BY: MICHAEL OKIA AMURU, South Sudan, SEPT/26/2013, SSN;
After a long follow-up, I think we have to be careful about what had happened in Nimule on August 8, 2013. The killing of Madi head chief is one thing and the arrest imposed on Madi elders is yet another. It takes human concern if you hear different versions coming up after the head chief was murdered.
The commissioner of Magwi County was blamed for his silence in the middle of a tragic incident in his County.
The governor of Eastern Equatoria State was blamed for forcing some Madi to sign a mandate for Town Council ignoring request from Madi elders to meet with their Community first before passing the mandate in the State Parliament after it was rejected by Madi Community.
Above all, he was blamed for telling decisive lie to Madi leaders that he withdrew the statement for the Town Council just to pass it in contrary to his statement.
The central government was blamed for targeting Nimule for the reason not unknown only to Madi people, but most people seem to be ignorant about SPLA/M agenda in Nimule. The government in turn blamed the Madi elders for rejecting the proposal for town council.
This chain of blame is not enough. What matters is WHO murdered the Head Chief of Nimule and WHY?
The idea of making a Town Council in Magwi came early this year and I attended the meeting in person chaired by the commissioner. In that meeting, it was clear the intended venue for the proposed Town Council is Nimule. We raised some concerns for which the commissioner himself can’t give us the right answers. He kept telling us it was a mandate from the Central government (in Juba).
In 2011, the Madi people were expelled from Magwi County Headquarters. Thus, there wasn’t any representative from Madi in the meeting. The two representatives from Nimule were from Dinka and they represented the position of Dinka IDPs.
Few months later I learned that the Madi Community rejected the proposed Town Council. Again their head Chief was murdered and their leaders arrested is a great disappointment as I tell you about the current position of Madi tribe in Magwi County.
The Madi Community members are not allowed to work in Magwi County headquarters after the 2011 crisis between Madi and Acholi. The Eastern Equatoria State government and the central government decided to create a separate administrative headquarters in Pageri to administer some activities in Madi land.
Since then Madi people were completely detached from Magwi County Headquarters. An administrator was appointed and he is stationed in Pageri. Again the government decided that the Madi should not be allowed to govern.
Based on that ideology, the administrator was picked from another tribe as the boss of Madi people.
I’d like to say that we the Acholi tribe and Madi tribe were divided by the government and as of today Nimule or Madi land is under Magwi County by name. Administratively we were separated by the government.
If the commissioner is silent, it’s based on that fact. His area of administration has limitation focusing on Acholi land only. Therefore, Magwi County is innocent about what is happening in Madi land.
The central government wants to play a game when it comes to issues of IDPs in Nimule. What most people don’t know is that some IDPs in Nimule are the top government officials and their relatives.
During the war we had about 35,000 Dinka IDPs in Lobone. After CPA, the chief of Lobone was killed by the IDPs and the people decided to let them go and the government took them. Today although some Dinka are still there, they are few and they can’t control the local population in the area.
Nimule: According to 2010 Magwi County statistics of Dinka in Nimule, there are approximately 45,000 Dinka IDPs leave alone some IDPs from other tribes. Dinka IPDs had divided Nimule into nine quarters. Each quarter is ruled by a chief. Hence, although Madi people have their chiefs, there are also nine Dinka chiefs in Nimule.
I have seen a lot of finger pointing and boiling going on. When it comes to WHO murdered the Madi head Chief and WHY, Magwi County is aware about Madi people rejecting the Town Council.
It was pressure from the Central government that the governor of Eastern Equatoria State had to pass the illegal agreement. The governor in turn did it, a surprise to Madi Community.
What I don’t agree with the government is the statement that “the Madi people killed their Head Chief.” This is a lie. It is a game from the government which killed the head chief. The Madi leaders were not arrested for murder, but for rejecting a mandate from the government to turn Nimule a Town Council. The people speaking against the Madi leaders in detention in Torit were made to speak like that. It is idea from the government to allow them to enforce on the Madi what they have in mind.
Today Magwi County authority distanced itself completely from the crisis not because of creating a separate administrative headquarters for Madi people, but because the IDPs had divided Nimule among themselves long time ago.
Seeking for a Town Council is another way of seeking consent to legalize ownership of Madi land of Nimule, a dirty game in politics. I think Madi themselves must know this long time.
The Madi people are very cautious about their leaders: allow me to mention this briefly, as a teacher I have done a systematic chronology of what had happened before and still happening now in a land shared by Acholi and Madi with a common border.
In 1980s, SPLA/M instigated killing of Madi elder, Joseph Kobulu. The same SPLA/M put the blame on us the Acholi tribe, an incident which led to unrest and mistrust between the two tribes (Acholi and Madi).
In 2011, Madi people were expelled from Maqwi County headquarters. The expulsion was planned from Nimule and some top government officials were involved. Considering all the incidences surrounding Madi Community today, I’m arguing that the central government is responsible for what had happened in Nimule. As such the Eastern Equatoria State government should not insist keeping those arrested Madi leaders in detention.
According to a report in Magwi, the assistant of Lomirigo, the Madi over all leaders was badly tortured by the SPLA soldiers, now admitted in Torit hospital suffering from internal bleeding.
The plan to arrest Madi leaders who were concerned about their land and the people started long time. In 2008, a warrant of arrest was issued by SPLA/M officials to arrest Angelo Vugaa Madi-Lomirigo, but there was not credible statement to support what they wanted. The commissioner of Magwi County couldn’t implement the idea. Targeting Madi leaders like him and others was to make the Madi Community voiceless and venerable.
What I know is that Dinka IDPs in Nimule reportedly don’t want to go back home and it is the government supporting them to stay in Nimule. The killing and torture of Madi people started for quite a long time. This particular one became serious because it touched the head chief.
Magwi County was blamed in the past for supporting the IDPs, but today I would like to assure you that we are not involved. Instead the IDPs had murdered our chief in Lobone, too.
What is unclear is that, whether the government will insist with the Town Council idea, after killing the head chief and arresting all the Madi elders who were against the plan.
What is clear, however, is that if Nimule becomes a Town Council, it’s for the IDPs. The Madi people will have Zero benefit. That is why some of us in Magwi County are very skeptical about the idea.
In a nutshell, Madi people were detached from Magwi County by the government. Therefore, the government of Eastern Equatoria State and the Central government are responsible for the suffering of Madi people, not Magwi County.
In fact, it was the intellectuals from Madi tribe that worked out the birth of Magwi County. The first and the second commissioners of Magwi County were from Madi tribe. As you can see here, what turned against the Madi people is systematic plan not from the County. It is the government. It’s all about lies.
The bottom line is either the government removed IDPs from Nimule or the suffering of Madi people will continue without limitation so long as SPLA/M is in power.
Madi people are not the ones that killed their head chief. Neither their elders arrested for murder, but rejecting and lecturing to the Madi community that the idea for Town Council in Nimule is wrong. Today if these Madi leaders die in prison, they will die for supporting their people and their land, not for killing.
There are some truth in our country and let us keep it alive. What the central government and Eastern Equatoria State are doing in Nimule is insane and it ought to stop.
Michael Okia Amuru,
A Teacher-Magwi County, South Sudan