By Ajoda Odolla
Seven moons ago in 2014, the next day after GPAA seceded from Jonglei State and has become a separate administrative area in South Sudan, my friend and I phoned each other and agreed to partake in a party our compatriots, the foremen of GPAA, threw at their quarters in Juba. On arrival you could see the halo, aura of rays of joy and glory emitting from the glowing faces and gleaming teeth of these procreators of GPAA. It looked as that of Moses when he came back from Mount Sinai with the tablets the 10 commandments inscribed on them.
A feeling commensurate to yogic relief was palpable. They deserved it .Weeks and moons passed by and they waited apprehensively with bated breath. Those who were not familiar with one step at a time motto had difficulty reconciling to the tortoise gait the process was taking. Optimists, majority protagonists of GPAA, called for patience to let the politics run its course. Pessimists, who were bent on search for loopholes to criticize, were mockingly saying that the men had been conned. The cessation of hostilities and drastic peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa between the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army-Cobra Faction (SSDM/A-Cobra Faction) and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GoSS) was just nominal to ease friction and placate the people. They said that the promise to create a separate administrative area for Greater Pibor (GP) was a temporizing and an emollient move by President Kiir in case Riek Machar led rebels anted up their assault on the government or merely to appease Apee Ochudho, the lead coordinator for the establishment of GPAA’s government.
Mr. Kiir proved them wrong though, an overture that did not receive much ovation from the SPLA’s diehards. His unparalleled and unsung magnanimity is his indelible legacy. Even though it is overlooked by South Sudanese at this time, in the years to come it will be a fetish they will cherish; a prototype to be adopted and emulated by other African leaders.
With dissuading and debilitating words that constantly come from antagonists, every tick of the clock seemed to be dashing away hope from those waiting for the creation of GPAA. However, it is never over till it is over. The highly anticipated promulgation came from the media, duly official; the GPAA was born. The mooring had been let loose setting the ship free to sail in the direction envisioned by its captains helmed by General David Yau Yau (DYY), the head of GPAA, with their people to their promised land.
Back in December 2013 at the eruption of the putsch (coup attempt) led by Riek Machar, sadists were expecting the SSDM/A-Cobra Faction of David Yau Yau (DYY) to jump into the fray and strike while the iron was still hot. The duo assault, they reasoned, would hamstring the government rendering it a cripple. These myopic fellows were not prescient that this vicissitudes created the chute needed by the Cobra Faction to reveal its true colour, peace lovingness. Nevertheless, the SSDM/A-Cobra Faction proved its allegiance and integrity to the observers that its motives for lifting arms against the government were not vague vie for power nor thirst for bloodletting, rather they were tenable grievances that would have preferably been channeled through peaceful dialogue.
As we entered the lounge at the hotel, where our compatriots were parting, we were welcome and I, not to be overtaken, was quick to utter, ‘’Mabrook’’ (the Arabic term for congratulations) and simultaneously tapping each others’ left shoulders and shaking hands, a South Sudanese custom of affection and respect. “Mabrook, we did it,” everybody responded.
We were shown comfy seats at this air-conditioned lounge in one of Juba’s posh hotels. I ensconced and was enthralled. But my mite brain began reeling in a nostalgic reflection making this anachronistic that may be I was at a different part of the globe. That casted ambivalence on me , enjoyment on one side and fear of not wanting to return to the scorching sun of Juba awaiting me once I set foot off this place, on the other side. That didn’t curtail the jubilation we indulged in. I managed to bring myself back from this brief daydream and joined the heated discussion. This time it was around how we successfully got to this win-win situation. “By opting for peaceful dialogue we restored peace to our region and subsequently our nation,” one man said, “we staunched bloodshed by averting possible ethnic clashes. That was an epitome of South Sudan’s potion works best for South Sudan’s malady.”
“Even Neanderthals, our progenitors, I guess,” another man called out from the other corner mimicking chimpanzee , at this moment a gale contagiously filled the room, “ Neanderthals,” he continued, “ used to lay their sticks and bones down and hug each other ululating and howling reaffirming their brotherhood and signifying reconciliation. We, as their descendants, therefore, have done the same by putting our differences aside and focused on our common grounds. Above all, we share a common mother- South Sudan. Let it go Y’all!”
Then I came into an eye contact with Mr. David Yau Yau. I bashed away trying to avoid it but I realized that it was just a picture on a pamphlet lay on the table in front of me. I picked it up and it riveted me to my little world of reading, again. I thumbed and skimmed through the next page. Then I saw Mr. DYY quoted to have said that the factors that gave rise to the conflict and this divorce from Jonglei were absence of fair and equal treatment to all people of Jonglei. That has set the record straight for the critics who endeavor to detract Gen. DYY’s quest for egalitarianism. The men claimed that DYY hopped into Litila’s bush, Pibor as a sheer effort to reclaim his stars that were plucked off. “It was lack of infrastructure and uneven distribution and delivery of resources and services such as health facilities, schools, roads to name a few,” Mr. DYY continued, “the vastness of Jonglei as a single state contributed to this failure of observing all its corners and tending to the needs of all its inhabitants fairly and equally.”
As I was trying to register this, a big raven on the TV screen stole my attention, but gave me the perfect scenario I was searching for. A mother bird with fledgling chicks in its nest may mistakenly feed some of them repeatedly more often than the others. Because in every turn the mother returns to the nest, every chick splays its beaks exposing the hole wide open, and expecting some savoury crumbs to be crammed in. That means since the CPA was enacted, the administration in Bor, Jonglei made that blunder by dropping the food crumbs in the gobs of few of its favourite chicks. The hapless, the ilk of the ones who now call themselves heirs of GPAA, ended up with nothing.
One may say, “Pibor filed for divorce and it was granted. That is definitely right. GP is now directly under the Office of the President. GP has received overwhelming support from the central Government of South Sudan (GoSS) except that thing – the budget for public and civil services. Therefore, I would like to broach this issue up to His Excellency, the legitimate democratically elected President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Your Excellency, the people in GP are now in state of unbearable lassitude, and their patience is growing weary day by day. Please, Mr. President, listen to the wails coming from mothers and children in GP who bear the brunt of this budget delay. The market area in Pibor teems with emaciated kwashiorkoric kids who could push a doughnut down in a single gulp if they could get it. Mr. President, please spur your illustrious and industrious men working on the budget for GP to step up the gear a bit. The delay of the budget hampers everything in GP and is causing us teething troubles. At this juncture, its immediate release is crucial for stability in the region and to end further suffering. This is not to downplay the concessions and strides your office have made so far in regards to this matter. But this issue of budget calls for your exigent response as everything is tied up to it. With due regards!
I hope the 9 months we have passed so far after the peace agreement was signed in Addis Ababa on May 9, 2014, doesn’t extend to 40 years odyssey that Moses and his Israelites mass spent astray en route to their promised land . If it lags that long , unlike Moses who got cotton on his head and under his chin, am afraid that constant brooding may push further my receding fringe line to my nape, leaving a gleaming highway in its wake. PEACE!!
The writer can be reached at Ajoda Odolla on Facebook or on 0927194689