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Southern Sudanese: Let's fight for common goals.

By Philip Thon Aleu December 1, 2008 -- Aiming to restore the denied human dignity of black people in the Sudan, marginalized Sudanese took up arms in 1983, which culminated in the January 9, 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the granting of Southern Sudan with partial self-governance. The historic campaigns from here have a lot to achieve rather than being hooked up by internal differences. Conflicts over states' and counties' borders, continuing returns of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and power struggles on tribal basis are issues that Southern Sudan should turn to after 2011 (the date of the referendum for independence). For an enthusiastic society, when a lion invades a village, residents defend together despite internal differences. In such a response, villagers would defeat the common enemy and later on solve minor issues. This culture is vital at the current situation in Southern Sudan, for there are many more external outstanding issues than just family issues. Implementation of the CPA is made difficult by the National Congress Party (NCP), and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) is lobbying for a united Southern Sudan to defeat a common enemy in Khartoum. The Khartoum government on the other hand won't feel the effect of self-governance in Southern Sudan when tribal hatred, internal land issues and power struggles dominate daily lives. A case in question is the issue of Nimule (Madi) land-grabbing by Dinka Bor, as put by some. Dinka Bor and Madi communities would have no common border had it not been for the decades of Sudan's civil wars that hit Bor the worst, moving thousands of Bor natives to various states of Sudan in due course of military operations and displacements. Bor civil populations settled in the Equatoria states' towns of Nimule, Kaya, Maridi, Nadapal and others, as IDPs and indirect suppliers of food supplies to SPLM's military wing, the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA). As human beings, Dinka Bor made a settlement by erecting houses, practicing agriculture and participating in business. And when the SPLM began setting up administrative structures, after gaining an ability to counter the Sudan Armed Forces, the IDPs there took offices at the borders and life went on. Those were days of complaints of occupation of land by Arabs through the barrel of a gun. All Southern Sudanese knew this and none bothered to talk about land occupations by Dinka, Kaku, Nuba, Kuku, Acholi, Bari, Zadi, Murle, Mundari, Moro, Pajulu, Didinga or Toposa and the rest. All we knew was that Arabs are oppressing us and we must fight for liberty. That is why the SPLA fought irrespective of ethnicity and geographical diversity. Unfortunately, the course for dreamt liberation is thousands of miles away but commentators whose aims are not known are stirring up tribal differences with lands odes, singing what they call "Madi Land Grabbing." An article appearing November 30, 2008 on Gurtong Peace Trust, entitled 'Land Issues in Nimule, Equatoria State' empathized that "Nimule saw massive displacement during the war as the town was intensely fought over. The indigenous Madi community mainly fled to Uganda in late 80's and early 90's during fighting between Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)." The article continues: "The SPLA controlled Nimule from 1994 until the signing of the CPA in 2005 and it became a refuge for IDPs fleeing fighting further north, mainly Jonglei." The truth is that both Nimule and Bor saw massive displacement. The question is, why didn't the Bor community take refuge in Uganda like the Madi? Was there any condition stopping Bor from fleeing to Uganda? No. And the article does not consider why the Dinka Bor were untouched by "massive displacement" in Nimule during the war that they remained there and the Madi did not. The SAF never took full control of Nimule town, rather shelling the town from Achwa using heavy artillery. Most Dinka Bor lived in Mugale IDPs camps, about 12 miles north of Nimule. Soon after the SPLA retook Achwa from SAF in 1996, the IDPs took control of Nimule town, given its strategic locality. There was no competition over land ownership and there should be none before 2011 if we want to achieve a durable freedom, restoration of humanity and abolition of modified slavery. The choice is ours and Khartoum can watch us wasting time over internal issues, supplanting the focus on external threats. One ought to be moved by a Southern Sudanese writer questioning the speed of CPA implementation, particularly the south-north border demarcations; yet land disputes articles are easier to write and draw more interest. If one wishes to use rhetoric of claiming "grabbed land" within Southern Sudan, then apply the same style to south-north border issues. Not denying the Southern Sudan's ethnic diversity, varying economic and social norms and poverty--amalgamated with a long history of wars--the society has sundry problems. Unfortunately, these internal constraints are overwhelmed by mistrust between the Khartoum and Juba governments. This is where Southern Sudanese unity and suspension of internal differences becomes critical. We have a choice: To deal with internal issues as Khartoum's brutal ruling party (NCP) spends sleepless nights to destroy us, or to ignore our differences in order to achieve a common goal. This is the same thing at state assemblies, where MPs take time debating about land and leave out contentious issues affecting people's lives. When will the government be in effect? The goal is attainable once we abandon tribal differences and deal with the national issues. Southern Sudan is a region of possibilities. The CPA of 2005 is an answer to anyone who doubts the ability of this region for good governance and total freedom. People around the world could not believe that SPLM/A pressed the Khartoum government militarily to accept the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, given its strengths and rigid disrespect for humanity as shown in Darfur. If Southern Sudanese come together against a common enemy, we shall reach the shore and thus, SPLM/A shall win. The author is a Sudan Tribune Journalist and can be reached at pthonaleu@gmail.com

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Dec 4, 2008
Words:1025
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