Who can convince SPLA/M that development achieves their goals in Abyei better than war
Dr Abdulkarim Gibril Elgoni [email protected]
The news brought to us last week that the fighting that occurred between the Dinka and their brethren the Messeiria in Abyei claimed the lives of at least a hundred people. The fighting broke when SPLA sent a battalion of police on five Land Cruisers to set up monitoring stations north of Abyei - North 1956 border - to attack the nomad Messeiria and prevent them from their annual trip of more than a hundred years i.e. since 1905. The brethren were living in peace sharing their common interests to live in peaceful coexistence, until SPLA/M and the National Congress Party (NCP) arrived in the scene to disturb the peace and coexistence.
When attacked by the SPLA armed police forces, the Messeiria called each other and additional fighting broke to prevent additional cattle raiding.
Since 1905 and until 1983, about two hundred people died in the traditional African tribal conflicts between the brothers Messeiria and Dinka mainly over pasture, water and honour. Each tribe paid blood money to the other tribe as per custom among the brothers and the case of the dead is closed every time.
But since 1983, when SPLA/M arrived in the scene, at least three thousand people have died. It always creates a new conflict before the tribes even complete the payment of blood money as required by tribal custom.
I looked at the death toll in the eighty years before the SPLA/M got involved and twenty years after its involvement. I said to myself if SPLA/M promoted development and rejected security-minded planning. We would be in a different situation.
Is there no wise leader?
The armed movements in Africa need about one hundred thousand dollars to buy one Land Cruiser and fit it with weaponry and ammunition. And I said to myself if SPLA/M used the same cost of five Land cruisers to buy five Borehole Drilling machines, each digging twenty wells, rather than each Land Cruiser causing the death of twenty people from the Dinka and their brothers Messeiria. What will the difference be?
The water available from wells of the Baggara Basin groundwater could facilitate irrigation farming creating all year round availability of pasture, better breeding of livestock and richer Dinka and their brothers Messeiria. The richness will build roads, housing, schools and hospitals and the new Dinka and Messeiria generation attend schools and all live in the stability and its benefits.
But, unfortunately SPLA/M, like their other side of the coin, the NCP, only know the security mentality and the language of war and do not believe in dialogue to resolve their problems, rather preferring the solution from the barrel of the gun. Who can convince SPLA/M that development pays better dividend in Abyei than the killing and murder.
Arriving at Bahr Alarab and its Rgaba al-Zarqa is a matter of life or death for the Messeiria, for them and their livestock. They have no other choice - today - if prevented from reaching there, other than fighting to survive. Fighting is actually less expensive for the Messeiria, in this case. Because if they did not reach Bahr Alarab, thousands of their cattle would die of shortage of water and grazing and hundreds of Messeiria would die heartbroken and of poverty. But if they fought less of them would die and fewer cattle as well as they reach Bahr Alarab.
But Messeiria, since 1905, needed their fellow Dinka as the Dinka needed the Messeiria in mutually beneficial relationships that was broken only by the warring political parties, SPLA/M and NCP, fighting over what is under the land of oil, not interested in its peoples and their livelihoods. Those fighting parties introduced enmity and hatred between brothers and provided the reasons and supported and encouraged irresponsible persons from among them to kill each other.
What if SPLA/M and the Government of Southern Sudan, stopped the aggressive war in Abyei for five years and used the cost for local development for a period of five years. Just consider the gain to be achieved in saved lives, resources and sustainable peace.