By Peter Mabior Riiny,It was once alleged that Michael Makuei Lueth, in a conversation with his friends sometimes back, told them that Aweil people claim to be majority but even cows are majority but one person can still slaughter them. I found myself nodding to this unfortunate yet frank utterance. It is indeed depicting the real situation faced by Aweil community today. If guns fell silence and dust settles, Aweil will actually be the minority of all communities in south Sudan. Look at it this way, Aweil’s abled boys were collected and then sent to war, majority of them died and the remnants are now the beggars on the street of Juba. The elderly and women who were left behind have left for Sudan in order to avoid famine. In a nutshell, Aweil has been depopulated and it is a minority community. It will then be weak politically given that democracy is about numbers. Aweil community is like a proverbial sharp knife that after its usage to skin a cow, can be perfectly cleaned and then stored never to participate in the feast of the same cow it has labored to skin.
The government we so eagerly defend in tooth and nail doesn’t recognize our contribution. If you look at the way Aweil fought the war of liberation of 21 years and 2013 war and their compensation in President Kiir’s government, then one would be tempted to agree with Michael Makuei. It is unfathomable that most of the beggars in Juba are Aweil people, and to be precise, Mathiang Anyoor remnants who should have been treated as veterans after saving Kiir’s skin. The worst affected part of Bar Elghazal region by this economic crises and threatened by famine is Aweil community and the majority of the Dinka section who have migrated back to Sudan are Aweil people. The least represented in government scholarships are Aweil youth and NBGs makes one of the single states in south Sudan where illiteracy and poverty are soaring. So, at times I ask myself, what is it that Aweil fight for? What are these people defending? If it about Dinka, then we are not more Dinkas than others. It is as if President Salva Kiir has read their brains. Despite overt marginalization in the hands of Salva Kiir, Aweil community is still very loyal to him, Kiir discerns that these people will never reason collectively and claim their rightful position in south Sudan’s politics. We are literally condemned to being mere followers and this has its roots in liberation days. We need rituals to decolonize our minds. Dr. John Garang once said a united and determined minority with good leadership can beat majority.
In line with above Garang’s quote, I admire Bor community for their shrewdness. Despite their inferior numbers compared to any Dinka dominated state in greater Bhar Elghazal region, they have always played it smart to survive in south Sudan politics. And this must be the reason why Bor as a county has more representatives in Kiir’s government than Aweil community. Aweil is a community that celebrates the dumb and hates their finest sons and daughters. We are a community that thrives on foolishness and sheer stupidity. Aweil community has never cherished the habit of stepping back and reflecting on why they are backing something they are not benefiting from. Politics is defined by the interest. In any argument, be it in facebook and other forums, Aweil people tend to always defend their contribution in this current war as a national call to defend the constitution, but they have never asked themselves, why does Salva Kiir then use the same constitution against them in apportioning national cake? How come when it is time to ‘eat’, Kiir leaves Aweil out? Why are Aweil politicians inactive in south Sudan politics despite their experience and contribution in the national struggle and despite Aweil people numerical strength in the Army? The likes of veteran politician Mr. Kuol Athian Mawien, Retired General Albino Akol Akol, Dr. Costello Garang Riiny, tycoon Garang Deng Aguer, Veteran retired General Kawac Makuei Mayar, and Veteran politician Akuein Chol and the list goes. These abled Aweil politicians have all been short changed and then dished. On personal level, I have always been blamed and threatened for not being foolish enough to follow President Salva, but there is no way you can follow someone who doesn’t value community’s contribution. That is a complete waste of energy and time. It is high time Aweil community defines its own destiny in south Sudan political landscape. If Aweil wishes to break this glass ceiling then it would make more sense if we leave SPLM collectively. That will send a clear message that we are not watermelons.
Peter Mabior Riiny is a dual masters’ student at Catholic University of Eastern Africa and Mount Kenya University. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org