BY: Chuol C. Puoch, JUL/01/2014, SSN;
Greater Equatoria lies in the southern part of the Country and is made up of many different small ethnicities divided into the three states of Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria under the leadership of Bangasi Joseph Bakasoro in the west, Clement Wani Konga and Louis Lobong Lojore in central and Eastern Equatoria states respectively. The region is currently represented in the Central government by James Wani Igga as the Vice President of the Country with other Equatorian sons and daughters holding ministerial positions in the government of Salva Kirr Mayardit.
Position of Equatorians in the current conflict and its dangers
Often, Equatorians go after democracy, federalization and good governance which they never achieved throughout their life in the history of South Sudan. However, hearing anyone calling for democracy and federalism is in their utmost interest and they would, in one way or another, go for it.
On the other hand, it seems not only difficult, but also undo-able for them to rise up on the streets and in the bushes to bring down the government of Salva Kirr, which has humiliated them for quite so long.
In spite of the military strength of Riek Machar and Lado Gore, Equatorians are still thinking that going to the bushes to bring kirr’s government down means life risking with no benefits. That is absolutely not true!
According to how I look at it, Equatorians are digging their own grave for them to be disgracefully cleansed and maimed by Kirr Mayardit in Juba and other areas in Equatoria.
That will be a great melancholy though it’s known before it happens. Equatorians are calling for democracy and federalism in fear and suspicion of falling into the grave that they are digging.
Honestly, how do you think you would succeed yet, you understand that the only language that works at the moment and understandable to Kirr is the gun?
How would you call for federalism which is in the opposite interest of Gen. Kirr, if at all you are allying with him?
You are exactly doing the opposite inside and for that, I must patriotically urge you to rethink, based on my prediction of what is going to happen.
Absolutely I am calling you to wake up and do what we (concerned peace loving South Sudanese) expect you to do! I don’t see the reason why you should risk your life by making that suicide because telling Kirr to accept federalism while sleeping in your houses is a suicide.
Most of you have seen the Juba massacre and Nuer will absolutely do nothing to bring those lives back. It’s his (Kirr) leadership culture and you should understand that before attempting to make that unwanted suicide.
It’s worth mentioning that Kirr is on his last digit to quit counting his days in South Sudan presidency but, I would like to make it very clear that he would not leave with only and already done massacre of Nuer while there is a great opportunity for him to do more especially in Equatoria.
Be very careful on that. He may decide anytime soon to cause tension in Juba as you are as well provoking him with federalism advocacy and he can do the worst massacre ever witnessed in the history while he is on the run.
What are you waiting for? Who is going to fight for your objectives and rights? When are you going to realize that this is the right time?
Who are you going to blame at the end of the day? And lastly, but not the least, how do you think even this federalism would work when there is no commitment and sacrifice in doing something as you seem to be doing now?
To borrow John M. Mitchell’s word, “nearly every man who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”
The real hero is a man who fights even though he is scared. There is no food for a lazy man!
Way forward for Equatorians in the current conflict
First and foremost, I would like to bring it to the attention of some individuals, and not tribes or groups, who think that Equatorians are merely voiceless and harmless population where anyone should decide upon them insolently according to his/her wills. That is completely rubbish and immature thinking.
Equatorians are people of patience and endurance; they are people of peace, love and coexistence and more importantly, they are people of unity and determination.
You may give them more than seven pinches before they give you the first warning of not to do it again. You may take their houses in their land, but still they can host you as a friend and brother.
You may even tend to remove them from their ancestral land and still, they can call you not an enemy but a friend who may only need dialogue. However, some tribes and groups of people have taken their behavior contrarily.
In fact, it is life risking coming up in Juba saying that I support federalism but Clement Wani Konga did it, Joseph Bangasi Bakasoro and Louis Lobong Lojere of western and eastern Equatoria states did it respectively.
However, the question remains unanswered, and the way forward seems to have not yet been instructed by these governors in their comments on federalism.
Equatorians, men and women, are at the juncture with their hands on the waists wondering who to follow and where to go: There is the then South Sudan of humiliation and unfairness, inequality and domination as the way we came from on one hand, and there is a way to peace, democracy and federalism followed by Riek Machar and the other brutal, bloody, Kirrorized and ethnicized way under Gen Kirr in the other hand.
It is up to their (Equatorian) leaders to define a very quick way for Equatorians and accept all the hardship that are possibly on the way they may take.
What is likely to happen?
“Depression is a prison where you are both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer” ~ Jacqeas Prevert. That is exactly what is going to happen in Equatoria.
I am afraid Gen. Kirr will soon or later use his decrees on these three governors and replace them with other outstanding sons and daughters within the Equatorians community, just to set brother against brother and family against family. The divide and rule:
Then assassination and depression, complete destabilization of Equatoria region just like Upper Nile region.
Is that what Equatorians are waiting for? Will it, in any case, change the land and the people of Equatoria to any tangible situation? Equatorians will only go back to camps in Uganda, DRC and Kenya for some more years. Equatoria land will only come under destruction given the fact that it’s currently taking the lead in development.
From there, after coming to realize that mistake is made, it will have already made some permanent scars which should have been prevented by now. It will need more efforts for resistance to come to effect because Equatorians will be divided after food and truth.
I think this is the right time for Equatorians to come up and take the lead in achieving the South Sudan we struggled for since 1955 and not this South Sudan of hatred and communal domination and humiliation.
Therefore, the only window of opportunity is for Equatorians to act promptly; they should say enough is enough and force Salva Kirr to either accept peace and step down or face the brave young men of Equatoria led by the three governors.
That is the “ONLY” way before the unwanted maiming operation is laid in Equatoria region. Take care!
Chuol C. Puoch, the writer, is reachable via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @Chuolchot