A Response to the Bor and Padang Dinka Denial of Bari Land Grabbing in Gwuduge, Rejaf, Juba

By Justin Tombe Demetry, MAR/19/2016, SSN;

A denial letter written by Joseph Athian Angok, According to the Dawn Newspaper published on March 9, 2016 in Juba under the title, “Bor, Padang Communities Deny Land Grabbing Allegations,” turns out to be a form of a letter that leaves one in a sense of pity if not bewilderment. In that interesting letter, the community of Bor and Padang Dinka strongly denied the land grabbing allegations in Rajaf East that were labeled against them by the SPLA generals, terming the allegations as untrue and unacceptable.

In the statement extended to the Dawn Newspaper signed by the chiefs of the two communities who said, they would like to clarify to the public that, they are not land grabbers. The statement reads: “We, the chiefs of the two above mentioned communities, would like to clarify to the public that, what the two generals, Marial Chanuong and Thomas Cirilo said is not true, and completely not acceptable, when they referred to the two communities as land grabbers, and called their chiefs ring leaders.”

The chiefs reiterated that they are not land grabbers and that they’ve followed the legal procedures to acquire land, categorically describing the name ‘land grabbers’ as rude language.

The teamed-up community said they submitted their request for land to the then Central Equatoria State who gave them an approval and transferred them to Rajaf East Payam authorities to allocate land for the displaced people from the two communities to live in for a short time. As such, the Rajaf East Executive Director by name Simon Peter Johnson gave approval to these two communities, and charged them 50,000 (Fifty Thousand) South Sudanese Pounds for each community as fees for the land; and therefore, Padang Community paid its due fees on February 9, 2015; whereas Bor Community paid its due fees on May 15, 2015.

In the statement, the chiefs revealed that, while they were doing some preparations to clear the area allocated to them; in the course of doing so, they were surprised by a huge number of the body guards of the two generals, who then arrested some of their chiefs. They have now appealed to both Jubek State and Central authorities to intervene in the case.

This interesting denial letter can be summed up into three important entities which are: The rightful acquisition of land for displaced persons, payment of the required fees for the said land, and the arrest made due to land grabbing.

In the first place, I would like to express my sympathy for the members from the two communities who were forced to be displaced away from their own localities. As my response to Joseph Athian Angok, the writer; as well as the response to the chiefs of the two communities; I would like to introduce myself as one of the natives; or in other words, one of the victims of the area or land under siege.

Just to give you a hint about the receptive nature of the very village or community you are in dispute with; be informed that this very community have accommodated not only internally displaced persons, but refugees from the neighboring countries who have lived peacefully without any form of hurdles until the right time came for them to return back to where they came from.

Apart from some of the groups from Eastern Equatoria that were forced to come to the government controlled areas during the war (1983-2005), let alone those who came before, the last group that I clearly remember were the displaced citizens that came to that same area from the village of Ngagnala, when the SPLA advanced to their area around late 1980s, and displaced them to Juba.

By then, those displaced persons from Lokoya tribe settled in, and were assisted by the non-governmental organizations. By then, Juba was under the government of Equatoria Region; and the government establishment through the Juba City Council approached the chiefs. Thereafter, the chiefs together with the local community allocated a designated area on temporary basis for the displaced persons.

The displaced persons were allowed to erect their camps assisted by the NGOs, and allowed to cultivate crops and even build tukuls; but should get permission in the event that they would like to plant a tree. Building a foundation or erecting a building was out of question. This had always been the case back in the day.

When those displaced persons came to the area in the late 1980s, by then Gen. Thomas Cirilo was an officer in the Sudan Armed Forces, who was influential and had a say in the village affairs before his heroic departure to join the SPLA struggle. Despite the fact that Uncle Thomas Cirilo had government forces under his command in the outskirts of Juba Airport, he never had any quarrel with the displaced persons.

On the other hand, Gen. Peter Cirilo who was also a retired governor and general in the Sudan Armed forces was by then highly respected by the army command in Juba despite his retirement from the army. Gen. Peter had a farm in Gumbo which likewise accommodated the displaced persons.

My own dad who is one of the responsible figures from the area whose farm is adjacent to Uncle Peter Cirilo, also accommodated various groups of displaced citizens; and despite being a senior government employee with good connections, he did not use any means to quarrel with the displaced person, but had to legally evict those who attempted to illegally confiscate the land on several occasions.

All those named figures have not chased away any displaced person simply because those displaced people were there on temporary basis, and have no intention of retention of the land; neither have they even gotten engaged in demarcation or illicit land business as those types of practices were not even known or heard of.

The resentment that developed recently is simply because the community is now dealing with a different ball game altogether, which is associated with some hidden agenda – coupled with immorally unwelcomed practice of illegal land business.

If the two communities of Bor and Padang would like to dispute that they are displaced persons, what does the displaced person have to do with legal acquisition of the land that involves payment of the fees without the involvement of the land owners? On the other hand, where on earth would a displaced person pay huge amount of money to get land; and on top of it erect not temporary, but concrete structures?

Since land for the displaced are supposed to be for temporary settlement, it is supposed to be free and shouldn’t require ‘legal acquisition’ at all; so long as the right channels are undertaken, so as to allow temporary settlement in the designated land approved by the land owners. With regards to the Gwuduge land issue, this has not been the case whatsoever.

If the then Central Equatoria State authority referred you to the Payam Administrator, then that same administrator should have handled that issue with the local chief of that particular area or village.

If the claim is that chief Lado Bureng was the one who allocated the village of Gwuduge for temporary settlement, then you need to know that, the two communities plus the Payam Administrator by the name Simon Peter Johnson have dealt with a wrong chief in a joint malfeasance practice altogether.

For your information, Gwuduge is a village within the Tokiman community that has its own separate village chief; hence, even the paramount chief cannot decide on this alone. Whether the two communities of Bor and Padang now know who the right chief of the area is or not, we have faith in them; nonetheless, be reminded also that, bribing a chief have ended up with those Southern Sudanese chiefs whom history have taught us that, they were allegedly bribed by the former Arab masters through gifts such as bicycles, radios and few cash. Those were the things of the past.

Even though we respect our chiefs, they don’t have an absolute say in the decision making as far as community land is concern. As a matter of fact, that community land belongs to individual families; and they were never a no man’s land that any administrator or a chief can allocate at will. If such a practice might have happened somewhere, it is their decision to do so.

That being said, too bad to inform you that, the two generals, Marial Chanuong and Thomas Cirilo did the right thing by making an arrest to prevent land grabbing because such practices are the very acts that tarnishes the image of your community that have shed blood with the rest because of this very land you attempted to grab.

I have written on this similar topic under the following link for you to understand the history of how this community managed to protect their ancestral land for ages; as well as the acts of tarnishing your community’s name by creating unnecessary animosity through such practice: http://www.southsudannation.com/condemnation-of-the-recent-land-grabbing-in-gwuduge-village-tokiman-rajaf-payam-juba/

I hope the two communities have now learned that, they have taken a wrong approach to get a place for the internally displaced persons instead of insisting that, the communities have legally acquired land, and have paid for it; which literally means nothing else but ownership of the land – especially when concrete structures were about to be erected.

If those are truly displaced persons seeking temporary places; and still have that amount of money to erect concrete structures, then instead of wasting money in a place that will end up being taken away; it is better to be appropriately invested in a rightfully own place by following appropriate channels that will not amount to deceit by those who commit gross misconduct by misleading the two communities to a wrong place; thereby associating the communities with nothing but land grabbers.

I wish the community all the best in the pursuit of a temporary place to live, and may peace reign in South Sudan.

Regards,

Justin Tombe Demetry

8 Comments

  1. This is an expansionist policy of the Jieng to occupy south Sudan against the 63 ethnic groups. There will be a time, when evictions will become the order of the day. What happened in the Bari land, was the tip of the iceberg. To all the 63 ethnic tribes , be on alert. These land grabbers are soon going to pay the price intransigence

  2. BILL KUCH says:

    Who cares, you are selling your own and claiming it back. What the liars!!!

  3. Bill Kuch,
    Intimidation is not by use of force or killing theland owners is not equivalent to sale. That’s armed robbery period.

  4. Aluong Amoc Rane bilnyang says:

    Mr. Justin Tombe,
    It is clear the said article that was written on 03/09/2016 have resulted to lose of lives of innocent of people of Bor on Friday 03/18/2016 attack by Bari Youth at the cattle camp. You and the writer in that previous article have revealed the fact of what you term as bribing whereas the other writer mentioned the involvement of some native bari in such illegal business. This is indicative of who should be pursuit in this case.The natives are the one making those illegal deals with people who are able to pay for land and then, later on turn around with the complain that our land is being grabbed. If indeed confirmed that two generals have involved in such name painting case, then the people of these two communities must take their case to court. The Bor community must find way to make someone pay for the lives of those who have just been cowardly murdered by Bari community by all mean possible. Mr. Justin it , is not a question of lesson learnt anymore, but a lesson to be taught to those who always from time to time coined thing against Bor Community period.
    Amoc Rannebilnyang.

    • Justin Tombe says:

      Dear brother Aluong Amoc Rane bilnyang,

      Thanks for your rejoinder. With regards to the loss of lives in the cattle camp, my heart goes to those victims in their illegal camp settlement. If the attack you have alluded to have happen, this probably must be the result of provocation by the armed cattle keepers and land grabbers who have no respect to the land owners.

      This culture of violence will take us nowhere; and the Bari cannot be pushed beyond their comfort zone and be expected to fold their hands at their back.

      As Christians, our holy bible have taught that, “If a thief breaks into someone’s house at night and that person defends his home and slays the thief, God does not hold that death over the defender’s head.” Exodus 22:2-3.

      As for the bribing, what I’m referring to is that, those grabbers should not even think of bribing any chief because at the end of the day, it is the decision of the land owners, not the chief; as the chief is suppose to get an approval from the community before going forward with any deal.

      If anyone got cheated in such a deal you pointed out, that just means they fail to conduct their due diligence; and have therefore, appropriated the land to their disadvantage through short-cut pursuit; which is even illegal under the law.

      Wait a minute or kɔɔ̈ c, k ̈ ɔc: Have I read you talking about court? What court brother? Wake up! Ours is still an evolution of a legal system; unless the prosecution is only design for some while others are allowed to go free.

      There is no one with ill intention to coin anything against Dinka Bor; as a matter of fact, my late chief Andrea Gore Farajallah allowed the Dinka Bor to settle in Juba due to the humanitarian disaster as a result of flood in Bor around 1960s. If there was any hatred, such offer would have been rejected; and the displaced could have been relocated to either Bahr-El-Ghazal or the Upper Nile region. This is how good hearted we are when it comes to accommodation, and treating others as brothers and sisters.

      These days, things have totally changed simply because of the emergence of unwanted behaviors. I’m always questioning myself where such behaviors emerged from; or what the motives are.

      I’m pretty sure every human is supposed to know that, when you are in someone else’s place and you fail to behave, there is always a consequence. On the other hand if you retained the bad practices and present the good ones, it will always be welcomed.

      Stay Blessed.

  5. Gatdarwich says:

    The traitorous Jenges are land grabbers that deserved nothing short of forceful eviction from the whole Equatoria region period

  6. Kabaka says:

    Dear Bilinyang,

    You ought to be cautious of your argument, makes no sense like education has not rehabilitated you! The issue is clear, never use the back door to gain access into your host room as you seem to be encouraging the practice now; it will only complicate your issue.

    Because you have falsely obtained some cash and with possiblle backing from your kin and Akin should not amount to legal acquisition of land; ignorance of law is no defense. Settle down and think objectively with a view to help your community.

    Killings and revenge attacks have been the order of the day in SS since independence and it’s getting worse by the day. Better work for a United SS, otherwise we will end up now where.

    Food for thought.

    I appreciate your time.

    Kabaka

    • Panom Deng Ayuel says:

      These chiefs and displaced persons are not lying. The land owners actually gave a green light and registration of the IDP’s was done in the Rajaf office opposite the National Ministry of Telecommunications office. I drove an auntie and I personally registered her name on a Saturday, in those premises. We also helped in raising funds of fifty thousand pounds (50,000/- SSP) demanded by the authorities for clearance/ allocation of the land. If for any reason, the community changed their minds, its understandable. But, these IDP chiefs are not liars. Yes, its true that the community has a long standing record of being hospitable and have granted so many permission to land use but that does not mean that there might have appeared crocks among the elders of that same community. Land has become a lucrative business for a lot chiefs, especially the Bari and it is not the visitors that have a problem. The Bari, who call themselves the land owners of Juba are the problem. A day will come when the Capitol city of South Sudan will be moved. All those people who are being called “land grabbers” moved to Juba because Juba is the Capital city, not that they really wanted to be in Juba – the Bar land, but circumstances compelled them to move to the Capital city which happened to be Juba – Bari land. A brave and tribalistic leader will one day come and sympathize with those being called “land grabbers”. The land grabbers shall become the land owners. And indeed none is a land grabber … Only “Juba the Capital city” of South Sudan has forced many to be beggars of land while they are land owners in their own right …

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