Opinion

Causes, key players and solutions to our conflicts

This article “South Sudan conflict: Root causes, key players, possible solutions and key implementer(s)” is an effort to contribute towards the “National dialogue” for soliciting popular and realistic contributions from the South Sudanese general populace for sustainable peace. It is after deep thought and after over 100 listening surveys in and outside the country by the author in an effort to find out opinions on root causes, key players, possible solutions and key implementers(s) to end the infamous South Sudanese civil strife, this piece of work has been written. It is hoped that this article will make a useful contribution towards the National Dialogue and generate deeper thought on how sustainable peace for the country can be attained. Before going into the body of the article, it is important to point out that the South Sudanese conflict is complex, entrenched and spans over many decades if not centuries.

To begin with, it is important to appreciate the President of South Sudan’s calls to end the decades’ of conflict by calling his compatriots to abhor ethnic animosity, power struggle, corruption, conflict / civil war and embrace unity, offer of amnesty to South Sudanese rebels, national day of prayer and national dialogue to bring about lasting peace to the country. The calls are indicators that the President is desperate for lasting peace in the country. The calls also indicate that the President knows and understands the causes of the ongoing South Sudanese conflict and the suffering people are going through. If his calls are heeded by everyone, the woes of the country would speedily come to pass. To support in implementing these calls, the President should look out for enthusiasts of peace because there are numerous praise singers around the President who simply want to coax their ways through to lucrative positions for self-gratification.

Root causes of the conflict

Many political analysts argue that some South Sudanese intellectuals, for egotistic reasons, contributed to the conflict and miseries of the country. The intellectuals’ contribution to the steady socioeconomic and political retrogression was through passivity, disinformation to the less informed people through various media, making hate speeches or complete lack of constructive criticism on the real state of affairs as things went from bad to worse. Although the root causes of the conflicts in the country and players are obvious to many people, fear of retribution kept the majority of people mute from talking about them. It is vital to point the causes of the conflict and make some suggestions on possible solutions to the crisis. Key players to the conflict are cited here, with the expectation that their attention in resolving the catastrophe South Sudanese are undergoing will be drawn to resolving the unprecedented suffering.

The listening surveys by the author tell that the causes of and cardinal players of the South Sudanese conflict are more widely known than it is generally believed. The general knowledge of the causes and key players to the conflict negates the conflicting parties’ imagination that they are the only ones who have the solutions to the conflict. In listening, the writer found out that some of the key contributors to the conflict are: 1)tribalism and segregation, 2) ethnic animosity, 3) power struggle, 4) wish to dominate others or supremacy, 5) contempt for the rule of law, 6) intolerance of each other’s opinions, 7) absolute lack of confidence in and suspicion of each other 8)rampant corruption 9) absolute lack of remorse for wrongdoing and 10) unwillingness to reconcile and forgive each other.

 

Brief historical background to the South Sudanese conflict

Before going into detail, it is important to give a historical outline of the South Sudanese’s conflict. Apart from substantial South Sudanese unity during the 1955 – 1972 and 1983 – 2005 civil wars to face a common enemy, the vises that are afflicting the country now already existed. At that time, there was already some ethnic animosity and power struggle between some Dinka and Nuer “tribal” leaders who unfortunately enticed massive tribal followings. This animosity persisted because their leaders were too egocentric and didn’t care for their people’s lives and general welfare, largely because the majority of South Sudanese lacked critical thinking and literacy on the country’s political and socio-economic environment. The general ignorance of the politicians’ followers who are mostly youth) became a great asset to be exploited for personal gains. While the youth suffered the outcomes of the conflict, their leaders lived in opulence in and outside the country.

Many events that took place during the South Sudanese conflicts suggest that there is hardly anything that unites them. This disunity can only be bridged through massive peace education so that they can liberate themselves from hate, ignorance, poverty and disease. They have to become their own liberators because their leaders have proved their incapability to liberate them from these vices. Thus, the suffering majority, especially the youth, are responsible for bringing peace peacefully to the country.

Quite a few writers on South Sudanese conflict suggest that for decades or centuries, South Sudanese ethnicities have been living in conflict. Many of these conflicts were exceedingly violent and caused much loss of property and lives: pastoralists against agro-pastoralists, pastoralists against pastoralists and agriculturalists against agriculturalists. However, violent conflicts between the Dinka and Nuer communities have been most conspicuous and took gruesome dimensions. Despite this, these tribes should be forward looking, forgiving, reconciling with each other and never think of revenge because thinking otherwise will only make the situation worse. They should forego their bitterness and pride for the good of all. These tribe’s political leaders’ should change their approach to that of forgiveness, reconciliation, attaining wealth through real hard work and view their follower’s lives as the most precious asset.

The observation of the conflict between the two largest tribes is not to deny the conflicts that existed and still exists between the Anyuak and Nuer, Nuer and Murle, Murle and Dinka, Toposa and its neighbors, Dinka and Dinka, Nuer and Nuer, Mundari and Bari…. Most of the causes of these conflicts were triggered off by: 1) cattle raiding, 2) pastureland, 3) water, 4) agricultural land and various natural resources…, making land and its resources a conspicuous factor in the conflict. Land conflict, unless properly managed, can become a serious nationwide challenge. These tribal conflicts have been aggravated by widespread ownership of small arms. Studies on land conflicts showed that local land conflicts can erupt into large-scale civil strife and political movements. This calls on politicians to work fervently for disarmament and re-examination of existing land laws to preempt potential large-scale land conflicts.

Ahistorical eye-catching study by Crazzolara SCJ in the 1950’s indicate that conflict between the Nuer and Dinka was ongoing as early as or earlier than the Luo migration, colonial era and predates Ngundeng Bong’s (Nuer Prophet’s) existence. The two tribes believe that at the beginning of time, they were blood relatives who disagreed. However, repeated conflicts between them degenerated into animosity. When South Sudan was in the making, the violent conflict between the two, now exploited by unscrupulous politicians, became more lethal as illustrated by the 1988, 1991, 2013 and 2016 incidents. This time, the old ethnic conflict became a politicized, institutionalized, militarized and nationalized power struggle for domination between the two erstwhile brothers. With modernity, the struggle for supremacy become more complex as leaders on either side had access to sophisticated arms, social media to indoctrinate and brainwash their followers against each other, massive illegitimate finances to woo supporters, and dissemination of dangerous propaganda to distort their followers’ perception of reality…This requires open-minded, patriotic, diplomatic and intellectual articulation by peace enthusiasts from all tribes and the international community. History has shown that violence endlessly begets violence and has the potential to break up nations. If addressed through dialogue, South Sudan would achieve sustainable peace; if not, the country might crumble. If the current conflict is resolved, the aftermath of the power struggle between the two largest tribes which has substantially frustrated the other 62 South Sudanese nationalities to pick up arms against their own fledgling country still need thorough redress. These tribes simply found themselves sandwiched between the two most numerous tribes’ vendettas and expect thorough reforms across all public sectors for their grievances to be meticulously and objectively addressed. As these problems are clearly known, the contribution of any national day of prayer or dialogue for sustainable peace, as has been shown in other countries that have tried them, largely depends on the President’s patriotism and political will. Without this, the results of national efforts for peace may be futile as is the case for Yemen which reverted to catastrophic hostilities due to disagreement over the form of federalism. This presents food for thought and test for South Sudanese’s patriotism.

Not too long ago, the conflict between the two key protagonists spilled over to the other tribes and the situation contributed substantially to the Equatorians’ calls for KOKORA (which loosely translates as re-division, decentralization, federalization or confederation) movement of the early 1980’s. They were attempting to liberate themselves from domination by the two brothers vying for power. The struggle between the two blinded them and the 62 tribes became invisible to the protagonists, this should happen no more and “every South Sudanese should become his brother’s keeper”.

At the onset of the 1980’s, some unpatriotic and supremacist Dinka intellectuals, university and secondary school students had warned Equatorians that the Dinka were “born to rule and Equatorians would eventually pay for their KOKORA”. This warning significantly contributed to Equatorians’ fear for their security and thus curtailing them from massively joining the SPLA/M insurgency for the liberation war. This was a sad disuniting incentive for South Sudanese and such statements should permanently be of the past. Then, three Presidents of the Southern Sudan High Executive Council (HEC) who were at the helm, did little or nothing towards South Sudanese unity. The South Sudanese disunity made the Mundukuru to take advantage of the rift to divide and rule South Sudan to their liking and many lives were lost. Now, every South Sudanese’s life should matter to each other and nobody should pick up arms against anyone. History has told us that “fire cannot put off fire”. History has told us that powerful nations such as Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR), apartheid Republic of South Africa (RSA), East Timor, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan…fell because of prejudgment of the status quo’s abilities to contain the feeble. From experience, anyone can tell that “fire can only be put off with water”. The past presidents of Sudan – Abud, Turabi, Mahadi, Nimeri, Suwar al Dahab, Omer…have proved this hypothesis to be right!

 

The writer can be reached via: loke55bori@yahoo.com +211954808044, +211925541495

 

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