Open Letter To President Kiir By Aliab Diaspora Community

"Namciel is not a 'no man's land': It belongs to the Aliab Dinka!

November 18th, 2011
H.E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit
President of the Republic of South Sudan

Subject: The Aliab-Dinka Diaspora Community on Kur Anyang (Ramciel)
Your Excellency President Kiir Mayardit:

The Aliab-Dinka congratulate you your Excellency for successfully leading the people of South Sudan out of bondage and indignity of North Sudan rule to the final destination on July 9th, 2011 marked with peace, freedom and dignity.

However,the Aliab-Dinka Diaspora Community is writing to express its deepest concerns about the lack of consultation and openness surrounding the relocation of the national capital from Juba to Ramciel.your Excellency, the Aliab-Dinka Community want to make you and your administration aware that there are non-Aliab-Dinka members who have lobbied the government in Juba to believe that the “residents of the area agreed” to the relocation of the national capital from Juba to Ramciel. The community has not yet met with the government officials to discuss the relocation of the national capital.

Your Excellency, the Aliab-Dinka has never betrayed the legitimate struggle of the people South Sudan against the self-appointed rulers in Cairo (1899-December 31st, 1955) and Khartoum (January 1st, 1956-July 8th, 2011). History reminds the people of South Sudan that the Aliab-Dinka rebelled against the Mahdist (the Arab-Islamist slave traders) and the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium rule from 1899-1956. The Aliab-Dinka rebellion of 8th November 1919 and 6th May 1920 was led by the paramount Chief Kon Anok against the Anglo-Egyptian forces of Governor Chaucey Stagand in which the Aliab-Dinka warriors killed Governor Stagand demonstrates that the Aliab-Dinka opposes all forms of oppressions and subjugations.

Your Excellency, the Aliab-Dinka members (Roor-thiik or Riny-thii) were mobilized by Captain Alfred Aguet to join the Anya-Nya Movement training camps in the Congo from 1963-1972. In addition to that, the Aliab-Dinka young men were again mobilized and led by Comrade Benjamin Nyakot to join the SPLM/A at its inception in 1983. These examples show that the Aliab-Dinka is a peace-loving community that has championed and supported the dignified struggle of the people of South Sudan against North Sudan and its Arab foreign supporters.

Your Excellency, the recent announcement by the Republic of South Sudan to move or relocate the capital city from Juba to Ramciel has generated many questions from the people of South Sudan. The proponents argue that relocating the national government seat from Juba to Ramciel would make the national capital accessible from all corners of South Sudan. On the other hand, some argue that moving the capital city from Juba is not strategically and economically feasible. They also argue that the matter should not be a priority of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) when there are many other pressing matters the GoSS can attend to.

The South Sudanese public neither know nor understand the rationale why the GoSS wants to move from Juba to Ramciel. The GoSS officials led by the Minister of Land and Housing Nunu Kumba have visited the Aliab-Dinka land of Ramciel several times to assess and survey without consulting the Aliab-Dinka natives.

These beg many questions, for instance, why didn’t the government consult the natives of the land, but went ahead by identifying the land and naming it as “No Man’s Land?” Sometimes, the government officials claimed that “They have been given the land” by the community. If the government’s first statement hold substance that Ramciel is “No Man’s Land” is correct, then why invoke the second statement that “We have been given the land” by the community? Where was that community in the first place when the government said that the land in question is “No man’s land?”

There is not a single Aliab-Dinka in the GoSS executive, but that does not mean the Aliab-Dinka natives do not exist. By the way, the name Ramciel, was coined by the SPLM/A. The Aliab-Dinka call the area in question Kur Anyang (Ramciel). The GoSS should have consulted the Aliab-Dinka first before initiating this project. This project will have devastating social, economic, spiritual and cultural ramifications beyond anyone’s imagination to the Aliab-Dinka if not executed properly. This letter tackles three main issues of significance in relation to Ramciel. These issues include:

1)Ramciel is not a “No Man’s Land” as the GoSS claims; it belongs to the Aliab-Dinka.
2)No consultation between the Aliab-Dinka and the GoSS.
3)The negative ramifications of the Aliab-Dinka giving its land to the GoSS.

These are not fictional complaints, but legitimate ones by the Aliab-Dinka. If the government fails to consult with the community, but chooses to bulldoze its way, then the community has all the right like the Bari community to say reject or oppose to the construction of Ramciel.

This letter does not advocate that the Republic of South Sudan has no rights to relocate the national capital to wherever the government chooses including the Aliab-Dinka land of Ramciel. However, what this letter advocates is that wherever the government chooses to relocate the national capital it must consult and dialogue with the locals because the locals would be the ones who would be affected because they would lose their land.  

1.Ramciel is No Man’s Land
The Aliab-Dinka community is extremely disappointed that the Juba government calls Ramciel “No Man’s Land.” Kur Anyang (Ramciel) is located in Akeer section of Aliab-Dinka, Aweriar County. Your Excellency, the Dinka community is an agro-pastoralist community. Statistically, 99% of the Aliab-Dinka people’s livelihoods depend on land, the Nile water and cattle. The Dinka lifestyle will be negatively affected when there is a change in socio-ecology; where the cows would lose the grazing land and accessibility to the Nile. Ramciel is the grazing land for the Aliab-Dinka’s livestock during the rainy season in the Aliab Valley  when the Nile banks are overflowed.

The former SPLM/A Chairman, Dr. Garang in 2004 came up with the concept of identifying a place as the future potential national capital of South Sudan. Dr. Garang and the SPLM/A leadership did not consult the Aliab-Dinka when a group of the SPLA officers were sent to survey the area. General Oyai Deng Ajak and General Malual Majok Chiengkuach were among the SPLM/A officers. The Aliab-Dinka welcomed the late SPLM/A Chairman when he came to Kur Anyang (Ramciel) in November 2004. The Aliab-Dinka killed bulls as a symbolic Dinka way of welcoming and honoring a legitimate guest. The welcoming of the SPLM/A leadership to Kur Anyang (Ramciel) by the community did not mean that the Aliab-Dinka have surrendered its land to the SPLM/A leadership.

2.The GoSS has not consulted the Aliab-Dinka
The SPLM/A leadership in 2004 and in 2011 the Republic of South Sudan has not consulted the Aliab-Dinka community on the Ramciel issue. The community has only heard about the Ramciel debate from the media. The government has not taken any initiative to consult to gauge the viewpoints of the Aliab-Dinka whether they would relinquish their land to the Republic of South Sudan. 
The Juba government did nothing to inform or consult with the Aliab-Dinka. The lack of consultation by the GoSS does not sit well with Aweriar County. Isn’t this the attitude that causes the fallout between the Bari Community and the government over Juba? The Aliab-Dinka Community does not necessarily oppose the move, but would rather dialogue with the government regarding some of its best grazing land.

The government has taken the unilateral decision without consulting the Aliab-Dinka Community. The Aliab-Dinka patiently waited for the government and its delegation to consult or brief the community on Ramciel. The community also waited for the government to contact its representatives in Juba. However, the government chose not to do so since the community in question has no representatives in the national executive; thus its land can be taken without consultation. Again, the government failed to consult the Aliab-Dinka on September 2nd, 2011 when it announced that it would eventually relocate its national capital city from Juba to Ramciel.

The 2011 Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan addresses the land ownership in three folds. Article 170 (2) of the 2011 Transitional Constitution addresses the land ownership in South Sudan reads as follows:
Without prejudice to sub-Article (3) below, the land tenure system in South Sudan shall consist of: (a)  public land, (b)community land; and (c) private land.

This letter cites the 2011 Transitional Constitution of South Sudan as a matter of formality knowing that much of the land in the country is owned by the various ethnic groups and sub-ethnic clans. Again, article 170 (5) of the South Sudanese Transitional Constitution addresses the community land as follow:

Community land shall include all lands traditionally and historically held or used by local communities or  their members. They shall be defined, held, managed and protected by law.

The Ramciel area falls under the community land ownership. The unilateral approach adopted by the government to identify the Aliab-Dinka land of Ramciel to build its national capital without consultation violates article 170 (9) of the Constitution that states:

Customary seasonal access rights to land shall be respected, provided that these access rights shall be  regulated by the respective states taking into account the need to protect the environment, agricultural  production, community peace and harmony, and without unduly interfering with or degrading the primary  ownership interest in the land, in accordance with customary law. 

Furthermore, article 170 (9) makes it clear that interfering in traditional or community land without consultation contributes to “unduly” seizing the land. The Aliab-Dinka is not accusing the government of grabbing land, but the manner in which the government has acted toward the community amounts to land grabbing. The only way the government can avoid any future confrontation with the Aliab-Dinka is for it [GoSS] to consult and dialogue with the community so that the community can air out it fears to the government, and for the government to specifically explain the reasons why it wants the Kur Anyang (Ramciel) land.

The government has ignored the community in many ways. On September 20th, 2011, Hon. Kumba of Land and Housing said that “the natives there had assured the government that they would provide the land for free.”  The Aliab-Dinka would like to inform the people of South Sudan that the community has not even met the government officials let alone agree to concede their land to the government. If Hon. Kumba is sure of her statement; thus she has to inform the public about the Aliab-Dinka or Aweriar County officials and local chiefs she has met and discussed the pros and cons of the relocation of the capital. The government unilaterally decided to carve “50 sq miles” of Aliab-Dinka land without consulting the Aliab-Dinka Community.

The recently formed ministerial committee by the government headed by Hon. Kumba did not even consider including the community in the process of survey. One wonders why the Juba government conceptualizes the relocation of the national capital to a new area without consulting. No Aliab-Dinka chief from the Akeer section of Aliab-Dinka or Aliab-Dinka officials who represent the Aliab-Dinka Community in Rumbek or Juba for that matter has met with the government officials and consented to give the land to the GoSS.

3.The Disadvantages of 50 Sq Miles (Ramciel)
 
The negative ramifications of constructing the national capital in Ramciel, Aweriar County cannot be underestimated. The people who would be affected without any doubt whatsoever are the Aliab-Dinka pastoralists whose lives depend on land for livestock rearing. This scenario must be put into context so that those who would read this letter understand what the Aliab-Dinka Diaspora Community is talking about. First, 99% of the Dinka population practices agro-pastoralist economy. In other words, 99% of the Dinka people reside in rural areas despite the recent rural-urban migration. The education enrollment is very low among South Sudanese let alone among the Dinka.

First and foremost, 99% of Aliab-Dinka people are cattle keepers with 99% illiteracy rates.  Imagine how the construction of a new urban center will negatively affect the Aliab-Dinka natives’ life. There is no community in South Sudan that lacks accessibility to education more than the Aliab-Dinka. The construction of a new city will displace and uproot the people who have not known the city lifestyle to flock into city without skills, experience, and education that are needed.  Thus, there will be proliferation of social ills such as homelessness and frustration; criminal gangsterism and beggary; alcoholism and drugs; prostitution; the prevalence of HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), among the Aliab-Dinka people. As the city expands, the indigenous people of the area will gradually not only lose their land, but their culture will be eroded and eventually disappear (ethnocide). Remember that 99% of the Aliab-Dinka population is illiterate so someone can imagine the lives of illiterate people in the city. Their livestock and land would be gone and no educational skills so they cannot find stable jobs to sustain their lives in the city. This would be similar to the relocation of the Nigerian capital from Lagos to Abuja, which negatively affected the social development of the locals around Abuja.

Your Excellency, there will be land grabbing of the natives’ land by the government officials and Multinational Corporations (MNCs). Thus, the Aliab-Dinka land would be gone. And this means the end of the Aliab-Dinka if the grand strategy to build the national capital succeeds.  One ought to remember the rapid expansion and swelling of Juba in the last six years. This rapid expansion causes the rift between the GoSS and the Bari Community, besides other issues. The late SPLM/A leader Dr. Garang knew well that the only way to control the rural-urban migration is to “take town to the people” instead of “bringing the people to town.”

In conclusion, your Excellency, the Aliab-Dinka Diaspora wants to inform the South Sudanese public that Ramciel is not a “No Man’s Land” as the government claims. The Aliab-Dinka Diaspora wants to reiterate to the South Sudanese public that Kur Anyang (Ramciel) is located in Akeer section of Aliab-Dinka (Aweriar County). Ramciel belong to the Aliab-Dinka Community of Aweriar County. We Aliab-Dinka Community Diaspora reject the construction of Ramciel as a new national capital based on the concerns raised in this communiqué.

In brief; therefore, the first concern why the community rejects the construction of the national city in Kur Anyang (Ramciel) is the lack of consultation. The Aliab-Dinka natives have not been consulted by the South Sudanese leadership. There must be consultation and dialogue between the government and the community so that differences and fears of ills of city among the Aliab-Dinka masses are ironed out. It is through consultation and dialogue where the community either consents to give its land to the government or rejects the government proposal altogether. There will be no construction of the national capital in Ramciel without consultation.

Second, any developmental programs the government promises to the Aliab-Dinka must be communicated in consultation. The Aliab-Dinka people cannot be enticed by developmental promises to give up their land. Such developmental promises can be provided by the government without taking their land because the Aliab-Dinka Community is part and parcel of South Sudan.

Third, there will be negative ramifications. First, the Aliab-Dinka will lose their agro-pastoralist land to the government. When land is lost; the Aliab-Dinka’s agro-pastoralist livelihood will disappear. People do not see this thing as the biggest threat to the Aliab-Dinka. If the government can award itself 50 Sq mile radius without the consent of the Aliab-Dinka natives, then there is nothing that can prevent the government from encroaching into the remaining Aliab-Dinka land. 

Respectfully,

1. Benjamin Aciek Machar
2. Johnmark Makuach Aluet
3. Nyanpen Tong Kenjok
4. Abraham Mawut Angol
5. Abolich Madol Nyinger
6. Michael Mangol Nyalueth
7. Abraham Maker Achuoth
8. Thuch Deng Thuch
9. Abraham Kuol Makuach
10. Garang Ayang Kuoi
11. Garang Aguto Gong
12. Abraham Achuoth Ngon
13. Simon Aguto Manyiel
14. Peter Kot Nhial
15. William Machar Awur
16. Abraham Mariar Panchol
17. Gakeer Makuach Aneet
18. Abraham Chuti Kuol
19. Daniel Dhur Ajak
20. Barnaba Karkon Machut
21. Jok Ajak Wol
22. Peter Manyang Anyak
23. Peter Abolich Keny
24. Simon Gai Manyiel
25. Abraham Manyiel Machar
26. Daniel Makuei Koch
27. Angelo Mayan Mabor
28. Abraham Makuach Atiop
29. James Aciek Wel
30. Daniel Ring Malou 
31. Santino Alier Thongjur
32. Kueric Ayuom Chol
33. Daniel Gai Ayuom
34. Abraham Kuol Makuach
35. Andrew Mel Ayiei
36. John Alier Nyieth
 37. Daniel Akech Kuol
38. Simon Mawut Jau
39. Jok Achuoth Deng
40. Peter Majuch Abui
41. Jacob Nyinger Majok
42. Malual Kuot Dechiek
43. Dengic Nyuoth
44. John Kuoi Waat
45. Mareng Jonghoock Chahooch
46. James Akech Manyuonduk
47. Peter Nyangeth Aciek
48. Abraham Aguto Achuoth
49. Abraham Manyiel Nhial
50. Abraham Kuol Nyakot
 51. Victor Magot Tong
52. Isaac Kenjok Tong
53. Marathano Angui Makuach
54. Majer Malual
 55. Gabriel Mawut Majak
56. Abraham Majok Amoot
57. Daniel Thuch Aciek
58. Peter Aciek Adhum
59. Madit Kuarang Awuok
60. Adol Ayak Kom
61. Makuer Nyieth Panjak
62. Achot Angol Koro
63. Yar Dut Chuei
64. Nyanyieth Chuei Keny
65. Peter Awech Denyjok
66. Riak Wat Bub
67. Kon Malou
68. Ayak Wun Reng
69. Abui Machar Nyayan
70. Puol Ngeth
71. Denyjok Tong Kenjok 
 
The Aliab-Dinka Diaspora Community
 CC:Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan
 CC:Hon. Jema Nunu Kumba, Chairperson of Ministerial Committee for Ramciel Union
 CC:Hon. James Wani Igga, Speaker of South Sudan National Assembly
 CC:Hon. Daniel Awet Akot, Deputy Speaker of South Sudan National Assembly

 

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