The Rights of Chollo People for Local Autonomy Rule (revised version)

By Jwothab Othow, South Sudanese, NOV/06/2016, SSN;

Introduction: The Chollo Kingdom is located in the Upper Nile state on both the west and east sides of the White Nile beginning from Lake No in South Sudan. On the eastern side, Khor Wol is the border between the Chollo and the Dinka. Since the CPA was signed in 2005 and after the independence of South Sudan in 2011, the rights of the Chollo people have been violated, human rights have been abused and injustices have been perpetrated against them and their land.

These violations include the deliberate burning of many Chollo sacred cultural sites by the Dinka dominated SPLM-led government and SPLA forces in 2009 and 2011. The violation of the Chollo Kingdom’s sacred site (meaning the survival of their identity) is at risk; therefore the Chollo have the right to work and advocate for autonomous rule in order to protect their cultural heritage.

The assaults on the Chollo community culminated in a mass slaughter of Chollo civilians as documented in Malakal and other Chollo areas in 2013 and 2014. It was committed by both the government and the so-called the SPLM-IO’s White Army militias.

The SPLM as the ruling party has failed the people of South Sudan terribly in order to create an inclusive harmonious society which accommodates all 64 tribes, but instead the SPLM has caused the current civil war based upon ethnic lines. When the violence erupted in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, on December 15, 2013, it awakened other ethnic groups about the threat from the Dinka dominated SPLM government and their political strategy to oppress the other ethnic groups in South Sudan.

Ethnic minority rights in South Sudan became an issue to many when violence erupted on December 15, 2013. Historically, South Sudan is a multi-ethnic country which is composed of 64 tribes. The dominant ethnic group is the Dinka.

The SPLM as a ruling party failed to transform itself into a meaningful political entity which established political institutions to regulate inter-group conflicts within each region, and as a result violence erupted.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was ratified in 1948 after the World War II laid the foundation for international human rights law.

The basic principles of inalienable human rights and the creation of a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations were formed. For decades we have witnessed human rights violations in South Sudan. No other historical period has witnessed greater violations of these rights. Under international human rights law, minority rights are applied to ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples are integral.

The issue of autonomy for ethnic minorities surfaced in the first post-war international treaty that protects them from threats to their existence as established by the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). The term “autonomy” was derived from the Greek: “auto” meaning “self” and “nomos” meaning “law”. Autonomy in the legal political vocabulary is self –government.

According to Hans-Joachim Heintze, “In international law autonomy means that a part or territorial unit of a state is authorized to govern itself in certain matters by enacting laws and statutes, but without constituting a State of their own.” Another definition of autonomy is “an intrastate region with a unique level of self-government”.

The question is will autonomous rule for the Chollo Kingdom is a viable solution to overcome the perpetual land conflicts between the Chollo and it neighbors who seek to possess their ancestral land? Suppose the answer is yes, do the Chollo have the political and military will to unify and the ability to achieve autonomy?

One would hope that the so-called Chollo political elites who did not know that South Sudan political setting is based along ethnic lines, learned after violence erupted in 2013. What can they learn from their past mistakes and what can they do different for the Chollo than what they have done in the past? One is absolutely convinced that the Chollo can achieve it, but it will require a unity of purpose among the Chollo in spite of their political differences.

Imagine the psychological impact on the Chollo people who have been forced to leave their homes and go to neighboring North Sudan as refugees as a result of this senseless war in South Sudan which was intended by the Dinka dominated government to achieve their goals.

President Kiir’s tribal militias (the so-called “Mathiang Anyoor and Dot Ku Beny”) have been committing war crimes and crimes against humanity targeting non Dinka since the war erupted on December 15, 2013. The Dinka militias have been given direct orders by President Kiir to massacre thousands of innocent civilians from other tribes in Upper Nile, Equatoria, and Bahr el Ghazal regions, as well.

Recently, on October 19, 2016, President Salva Kiir complained about the lack of support from Equatorians and the Nuer tribe in the presence of his two deputies, Taban Deng Gai and James Wani Igga, who hail from the Nuer tribe in Upper Nile region and from the Bari tribe in the Equatoria region. President Kiir said, it was not his fault and he had no choice because other tribes had allegedly deserted him. He added, “But where will I get people from if people of Equatoria have refused to join the army? Riek Machar has rebelled with his Nuer people.”

There is no doubt that President Kiir and his Dinka council of Elders is determined to go ahead with their plan of 28 states. President Salva Kiir has appointed 28 state governors already based on the so-called decentralization system which will allow the Dinka dominated government to give Chollo ancestral land to Dinka.

South Sudan’s former minister of Justice, John Luk once said the Jieng Council of Elders was formed in 2012 after a group of Dinkas met with President Kiir seeking the formation of this so called Jieng Council of Elders to execute what they are doing today in South Sudan. On December 31, 2015, President Salva Kiir said, “Everyone has to respect the will of the people.

The creation of the 28 states and the appointment of the governors were in fulfillment of the desire of the people, and if they are rejecting it, the people who have called for it must ask them to provide answers to why they are against what the people want.”

In fact, the creation of the 28 states and the recent appointment of the governors were indeed to fulfill the master plan and desire of the so called Dinka Council of Elders as a way to take Chollo ancestral land on the Eastern bank and give it to Ngok Dinka.

South Sudan has sworn in a national unity government based on the August peace agreement of this year to end more than two years of conflict in the country, but unfortunately new cycle of violence erupted again on July 8, 2016. We know that the 28 states is not part of the peace agreement which was signed in August of this year by President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar, the rebel leader in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

If the transitional national unity government wants a lasting peace and security in South Sudan, it should reverse the 28 states and go back to the previous 10 states which is based on the boundary of 1956. There is no doubt that the Dinka led government created the 28 states at the expense of Chollo land.

President Kiir’s attempt to give Chollo land to the Dinka, would threaten the national security and peace of South Sudan because Chollo defense forces will never give up the fight for their land. They are determined to fight the Padang Dinka until President Kiir revokes the 28 states.

The political concept of autonomy was used to counter the authoritarianism of the larger majority and the more powerful ethnic group and was considered a condition for the satisfaction of the national pride of citizens of a particular city or nation. For example, there are about 21 countries in the world who have established territorial regional autonomy including Spain, Italy, Great Britain and China.

Also, there are at least 60 regions in the world vested with territorial autonomy defined along scientifically based criteria. Territorial autonomy has been successfully operating since 1921, when the Aland Island obtained their special status within Finland. Autonomy is an essential aspect of nationalism, which seeks to establish the independence of a national group based on language, political history, and cultural heritage. Historically, minority rights have existed under international law Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 A.D.

The League of Nations and the United Nations were established to promote peace and security by harmonizing the rights of sovereign states with the rights of minorities. For more than fifty years, the international community has developed a broad set of standards for minority rights relevant to all countries.

These are the rights of the indigenous minority according to the UN Charter (2007):
1. States shall respect the rights of persons belonging to minorities to participate effectively in decisions on the national and regional level concerning the minority to which they belong or the regions in which they live.
2. States shall respect the rights of minorities to participate effectively in public life, including through elections, holding public office and participating in other political and administrative functions.
3. States shall respect the rights of minorities to assemble and form associations and political parties and thereby aggregate their interests to make the greatest impact on national and regional decision-making.
4. States shall duly consider the best manner of achieving effective political participation of minorities, including autonomous arrangements.
5. States shall respect the rights of members of minorities to determine their own political status.

The basic human rights and fundamental freedoms which include autonomy for indigenous minority populations are entitled to be enshrined within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. For example, in Canada, they established Nunavut but refused Quebec secession. In France, they set in motion a process to accord Corsica limited powers to run its own affairs. In Denmark in 2001, the United Kingdom granted various degrees of autonomy to Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

NATO took a drastic action in 1999 where its warplanes undertook a bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in order to force the latter to confer greater autonomy to Kosovo. The European Court of Human Rights has talked of a “democratic restructuring” without destroying the territorial integrity of Turkey with respect to its Kurdish population and so on.

As we know, there are 28 countries across the world practicing federalism or the federal system. Some of the countries who are practicing federalism are Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, Spain, South Africa, and United States of America, just to mention a few.

In a country like South Sudan, where the ethnic differences are highly politicized and where the political setting is based on ethnic lines, the federal system should be the only option that will provide local autonomy to distinct ethnicities in South Sudan in order to build a necessary trust among ethnic nationalists.

The decentralization referred by President Kiir and his so-called Dinka Council of Elders may result in greater ethnic mobilization and could lead to secession. Therefore, the right of Chollo for special status for local autonomy as a distinct ethnic group is the best solution to resolve their land dispute between their neighbors.

President Kiir himself and his dream for a Dinka Empire and the so-called Dinka Council of Elders have been the ones politicizing the ethnic land conflicts between Chollo and the Ngok Dinka since 2005. South Sudan is a multi- diverse ethnic nation which requires a federal system to accommodate its diverse groups. Giving the Chollo special status for local autonomy as a distinct ethnic group with its traditional territory is the best solution to resolve their land dispute between their neighbors.

Federalism is the demand of the people of South Sudan. The Federal Republic of South Sudan must be based on democratic rule whereby the power to govern is shared between national and regions/state governments. A good example is the United States which has a federal system of governance consisting of the national or federal government and the government of the individual states.

Puerto Ricans are considered United States citizens, and they freely travel between both the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico. Based on the federal system, Puerto Rico’s autonomy was granted by the US Congress in 1952. This is the kind of federal system the people of South Sudan are demanding, whereby the federal government can enact laws governing the entire country. Its powers are enumerated, or limited; it only has the specific powers allotted to it in the constitution. Under the federal system, the rights of the Chollo for local autonomy should be protected and guaranteed under the country’s constitution.

Federalism is concerned with the combination of self-rule and shared rule. The historical root of federalism is well connected with the Bible. The term was for theological purposes to define the partnership between humans and God as it is described in the Bible. This gave form to the idea of a covenantal relationship between persons leading to the formation of the body politic and between bodies political leading to the formation of compound politics. The biblical theological usage gave rise to the transformation of the term “federal” into an explicitly political concept today.

In accordance to the UN Charter, “Peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, regardless of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.

Based on this definition, things that distinguish indigenous people and minorities are that indigenous peoples settled the territory concerned as a heritage from their ancestors or at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present state boundaries and they have a culture that has a nexus with their ancestral land and its natural resources”( 1989).

The autonomy system has been recognized as a peaceful means to avoid secession from a certain region or territory within a state. In the case of the Chollo, it is necessary for the government of South Sudan to recognize the rights of the Chollo for autonomous rule and to establish a federal system structure to protect the rights of the Chollo for autonomy. This will be a safeguard for the peaceful solution for the land conflict between the Chollo and its neighbors. The people of the Chollo Kingdom must struggle for and achieve their autonomous rule in their homeland.

The case of the Chollo is unique and distinct because of its traditional territorial integrity under His Majesty, the Reth (King) of Chollo. The Chollo Kingdom has been there for more than 500 years. This is a time for the Chollo to advocate and work for the special status of the Chollo Kingdom’s autonomy, but some argue that it is too early for Chollo autonomy. It is time for the Chollo to take action and to work for autonomy as a right with special status within a demarcated territory with an autonomous legislation, a local government administration and a judiciary system.

Autonomy will give the Chollo political control over their territory. The Chollo have the right for autonomy that will guarantee Chollo as an ethnic group a degree of independence from the central government’s interference in matters of their Kingdom’s affairs for example if cultural customs and societal structures. To be clearer, autonomy means the legal recognition of the minorities’ rights.

The Chollo Kingdom should be able to enjoy various rights under autonomous rule which should be guaranteed in the constitution of South Sudan including exercising their rights of autonomy in the Chollo Kingdom such as selecting an administrative head. The Chollo should have the full right to use and to develop their language and the freedom to preserve their own customs.

As mentioned previously, the ancient Greeks defined autonomy as the independent self-governance of city-states. In a political context, a state has autonomy if its government has complete control over its affairs without the intervention of or control by any other power.

As we can remember, His Majesty King Kwongo Dak Padiet wrote to President Salva Kiir in 2011 to find a peaceful and lasting solution for the Chollo land occupation by the Dinka Padang in the Upper Nile State, but President Kiir has chosen to ignore the matter until recently. Therefore, I am convinced that the only alternative left for the Chollo is to work and advocate for the rights of local autonomy for the Chollo Kingdom. But, in order for the Chollo to defeat those who seek to occupy Chollo ancestral land, it will require Chollo in all political spectrums despite political differences among its sons and daughters to unite.

Our generation has a duty to carry on Nyikang’s promise to preserve Chollo land. It would be disgraceful if this generation of Chollo in this age of enlightenment would fail to preserve Nyikang’s legacy and keep his promise. The forces of persecution can only triumph if our generation decides to do nothing. As stated before, in order to achieve autonomy for the Chollo, the Agwelek, under the leadership of Johnson Olony Thubo Dak and other forces under the leadership Yoanes Okiech, need to organize themselves to work together as a united people in order to protect the lives of the Chollo people and their ancestral land.” The Agwelek and other Chollo forces are the only hope; they should have a precise military strategy and form a military council with a clear plan to achieve their objectives.

The SPLM, as the ruling party, failed the people of South Sudan terribly to create an inclusive harmonious society to accommodate all 64 tribes, but instead the SPLM has caused the current civil war based along ethnic lines. To defeat the Dinka Tribal Genocidal regime and the so called Dinka council of Elders, it will require unity of purpose within the Chollo political spectrum and unified political support for Chollo military forces. It is absolutely critical for Chollo society to change its destructive mindset to save itself from the total collapse of its society under the weight of internal contradictions.

The Chollo have the political will and the ability to achieve the quest for local autonomy. The August agreement signed by the SPLM in the government and SPLM-IO would not provide a tangible solution to the Chollo land issues based on boundaries of ‘Shilluk District’ as of 1956 because the agreement itself never addressed the Chollo’s grievances in the first place.

The federal system must be broad, it should be discussed and agreed upon by all 64 tribes in South Sudan, and it should recognize the rights of the Chollo for autonomous rule. The Chollo must think critically given the state of affairs in South Sudan. The attempts to create an inclusive society have been threatened by ethnic strife and chaos which have threatened other peaceful minority groups. Let us conceptualize the idea of the rights of Chollo for autonomous rule and the way forward for Chollo to work and to advocate the idea of autonomy.

Folks, this is about our destiny as a people whether 20 to 50 years from now and whether we will be able to live our way of life and maintain our existence if this tribal war continues to threaten our existence.

The Chollo must formulate a united political strategy to deal with the current threat imposed on us. Let us keep in mind that if the political environment continues in South Sudan, it would be a colossal mistake for us to fail to unite and put in place our political strategy in order to survive and maintain our existence. It will be too late! It is time for us to end flip-flop politics and take a clear stand on the issue of Chollo land and its destiny. It is time for Chollo intellectuals to start working and advocating for an autonomous region. One is glad that some of the Chollo intellectuals began to realize that Chollo must work to advocate the rights of autonomy for the Chollo Kingdom.

This must be taken seriously by intellectuals, who must begin working and advocating for the Chollo Kingdom’s autonomous rule within a united Federalist and Democratic South Sudan. A federal system must be built on a basis of creating an inclusive harmonious society that will accommodate all 64 tribes in South Sudan. There should be a clear and a well defined role between the Chollo Kingdom’s autonomous authority and the role of the Reth of Chollo.

Many Chollo have expressed their views that the Reth of Chollo should be a ceremonial head of the autonomous Chollo Kingdom but have no political powers. His Majesty (Reth) of Chollo role should only be a ceremonial head of the autonomous Chollo Kingdom which does not interfere with Chollo autonomy administration.

After the violence erupted in South Sudan in 2013, the Chollo as an ethnic group were targeted. As a result, hundreds of Chollo civilians were massacred based on ethnic lines. To ensure the protection of Chollo rights and their cultural survival, we must advocate and work for autonomy for the Chollo Kingdom.

According to Ruth Lapidoth, autonomy is to be understood as a special status granted to a territorial unit which makes it possible for the residents of that territorial unit to regulate their own affairs by themselves through autonomous legislation, government administration, and judicial administration. A claim to sovereignty is not linked to it. The autonomous authorities are to be precisely established in the laws of the State. Lapidoth argues the concept of autonomy for a minority group and its usefulness in resolving ethnic conflicts are very clear.

Lapidoth believes that autonomy is a means for diffusion of powers in order to preserve the unity of a state while respecting the diversity of its population. Autonomous rule has been suggested as a way to protect minority groups. The rights of the Chollo for autonomy should be recognized in principle under international law and their rights as a minority to be granted autonomous rule. Territorial political autonomy is an arrangement aimed to grant the Chollo Kingdom autonomy to govern themselves without interference from South Sudan’s central government.

The peaceful autonomy which was granted to Åland Archipelago west of Finland could serve as a model for resolving land conflicts between the Chollo and their neighbors. The case for Åland autonomy was based on a decision of the Council of the League of Nations in 1921 that resolved a dispute between Finland and Sweden over the islands and guarantees the preservation of the local language, which is Swedish, and the local culture.

Chollo autonomy must fundamentally include those areas of competence which are necessary for the national minority to maintain its cultural identity, such as the following: an educational system, including higher education (such as universities), which respects the values and needs of the minority in question; cultural institutions and programs; radio and television, and other communication means; the display of their own emblems; field of powers needed to ensure the functioning and welfare of the autonomous entity (its social and economic regulations); the use and control of natural resources; taxation for the purposes of the autonomous area; health care and social services including social welfare; transportation such as local roads, and airports; production of energy; environmental protection; control of commercial and savings banks and other financial institutions; local and regional police.

The Chollo Kingdom can create its own educational policy for primary up to 12th grade education and the languages to be taught should be as follows: Dhog Chollo, English, and Arabic. English and Arabic languages are useful for communication and business purposes. English will remain as the official language in all the government departments.

The challenge for Chollo intellectuals is to advocate for autonomy or local self-administration. What I mean by autonomy is not outright secession from the rest of South Sudan. The Dinka dominated government is not interested in a peaceful resolution to conflict which they created in order to position themselves to control the nation’s resources and to drive other communities off their land as we have seen in the case of the Chollo.

The Dinka (being a majority) are dictating to others. As Tocqueville argued, the majority will too easily tyrannize the minority. While it is clear that democracy must guarantee the expression of the popular will through majority rule, it is equally clear that it must guarantee that the majority will not abuse its power to violate the basic and inalienable rights of the minority.

Since the CPA was signed in 2005, the Chollo people have been constantly facing the threat from Dinka to eradicate the Chollo Kingdom. The most extreme danger to the Chollo Kingdom is that the Dinka led government is using the current civil war to drive out the Chollo population from their ancestral land and to inflict psychological harm on the Chollo population through violent means.

The worst example is when the Dinka led government denied humanitarian relief to the Chollo civilians this year and continued to carry out air bombardment against Chollo civilians. James Madison once said, “It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.”

President Kiir is determined to divide the country of South Sudan into tribal states whereby his tribe, ethnic Dinka, can oppress the rest of the 64 tribes in South Sudan. The Chollo was a nation in its own right before the Sudanese state became independence from the British colonies in 1956, and the Chollo will well if they achieve autonomous rule.

The Chollo, being a distinct ethnic group in South Sudan, have the right for territorial autonomy. Therefore, territorial political autonomy for Chollo is their God given right which grants them cultural, economic, education, language, religion, and social power within the federal democratic united South Sudan. In fact, autonomy is not a threat for the unity of South Sudan, but it is a solution to managing and preventing conflicts from arising between the majority and the minorities.

The Chollo autonomous rule will not clash with the interests of the state of South Sudan in preserving full integrity. The Chollo’s autonomous rule could eventually tackle the problem of land grabbing between Chollo, and their neighbors and it will provide protection for the Chollo in their traditional homeland, the Chollo Kingdom. The autonomy was first established in 1921 in Finland‘s Aland Islands. Furthermore, the concepts of Autonomous rule have been implemented in most countries in the world today.

In my opinion, autonomy will provide the solution and legal-political framework for the Chollo ethnic group to preserve their distinct cultural ethnic identity without threat to the sovereignty and unity of the rest of the country. Since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005, the Dinka led government has been a constant threat to the Chollo Kingdom’s existence.

The conflict which has led to ethnic divisions in South Sudan today was created by the Dinka led government and the ruling party SPLM, which set off a cycle of retaliatory battles and massacres across the country that have left tens of thousands dead. The SPLM Party has been an adversary since the first day of its inception in 1983 and has caused countless deaths among the people of South Sudan.

Since when the leaders of SPLM party and the President of South Sudan Mr. Kiir accused his former Deputy Machar of faking a coup which led to the country ongoing civil war , South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been locked in civil war. President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar should know that South Sudan will never be the same again because of the ethnic divisions they have created that set off a cycle of retaliatory battles and massacres across the country and have left tens of thousands dead. Chollo, as the third largest ethnic group, must work hard and advocate for local autonomy for its Kingdom.

The Chollo have been governed by numerous Chollo Kings for more than 500 years. They have never witnessed the level of destruction which was perpetrated on the Chollo people in Malakal and other areas of Chollo in February 2013, when the so called Nuer White Army were ordered by Dr. Riek Machar to massacre hundreds of Chollo civilians. To safeguard the Chollo Kingdom and its distinct culture, the demand for autonomy for Chollo is the way forward.

Under Chollo autonomous rule, they will have the unshakable power of territorial control over the Chollo Kingdom and will exercise public policy functions (legislative, executive and adjudicative) independently of other sources of authority in the state. Also, the role of the Chollo king must be defined by the Chollo and separated from autonomous authority.

The Chollo will be better off with a self-administering entity within the state of South Sudan which will give Chollo rights in terms of development in economic or cultural spheres. For example, the Murle administrative areas in Pibor resulted from an arrangement which was made by the executive power of the President of South Sudan within the framework of central legislation.

Chollo self-government will give the Kingdom the right to elect its own legislature; it will endow them with the authority to take charge of all executive and administrative functions usually provided by central state institutions. Under autonomous rule, the Chollo will be capable of granting significant judicial powers to their autonomous entity. The Chollo Kingdom will have a degree of autonomy granted to them, the country’s overall constitutional framework will be preserved, and Chollo autonomous territory will remain as an integral part of South Sudan under its constitutional control.

The Chollo Kingdom will have adequate representation as an autonomous entity at the central level, constitutionally guaranteed procedures for the resolution of land disputes between Chollo and its neighbors, or central government, and mechanisms that ensure the protection of the human rights of all residents in the autonomous entity, regardless of their ethnic identity, including the right to appeal to judicial institutions at the central level.

The Chollo Kingdom can serve to maintain South Sudan’s external borders and to preserve its sovereignty. Chollo will have the power to control social, cultural and economic matters that are important to them. The quest for Chollo territorial autonomy must be advocated by the Chollo in order to achieve it. To be very clear on this subject, it is not absolute independence but special status for the Chollo kingdom’s autonomy that the Chollo want.

The rights of the Chollo for autonomous rule can potentially cater to the interests of the Chollo Kingdom, which do not clash with the interests of the State to the preserve full integrity of their territory. The intellectuals should conceptualize the rights of Chollo for autonomy and start working and advocating the case for Chollo autonomous rule. The Chollo will be able to manage their autonomous affairs, enjoy self-government of their region, independently manage their economic construction, natural resources, and develop and manage educational, scientific, technological, cultural and public health.

The Way forward is for the Chollo intellectuals to advocate the idea of the Chollo Kingdom’s right for local autonomy. The rights of the Chollo kingdom for local autonomy must be respected. It is important for the Chollo to advocate for autonomy and to ensure the protection of the Chollo people and its unique culture. The Chollo Kingdom shall have rights under the autonomy system to run their own affairs without interference from the South Sudan’s central government.

According to Ruth Lapidoth, “Autonomy is a means for diffusion of powers in order to preserve the unity of a state while respecting the diversity of its population.”The Chollo Kingdom has the capacity to govern itself because in the 1800’s, Chollo was a nation which capably of governed itself. Remember now, that the Chollo governed themselves for more than 500 hundred years after the nation was founded in 1490 A.D. Chollo had an undisputable system of governance, and that is why it has survived for so long in Sudan despite the external forces who sought to destroy it for hundreds of years.

His Majesty the Reth of the Chollo Kingdom might have to adjust or reform some of his political policies with the changing world to meet the criteria of human rights, rules of law, social justice, equality and freedom of expression. It is vital and crucial for the Reth of Chollo to embrace and respect universal human rights and the rule of law.

For example, for many decades some of Chollo’s Kings have slain many chiefs or private citizens in Chollo society who disagreed with them. The Reth of Chollo should never take the law into his/her hands to kill their dissidents or those who oppose them without fair trials and due process. There are many issues which need fundamental reform in Chollo society.

The Chollo Kingdom will need to make fundamental reform and changes because contemporary Chollo society might not agree with the current state of social justice and the economic conditions of the Kingdom. The Chollo Kingdom might have to separate its power from political authority by allowing the people to elect politicians and to let the political process run according to democratic procedures without interference.

In conclusion, it is time now for Chollo intellectuals to start working and advocating for the Chollo Kingdom’s autonomy. The Chollo have the will and the ability to work toward obtaining autonomy for Chollo people. We are obliged to work and advocate for the rights of the Chollo people for autonomous rule. I have no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets for calling for the need for local autonomous rule; it will become an aspiration and a political reality for the Chollo people, whether in my lifetime or afterwards.

The author is a South Sudanese concerned citizen and independent opinion writer; he can be reached at


  1. Okuc says:

    Dear Jwothab,

    Thank you for superb article and the effort you put into writing it. However, I have some observation about some words you used in the article for example, majority and minority. Think some of us and in particular some writers from non Jieng or Dinka are using these without think thoroughly about meaning they convey. To my humble definition of these words I can say, majority quantify something more than half or 50+.
    To quantify Jieng or Dinka as a majority is misleading because of simple fact Jieng is the largest ethnic or tribe in South Sudan but they are not majority in numbers and the sample applied to Chollo as a third or fourth tribe in but not minority either.
    The Jieng want to portray themselves as a majority in South Sudan by falsifying, distorting and including all sorts of lies to justified their dominance of government apparatus in South Sudan. Don’t fall into that trap because you will justify their engineered lies to make South Sudan believed Jieng are majority and therefore they have the right to rule and abused people of South Sudan
    It should be made clear that Chollo people are and will not give up their ancestral land to jieng Pandang and their supporters who used State machinery to depopulate Chollo People from their land. We have to stand up to Jieng savage as our forefathers fought with Turks and Mahdia in 18 Century and they were defeated.
    The kingdom they are trying to establish is crumbling because building a nation is a big feat for a tribe whose social structure lack a systematic rule of law and order and leave alone ruling over 64 ethnic tribes.

  2. Thank you very much, Mr. Okuc for your comments on the article. Your caution about the use of majority and minority is well taken.

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