When I arrived to the ‘Home and Away’ Center in Juba (late, of course) for the World Bank workshop on Governance, the first speaker was already talking… and he talked for around hour and a half…about everything: history, decentralization, governance, the war.
The perfectly dressed gentleman delivering this speech, originally scheduled for 20 minutes, was South Sudan’s Vice-President, Riek….General Riek.
If you read the ‘Brief History of the War’ entry, you will recall that General Riek was the one that rebelled against John Garang and divided the South Sudan rebellion, but also the key player in the reconciliation and final victory of the resistance.
Riek is a Nuer, born and raised in the area where I am currently working at. I met a friend of his in Pagak, John Amaza.
‘Riek ruined us’, he started.
Before Riek took control of Upper Nile during the war, the Nuer where organized in small units or Bomas, each one with an elected traditional chief. Nuers, remember, were mostly semi-nomads, keeping all the same traditions, but independent among them.
Riek made a pact with the Sudan government in the early 1990s, which gave him the control of this area,
in a war against the Nuer traditional enemies, the Dinka, John Garang’s tribe. Riek then replaced all traditional chiefs in the Upper Nile State, and distributed the state among his commanders. These military chiefdoms were then easy pray of the Northern Sudan forces, who killed one by one the military chiefs and traditional leaders.
This is why there is no a tangible social structure in the Pagak area. Government structures have been imposed and the surviving Boma chiefs have now a limited role as members of the local justice courts. The current local governance is very recent, and most leaders have been 'imported'. Remember also that the town's growth is based on former refugees coming back from Ethiopia, many of whom are not original from this area. Non-nuers, particularly Ethiopians, have also settled around, and they lack representation.
In terms of community mobilization, there is everything to do.
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