By Riak Tek Lam
OPINION – I strongly condemned the letter spearheaded by Hon. Simon Mijiok Mijak on an intention of grabbing piece of Leek land and annex to Ruweng Administrative Area (RAA).
Hon. Simon Mijiok Mijak should respect the peaceful co-existence of these communities who never happens to hate themselves nor disputes over land issues. Because they knew their ancestral land boundaries very well without annexation and intention to grabs. Therefore, we Leek Community are calling on State and National government to establish fact findings committees, identify and demarcate the borders between these communities. This shall avoid any future conflict over the lands between two sisterly communities of mighty Leek Nuer and Ruweng Dinka.
Panyangai is historically Leek territory (Rubkotna County). Before Sudan government declared policy of land expansion and annexation, Leek Nuer were living in Panyangai, Barkuor, Yaak and Gethloach of northern territories of Rubkotna County while Dinka Panaru (Pariang) settle in Panyang, Nyil and Panakuel villages of Pariang County. The border point between Leek Nuer and Dinka Ruweng is Nokpuot River. While the common border between Leek Nuer and Sudan’s Baggara/Misseriya Arabs nomads of Western Kordufan is Kele at the northern areas of Yaak (Heglig), Gethloach (Kersana), Dor Barkuor, Parow, Barbar of Bawar Tut Ruei who settled there in 1920s. Concentrating in the northern territories, Mayom County bordering Misseriya Arabs in the northern direction of Panyilang, Kotngong Nyang, Kai Kang and many others places at Pan Maloah. Thus, it’s very clear that Abiemnhom and Pariang had no common land connections in the northern territories. On the other hand, Jikany Nuer (Guit County) had border point with Pariang which lies in Let situated in the north of Kuerbona.
In late 1880s – 1890s Padaang and Chier sections of Leek Community were inhabiting in Barkuor, Yaak (Heglig), Gethloach (Karasana) and Panyangai until late 1980s when Sudan government used Misserriya and Baggara nomads as displacement tools toward the South and displaced Nuer and Dinka in their villages. Their main target is to control Gol river crossing Barkuor, so that their cattle get green pasture and water. After northern lands were deserted because of insecurities and cattle raiding, Rubnyegai was established as major business markets until its collapse in 1997.
In 1890s – 1900s Padaang Leek were settling in Panyangai village under leadership of paramount chief and elder Panyang Geng. The ancestral heritages of Turoal Thay Bany Panyang Geng. He was well-known both by Arab’s regime in Sudan, British Colonial government, and community leaders of Panaru (Ruweng) community who then settle in Panyang, Nyil and Panakuel. The border point between Rubkona and Pariang is Nokpuot River which is very clear and well known to everyone living in Western Upper Nile.
Northern territories were vacated for many reasons, especially forceful displacement by Sudan government to access the oil fields in the South and wars among Sudanese government which poses insecurities in the areas. Leek Nuer completely abandoned northern territories in the 1980s, when the government of dictator Nimeiri (1969-85) and then the elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al Mahdi of the Umma Party (1986-89) armed militias of the Baggara, Arabic-speaking cattle-owning nomads, to drive southerners from their own land, in particular the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups to the south and east of the Baggara. Thus, the Leek Nuer fled from north of the Bahr El Ghazal (Nam) and Bahr Al Arab Rivers, down to the area south of Bentiu. Some Ruweng (Panaru) Dinka moved far away, south, and west to Bahr El Ghazal province. Both Nuer and Dinka tended to go to relatives where possible, and to put a river between themselves and the Baggara for protection. Both communities were living in peaceful co-existence though being dispersed by armed nomads and invaded their pastural lands.
I would like to encourage people of Ruweng Administrative Area and people of Rubkona County to observe peaceful means of resolving this land issue amicably. Follow the constitution of Republic of South Sudan and provision of land rights and privileges in the constitutional article. Threats and violence wouldn’t be the best choice to resolve problems of lands.
The author Riak Tek Lam is a concerned citizen of Rubkotna County. Reach him via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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