The Making of Jiengs Out of the Equatorian Community (Part 3)

Posted: November 8, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Columnists, Featured Articles, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Thiik Mou Giir

THE EQUATORIAN PEOPLE

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  Proverbs (KJV)

By Thiik Mou Giir, Melbourne, Australia

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November 8, 2016 (SSB) — Equatorians are peace-loving people.  As you are all aware, Jieng is a tribe; Equatoria is not a tribe.  Equatorian is a term coined to denote a person who is a member of any tribe that traditionally populated Equatoria Region. The behaviour of Equatorians varies, ranging from a Jieng-like tribe to a more peaceful tribe.  South Sudanese memorable history indicates that Mundari people, a Jieng-like people, have similar features as Jiengs.  They had, from time to time, killed a few Bari people as a result of disputes over grazing pasture.  Bari people never retaliated violently because they are peaceful people.  Furthermore, it is never heard of that Kakwa people waged war against Kuku people.  Both of them are peaceful peoples.  Most Equatorian tribes are generally peaceful people.

For quite a long time, the Arab Muslims became a common enemy to all South Sudanese.  When time came for South Sudanese to take action to liberate themselves from the grip of their common enemy, each South Sudanese tribe saw the contribution of the other tribes to the war efforts through their own tribal lenses.  In my previous article, I quoted the information that I had received from SPLA war veteran.  It showed that Jiengs’ (the violent people) contribution was the highest whereas the Equatorians’ (the peaceful people) contribution was the lowest.  For people who are violent, Jieng for example, it seems there is no other way for them to interpret the low turnout of Equatorians, but as a contribution coming from Equatorian tribes who are nothing but a bunch of cowards.

On the other hand, for people who are peaceful, the Equatorians, it seems there is no other way for them to interpret the aggressive behaviour and attitudes exhibited by so many Jiengs, but as a normal thing expected from people who are raas’hoom begger, and a people who are difficult to live with.  It is as great a tragic misunderstanding as it could ever have been.  Many Jiengs resented the Equatorians just as many Equatorians resented Jiengs.  This is a friction that has been fanned by social media, politicians and everybody else who do not have South Sudan at heart.  It is one of the factors that are contributing to the killing our people.

Equatorians are peaceful people.  The word peaceful is not synonymous with cowardice as many people may think.  Peaceful is just that – peaceful.  To understand the reason why Equatorians are peace-loving people, we have to look at their environment.  Most of them depend on agriculture.  They utilize their land to produce agricultural products.  Unlike cattle, vegetables and fruits cannot be driven away by raiders; farms cannot be stolen; vegetables and fruits do not need to be protected from lions, hyenas and fellow human beings, Murahaleen, for example.  So, there is hardly any reason for people of Equatoria to become violent.  The Equatorian people and nature are always in harmony and peaceful.

This fact does not set Equatorians aside as special people.  They are like any other people in matters such as envy, jealousy, strife, rivalry, anger and so on.  However, they have chosen to deal with these matters ‘peacefully’!  For example, some tribes, more than others, in Equatoria, have been practicing witchcraft as well as poisoning in order to harm or even to kill their enemies.  They deal with their enemies remotely.  After a deed is done, there are no clues left; no suspect to be sure of, and consequently, no need for relatives to engage in feud upon a mere suspicion or lack of suspicion.  Crime is thus limited to a single person and the larger society remains peaceful.

Some farmers display their farm products for marketing alongside roads and thieves cannot snatch a thing or two even though there is no one watching over the goods.  They know better.  People believe that many sellers have witchcraft powers that will follow and harm thieves.  Potential buyers know what to do if they want to buy items on sale.  They check the price tags, place the right amount of money on the designated place, take the items they are buying and then leave the area.  Transactions are in this way carried out peacefully.

To say that the Equatorians’ numbers in armed struggle was low does not automatically mean that Equatorians did not fight as fiercely as others did, for the liberation of all South Sudanese.  Their low numbers in SPLA/M show that the challenge for them to join the armed struggle was completely going against their peaceful nature.  The majority of them, therefore, saw other options of resistance or other options of being.  They went to schools and to churches and they struggled there along with others.  Fiercely.

Christian Faith has been gradually replacing witchcraft and poisoning practices. They have embraced Christianity.  Their membership in Churches is the largest in South Sudan.  When war had made life in South Sudan unendurable thousands South Sudanese took refuge in Northern Sudan.  This was like a God-sent opportunity to Islamists.  They had planned to convert as many South Sudanese as possible to Islam.  Poverty had made Southerners in those days vulnerable and open to accept anything that would get them out of their dire situation.  The environment that South Sudanese found themselves in: TV and radio programs, newspapers, school books, and so on and so forth, had one message to the whole population – surrender to Allah.

In the meantime, some churches were being demolished, church properties seized, and clergymen detained by security agencies.  As these things were happening, the inner sound within every South Sudanese was saying, ‘Being a Christian was not desirable here; it is dangerous!’…‘To convert to Islam is the solution.’  ‘Allah is the solution’ was written on the walls.  The machinery that was meant to brainwash, Islamize and Arabicize all Southerners was in full gear.

It required courage, not cowardice, to go against Islamic current.  The Equatorians took the lead in going against the current.  Their mission was to uplift every South Sudanese spirit through the gospel that gave hope and peace. They preached it wherever they go.  Day and night, they preached it in churches, in the streets, in the markets, in towns and cities, and in slums.  When they were evangelizing, they did not differentiate between tribes.  They preached to all.  Their mission was to win souls for Christ.

As they were evangelising, they pursued every opportunity in order to learn.  They flocked universities within Sudan as well as abroad.  They studied, hoping that in the end their brothers and sisters who were waging guerilla warfare in the bushes would win the war and their education would be of some use in the future.

Now, suppose the Equatorians, with others, did not preach the gospel to South Sudanese who were taking refuge in the North, what could have happened?  Islam could have spread among Southerners faster than ever.  Then, Northerners could have sent the converted Southerners back to South Sudan to preach Islam to all South Sudanese population.  The converted Southerners could have claimed that, not only were they Muslims, but also Arabs.  That could have been strong enough to break the back of SPLA/M.

Dr. John Garang could had been the last person to throw down his gun and said, ‘what’s the point of fighting the Arab dominated regime!  Southerners are stupid!  Stupid people!’  But Equatorians did not allow this to happen.  They did not allow Southerners in the North to disappoint those who were in the SPLA/M, neither did those in the SPLA/M disappoint those who were longing for freedom.  They helped Southerners to maintain their identity as distinct people from Arab Muslims.

The triumph of Moo!  Moo! In 2011 was also a triumph of Halleluiah!  Halleluiah!

My next article, under the same title, The Making of Jiengs out of the Equatorian Community, will be on ‘The Deadly Ingredients’. You can reach me via my email: Thiik Giir <thiik_giir@hotmail.com>

 

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

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Comments
  1. Mr.Thiik, I totally agreed with you, they are really a peace-loving people who have been a while with that attitude, Particularly Western Equatoria during civil war of Sudan was peaceful indeed and helpful. What made them to take up arms against Jieng, need the South Sudan’s government to look at their issues carefully . There might be something wrong somewhere and it is now involved everybody. To add my own analysis, communities of cattle keepers of South Sudan are the source of calamity, they retained the conflict in the country all this time in cattle rustling .

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  2. Daniel Ajaangdit says:

    Yes, I agreed with two of you buddies. Equatorians are very peaceful, but, now the big issue is “why do they generalise Jieng?” while surely, there must be some people from Jieng that had caused them to be unhappy. This problem between Equatorians and MTNs or Jienge, needs careful study, and not reacting to the killings. Our government is suppose to form a committee from both Equatorians, Jiengs, in addition to neutral tribes to find out from Equtorians why are they killing what they termed “MTNs”?. What had MTNs done to them?. If because MTNs are in Equtoria, then Jieng are to be told to move out of Equatoria, such that peace can be obtained. If they don’t like cattle keepers, then, cattle keepers are to be taken out of Equatoria. This solution is not the best, but, it least it is bringing peace between Equtorians and MTNs.
    Thank you

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  3. james Juma says:

    the self proclamation kind of naration a story to win tribal popularity smartly displace in written is a mean of luring those who were not in the bush and did not see amd participated in this struggled, but what your are saying is like almost right but critically your one sided man who know the reality but so tribalistic without the equatorian i think this country could’t be seen like now you are enjoying,,,,life killing …domination…etc…..please if you really need peace tell the truth.

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  4. Thiik Giir says:

    You wrote, “naration a story to win tribal popularity”. The story is not told completely. I still have some more to say. I would like you to elaborate on the charge that I’m writing to win tribal popularity. If my purpose was to do that, i shouldn’t have mentioned a great role that Equatorians have done. They struggled like the rest of us. I told you before to please approach my writings objectively and critically. There is nothing in that country that I’m enjoying here. I live in Australia. The people over there are my people, be they Bari, Kakwa, Nuer, Jieng, Shilluk, exc. I write out of the conviction that my writings are my humble contribution I can offer to my people. I don’t think my writings are perfect, but I think I am doing the best I can. There are people out there who point things out to me and to everyone else, I appreciate their efforts. I hope you will do the same. Please know this: at the moment, I’m ashamed, not “enjoying”, of being a South Sudanese!

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  5. Kon Dimo says:

    I agree with you brother Thiik. Though your writings are not totally perfect, they, to a certain degree point to the right direction – telling the truth to dialogue. As I mentioned in my earlier response to your previous article, jieng members who may be a bit leveled headed have an up-hill task if peace is to prevail S.Sudan. So far there is no light at the end of the long dark tunnel we are in. The country is being ruled remotely by jieng (mostly primitive or semi-primitive) ethnic advisers – very informal, just like in the villages during the times of the father of the president. I am not talking about Jieng Council of Elders. It is more than that. We the other ethnic communities will hardly enjoy equal rights even if jieng council of elders disappears today. That is the problem – the president and the big jieng government officials and security officers all over South Sudan falsely think they have the responsibility of protecting jieng members everywhere in South Sudan, extra-judiciarily, even when they are suspect criminals, suspect murderers or thieves. That is the problem and that is what we in South Sudan need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. We need justice and equality before the law, in opportunities, in resource allocations, in resource distributions, in … , … in everything. Justice, just that. Justice does not in anyway mean cheating jieng, or does it? Justice id justice, even for jieng. Probably, never in history did any country been successfully managed the way we think we can manage South Sudan. Government officials, officers of “lucrative” assignments etc, are all almost 100% jieng! Do you condemn that ya Thiik? Or you are only talking because you were probably elbowed out by a stronger “manth-baai” from a certain “fat” job. Ateny Wek the presidential spokesperson used to be critical of the government a few years ago. Look at him today, he became a hard liner lair … … just like Michael Makei – simply because he was given the right assignment. He is eating now. Brother Thiik, trauma of experience of lack of food in childhood in nomadic communities may be partly responsible for the erratic and violent eating of our leaders today in South Sudan. Most of our leaders are from nomadic background. Brother I will not be surprise if you come tomorrow and start hunting us down here in Juba if you are made the South Sudanese ambassador in Australia, director of internal security. Such assignments are actually not far from you as a dissenting “manth-baai”. That is how Ateny Wek got his. But of course you could be sincere … you are probably sincere. It is just a probability.

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