Peaceful coexistence: How the Equatorians got it right!

BY: Dr Peter Kopling MD, South Sudan, JUN/29/2014, SSN;

The formulas to peaceful coexistence among all tribes in South Sudan already exist. The formulas for bloodshed and destructive coexistence between the tribes in South Sudan do also exist, it comes down to understanding these two paths and deciding what is it that our country needs most and which choice will get us there.

The responses to these two choices are already in plain view and we only need to look no farther than within our communities and we shall discover it has been there all along!

The bitter truth must be told, South Sudan has two regions, one that is stable and stabilizing and the other unstable and destructive. All we need to do is decide what we want, do we want peace, if this be the case then all we need to study are the stable and peaceful regions to see how they do it, how they live with each other, how they treat each other’s lands, neighboring tribes and their belongings to include lands.

If we want a conflicting South Sudan then all we need to do is study the way of life, perception of life and mindset of the unstable region of our nation. How they treat each other, and how they treat all that is important to them and their neighboring tribes.

There can never be peace if we do not take time to understand what is important for others and instead impose our cultural ways on others in their respective ancestral lands.

Colonialism tried this and failed! We are many nations under one, the fact that must not be ignored and the more reason it must be understood and approached delicately not with arrogance.

Without any doubt the Equatorian region emerged as the stable and peaceful part of South Sudan, while the Jiengs land, the destructive part of the Country.

Predating December 2013, the Jiengs land had numerous insurgencies already against the infant government.

So we need to study the prevailing mentalities in the Jiengs land and avoid this if we are to survive as a nation and we must prevent them from exporting these raw materials of death to other parts of South Sudan.

The honest truth is even if the Jiengs region were to announce today their desire to split and form a different country or join the Jalabas, believe you me, the rest of South Sudan will breath a shay and will not beg them to remain as part of the united South Sudan and the Jiengs nation will only end up tearing each other down as long as they maintain their current predatory mentality of glorifying bloodshed and vilifying peacefulness.

It must be pointed out the Equatorian region has numerous tribes of totally different cultures and mentalities although the Jiengs mischievously and derogatorily tend to refer to the Equatorians as if they are a single tribe!

But what they do not realize is they are acknowledging the fact that Equatorians have achieved brotherhood among the different tribes despite of their diversity, which must serve as a role model for South Sudan, if there is still any hope for us to exist as a nation!

What is commonly shared by majority of these Equatorian tribes however is that Godliness and goodness which is praised rather than savagery of bloodshed, disregards to the sacredness of human life misnomer by the Jiengs as bravery.

Equatorian tribes know their ancestral boundaries and they respect these boundaries while the Jiengs have nomadic mindsets! It seems they can go away from their ancestral land and never even miss them, and even bury their national hero away from home with cynical implications!

The Equatorian tribes respect the cultures of one another but more so each tribe loves their ancestral land as they love themselves! One’s very existence for Equatorian tribes are indistinguishable with one’s ancestral lands!

The land is where your father and forefathers are buried, time immemorial! It is what gives meaning to your existence and to life, it is what gives you food, it is also what gives you fishing and hunting’s rights, thus the land is sacred in Equatorian tribes, wars were fought in the past to protect and preserve them not cows, it is on this basis Equatorian initiated the war of independence to preserve this ownership and rights.

Just as the Jiengs protect their cows at all costs, they compose songs to their cows because this is their lifeline, their attachment to their lands does not carry the same significance as to Equatorian just as Equatorian attachments to cows is not the same as among the Jiengs who look at the land as a place for their cows to graze.

Equatorians look at their land as a place that gives them life but also that holds the meaning of their very existence and the ancestral souls and their bones are laid at rest in these lands. Thus it is very customary in most Equatorian tribes; they will go at great costs and heavy expenses to return the remains of their sons and daughters to be buried in their ancestral land among their ancestors for their souls to rest in peace otherwise will keep wandering around until rituals are performed to bring them to their ancestral home and into the family! This return of the dead sons and daughters of the land is from as far as the Americas!

Thus the significance of land for Equatorian has no equivalent in the Jiengs culture. Our Lands are more than the cows to Jiengs! To ignore and belittle the protectiveness of Equatorian with their ancestral land is to belittle their very existence in South Sudan thus to breed disunity!

Unity is indeed the natural result of respect of these things; supreme of them is land, for which we fought the Jalaba for 50 years! This is why we fell off with the Jalabas, how different if not worst are the Jiengs compare to the Jalabas in disregarding ancestral and tribal rights to lands, thus falling off will be a natural consequence unless we are saved by mutual respect AKA Federalism?

Now with these thousands of years of practice of land protections how do the Equatorian relate to each other’s tribe, and land without much of the violence found in the Dinka lands?

You will not find a group of Muru’s or Kuku going to Acholi land and lay claim of an area in Acholi heartland as their own land in disregard to the Acholis, for in the first place why will the Murus do this since they love their ancestral land and are tied spiritually to their lands and people? You will not see any group of Equatorian moving to other territory, forming their own chiefdom and tribal system in other people’s tribal land!

So is there or there is no Kokora between Equatorian tribes although they are many tribes not the same ones? The answer is NO! Migration happens freely and often but on an individual or family basis! Never a whole village uprooting themselves to go occupy the tribal lands of others in the name of whatever is promised to them by whoever! In the first place they will oppose such propositions, which they know outright breeds fights, deaths, and disrupts peace!

When an individual or Muru family decides to move to Acholi land, once they get there, they are always welcomed warmly as guests; they then live by the local norms and customs, as do the owners of the land!

They respect the locals and do not insult them as cowards or call them names such as Nyamnyam or we fought the Jalabas here so now we earned the right to be here. For you cannot visit your brother’s house, while he is hosting you, and start to insult his wife, abuse his children and expect to not be kicked out of your brother’s house simply because he is your brother!

Having fought for independence can not be used to dislodge others from their ancestral land otherwise it was not a war of independence but rather a war of Dinka expansionism and colonization, Otherwise it was not a war against the Jalaba but rather against the Equatorian for their lands.

Being in a relative’s house comes with first recognizing it is not your house but that of your brother, and you also have yours and you are a visitor which comes with responsibility of being beneficial to your host and not being a parasite or affecting your host negatively neither altering his way of life!

Indeed once an Equatorian moves to on other’s tribal territory, he learns the local language, he eats the local food, he practice the local tradition and become essentially one of the local tribe in another words becomes assimilated not disruptive and boastful! If he does not have appreciations of the new tribe he moves to, he simply stays back in his ancestral land and among his people not impose himself on the other tribe, making others miserable just as he is.

This is how peace is maintained among the tribes in Equatoria! No one tribe forcefully settle or grab someone else ancestral land equivalent of cattle rustling in the Jiengs land. This Jiengs government engineers the recent land strife we witnessed between the sisterly tribes of the Acholis and the Ma’dis!

The irony is, those who have no culture of peace try to preach peace to those who are peaceful! Those who have no notion, leave alone, the experience of peaceful intertribal coexistence try to forge what they called building a national identity, which is a red herring for ethnic cleansing given they have neither respect nor appreciation for other tribes thus leading to the Dinkanization project now ongoing to uproot other tribes from their ancestral land! Their war against the Nuer is part and partial of this.

They have no understanding other than that of nomadic life style leading them to preach if we are one nation then all ancestral boundaries are to be erased to allow them to practice their nomadic lifestyle at the expenses of others, from North to South and from east to west that are none Nomadic! This nomadic mindset and the revenge on Equatorian for Kokora are what drives then,even embedded in the Jieng written transitional constitutions.

It is thus only the Jiengs that trespasses all over South Sudan in disregards to other peoples backyard and they have no understanding why this is causing aches for their fellow countrymen, the Equatorian in particular, for this trespassing is in Keeping with Nomadic lifestyle which is never to be nationalized unless to our own perils for all we need to see is what it has done to the Dinkaland from which they are fleeing!!!

In the Jiengs lands, the cow reign supreme, and whoever can, will steal what he does not have in the process, shedding human blood! Thus it is a culture of thieves and bloodshed utterly incompatible with the prevailing Equatorian cultures! Indeed if there is any hope for the Jiengs, they must become like Equatorian, Hold human lives above cows life and the love for ancestral lands supreme above the love for cows. How can you love others if you do not love yourselves more than your love for animals?

In essence the federalism we are debating about is already practiced in Equatoria, each individual loving his family, tribes, their ancestral land, protecting it and building it, but also very much respecting that which belongs to other tribes, for if you caused them to lose theirs, someone else will cause you to lose yours.

Each individual, not an entire clan, tribe or bulk of people, is free to move to any part of eqautorian region and remain what sh/e is or take the identity and culture of the tribe that hosts him/her, no one forces, insights, neither prevents him/her to make this choice and sh/e in turn do not try to change the ways of, annihilate or obliterate other tribes.

The hope and formulae for South Sudanese unity is already being practice in Equatoria! It has been here all this time and no one seems to recognize it.

This is the model for South Sudan and federalism thus makes sense to Equatorian because it is already what they practice and what has given them peaceful coexistence, how they relate to each other on the basis of recognizing each other’s tribes and tribal lands, what is important to them and respecting each other in all aspects!

Federalism gives power to the individuals, people and regions! The government respects the people rather than the other way round; Master- slave relations.

Those who are opposed to this are those who want the people to worship the government and those who want to use the power of the government to impose on others and have no respects for other peoples’ cultures, way of life, aspirations and their lands.

The true brotherhood we all want is based on the model found in Equatoria and the intertribal relationships that exists in Equatoria for centuries. This is the case then no one has to fear Kokora happening due to federalism, there is no Kokora among Equatorian tribes, what makes it so? If loving your ancestral land and letting others do the same is Kokora then, so be it! If dislodging others from their ancestral land is what it takes to form a nation to the benefit of one tribe then is it any wonders that such is now heading straight to hell in our very eyes?

For in mutual respect is peace, not in master slave relation and others relinquishing their natural possessions and rights. Mutual respect has worked in Equatoria and they coexist peacefully!

One fact is clear, if there is federalism or not, the respect for land must reign supreme and the schemes for land thieving and dominance must come to an end, as long as this does not happen there shall be no peace in South Sudan, There shall only be oppressors and the oppressed!

If we truly want a land of the free, prosperity and justice for all then the tool to achieve this is federalism and encouraging the life styles of the Equatorian tribes.

Think of this as the relationship between you and your brother who is married and has his own house and cows, just as you! You respect his wife, children and property and he in turn respect yours. When he takes care of his house, it is not in opposition to you! Simply, you need to do the same for yours, for brotherhood does not negate your responsibility to your personal house. Just because you are brothers does not mean you need to merge houses and not having individual homes in pretense of fear of Kokora.

Mutual respect is how you keep brotherhood not by taking his wives forcefully or milking his cows forcefully in the name of brotherhood!

Federalism thus gives all South Sudanese, not just some, that power to protect one’s own house and decide what is for breakfast rather being dictated by the self proclaimed big brother, in the current system, regardless of who, will always be the oppressor!

South Sudan is ready for peace, which equals federalism; to say south Sudan is not ready for federalism is to say those who are having the lion share of the goodies are not ready to let it go and grant South Sudanese; Equality, justice, Liberty, prosperity for all and thus peace!

Without federalism in South Sudan, there shall only be oppressors and the oppressed!

Dr. Peter Kopling.


  1. Joseph Lokilinyeng says:

    Brilliant! Finally someone has touched the core of the issues. Thank you Dr.Kopling for spelling it out as it must be. I agreed to say time for Federalism is not yet is to say time for equality is not yet, time for peace is not yet. We want federalism as you put it equals to peace.

  2. Elijah Samuel says:

    Dear Kopling,
    I agree with your excellent and well articulated message to our compatriots. We should not allow the Dinka Government to maneuver there way out to referendum, the reason why they want to take this to referendum is, they trust they people who follow blindly like sheep will vote as they want and also they will use money to buy votes! Just like they manipulate national and local elections, they will ruin what the people want through voting booth corruptions! South Sudan wanted federalism since 1947!
    Kiir rules by decree, how come now he wants to call for referendum. This is a trick to deny the path to Federalism! Did he put the current systeem to referendum? Of course no! this is wicked government, its every move has been design to undermine the people and promote the Dinka agendas!

  3. Daniel Ajak says:

    Dr. Peter,
    Thanks for your message. You tried to explain the situations but you failed to understand who you really are. Talking about land, South Sudan is a Dinka. If you are one of those refusing to serve your master, remember you are under protection of those you call destructive. For those places you mentioned to be peaceful, is because we revived principal of 19th century. The two places you mentioned are Equatoria and Western Bahar al Gazal, but none of these places is not part of Jieng land. Go to Juba, 60% of the populations speak Dinka. In Nimule we become dominate tribe and 85% of the population is comprised of Dinka. In Yei we total 45%, in western Bahar al Gazal, 51%. Above all, we are in every village in South Sudan. What do you think you are talking about?

    • Eastern says:

      The Dinka attitude portrayed by Daniel Ajak and his like will continue to cause South Sudan to bleed. Ajak has made it clear that the main objective of the Dinka people is to subjugate the other South Sudanese tribes. Is this what you folks want to continue happening.

      He made it clear that they are 45% of Yei’s population, 85% of Nimule’s population, 60% of Juba’ s population, blah, blah…..Do you think the Dinka people mean well to South Sudan. Soon we shall hear them claiming some parts of Museveni’s Uganda!!!

      Dinka arrogance and greed has driven South Sudan to the bottom. Can you imagine with a Dinka at the helm of a national affair a country has run aground? South Sudan has overtaken Somalia not in wealth but in failed governance. What a shame.

      Why do we continue to entertain this nonsense of dominance by one backward lot yet we can sacrifice by dying today to ensure that our children are free of dominance in their own country.
      The threat on Equatorians to stop discussing Federalism is equal to the removal of the safety pin on a bomb. Watch out!!

    • Elijah Samuel says:

      The Daniel in your name tells me you are a Christian, Like Kiir who goes to church on Sundays, Where is the Christianity in You if you whole energy is wasted in cooking evils against your own fellow country who also happens to be Christians?? Think about this in Comparison the Northerners where 80% of the Old Sudan, our population compared to theirs was very negligible but even so we fought them until we got indecent South Sudan!! Please know that The rest of South Sudan will soon start to fight you until your back is brocken!
      You are acting against God himself who gave us our lands and you shall not prevails! Just watch and see!!!

    • Eli says:

      Daniel Ajak
      You lunatic idiot, you keep barking but your end is very near. Genocide will take place. Nimule and rest of Equatoria shall soon be free of dinkas, remember you are just temporary IDPs, your tails are between your legs running from murles and white army, but your time will soon run out. With guns you came by guns you will soon leave.
      We are the new group of National Liberation Front and we mean business.

  4. Eli says:

    Dr. Peter Kopling
    Very insightful and educative article, please keep educating the masses. Let there be light in the darkness.

  5. simba says:

    Equatorians have all the characteristics conducive to forming an independent and modern nation. Yet, they are willing to coexist in a united South Sudan and infuse their peacable nature as described by Dr Kopling. Will they be given the opportunity? Or would they seize it as a right.

  6. Choromke Jas says:

    Can there be “life” in South Sudan without Equatoria? During Kokora, leaders from other regions were spending their time and budget in Khartoum Hotels. Africa is still evolving, nothing is set in stones. One day, the Jieng will have their country where they can practice their bravery on each other until thy Kingdom come.

  7. Davidica Pitia says:

    Keep on educating, I hope it will make sense, it’s black and white, but southerners gave a blind eye. Federalism is the solution whether we like it or not, kokora was not long ago! How can we forgot? Desperate times call for disparate measures.
    Equatoria wayee!!!

  8. Nyeri says:

    Daniel Ajak,

    You are the most stupid animal I have found in this world. Be advised that kokora or not, the jenge will be wiped out soon of Nimule, be a man and liberate jenge land and do not rush to enjoy peaceful land in Equatoria. This attitude is what has made it difficult for you to leave in jenge and in fear of Murle your husbands. Will start with your mother, brothers and sister then you

  9. Matiop Garange says:

    Dear Equatorians,
    The fact that you don’t know politics must not be blame on Dinka. Its your false that you deserve the current treatment. If you think the situation is not good in the country and you are not secure, why don’t you go to exile? If you think what happened in 1980s will happen again, let us wait to see. If you failed to learn from a lesson to the Nuer in Juba, just to let you know that we were not prepared to face the Nuer, they took us by surprise in a coup attempt last December the same way did the Equatorians in 1980s. Today we are in your homes and villages, any nonsense will face full resistance. Where are your three governors? We will pursue them to their last destiny.

  10. Bol says:

    Dr Peter,
    A University Graduate with such perceptions ! did you ever heard something call GLOBALISATION ! What is the value of your land in that equation ? Were not the Equatorians who started the first civil war when they slaughter hundreds of defenceless jalabas’ women and children in Torit and other towns in Equatoria in 1955 ? Didn’t your Equatorian “Peter Abedulraham Sule” started rebellion against RSS before he was captured in a gun battle years ago ?
    Pease Dr, Equatorians are just bad and savage as any anybody else with one different ” lack of will on their side to get things done”. Selling federalism is a just course, while vilifying others is pure savagery, and de-servicing Federalism.

    • Elijah Samuel says:

      Are you serous,globalizations?? in South Sudan,the biggest village in Africa thanks to Jeings? Why didn’t the globalizations apply to Jalabas and we just hang out with them??
      I for one am glad Dr.Kopling that you should set the records straight! Any self proclaimed enlightened who remove all boundary is against God himself who set such boundaries!

      • Bol says:

        Dear Elijah,
        The real issue is not Federalsim, but the Kokara. You as a God Loving Person need acees and Freedom of Movement within the Country so that you can spread the Word of God to the animals living in Dinka land ! I beelived the “Burden is on the Civilsed and God Feering people like youself ” to enlight these animals not to run away and barraicate youself in Kokara. Its not going to work this time around. Please think about the gains we all get from Globalisation, such as the Market value of your “”tokul” in Rujal Mafi, which was 300 USD and is now about about 120;000 USD !. I don’t thing that you are supid enough to harm youself by buying unrealstic ideas such as “Juba na Bari”

  11. Alier-kon says:

    Dear, Equatorian.

    let me tell you don’t wasted your time if you want to used this through bullet go ahead and we shall see who will be the winner of this game.
    No more talking against Dinka like women who are gossiping in the house, it is right time of it.

  12. Joana Adams says:

    Dear Dr. Kopling,

    This is a classic piece which will be treasured especially by young Equatorians for generations to come. It is also educative for other peace loving South Sudanese who trully believe in the supremacy of the national not tribal interest. You have spoken diligently and correctly to defend our identity, our land, our customs and our people. We expect nothing less. Let those who have ears, hear!
    When Joshua, led the children of Israel into Canaan – the promised land, God instructed him to divide the land to the 12 (sons) tribes of Israel, and commanded the tribes not to tresspass each others land! If God the Father could understand the need for separate territories for each of his chosen children, as a condition for peaceful co-existence, who are these nomads, to come and rule us in our homes and on our land?
    There will be consequences to oppress others or to forcefully occupy other people’s land. as you have correctly put it, both European colonialsim and Northern Arab colonialism tried and failed. the problem is that some stupid and ignorant respondents are not schooled and hence have patchy knowledge of world history. But that is their problem, Equatorians will not be bullied or subdued into silence. If they cannot achieve federalism because some communities still need time for political evolution, then self determination must be on the cards. It is time to ignore hooligans who do not know their limitations.

  13. Hassan Bior says:

    Good to understand that the Equatorians want Kokora back. We shade our blood to return to Juba after Kokora. This time we will not accept another Kokora. Thanks to our Hero Abel Aliar for tirelessly explaining to us the evil embedded in Kokora. To our entire Hero who fought hard to get us back to Equatoria, I salute you. Now that the same chapter is coming, we still needed your support to silence the so call Equatorians once and for all. After all these years of successes we cannot accept what we are holding in Equatoria to go back in their hands. They cannot rule us.
    Hassan Bior

  14. Alier-kon says:

    to, Nyeri.
    please do not wasted your time to begin with murle that, they killed Dinka, started with your own things, and for your information murle are brothers to Dinka in Jonglei like you who so called themselves Equatorian so let me tell one thing that this drum you are beating is very dangerous to coward equatorian like you who used to talked in media far away from south Sudan.
    ….. our mothers and sisters in your tongue but not in action, I think you knew very well when Jalaba did it to your sisters in Equatoria land in 1990-1991 in Juba.

  15. wanilosake says:

    Let me tell you dinka has more land than us
    what dinka lack is development in their areas but for daniel ajak to say they are majority in equatoria dont abused the hospitality given to IDPS and i totally reject your propaganda


    • MODI CHARLES says:

      my dear brothers,lets be open that we will never improve and develop if we will still keep pastrolist in our region.lets not blame them because their culture is not to develop.they are pastrolist which means their job is to move from place to place and when they are moving,they make sure they distro every thing .development is for people whose culture is to settle cultivate and human being.

  16. Aguer says:

    Statement by Aguer Rual
    Melbourne, Victoria,

    My reasons for defection from the SPLM are as follows:

    1. The conduct of the standing government: mismanagement has included failure to establish effective institutions and services, failure to establish a workable Constitution, its use of the privilege of government as akin to a privately owned company for the accrual of personal benefit and protection, and its divisive actions which have created tribal discord.
    2. Financial misbehaviour: the theft and misuse of public monies.
    3. Political perspective: the government has demonstrated a gross misconception of the purpose of government, the concept of policy development and democratic procedures.
    4. Failure of security apparatus: police and army are not national institutions but instead are representatives of the government’s own interests, while their salary is unreliable.
    5. Cultural loss: the government has failed to take steps to restore the catastrophic loss of culture endured by the South Sudanese over the period of war.
    6. The judiciary: the system is ad hoc and unjust. Critics of the government have been eliminated – the media, the Church and intellectuals are all affected.
    7. Economic policy is a shambles, with no viable budget. The Citizens do not benefit from the national revenue, especially those in peripheral regions.
    My reasons for joining the SPLM-in Opposition:
    1. The SPLM-IO will bring change to the lives of the South Sudanese people. Its members will concentrate on peaceful negotiation, reconciliation and healing through conferences and other measures at all levels, from village to international.
    2. Compensation for losses occurred during recent crisis for widows and other family members of killed or wounded victims.
    3. A Veteran’s Affairs Department is to be established.
    4. The economy will be overhauled by means of a range of economic experts and a system of accountability.
    5. Foreign Affairs will be adjusted , based on the needs of the South Sudanese people and practical future projection around trade and investment rather than the crony system curently in place.
    6. Military overhaul will be carried out, with the disbanding and disarming of militias and provision of alternatives as envisaged in a combination of policy initiatives designed to facilitate return to civilian life. Financial benefits and housing will be offerred to relevant individuals.
    7. Religious institutions will be encouraged to remove themselves from the political arena.
    My personal opinion on a vision for South Sudan:
    For stability to be achieved, the current government cannot remain in office. Not only Salva Kiir but also his supporting group must face justice. This must be done in a way which will promote reconciliation. South Sudan will have no future if the current leadership remains. All those implicated in the recent crisis must leave public life.
    I am in favour of a federal system, which will provide a structure conducive to the particular needs of the South Sudanese people’s culture, foster a sense of trust and encourage a national identity to be built.

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