BY: Bullen Bol, RSS, JAN/27/2013, SSN;
The inter-clans’ fighting in the Lakes state is not something new, I can called it a recurrent phenomenon. During the liberation struggle until now the state has been seen in several inter-tribal clashes. One may ask himself thus, why has Lakes state become a battle field over the years than any other state in which heads of cattle are reared?
Don’t worry yourself thinking much, this article will explore why the state has been involved in series of fighting, recommendations will also be availed, recommendations which are suitable for Lakes state’s problem and which may be relevant to any other state in which heads of cattle are reared.
The fighting has been recurrent because the following root causes have not been addressed in a satisfactory manner.
Wrangles over the grazing and water points
Grazing areas known as toch in Dinka language, has been a major source of problem, it was because of grazing land that caused fighting within Yirol East county in Lakes state particularly over the ownership of Amethmangon cattle camp early in 2007, and now it is the grazing land that has been responsible for the fighting between Agar communities.
Fighting concerning the ownership of the grazing lands ownership will continue to be a source of fighting as long as the ownership of a grazing land in question is not defined satisfactorily.
The claim for being superior by either clan
This has been seen as one of the causes of fighting not only in Lakes state but also among many Dinka tribes especially cattle keepers. Each clan can claim to be superior than the other clan in terms of fighting, the self-claimed superior clan can begin to ask questions like, “since when has clan X defeated us?”
Therefore, the need to maintain historical superiority by cattle keepers accounts for fighting.
We have been observant over the years that dowry has been a source of fighting in Lakes state, if you can recall the inter-clans fighting in Cueitbet county in 1995 in which numerous people were killed, was dowry-related fight.
You can notice that it is because girls are married with a lot of cows that makes elopement of a girl to immediately trigger fierce fighting because an eloped girl is considered to have depreciated in value and parents of such a girl can be infuriated by the act since they will lose considerable number of cows with such a perceived loss of their daughter’s marital value.
At Yirol East roughly in 2008, fighting happened between Atuut of Yirol West county and Ciec of Yirol East county because a person had given out his calf in compensation of the debt, so when his calf turned out to be bigger and admirable, he returned and retook it, thereby provoking fierce fighting of that year. The owner probably admired it to be the best cow for his possible marriage.
It is because of the dowry problems that many carry out cattle raiding into the neighboring counties or states in search for cows necessary for marriages, for instance, Nuer and Dinka tribes have been doing that over the years.
Presence of weapons (rifles and others) in hands of the civilians
The presence of numerous ammunition in the hands of the cattle keepers has made cowards who would have not initiated the fight when they were using spears, to initiate the fight; this can also be true with cattle thieves.
Nobody could dare to go as far as Agar cattle camps to steal cows because he knows very well that he alone with his spear as a weapon cannot do any harm to the people whom he has stolen cows from in order to protect himself, besides, with spears as weapon, the thief may fear of his security because when he is caught with cows, he would be killed or he could narrowly escape death.
What perplexed me every time there is inter-clans fighting is where do civilians get weapons from after the disarmament? Do they get them from soldiers or are they obtained from relatively peaceful states? Do they get them from Khartoum or are they (weapons) obtained from the neighboring countries?
Are the rebels behind the resurfacing of weapons after disarmament? The list of questions is endless.
Having explored the above causes of the fight among cattle keepers in Lakes state, I would therefore like to give the following recommendations:
Simultaneous disarmament is all states that neighbored lakes States
A national disarmament program should be carried out simultaneously with priority given to states where heads of cattle are reared. This will allow civilians to willingly offer their guns to the disarmament team easily without hesitation because they will not be fearful of any possible attack from the neighboring states or counties.
The failure to carry out disarmament in states where possible attack is expected from is one of the reasons why reserve guns are kept by cattle keepers. The collected guns should be monitored to see whether there is a leakage or not i.e. illegal re-sale of the collected arms.
Executive chiefs should be brought closer to state government
By bringing executive chiefs closer to government, I meant, they should be fully employed with full salary, they should weekly report to their leader whom I can proposed to be a real judge appointed by the governor. They should be availed with motor-cycles so that transport should not be a hindrance to their weekly reporting.
Among their duties should be a task to monitor security in the cattle camps, they should acts as government spies as far as who wants to fight who and when are they likely to fight. Also, they cannot do this alone but they can be assisted by cattle camp leaders, sub-chiefs, and good leaders. All the leaders that work with him should also have telephones and transport materials like bicycles for good leaders and motor bikes for sub-chiefs, executive chiefs and cattle camp leaders.
The telecommunications networks should ensure that the whole of the State is covered, cattle camps inclusive.
Recently, clan fighters dodged where the SPLA soldiers were deployed with use of a mobile phone, that was why the fighting erupted in the cattle camp first but ended up intensifying in the villages leaving soldiers in the cattle camp.
By implementing this proposed measure, the government of state will all the times be updated about the entire state. When there is a looming threat, chiefs can easily enlighten the government and possible action can easily be taken immediately. This will enable the government intervene immediately, besides, the moral of the chiefs will be so heightened since they would be part and parcel of the government of state.
Rules should also be enacted so that whenever the chief goes astray in fulfilling his duties, he could be removed by governor’s decree.
Formulating and implementing laws which are more less jungle laws
Since our people do not act in line with stipulated laws which are in the constitution i.e. that is by pursuing legal procedures in settling disputes among themselves such as grazing land issues, and general aggression matters, I propose that ring leaders on both sides who initiate fighting should be made to compensate whoever was killed in the clans’ fighting.
They should also be arrested in harsh prisons so that their mistreatment becomes a lesson to others who may in future want to break legal procedures in settling disputes. With those laws in place, many may fear to bring both sides together in the context of initiating the fight.
If the number of those who were killed is exactly the same as the number of ring leaders, the ring leaders should be shot dead publicly i.e. inviting villages, make them sit down, finally the ring leaders should be shot dead in the presence of the public which is made to sit. But this process should be free from political support (where politicians take sides), this in my opinion should apply to thieves that steal heads of cattle, murders and any other crimes that correspond with such punishment.
This policy was used in the past and it had proved to be more effective in reducing the cattle theft and other crimes in Lakes state, so it is a matter of reviving the past method of governance.
Many marriage-related laws are now in place in Lakes state and possibly in all four states of greater Bhar el Ghazal, for instance, 11 cows are paid to the parents of impregnated girl as cows for soothing the angry in-laws; seven cows are paid as punishment for having committed adultery.
All these laws are good but, however, the fact that marriage in Lakes state goes up to 300 cows for a competitive marriage makes the youth indulge themselves in stealing cows, cattle raiding, etc… so that they can accumulate more cows to meet such competitive marriage demands, because that is a factor which is fueling those crimes which culminate into a serious fight.
I recommend that: if a person steals one cow, he has to pay eight in return when confirmed a thief. Also, surveillance military base should be situated in the border of both states (Unity and Lakes) so that they will constantly monitor the security of the cattle and possible fighting that may erupt in the process of cattle rustling.
The maximum number of cows payable to the in-laws should range from 20 to 50 regardless of competition and the beauty of the girl. This will reduce of cows to meet expensive bride price. However, so this policy be effective, our leaders, such as executive chiefs, sub-chiefs to state government officials, should act as role models to the entire public.
Finally, the government should woo investors to invest in agribusiness so that considerable amount of redundant villagers are employed. Government can also invest alongside foreign investors. But government investment is meant reviving of old Sudan factories such as oil factory in Yirol west, establishment of irrigation schemes and infrastructural development.
These should not be only in Lakes state but also in other areas such greater Equatoria, greater Upper Nile and greater Bhar el Ghazal regions. When that is done, the youth will find no time to engage in fighting but rather they will care so much about their jobs.
At this juncture, I can robustly argue that it is because of lack of economic activities that the youth are engaged in these successive inter-clans fighting over the years. So, my appeal to the government is that it should create employment opportunities in agriculture and road construction when its current economic problems happen to change. No development without peace and no peace without economic activities that earn a living .
By Bullen Bol.
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