Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Census is Supposed to Reflect the True Diversity of Any Country

Today is supposed to be the last day of the 5th national and housing census in the country. Reports that have been received from various regions and areas in the Sudan have been but minimal given the importance of the census. Abyei, Bahr Al Ghazal, Equatoria, Upper Nile and others regions like Darfur have faced setbacks in terms of census success. In Abyei there is fighting going on between the SPLA and the Misseriya tribe. In Bahr Al Ghzal fighting was reported in Rumbek between the people of Lakes and Warrap States. In Equatoria most census forms were reported to be in the Arabic language version whereas the majority of the people there read and write in English; and in other areas like Malakal the opposite as in the case of Equatoria was true. In Darfur, the rebels had warned that they would arrest any census official should s/he dare to enter their areas of control and thus making difficult the entry of census officials into some areas in Darfur.

However, it is the understanding of this author that all did go well despite the difficulties faced by the census officials. There is a need to talk about the importance of the census at least for the benefit of the reader. The census as per this author's vision and understanding is an exercise in which a state or nation undertakes a physical but "official count of (its) population", Collins Paperback (2000:91).

The success of the census work, however, is supposed to help in ensuring the accurate budgeting for service delivery countrywide. The budget each state within the Sudan gets from the federal government will be based on the population of each state. Without census, however, some smaller states may suffer the consequences of estimation. The federal government could simply give a bigger budget to some smaller states and the larger states suffer as a result. Services like health and education, for example, will become unavailable because the federal government may not be able to give accurate estimates of the populations in the states to the ministry of finance and national economy for budgeting. Census is also supposed to reflect the true diversity any country is enjoying, so to speak.

This author was not an exception from those that are supposed to be enumerated. He was visited by the census officials on April 27th, 2008. After the enumerator completed her work he seized the opportunity to ask her the difficulties she personally was facing. This author could not ask why the questions for ethnicity and religion were omitted or ignored because they were clarified by the Vice-President of the republic when he addressed the press to response to GoSS' announcement to boycott the census.

In response to the question asked, the census official, who was a gentle lady from this author's residential area, Kalakla, Ihklas Sa'ad Rahamtallah, said she faced no problems at all except one, which she said was major. Ms. Rahamtallah said women had a serious problem of telling their real ages. She said a woman would say that she is 48 years old. But when you ask the age of her son, he would say 38 years old. Rahamtallah said sometimes you wonder if the 48-year-old mum did give birth to her son when she was 10 years old!

This author also noticed something from the census form: the question on the origin and place of birth. These two were important in the sense that the official census forms in which they were recorded would still clearly identify the enumerated person as from a particular area even though his/her tribe, religion and ethnicity were not recorded.

While the country looks forward for the next population census to come, this author would like to register some of his personal disappointments on the whole exercise of the census. First of all the areas and regions that have made it difficult for the census officials to carry out their work successfully should have themselves to blame should their budgets be based on estimates and not on actual figures of their populations.

On the issue of ethnicity, religion and tribe were omitted from the census forms, this author finds them extremely useful for the country to ignore. Before discussing the seriousness of this omission, it is good to clarify the difference between ethnicity and tribe.

An ethnic group – take the Bantu group as an example. There are Bantus in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Southern, Western and Central Africa, including the Sudan. These are tribes with names like Kikuyu in Kenya, Waganda in Uganda and Azande in Sudan but put them together, they form one huge ethnic group known as the Bantu. Another example is the Semitic ethnic group of people. This group brings together the Arabs and their arch rival, the Jews, in one ethnic group. The Arabs in the Sudan are Semites but that does not make them Jews.

On religion, some Northern Sudanese had, sometimes back, said that the Christians in South Sudan were 15%, animists 20% and Muslims 65%. This statistics are obviously not correct and they can never be corrected by anybody other than census officials. Muslims in the country are put at 75% and this too cannot be officially verified unless it is done in a census exercise.

If the ethnic groups and religions are not known in the Sudan, how are we going to call ourselves as Sudanese in diversity? Are we going to say that Muslims are 75% and therefore the entire country is Muslim and thus has no religious diversity? Or we say that the entire country has no ethnic and religious diversity and thus making the Sudanese people animists and non-religious, what about their cultures?

It would be good for the authorities in the country to take the omission of ethnicity, tribe and religion as an oversight and seriously make sure that it does not happen in the next census. This country's beauty is in its diversity and that diversity, be it tribal, ethnic and/or religious has to be reflected in official documents like census forms. Otherwise, the Sudanese people cannot be a proud people when their cultures which are strengthened by the presence of ethnicity, tribe and religion are deliberately made to vanish by none other than Sudan's own sons and daughters.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Speech Delivered by Col. Ohiyok D. Oduho on the 15th Commemoration of Joseph Oduho's Death

Your Excellencies Brig. Aloysious Emor Ojetuk, Guest of Honour, Uncle Bona Malual, Patron of this occasion, Dr Kamilo Oduwa, the Supervisor of this gathering, Your Excellency Mayom Koch State Minister at the GoNU Ministry of Irrigation, Hon. State MPs, State Council and National Assembly MPs, My fellow Otuho community and its leadership, Otuho-Speaking Association (OSSA) Leadership and membership, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

On behalf of the late Joseph Oduho's family and on my own behalf, I greet you in the name of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. Please, allow me to extend my sincere greetings and appreciations to you for attendance and to the OSSA for making this day a success.

As a serious students' body, OSSA has been and will remain to be, with the community's support, the pride of the Otuho-Speaking Community. This being the case, OSSA needs to be seriously cautious of the politics in the South. There are politicians who are bent on dividing South Sudanese people on tribal lines. You do not follow them. Instead, exert efforts against division and all its vices.

Division is so useless that it could earn you nothing but hatred which likely develops into conflict. Joseph Oduho whose commemoration we are marking today did fight for the unconditional unity of his people. Oduho's last mission in politics was to reunify fragmented brothers and sisters in the struggle. The fragmentations being referred to were the splits in the SPLM/A in 1984 and 1991. Please browse the Internet and don't be shocked when you see the amount of information you would get. Thus, as young men and women who have recognised his efforts, OSSA needs to follow one of the noble legacies Oduho left behind: serious effort to unite the people of South Sudan unconditionally. Occasions such as this do unite people and as such must be encouraged in order to perform its wonders.

As a family of the late Oduho, we would like to reiterate to you, OSSA members and today's honourable presence that we have missed our father; and have done so for the last 15 years and – God knows – we will continue to miss him forever.

However, there is one thing that encourages us as a family to live on as we remembered our father: his unresolved fight against those regimes in the Sudan that thought they would continue unabated to suppress the Sudanese people, especially those from the Southern part of it.

We are aware that our father was a friend to the late Philip Khabbush; with whom he was detained at one time by Numayri's regime. We are also aware that our father supported and encouraged both Philip Khabbush and Yusuf Kuwa to sustain the struggle of the Nuba people.

We strongly uphold our father's ideals and shall continue to cherish his legacy of unity. Therefore, on behalf of the Oduho family, I assure you who gathered here today that the Oduho family will continue to fight for the unity of the South Sudanese people.

Even though we are aware that our father was killed by fellow comrades in arms, trying to avenge for his death is foolish. It is only a fool who would think that such an action would bring Oduho back to live. An "eye for an eye" theory is unacceptable because it would leave many without eyes, and one could just imagine how disastrous that would become!

The least we, as family members could do, is to ask those who ended his life to remember him and colleagues like Fr. Saturnino Ohure, Ferdinand Adiang, William Deng, Alexis Bakumba, Martin Majier, Benjamin Bol Akok, Akot Atem de mayan, Nashigak Nyashulluk, Samuel Gai Tut, Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, William Nyuon, Peter Kidi, Garang Agwang, Mario Muor-Muor, Joseph Malath, Martin Kajivura, Pierre Ohure Okerruk, Kizito Omilluk Oduho, Philip Khabbush and Yusuf Kuwa whose forces participated in the liberation of South Sudan, and Dr John Garang who delivered all of us home, just to mention but a few of our heroes.

On behalf of the family once again, I appeal to the authorities in the GoSS to transfer the resources necessary for a serious campaign, that has to be instituted by them with the aim of promoting unity of the South Sudanese people, dealing with tribalism and introducing heroes' day in the South to appreciate and commemorate the efforts of those who gave their lives for Southern Sudan.

The Oduho family concludes by earnestly urging OSSA to join hands with the rest of the other students' associations in the South and Sudan as a whole to remember the heroes of this country; those who shed their blood to make the Sudan a country others could emulate.
The peace agreements signed between the government and the Western and Eastern Sudan rebels and between SPLM/A and the Sudan government, especially the Comprehensive Peace Agreement spearheaded by the late Dr John Garang de Mabior, the most unique, I must say, of our contemporary heroes, did offer hopes for a comprehensive Sudanese peace and unity.

Finally, I would like to appeal to all the South Sudanese to forgive each other so that we could concentrate on the development of Southern Sudan.

Thank you very much and May God Bless You all?

Col. Ohiyok David Oduho
Khartoum, April 4th, 2008.

Today is Dr Akol; Does Anybody Know Who Might be Next?

Dr Lam Akol's vehicle came under fire from unknown gunmen who shot at the vehicle and instantly killed three people who apparently were Dr Akol's staff in his own vehicle. This incident took place during an SPLM Upper Nile State convention on March 22nd, 2008.

Incidents such as this cannot go without opponents capitalizing on them and friends crying foul. It is not long since Dr Akol was fought tooth and nail by the SPLM leadership and its supporters. It is only human that those who are pro Dr Akol would have to cry foul and point fingers at the SPLM for being behind the attack. The pro SPLM, however, would be quick to judge the situation in order to clear SPLM's name of any wrong doing.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the SPLM in the South, Dr Anne Itto, in a press briefing said SPLM Secretary-General, Pagan Amum was not involved in the alleged assassination plot against former Foreign Minister, Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, that left three people dead in Upper Nile State. She said the incident along Panika road, 15 miles from Malakal, was carried out by cattle rustlers, (Sudan Tribune Newspaper, March 30th, 2006, p.1).

This concern was also echoed by the SPLM peaceful march held in Malakal town. The march which held sometime in March 2008 dismissed the allegations that SPLM was behind the assassination attempt, (The Citizen, April 3rd, 2008, p.2).

A supporter of Dr Akol, a Juba University Student, Julia S. Othow, did not hind her true feelings on what she analyzed as a person. She said, Mr. Editor, let me air (out) my views on Anne's Statement: We thank God for the statement of Anne Itto which made us know the hidden plot against Dr Lam. She said that despite SPLM's none condemnation of the assassination attempt, it is clear to her that SPLM office has shown up the filthy deeds against the democratic transformation and unity amongst Southerners.

All the three reactions are indeed wrong. Dr Anne Itto did not carry any investigations and she was already holding some imaginary cattle rustlers responsibility. What Dr Itto could have done was to condemn the incident first and then urge the SPLM leadership to carry out an independent investigation into the incident. But trying to clear the name of H.E. Pagan Amum from involvement in the assassination attempt raises eyebrows. Cattle rustlers do not rustle vehicles, they do cows and anybody coming between them and the cows would obviously be killed. Dr Akol's staff were certainly not chasing cows by their vehicle.

Those who were marching in support of the SPLM in March should have realised that Dr Akol is an SPLM unless there is a plot to expel him from the party like it was the case with Brig. Aleu Ayieny and Telar Deng. For the marchers to uphold the unity of SPLM members in the State, they should have called for investigation into the assassination attempt.

Julia Othow, meanwhile, asked valuable questions like, who mandated Dr Anne Itto to talk on the incident at a time SPLM leadership did not condemn the act? But she, too, did draw some conclusion like "We thank God for the statement of Anne Itto which made us know the hidden plot against Dr Lam."

For SPLM/A to clear its name from being marred by speculations, it is extremely important to investigate the assassination attempt of Dr Akol. It's an important exercise for the State and the country at large. If the investigations find that there are criminals involved, then it's a menace that has to be dealt with before our country becomes infested with terrorists. Should the investigations also find that Dr Akol's opponents within the SPLM/A are behind this, they have to be brought to books in order to face the law. No one is above the law – this should be the motto of SPLM if it is serious about democratic transformation in the country at large. Today is Dr Akol; does anybody know who might be next?

Appeal to SPLA C-in-C to Release Maj-Gen. Isaac Mamur

It has come to the attention of this author that Lt-Gen। Isaac Obuto Mamur Mete, has had his case complicated. The complication came about as a reaction after the Commission that was charged to investigate Maj-Gen. Mamur dismissed the case and recommended Maj-Gen. Mamur for reinstatement. Maj-Gen. Mamur was reported to have been reinstated by the Minister of SPLA Affairs, (the late Lt-Gen) Dominic Deim, who was believed to have maintained the position of Maj-Gen. Mamur in the SPLA top echelon's reshuffle.

However, those behind the arrest and possible lynching of Maj-Gen। Mamur, who has been in detention for nearly a year now, cried foul. They went to H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the C-in-C of the SPLA, to reverse the reshuffle order. It was reported that the C-in-C heeded to them and four judges were alleged to have been composed to try Maj-Gen. Mamur in a military tribunal.

When Maj-Gen। Mamur appeared before the four judges, his own lawyer made his submission and said: "I didn't know that the South was made up of only one tribe, Dinka from Bor।" He said that the trial will never be fair; especially that Maj-Gen। Mamur does not come from the judges' tribe। Maj-Gen. Mamur's lawyer refused to continue with the hearing citing possible bias in the verdict. Maj-Gen. Mamur's lawyer did ask his client to leave the courtroom. But before they did leave the courtroom, one of the judges allegedly said: "go as of now and we will call you later."
When Maj-Gen. Mamur appeared for the second time before the judges, the four judges from Dinka Bor were not changed. But before Maj-Gen. Mamur's lawyer said anything, one of the four judges was alleged to have said: "Before you say anything we would like to ask you three questions only." When his lawyer tried to resist and ignore the question from the judges, Maj-Gen. Mamur was reported to have interfered and said "let them ask". The first question said there was an SPLM/A grader-tractor under your control; what did you do with it and where is it now? The second question said, there was a power generator captured from the last recapture of Torit, where did you put it? The last question said where are the arms you received from the Ugandan authorities?

When Maj-Gen। Mamur's lawyer tried to respond to the judges' questions, Maj-Gen. Mamur intervened again and begged his lawyer to answer the three questions. His lawyer did allow him to answer the questions.

Firstly, Maj-Gen. Mamur said, the grader-tractor did grade a number of roads and he mentioned the particular roads and their locations. As for the Generator, Maj-Gen. Mamur said it is in the general headquarters of Ikwoto County, in Eastern Equatoria State, and the Commissioner of Ikwoto could be called to verify the information
On the issue of arms, Maj-Gen। Mamur said: "I received pistols from the Ugandan Authorities." Mamur was reported to have said that he gave 20 of those pistols to the C-in-C and Six to Maj-Gen Bior Ajang, who also comes from Bor and was the secretary of the court proceedings in which the four judges from Bor were presiding over। Maj-Gen। Ajang was reported to have immediately reacted by saying: "yes and I have one of the pistols with me now।" It was reported that one of the judges reacted almost immediately to the response of Maj-Gen। Ajang, saying you are an accomplice to this case.
The judge, however, went on to say that it appears that this case has taken a political shape since it involves the C-in-C। and another Deputy कोस। He said that they were to prepare an immediate recommendation to the C-in-C who is also the First Vice-President of the Republic and President of Government of South Sudan (GoSS) in order to find a political solution to Maj-Gen। Mamur's case.
Giving a critical look at the entire drama of Maj-Gen. Mamur's case, say in the recent court proceedings or the previous committee's proceedings, one would indeed see very many hands involved to complicate the issue further. For example, someone appointed four judges from one section of a tribe, including a secretary. Why appoint four judges from Bor to try Maj-Gen. Mamur from Torit? Could it be because some people in Bahr Al Ghazal want to pity the people of Bor against those of Equatoria? Or some people from within Bor are trying to punish Maj-Gen. Mamur for a crime he didn't commit and his loyalty to Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit during the crisis SPLM/A suffered from before the CPA. The crisis being talked about here is fully covered in the famous Rumbek Minutes. These minutes were famous because democracy was exercised for the first time in the SPLM/A under the leadership of Dr John Garang de Mabior.

What do the good people of Bor say? Could this kind of a bad overture be played by some canning person or persons within the SPLA/M rank and file? Could the motive behind be a mission to cause maximum damage within the SPLM/A with a view to igniting another war between comrades-in-arms?

Could it then be possible to assume that the above speculations are inappropriate and what is appropriate is that both the Dinka Bahr Al Ghazal and those from Bor are resolved to end Maj-Gen। Mamur's career as well as live? Is it just Maj-Gen. Mamur they are after and not his entire community? God forbids, because the people of Bahr Al Ghazal did play a role that balanced and continues to balance the behaviour of the Dinka Bor people in the SPLM/A during and after the days of the late Dr John Garang de Mabior.

This author should not be gotten wrongly that he is against the Dinka Bor people। There are some extremely good people from Bor. But the misbehaviour of the majority in the SPLM/A from Bor then and now, is commonplace.

SPLM/A is calling for a democratic transformation in the Sudan and that includes the South। Democratic transformation has got one very important ingredient: rule of law and its accompanying values like the protection of civil rights. How could SPLM/A transform this country into a fully democratic one when it is detaining people for years without trial? How could somebody like Maj-Gen. Mamur account for things that were not the reason for his arrest in the first place? On what legal grounds is he being detained if what happened to him and others languishing in the jails of SPLM/A in the South is nothing but a direct violation of human rights?

This author would like to appeal to H।E। the President of the GoSS and C-in-C of the SPLA, to release Maj-Gen। Mamur। The C-in-C has the power to form an impartial SPLA committee to scan the SPLA thoroughly and remove the bad seeds within it। SPLA has some people within it who are bent on discrediting H।E. the SPLA C-in-C. Otherwise, by trying to hurt Maj-Gen. Mamur very badly, these people know that H.E. the C-in-C would be held responsible for their own crimes and that is unfair.
In fact there should be nothing that goes within the army or say SPLA without the knowledge of the C-in-C। The C-in-C is a trained military intelligence officer। He should certainly know that most of the charges brought against Maj-Gen। Mamur or indeed anybody else in SPLM/A jails are framed ones. These charges are aimed at depriving Maj-Gen Mamur of his hardly fought position within the SPLA.
The SPLA C-in-C should not allow this to happen because it would discredit him and put him into an awkward position with the community members of Maj-Gen. Mamur, especially in this period where politicians, including H.E. the C-in-C, are planning on their campaign strategies to win the elections.