there is definitely bound to be a conflict. Such conflicts will not be totally eradicated, but need to be effectively managed.

 If left unattended to, the current situation will spill over and the whole country could be engaged in conflict because of resources and sources of livelihoods that have been poorly managed. I am neither agriculturalist nor an economist, but the little I know is that the conflicts in Mundri, Yambio, Lobonok and the recent one in Wau are purely because of resources competitiveness.

If we could unite and redeem ourselves in the face of the oppressive regime in Sudan and achieve our long awaited freedom, then what stops us from managing small resource based conflicts? What happened to the rich culture of dialogue? What happened to unity and being one people? The constant conflicts over resources can be amicably resolved when the leaders of the communities gather in one place to resolve the disputes – that’s the way it was done in the past, why now, have we all of a sudden resorted to using arms and men in uniform to approach an old problem of resources amongst us?

Are these resource based conflicts really rebellions? I don’t think so. It is as simple as this – if you feed your livestock on my crops and I mistreat your livestock, either of us must react and in most instances brutally because any interference with resources simply threaten the very foundation of one’s existence. It is only natural to protect ones resources. These resource based conflicts have become so retributive, that many more lives are being lost nearly every day. How many more lives do we have to loose in order for us to say enough is enough?

The Council of Ministers have regular sittings – I am throwing the ball into your court. There have to be some strategies that you can come up with to end this conflicts. I am sure that this is worrying the leadership because it is now spreading to areas where such conflicts were least expected to occur.

Sometimes I say to myself, the political crisis that occurred will jolt our conscience and ensure that we never revert to war again. Yet, I begin to wonder if there were any lessons learnt at all and if the recent war will be our last. UNDP and the World Bank are devising strategies to revamp the economy, but I will be brutally honest here – the constant conflicts are not just frustrating South Sudanese, but the donor community as well. As they try to put our house in order, we as South Sudanese are busy shredding it to pieces all the time over and over again. Let those who are involved take a minute and recall the struggles of the people and their own dreams of a nation. Was it supposed to be this chaotic? I don’t think so. I am sure it was a dream of beautiful peaceful lands, whose people are free and live together in harmony. I don’t know about you, but this was not the South Sudan I had dreamed about!

 

The Writer is a South Sudanese Lawyer and Consultant on Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law and teaches on a part time basis at the College of Law of the University of Juba. She can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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