Toposa, Buya prepare for reconciliation
By: Kabaka Quintos
South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) is preparing to hold a possible peace and reconciliation dialogue between Toposa and Buya of Kapoeta state. The dialogue is scheduled for December, 2019.
The idea came after growing tensions mounted between the two communities in recent months due to cattle raids and counter revenge attacks that led to several deaths including women and children.
Religious leaders including Kapoeta state peace commission and state authorities are consulting the affected communities to understand what they think can be done for peace to prevail in the neighboring Riwoto and Kimotong counties.
Speaking during a consultative meeting in Riwoto on Tuesday, Marko Lonya Lokonyen, the Toposa youth representative pleaded guilty that the youth from both sides have resorted to killing innocent women and children without meaning.
Lonya said Toposa need peace with Buya to live as good neigbours.
“There is death every day as we kill ourselves everything, women children and elders. Even cows we don’t bring but just kill people. We kill and we raid cows. That is the worst thing with us. How shall we live? We don’t want to die every day,” he said.
Lino Lohor is an elder whose three children were killed including 2 girls, he said. “Why every day I talk about peace but my children were killed in the garden. Two of them were girls and I wanted to give them to a man so that I could get cows. Let us talk about peace. I said no body should go somewhere let us stay at home. In my heart I don’t have any problem I am staying in the funeral but people told me to come and listen to peace meeting.”
Fr Alfred Loguti, a Catholic priest, who represented Buya community agreed that the killings must end.
“What is happening among the Buya when you hear that a Toposa had killed another Buya I already know that in camp 15, a Buya should have gone to kill a Toposa we know when you are killing us but we did not know how many Toposas have been killed by the Buya. We want this thing to stop, we want to be the missionaries of peace in our own state”, he said.
Fr Loguti said the dialogue has come at the right time, saying for quite long their bishops have not been involved in resolving community issues.
“I think this is the time for them to bless us and these state. If we listen to our bishops we are listening to Christ .This is the voice of God in our own state today. We are also going to take to our own brothers that side,” he said.
The Buya representative asked the Toposas to accept peace with his community.
“I am coming here to beg your own hearts on behalf of Buya people, let us not forget even our own values of the past. We have very beautiful values here where we are, let us be the messengers of this peace when we go, it should begin from my heart,” Fr. Longuti pleaded.
Fr Thomas Lokai, the chairperson of Kapoeta state peace commission expressed his frustration over continuous killings in the state.
Fr Lokai said killing must stop for citizens to enjoy the dividends of peace.
“I am crying all the time in the office until I told the Council of Ministers’ meeting that brothers and sisters ministers and the government our state is bleeding and lamenting, for how long shall we go on like this, I am tired of the blood of this state we need to stop that. All of you who spoke here need peace as sons and daughters of God of our state, we need peace”, he said.
The peace chairman threatens communities that the government will deal with those who will start fighting again after the dialogue.
The chairperson of SSCC Bishop Arkangelo Wani Lemi of African Inland Church (AIC) said peace should not be expressed by mouth but actions.
Bishop Wani said peace is the priority to everyone in the country.
“But it is not only talking with your mouth but acting on what you have said because peace is paramount, not only here but in every place in South Sudan. It is a number one priority whether it is here or elsewhere,” he said.
“People have finished themselves and so we have come here with heavy hearts because of what has happened over the last few months and our prayer is that this will end with this meeting here and the meeting that we are going to hold there and probably one other meeting that will bring you together, we hope this will be the end of everything”, he added.
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Torit His Lordship Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla advised both communities to maintain peace among them.
“God has blessed you to have many cows so that you may remain in peace and so let us keep this peace that God has given,” Bishop Ameyu said.
“We have come also to pay our condolences to all those who had lost their dear ones. We share your pains, all of us here shared those moments that you have in your hearts. How long are we going to shed tears, lose the lives that are innocent? All of you said let us have peace, all of you had said it, all the elders said let peace come between us and the Buya,” he added.
Last Month Kapoeta state governor Louis Lobong Lojore said six people were killed during cattle raid between Toposa and Buya.