25 May 2020


Why Should Naming A County Be A Dividing Factor?

"It is only through dialogue, open and frank talk that can bring peace, unity, development to our people or among the community members who are divided along social and political lines."

By Abraham Mabior Rioc* - (Hong Kong, China).
Following the creation of 32 states in 2015 by the President of the Republic, H.E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, new problems seem to be gaining momentum in communities with regard to the naming of some of the administrative units such as state, county, Payam or Boma. On the foreground, the decision was received with mixed reactions and feelings by South Sudanese communities as an appealing message of taking towns closer to the people. Basically, the president of the Republic was applauded by the majority for having made one of the boldest and wisest decision to create new states and counties.

On the contrary, some critics and communities criticize the decision of the president due to their own understanding and perceptions of the decree. Nonetheless, it was meant to take towns and basic services closer to the people as their demands.
In this context, Lou-Mawien/Lou Ariik community was one of the geographical locations that received the news with open arms and immediately knelt down to receive and seize the responsibility of their own county with both hands and one mind. As in the process of naming the county, the first name that was at first glance declared by the President was Lou Ariik County. Nevertheless, the decisional consensus was lacking as majority of the people are opposed to the name of Lou Ariik County and therefore preferred the name of Alabek County instead.
The change of the name into Alabek County was officially done by a High-Level Committee formed and dispatched from the Council of States to assess the views, perceptions, and ideas of the people from grassroots level on what the name should be given to the new-born baby (County). The Lou-Mawien Community members openly expressed their positions to the committee.

In turn, the committee that made it to Lou Ariik, listened to the voices of the people, prepared and submitted its findings and recommendations to the president of the Republic through Council of State based on the demands and wishes of the majority. Thus, H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit officially signed the document and decreed the County’s name to be called Alabek County, which has been officially operating since then.
As far as the name of the county was/is concerned, a seemingly endless controversy has emerged among the Lou-Mawien community members with others wanting it called Alabek County while others want it call Lou Ariik County. Undeniably, people are divided along clan and sectional lines and circles.
In my view, naming a county Alabek should not divide people and create deep enmity, mistrust, and sectional disintegration. In lieu of sitting together as Looth (Lou-Mawien Community) and to find a better solution to the controversial name, this has created a deep hatred on sectional and clan-based campaigns have been on the forefront for some time now. In reality, all these campaigns seem to be taking precious lives of the innocent people of Lou-Mawien community if precautionary measures are not taken. This implies that the cooperation and unity among the people have been affected and are staggered.
With regards to the controversial name of the county, I would like to suggest to everyone in Lou-Community to exercise restraints as far as the lives of our innocent community members are concerned. In this contemporary world, issues are discussed once and for all whereas ideas are discussed and constantly revisited in order to have better outcomes.
To my understanding, the name of the county is just an issue that needs to be discussed at a time and then people should resort to finding ideas that can develop human and material resources for the benefits of all of us. In this regard, I would like to advise my fellow youths who are spearheading these negative campaigns and threats of all sorts to distance themselves from destructive politics that can split people and perhaps may trigger bloody conflict both in the villages and in the towns.
All of us (you, them, and I) might be in one way or the other misleading our illiterate people (civilians) who do not care about killing themselves. This is because what we preach in the towns as educated people may be taken seriously by these people (civilians) as benchmark to justify and to kill themselves since thousands of firearms are within their reach and disposal.
By and large, I have been reading, seeing, hearing a lot of excuses and blame games on what should happen if this is not done this way or that way. In the critical analysis of some people’s takes and imaginations, I am afraid and feel very concern for the life of each one of us (Lou-Mawien Community) back home since this may end up in a total devastation and destruction. Having spent a good number of months last year in the village (Alabek County) observing and analyzing this controversial name, I later realized that our people are in danger and of course heading to wrong and unknown directions.
At this juncture, we really need to be very careful with our decisions and how to communicate them. Should we fail to come to our senses at this particular moment when our actions and unbecoming behaviors are overruling us, then, there is a possibility that we will definitely lose more and more of our innocent people in the community back home.
Why do we need to lose them when we have a solution at our disposal? No, not at all, we must not lose them. We have our Members of Parliament (MPs) both at National and State levels, Community leaders both at national and state levels, we have intellectuals (including you the campaigners down there) who should sit together, and devise better means and possible solutions. Why not call them (including ourselves) for a meeting and to convene an all-inclusive conference back home to solve our own problems in peace?
Of course, these are better alternatives that can unite us and bring peace to our people. Nothing is possibly solved through violence, threatening, lobbying, mention them. Let’s come together as one community, both educated and uneducated to exercise a spirit of togetherness and cooperation in order to devise better mechanisms and way forward for the common good of our people.  
In this background, four or more years have now passed since the creation of new counties in Tonj state. However, no sign of tangible development is seen in our newly created county. Instead of sitting down together and discuss our developmental projects and programs, some of us have opted to be entertaining hatred and jealousness which are the seeds of ego conflict.
I am really wondering what kind of creatures are we? In fact, other communities from Tonj State in particular and South Sudan in general have moved forward in terms of physical infrastructure and human resource development. Yet, we are still stranded in the issue of county’s name pursuing negative means through hate speeches, useless lobbies, and unconstructive satirical.
At this point, self-fulfilling prophecy is ranging and expanding its horizons in the name of the county. As a case in point, we really need to pursue the moderate level of “Kong Koc Theory” as it has always been one of the best problem-solving strategies in our Mounyjang/Jieng Concept.
The emerging issue of self-fulfilling prophecy in this context should be treated as foretold, expected, or non-developmental discourse, which at some point may irreconcilably create undesirable results. As such, the name of the county has become a point of daily or monthly discussion among the different sections in Lou-Mawien, a community which has been at peace in itself since time immemorial. In fact, this is a minor issue that needs a simple formula to solve it without even losing a single life. Nowadays, life has become so sweet and precious and to lose another single citizen of Lou-Mawien should not take that direction and precedence again.
From the logical point of view, many reactions, both positive and negative, are so frustrating and disappointing as far as our social cohesion is concerned. In this sense, whatever you say, write, or comment on social platforms is a detrimental factor to our unity and cooperation as Looth-Mawien. Let us say enough is enough by stopping negative campaigns, hate speeches, or mounting blames towards one’s clan, section, and personality as well as not letting our emotional well-being override us at this critical time when we most need each one of us.
As a matter of fact, the present community, popularly known as Lou-Mawien/Lou Ariik has not been existing in a vacuum; it has been existing because of our collective responsibility, sacrifice, and commitment. Let us come out and speak up our minds in an effort to iron out our differences and misunderstanding peacefully and amicably. These misunderstandings and mistrust will one day fade away and we will come back to accept ourselves as “Looth” in the near or far future.
Equally important, we must respect our elders at all cost as it is another dimension of dignified success. It is crucially important an elder, whether your relatives or far stranger, there is a need to accord equal respect and dignity. Ideally, you don’t need to respect a person because he is your uncle, in-laws, just to mention a few, but you need to respect them because they are human beings and thus, they deserve equal human dignity at all cost. A child that does not respect his or her father and mother is like a bull in a china shop. We should not be pointing wrong figures at them rather, we need to consult them on issues pertaining to solving this problem and development as well.
On the other hand, Let us respect our grand ancestors as well, regardless of what they did or said, we still accord them much respect and adoration in their presence and absence. This points to the fact that their contributions are the reasons why we are existing today. Abusing, insulting, and innocently accusing ourselves will not solve this complicated problem, but sitting together and discussing our issues will lead us to find a better and more sensitive solution.
Let us stop bad-mouthing other people including important personalities, since politeness is always the best policy. Others have gone so far to mention individual business men and women without concrete evidences to support their arguments. Needless to say, these are still unfounded denunciations and are invalid at your own context.
Frankly speaking, each one of us is so imperative and his or her contribution will be of paramount importance to the development of this small community called Lou-Mawien. We are equal and deserve better and healthy lifestyles, dignity, and fairness for all despite our social or political status in our community. we must treat one another high with the highest regards of respect and dignity whether poor or rich, educated or uneducated, just to mention a few. We all depend on one another, not necessarily giving and taking, but on social, economic, and political affiliations, professional and academic networks and interactions.
Sincerely speaking, we intellectuals should use our intellect to resolve these recurring problems: ranging from the name of the county, clan and sectional disputes, high rate of illiteracy and poverty in our community. let us skillfully and wisely use home-based approaches to resolve our differences which are dividing people in all political, economic, and social spheres of life. Let us not be disconnected from the reality of the world by hatred, jealousness, primitivity, and emotional instability.
Let us meet face to face and discuss our issue harmoniously and serenely to solve this issue. It is only through dialogue, open and frank talk that can bring peace, unity, development to our people or among the community members who are divided along social and political lines. Let us learn from our brothers and sisters from Bor Community, Twic Community, and others on how they are united to bring development to their respective villages and states.

*The author is a concerned citizen of Lou-Mawien and a Postgraduate Student at The University of Hong. He is reachable at mabiorrioc@gmail.com 

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