Archive for: January 2013

The Wau Massacre exposes lack of accountability in South Sudan

BY: Bol Garang de Bol, Canberra, Australia, JAN/5/2013, SSN;

South Sudan is both discomposed and confounded by the inefficient approach with which the Government continues to address insecurity in the Western Bar el Ghazal, Jonglei State and Lake State that has left a number of persons dead and many more injured. Sadly to
mention, the Wau massacre isn’t the first incident in which our Government has failed our people.

The Government has failed the citizens by not undertaking rapid response, efficient data collection of intelligence information, and measures to diffuse conflict in Mile 14, Heglig (known as Panthou) and Abyei. Instead the South Sudan government and the ruling party
(SPLM) seem to have adopted a “fire fighting approach” that responds only to a disaster instead of responding to signs and symptoms that could potentially prevent a disaster.

The way our government responds to threats of the security of the citizens is confusing and indefensible. The Government must have a proactive response to a threatening situation by assembling all national security machinery for collecting necessary intelligence
information that could circulate a volatile situation and the government could drag its feet to prevent death of innocent people.

The South Sudan government’s inefficient approach raises fundamental condemnation and distressing questions that leave our National Security in disbelief. The South Sudanese people may ask why the President and Commander in Chief of South Sudan Armed Forces
cannot command an immediate action to end the on-going massacre in Western Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei State and Lakes State.

The recent incident in Wau undermined the eligibility of South Sudan police Inspector-General, Achuil Tito Madut, Minister for National Security, General Oyai Deng Ajak and all Directors of security organs to hold public positions.

The President has a moral obligation to the citizens of South Sudan under the Interim South Sudan Constitution which stipulates that the President shall ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rules of law. The people of South Sudan for the last seven years since 2005 have continuously witnessed the breakdown of the rule of law and the inability of the persons conferred with such responsibilities failing them every time and again.

We’re deeply concerned with reports that the aid agencies spoke of properties being looted and houses burnt. While the number of those killed by the SPLA has not been counted due to tight security situation in the town. The use of military personnel against civilians, and the use of brutal methods for extracting information from the suspects are unacceptable and should be condemned by all civilized societies.

I would like the South Sudan Government to take note that we condemn the violent killings in Western Bar el Ghazal that are as a direct result of the pressure that has been building due to failure by the State to uphold the rule of law.

I also note that the failure and delay by the Government to undertake security sectors reforms is undermining key changes that could enhance the performance of the security sectors to ensure sustainable peace in the country.

For the sack of national interests, I call on the South Sudan’s government to:–

1. To strongly and speedily stop and investigate the Wau massacre.
2. The immediate resignation of National Security Minister, General Oyai Deng Ajak and South Sudan’s Inspector-General of Police, Lt. General, Achuil Tito Madut.
3. The immediate disarmament of the general population
4. The South Sudan Government must take political responsibility by enforcing the rule of law so that such acts of lawlessness may not happen again.
5. The government must inform the public about what measures are in place to control future massacre.

I believe, not only me, but many Southerners now and in the near future will share the same idea with me by accusing this government of having failed to deliver to people’s expectations. The people of South Sudan under the current leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit are agitating for good service delivery, a corruption-free South Sudan, transparency in the Party leadership and public sectors.

The major issue in the Government of President Salva Kiir, is accountability. No one is being held accountable to the South Sudanese people… neither the President nor his Executive arm of government.

The President and his Executive keep denying if anything went wrong, therefore, who will the South Sudanese hold accountable for rampant corruption, Wau massacre, stolen $4 billion and malicious killings in Juba?

Giving critical analysis to the situation facing our country today under the SPLM Rule, you may find it that the Movement we joined 30 years ago isn’t the same Movement we’re having now. The SPLA/SPLM was formed as the Movement of the people for the people to liberate South Sudan through a change of government but in a civilized way.

I was assuming the people of South Sudan to go for service delivery government similar to those of UK, US, Australia, Kenya, South Africa which are responsible governments not that of “Fire Brigade” with only one or two with the vision for all. The government we need in South Sudan between now and 2015 is a transitional government which can represent the interest of South Sudanese people and protect them and their territory.

We don’t want the government which failed to negotiate the political fate of Abyei, Mile 14 and Wau massacre. The people of South Sudan at this critical time need a national leader that can build trust among ethnic communities on this momentum.

Bol Garang de Bol is a South Sudanese living in Canberra, Australia.
He can be reached at nicetobeme05@yahoo.com

South Sudan Intolerance: Cultural or Situation-inspired?

BY: KUIR E GARANG, CANADA, JAN/5/2013, SSN;

It’s no secret that South Sudan is heading towards socio-political cliff or is actually free-falling already. There’s bad news almost every day. However, 2012 will go down in our history as one of the worst years in Juba’s watch and rule. I will list a few of these memorable events!

However, this article tackles the general intolerance that some are taking for ethno-cultural and systemic order-of-the-day. I do believe that we need to look at ourselves as individuals to ensure that intolerance to criticism and existential prominence of others, don’t become acceptable norms in our society. I’ll leave that to the end.

First of all, we have rampant insecurity in Juba. The insecurity comes from both the national security agents and the average thugs on the streets. Who is the worst, I couldn’t tell you! The average robber is preventing people, who are supposed to be building the economy, from growing their businesses. The national security agents are preventing the average critic from giving the government an alternative way of looking at issues, or a mirror through which the leadership can pause and think: ‘Oh, maybe we should look at things differently.’

In the beginning of the year we had the issue of Panthou – a land that belongs to us – which was ill-handled by Juba; leading to widespread condemnation of South Sudanese leadership by world leaders including the United Nations. The question one is left to ask is: “How do you occupy or invade your own land?” The answer is: things are done in Juba without serious energetic consideration and effort before action.

Then we had the shutdown of oil production; leaving the leadership wondering as to the alternative avenues of cash flow. So far, Juba is still reeling from that shutdown because the decision, while it had some merits, was taken out of emotive frustration; not on economic sensibilities.

Then we had the senseless killing of the civilians, who are fighting relocation in Western Bhar El Ghazal. This is a result of leadership incompetence or other-opinion-intolerance. Leaders are supposed to convince; lead by practical examples, not force civilians.

A leader who forces people s/he rules is a failed leader. Part of being an excellent leader is to be a good and patient communicator, not an evil, murderous ‘forcer.’ If a leader says s/he is willing to fight civilians, such as president Kiir in his Wau’s speech, then that leader ceases to be their leader; he loses legitimacy. In a sensible world, a leader who is willing to pick up his gun against his own people is a mad man, not a leader!!

Besides, Governor Rizik Zachariah should have resigned if he cared about the people who elected him. The leader is the one who is supposed to be the humble one; the seeker of the solution. Force is not a solution but a failure of imagination and resolves.

And on December 5, we had the grotesque, incomprehensible and barbaric assassination of political commentator, Isaiah Abraham; a murder informed and instigated by our inability to tolerate criticism and social and political humility.

Finally, we had the shooting down of United Nations’ chopper and the death of the Russian crew on board.

Now, if one looks at the above listed incidences and suggest alternative methods leading to possible (and I say again, possible) solutions, then one is met by loads of frustrated and power-and-dollar-intoxicated hearts full of acrid intolerance.

Why is the government so intolerant to criticism? Why is there so much fear of opinionated people and hatred towards those who criticize the government? It isn’t that these people aren’t educated and are not used to consequences of people getting educated and afforded a voice and critical insight by intellectual exposure.

Some of these people are highly educated and know the value of getting corrected. Anyone who’d ever sat in a class knows that exams and papers have to be corrected in a manner one doesn’t always like. But one has to abide by the suggestions, give them due attention, or dismiss them with due sensitivity, if one is to improve grades and standards; in this case, governance.

This brings me to the question and the nature of intolerance in South Sudan. Some of us criticize the government as being intolerant to criticism; and we are justified in doing so. We are justified in criticizing the government for the government is hiding under the idea of being ‘young.’

The country might be young but the leadership’s brain power isn’t young. Has the war destroyed the innovative, creative and compassionate capacities of our leaders? If yes, then they shouldn’t be ruling! They should resign en masse.

However, late Steve Jobs once said that “someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.” And when the old is cleared away and different blood assumes the leadership, my main question would be: “would the new breed be different and if so then what precedents do we have now that’d point to a conducive and tolerant leadership of tomorrow?”

Is the intolerable intolerance in Juba only a character of the mentally diseased former freedom fighters, or is the intolerance culturally acquired? If the intolerance stems only from the former freedom fighters militarized mentality, that is, they find it hard to accept that that criticism is part and parcel of any democratic society, then we’ll be fine once these old bed sheets are changed.

However, if the intolerance is cultural, then we’ve got a problem.

What we have to do then is to look at ourselves and find ways to prevent this semi-cultural political malady from being a political reality for generations to come. But one would ask: ‘why would one think intolerance could be cultural?’ Maybe we should look at ourselves!

Are the leaders who didn’t join the liberation struggle more tolerant? Is the younger generation more tolerant? Is intolerance inherent in some tribal traditions and not others? Is pride being protected through destructive methods? You’ll tell me!

Personally, I don’t care where you come from but what you think and what you do. I don’t care whether you’re affiliated with SPLM-DC or SPLM or any other political party… or Bari, Nyangwara, Pajullo, Acholi, Madi, Jieng, Nuer… etc. How about you; do you? And if you think you don’t care, is that fact prominent in your life?

Unless we are sure that the culture of intolerance isn’t something that will continue to build up into the future, our country would be in jeopardy. We can’t blame the government if we would do the same should we be the power in Juba. Let’s shun practices we don’t like by not doing them. It’s pathetic to be critical of practices others do but do them all the same.

There are even prominent intellectuals in South Sudan, who harshly and unintelligibly criticize those who criticize leaders from their own tribe. If you defend a leader from your own tribe not on principle but on political and tribal allegiance and you expect others not to be tribalists, then you’re living in a fanciful cocoon. Intolerance to criticism is the same no matter who fancies it!

There’s a difference between valuable and constructive criticism and political and tribally-motivated dismissiveness that is not based on principles of moving forward and nation building.

Juba leadership is confused, lost and impervious to correction. Dr. Garang thought it was Khartoum that was ‘too deformed to be reformed’ but he’d be disappointed to realize that Juba is more so, or worse. Besides, the dear doctor wanted one country with two political systems, but now we have two countries, with more or less, one political system.

In Calgary, tribes conduct their parties separately. Even within the same tribes, different clans operate differently. You find Aweil, Jogrial, Tonj, Twi, Gajaak, Jagook, Bor and so forth, conducting their affairs separately. But these are the very same people who’d be vocal in saying that we need a united South Sudan! What a shame! Countries don’t unite through miracle. They’re united from the grassroots.

Let’s live by example. It might be them today, but it’s us tomorrow! Would we be different, if so, then how?

Kuir e Garang is a South Sudanese poet and author living in Canada. For contact, follow him on twitter: @kuirthiy or visit www.kuirthiy.info

Is there anti-Dinka school of thought in South Sudan as claimed by Joseph Garang of New Sudan Vision?

BY: ElHag Paul, RSS, JAN/03/2013, SSN;

Joseph Deng Garang, the New Sudan Vision president wrote a very interesting article about the state of affairs in the country under the title ‘South Sudan needs steady leadership to save it from collapse’ in NewSudanVision.com on 17th December 2012.

The article opens with razzmatazz of a statement asserting Dr Garang forcefully as the founding father of South Sudan. Well, he (Dr Garang) is not. The evidence overwhelming says so. Few days ago I was in an express train in Europe and accidentally my eyes caught a lady sitting in front of me reading an article about refugees in South Sudan. This attracted my attention and immediately I reached for my laptop, plugged in the dongle and accessed the internet.

I googled the paper and there in front of me was a picture of a woman sitting on a brown chequered carpet wearing a whitish/creamish dress under what appears to be either a veranda or an open shack (Rakuba). In her posture, she crossed her hands over her straight crossed legs with a sad face. Behind her there was a pile of clothes on a line near the corner of the building, some clothes lie folded on a table behind her. In front of her there was a seemingly neglected teddy bear and blue sleepers. A forlorn sight takes over the mind. The author of this piece is Kate Eshelby, writing on Metro Newspaper of Wednesday 12th December 2012 under the title ‘It is hard here but this is my country: Thousands return to South Sudan after independence.’

I quickly read the article and I was struck by a conversation between the author and the son of Dr John Garang and here it is: “Mabior Garang De-Mabior, the eldest son of the late SPLA leader, John Garang, believes that despite the country’s potential, the returnees’ hopes have been dashed.

He said: ‘Garang wanted a unified country, with all ethnic groups equal and an end to marginalisation. But the SPLA has failed. It’s as if the movement has suffered amnesia.”

In this exchange, Mabior, seemingly in despair, clearly conveys to us an insight into his father’s unionist political conviction. This can not be disputed because as the son of Garang, brought up by Garang and being in Garang’s life he understands his father better than anybody else who is second guessing. Not only that, but Garang himself was very honest about his unionist beliefs. He documented it accordingly in his books edited by Mansour Khalid.

It should by now be clear to Joseph Deng Garang and those people who tirelessly try to elevate the late leader of SPLM/A into father of the nation that their consistent assertions are futile. Dr John Garang was the leader of SPLM/A who wanted to realize a united Sudan but he failed as his son put it. In Dr Garang’s quest to realize a united Sudan he lynched separatists left and right thus introducing the culture of killing in South Sudan politics. A culture whose consequence now has a direct link to the killing of intellectuals and the SPLM Oyee terror engulfing the country.

So Dr Garang is not and can not be father of the nation he did not want to be born.

It is important to highlight this point on behalf of the separatist victims of SPLM Oyee like Akout Atem, Samuel Gai Tut, Joseph Oduho and others so they rest in their graves peacefully lest the whole thing becomes an affront to them.

Joseph Deng Garang’s article apart from the opening delusion over all attempted to explain the current malaise in the country fairly. If my understanding of his article is correct, Garang judiciously has concluded that Dinkocracy has failed the country, yet he attempts to resuscitate the dying horse (SPLM Oyee) by trying to rally the young to take over from the current leaders in 2015.

Whether this will work remains to be seen. However, it gives us hope that at last the website (New Sudan Vision) that vehemently promotes Dinkocracy is beginning to see its own foolery and is turning into a positive critic of itself and the very system it helped develop into a monster. This is a highly welcome development.

I will come to this point later on in this article. The main purpose of my writing is to set the record straight on some misinformation that Garang’s article is spreading around about some of us. In his quest to enlighten South Sudanese about the sorry state of affairs in the country, Garang postulates three schools of thoughts as being part of the problem.

These are: the so called liberators, the anti-Dinka and lastly the elderly generation running the government in South Sudan. The author does not explain how he reached the conclusion on his three schools of thoughts. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he has some grounds for his arguments. Nevertheless I take issue with Garang’s insinuation that we are anti-Dinka. Certainly I am not.

Garang argues that: “The second school of thought is advanced by those with anti-Dinka attitudes. Those are the ones who are calling SPLM’s bluff. They have the advantage of calling the government a Dinka property… thanks to the weak leadership of Kiir. It is a bunch of weak oppositions masquerading as political parties. Their goal, God forbid, will be nothing short of settling old and imaginary scores by meting out some sort of payback. They are consumed with bitterness.

Their argument goes something like this: South Sudan is a small country of 8 million citizens who have been left outside looking in by those in Juba and if they are given a chance they can improve people’s lot. They have a point except that the nation knows their track record or lack thereof. They are right to point out how miserably the SPLM has failed to deliver given its stellar revolutionary credo and national resources. The heavy weights in this camp include Dr. Lam Akol, and a couple of opinion writers such as Dr. James Okuk, Dr. Justin Ambago, and El Hag Paul.”

The language, its tone and the words in Garang’s article say it all. The incitement against the listed takes it to another level. Garang is obsessed with extreme anger and hate. The paranoia tearing him comes out in his expressions. His writing exposes his tribalistic character. Thus his claims are nothing other than the projection of his inner world unto us. How he has reached the conclusion that the people he lists are anti-Dinka baffles me.

None of those listed actually is anti-Dinka. In fact they love the Jieng like all the other tribes in the country. It is this love that has forced me personally to point out the bad behavior of the Jieng to them in numerous articles so that they can reflect and reform accordingly. The others and I act as a mirror for the Jieng to see their blind spots which un-endears them to their brothers and sisters from all the other tribes in the country.

Our criticism of the Jieng, if you think about it, in fact makes us the best friends of the Jieng because we want to save them from their destructive selves. Those who do not give any feedback to Jieng about how they behave in power are their real enemies. The behavior of Jieng in power, especially with abuse of power for 30 years now since 1983 is creating for them serious problems throughout the country.

What settling of score or in his own words ‘payback’ is Garang referring to? So, is he admitting to the gruesome things they have done to others which is unknown to us? Are there other worse things than the killing of the Equatoria police officers in Yambio, the killing of the doctor in Yei, the land grabbing… etc.. that will motivate people to seek revenge?

I believe in forgiveness, law and order. Crucially, I believe in the preservation of life and I will not be a party to abuse of any human beings regardless of their tribe, race, religion, and gender.

The Jieng have done horrible things and there is no question about this but I strongly believe that they should be forgiven through something similar to Truth and Reconciliation Commission process in South Africa or like Gacacha courts in Rwanda. That is the best way to bring genuine change to dehumanized people.

Otherwise if we slip down the route of revenge then we will not develop a peaceful country where we can be happy in the company of each other because revenge is infinite. It will be tit for tat and so on and surely this will be the route to destruction. If this is allowed then what is the point of living in one country? Please be foresighted and think about the coming generations and what kind of country you want to leave for them.

Nelson Mandela on coming to power in South Africa in 1994 proved it beyond doubt to the world that when you forgive abusers (such as Apartheid promoters) this hurts and punishes them more than taking revenge and yet heals the country faster. So the punishment to our abusers should be to show them practically that we are not like them. We belong to a human class of beings with feelings and empathy. We understand what pain is and we will not go down their barbaric route.

If you choose to be barbaric we will shun you but not behave like you because we do not want to demean our humanity and legitimize your ugly behavior. Therefore, Garang should rest assured that the fear gripping him from thoughts of ‘payback’ has no grounds because I am human who feels, empathizes with pain no matter on who it is inflicted.

Having spoken about Garang’s Anti-Dinka baseless allegation, I now move to the problem with New Sudan Vision website. I now understand why this website behaves unethically. For it is led by paranoid tribalists. This website delights in promoting Dinkocracy while denying the people it denigrates a voice.

I had a nasty experience with it sometimes back. A Deng Dekuek, incensed with one of my articles about SPLM Oyee and the government in Juba, went amok in response. Dekeuk was so contemptuous in his response to the extent that I had to reply. Since Dekeuk published his abusive article on New Sudan Vision, it was natural for me to respond to him through it.

I was surprised to find out that the management was so unprofessional. They rejected to publish my article and when I contacted them as to why I was told that they had no obligation in spite of the fact that Dekeuk was using them to lobe mud at me. So this website does not publish views opposed to SPLM Oyee or counter views opposed to articles written by their tribalist contributors.

When Jieng commit crimes against other people from other tribes it goes completely silent. For instance, when the Equatorian police officers and a doctor were killed in Yambio and Yei respectively this website pretended as if nothing dreadful happened. It either mentioned such crimes in passing or ignored it totally. The ugly face of this website can be seen in its reporting about the plight of the Murle people in Jonglei. It demonizes the Murle and singles them out as the culprits in that state when in fact what is happening to them is near genocide.

Had New Sudan Vision been fair and a respectable media outlet, it would have been in fore front of reporting fairly in order to bring a suitable solution to the problem while protecting all the people in that state regardless of their tribes.

Similarly when Peter Sule got framed by the SPLM Oyee it went berserk perpetuating the Oyee lies and justifying the mendacity of the government in Juba. It embarked on condemning Sule without making any effort to investigate the lies of SPLM Oyee. The noble contribution of Sule to the liberation of South Sudan was distorted to present him as a betrayer.

The recent carnage in Wau applauded by the blood thirsty president Kiir revolted the world and international media reported it widely. Unbelievably, New Sudan Vision neither acknowledged the carnage nor reported it as it should.

Now compare all the above to the intensity and the degree of its coverage of the current events in the country involving the lynching of intellectuals. Why did they not do the same in the mentioned cases? What is different this time? I leave that to anyone’s guess.

So this website being a mouth piece of the Oyee regime of terror in Juba is not useful in our struggle to build a peaceful and fair country. Its tribalistic nature does not bode well for shaping positive opinion in the country. Although I very well know that they will not publish this article which has been sparked by the supposed Anti-Dinka allegation of New Sudan Vision’s president, it is comforting to know that the other professionally-run websites will publish it.

Jamming the brake, the article of the president of New Sudan Vision had some good things in it but the author could not resist the trap of glorifying the late leader of SPLM Oyee as the father of the nation. This may be because he shares the same ethnicity with the late or this could be in line with the Dinkocratic policies of his organisation. Whichever of the two, truth will triumph.

Garang’s piece might have gained respect of the readership had it not been colored by unsubstantiated allegation of his so-called Anti-Dinka school. An idea concocted out of the blue. A myth!

Elhag Paul,
elhagpaul@aol.com

Kiir’s withdrawal from borders: Does he really know the implications?

BY: Mulana D’Duot, USA, JAN/01/2013, SSN;

No one ever in the world would make his family to be affected by the disease that he knows how to prevent it. How come we allow our people to be affected by a sickness while we have the best medication that can stop it in a minute? This is sickening to the people of South Sudan when President Kiir made yet another blunder by telling us (citizens of South Sudan) that he’s ordering the withdrawal of our army from the borders. What a great mistake? Did the man forget that the Sudan Armed Forces, SAF, just attacked us last week?

“There are now 3,000 troops fully equipped moving towards the disputed areas. They are moving with heavy weapons and they started their activities with ground attack on areas which are deeply inside our territory. They have started this with the attack on Northern Bahr el Ghazal State and a raid of farmers in Renk County in Upper Nile State,” South Sudan information minister, Barnaba Marial said.

How come would the president, the man who’s charged with protecting us from such attacks would just ignominiously back down with such a defeat, saying: “We are temporarily withdrawing our forces from the immediate border areas. This will allow the demilitarized border zone to be operational. We hope that these arrangements will make sure that peace and stability is maintained along our common border,” in his New Year’s message.

Am I dreaming or did Mr. President really mean when he just said this? Did he just forget that the SAF will take advantage of this action?

He also added that “South Sudan has not given any of its land to Sudan,” adding that its leaders stood firm throughout the year to protect the fundamental interests of its nationals.

Is this true? How come would he say that since he knows that we are aware that the deal was not in the best interest of South Sudan that is why they reject? I am wondering how Mr. President always comes up with these crazy ideas.

Doesn’t he know SAF aim is to annex parts of South Sudan and to drill our oil fields? There might be something behind this move. Is our president being paid by the our enemies to make such useless moves?

We should really think about this because this is the second time for him telling us to withdraw, when he knows very well that our enemies are about to attack us. The first instance was Panthou (Heglig) incident when the SPLA defeated SAF in a defeat that will be remembered for life.

How does Mr. President come up with these ideas? I wish he could be sincere and honest to explain to South Sudanese how he will regain back those lands and the people we have lost to our enemies?

How would you call an acceptably obvious defeat a temporary withdrawal? I don’t really know how he does come up with these decisions of withdrawing our troops back. If there are some people telling him to do so then it’s time South Sudanese have to question these people because these ideas will keep hurting us financially and politically.

This man is failing us. He is quick in pleasing our enemies and they know his weakness very well. How come he is considering the withdrawal our troop from the border when our enemies are amazing their troops on the border? Doesn’t he know that their plans are to capture those areas?

The Mile 14 that was wrongly included in the buffer zone. What is the man smoking… I am wondering if anyone in South Sudan is still proud of Kiir at this time because he is failing us.

I don’t really think that Dr. John Garang would ever come up with such weak ideas if he was still alive and I also don’t know what would Isaiah Abraham say if he was still alive to hear your words, Mr. President.

In addition, I don’t really know if the SPLA Secretary General, Pagan Amum, has any knowledge. I am quite sure that he does not have any idea of what is going on. Sir, people are missing you and they are waiting to hear from you.

Where is the country going and where are these ideas leading us to? Why are young leaders being killed by our security forces, and how can the future be a future without you, leaders?

Please sir, come out, Mr. Kiir is leading us to backwards not forward. Withdrawing our troop from the Border is not what we want nor is it in the best interest of South Sudanese, it is total failure.

“Taking Towns to People” Vs “Taking Towns to Villages”

BY: Dr. James Okuk, PhD, JUBA, JAN/01/2013, SSN;

Happy New Year to us all. We hope our dear South Sudan will be a happy country in near future compared to the unhappy situation it has been put under now. Let our hope for the best wishes remains the fuel of our optimism despite many pessimistic signs surrounding us.

To diagnose briefly the phrases “Taking Towns to People” Vs “Taking Towns to Villages.”

“Taking” means moving something from its original point of stature. In our case of discussion it is the “town” that is perceived for “taking” it to “the people” or to “the village”.

1 – PEOPLE

According to Wikipedia, “people” is a plurality of persons considered as a whole, as in an ethnic group or nation. For example in politics, various republics govern, or claim to govern, in the name of the people. Thus, “the people” identifies the entire body of the citizens of a jurisdiction invested with political power or gathered for political purposes.

2 – TOWN

Also according to Wikipedia, the German word “Zaun” comes closest to the original meaning of the word “Town;” a fence of any material.

Comparatively from a common sense, a town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. Nonetheless, the size definition for what constitutes a “town” varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many “small towns” in the United States would be regarded as villages in the United Kingdom, while many British “small towns” would qualify as cities in the United States.

The modern phenomenon of extensive suburban growth, satellite urban development, and migration of some city-dwellers to villages have further complicated the definition of “towns.” For example, some forms of non-rural settlement, such as temporary mining locations, may be clearly non-rural, but have at best a questionable claim to be called a town.

In general, today towns can be differentiated from villages or hamlets on the basis of their advanced economic, political, social, cultural and infrastructural character. Most of a town’s population will tend to derive their living from manufacturing industry, commerce, and public service rather than primary industry such as agriculture or related activities. Hence, towns often exist as distinct governmental units, with legally defined and planned borders on larger scale.

Australian geographer, Thomas Griffith Taylor, proposed a classification of towns based on their age and pattern of land use. He identified five types of town:

*Infantile towns, with no clear zoning.
*Juvenile towns, which have developed an area of shops.
*Adolescent towns, where factories have started to appear.
*Early mature towns, with a separate area of high-class housing.
*Mature towns, with defined industrial, commercial, services, goods and various types of residential areas as well as public administrative areas.

3 – VILLAGE

Further and according to Wikipedia, “village” is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand (sometimes tens of thousands). Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighborhoods, such as the East Village in Manhattan, the Saifi Village in Beirut, Mamba Village in Mombasa, Hampstead Village in the London conurbation, Peace Village in Central Equatoria State of South Sudan, etc.

Villages are normally permanent, with fixed dwellings; however, transient villages can occur in the examples of nomads and the displaced people. Further, the dwellings of a village are fairly close to one another, not scattered broadly over planned landscape. Also villages are a usual form of community for societies that practice subsistence agriculture, aquaculture as well as non-agricultural practices.

It is said that the Industrial Revolution attracted people in larger numbers to work in mills and factories. Concentration of people and their settlements organization caused many villages to grow into towns and cities. This also enabled specialization of labor and crafts, and development of many trades. The trend of urbanization continues, though not always in connection with industrialization, and with eclipsing of importance of villages as indigenous units of human society and settlement.

According to UK standards, a village is distinguished from a town in that:

A village should not have a regular agricultural market.
A village does not have a town hall nor a mayor.
If a village is the principal settlement of a civil parish, then any administrative body that administers it at parish level should be called a parish council or parish meeting, and not a town council or city council.
There should be a clear green belt or open fields. However this may not be applicable to urbanized villages.

In Nigeria, every Hausa village was reigned by Magaji (Village head) who was answerable to his Hakimi (mayor) at town level. The Magaji also had his cabinet who assisted him rule his village efficiently, among whom was Mai-Unguwa (Ward Head). They lived in ‘clusters of huts belonging to the patrilineage.’ However, with the creation of Native Authority in Nigerian provinces, the autocratic power of village heads along with all other traditional rulers was subdued, hence they ruled ‘under the guidance of colonial officials.’

A typical Nigerian large village might have a few thousand persons who shared the same market, meeting place and courts for settlement of disputes and other problems. These villages were originally made of mud houses with grassy thatched roofing, though zinc roofing and some concrete walling is becoming a common sight now. People used not to have access to portable water, so they fetched it from ponds and streams. Others are lucky to have wells within a walking distance. Women rush in the morning to fetch water in their clay pots from wells, boreholes and streams. However, government is now trying to provide them with water bore holes and feeder roads. Also electricity and GSM network are reaching more and more villages.

4 – THE DEBATE

a) Factually and empirically, a “town” is different from a “village” as described and defined above in headings 2 & 3. Thus, taking a town to a village becomes destructive to existence of a village, though nominally a small village could co-exist within a town or a city. A village could also co-exist around a town but with semi-impossibility of surviving for longer periods. Usually, towns expansion eliminate the suburb villages. Some Bari villages that were around Juba town but got eliminated later could be authentic examples here.

b) Analogically and rationally, a “town” could mean availability of services and other basic amenities that facilitate the attainment of standard and better living conditions in a particular geographical location. If such services and amenities are extended to villages then the living standards of the people settling there could get improved and standardized; similar to that found in towns. But in most cases, taking services and other standardised goods to villages tends to be a very difficult and expensive endeavor due to scatterness of villages. Even when these are done, sustaining them pose other challenges compared to compacted, densified and planned towns. Hence, the tendency of developers to neglect villages and expand towns.

b) Taking towns to the people does not make an amusing sense because it is triviality phrase out of tautology if we understand the meaning of “people”. That is, “people” are found everywhere in a state; “the people” is one of the fundamental elements that defines a state. The totality of “persons” living in towns are referred to as “people.” Therefore, when you say analogically that you want to take towns to the people, it suggests that “people” are elsewhere (in rural areas) and not in towns (urban areas); a naive analogical phraseology indeed!

c) In conclusion, let the talks about the vision of our development in South Sudan be taking the necessary basic services and goods to rural areas (our villages) and not to the people, so to speak. “Taking towns to the villages” in terms of similarity of services and other life living amenities is also too much a burden and unsustainable endeavour. A capacity of a town can never be equated with that of a village. Let’s be straight forward and avoid to much idealogizing and propagandizing.

Development of the people by the people and for the people should be the way to go. I love Mualimu Julius Nyerere!

Dr. James Okuk,
Lecturer, Juba University.