Articles and Analysies
Bari: Don't treat other other southerners like second class citizens BY: Isaiah Abraham, JUBA
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Feb 25, 2010 - 7:55:21 AM

Bari : Don't treat other other southerners like second class citizens

BY: Isaiah Abraham, JUBA


Juba , being the capital of our emerging nation, is by no means a place for every Southerner from every corner of our beautiful land. The law says it plain, so does common sense. Interim Constitution for Southern Sudan about land ownership however empowers land owners.

Before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) the land was for the government and after the CPA it is made to be under the community. There was a problem there. I don’t know what was in the mind of the authors of that law when they came up with that clumsy clause. But the piece (clause) has literally been contextually twisted to mean that the land isn’t a shared property, rather it is solely a community owned thing.

So in our case, the Juba land per that conception belongs to Bari people (if you may allow me later here to use the word ‘ Bari people’ to address few among Bari community). By their interpretation therefore, Bari people have the right to accommodate or deny land to anyone anywhere in that land ( Juba).   

Now we have a land that is made to be the place for everyone (capital city), yet its land distribution is exclusively left to local owners to dish it as they will; how do you make of the Government of Southern Sudan urban planning, where is it gonna be done? How will the two plans for the two governments going to look like?

The capital city Juba hosts the county, State and the national headquarters, who do you imagine in that arrangement will listen to whom? Each pulls the strings of having authority over the other, do you read trouble in the making, the same way am seeing it? By going through rigorous procedures of application writing that passes under a Bari pot-belly men at their main office adjacent to Equity Bank in Juba, those who rarely turn up before 11 am, something is terribly wrong.

I believe anyone who has seen the Memo of 2007 between GOSS and the Government of Central Equatoria State (CES) undoubtedly would question the so-called draft agreement, where the two are made to share everything except the land. Recently the Minister of Land (GOSS) moved a directive against self-serving officials at CES land offices to surrender responsibilities and books on land to GOSS Land Ministry or its Commission, but the directives were ignored and the truants in question are staying put, doing business of land distribution to their clients as usual.

The question that comes begging is: what makes Bari people think they can operate outside the premises of legal framework of our National Government Statutes (GoSS)? They have refused more than once and defying anything that come from their mother government, how do you make of this? It happened in 2006 and 2007 and they are at it again in 2010 on the same, why would the mighty GoSS go on its knees begging Bari on this matter year in year out? Isn’t the CES part and parcel of GoSS?

If yes, then why are they allowed to play with the minds of other Southerners? Don’t they (other Southerners) have the right to stay in their capital city? Sincerely and not to waste your time beating around the bush, Bari people are undermining supreme government and are mistreating other nationalities in the capital city here (Juba) for no apparent reason, something the government of the people Southern Sudan must critically look into. Martin Ohuro Okerruk (GoSS Land Minister), saw it and was eager to put it to an end. Am specifically talking here about land unfair distribution, and the fact that recalcitrant Bari people have taken advantage of Garang’s land policy into something different that have disadvantage other Southerners.

There is stark segregation on land distribution in this city, something someone can deny but I have cases of individuals who are non-Bari who went through such an ordeal. Mr. Robert Ladu Benjamin, the land boss knows it full what other Southerners are saying against his people. He’s trying his best but that is farthest he could go given the tough hands of his Bari people on land. This is serious and I thought Juba people could have learned from Rumbek, Yambio and Bor towns where such things were (are) common. People there are difficult indeed; every piece of land has its owner. There are areas not accessible or allowed to non native, and if permitted by chance the tag is exorbitantly on the sky.    

A small piece of land in the capital is costing too much money. 200 x 150 square meters in Gudele, Munuki or Jebel areas is 45,000 Sudanese Pounds to non Bari but SDG 10,000 or less to Bari. Besides the message in that ‘market’, where do Bari people expect others to get that huge amount of money? Of course, financial criminals in the government of Southern Sudan are in exception in this case. But how about poor Southerners who are receiving SDG 400 a month, those employed in Juba under GoSS, where will they get a place to settle when the same land lords ( Bari people) have agreed to charge a single locally thatched house with anything not less than SDG 200? Needless to mention potential investors, where will they get land for their development activities?

But one must be puzzled, why is the government so lenient about callous behavior by some Bari people. The answer is simple: majority of government officials perhaps are beneficiaries of what’s going on. The report suggests that they owned huge chunk of land given to them by the same Bari people, just to keep them quiet. Dr. Pius Subek, the current Juba Commissioner is one duff official who changed his wonderful past while serving as SPLA officer in the early 1990s. He was great and a gentleman, but from nowhere changed when he took a French leave to join others (Dr. Samson Babu in particular) to formed a local NGO on health. After peace agreement in 2005, this man has become dirty and should not have been in the SPLM party afterwards.   Real SPLA/M members don’t fit or prescribe into narrowed politics of ‘my people’ in public everyday, especially those at constitutional posts.

A divider who divides his own Bari people, those he thinks aren’t real Bari. Their closest of all, the Lolubo are in trouble in Juba county when it comes to sharing, under Dr. Pius. A large piece of land at Nasitu on the eastern side of the river that isn’t Bari land, was sold to foreign investors before the watch of its owners (Lokoya) by the same Dr. Kokore. I was so excited when the SPLM Political Bureau turned away his candidature on gubernatorial post. I don’t know what he would have done in that important position, something he failed to do while serving as Commissioner of a city that is so filthy. Mr. Alfred Lado Gore of the Presidency Office is far national than this pharmacist. Governor Clement nevertheless is far more level headed than the two. May Juba be at peace under his watch!

Juba residents in my little thinking should sue their government for allowing Bari people to manipulate aspects of the constitution about land on the expense of their fellow Southerners. Get me right, am not saying Bari should give up their farming lands to others along the River Nile, but since the city is a seat of a national government, the so-called owners have no choice but to give enough space to government in the city. That is what it means. There is an urge need to have the city clearly delineated and the authority of the land surrender to relevant authority. If local are affected, they are affected, the government has the duty to compensate them.

At the moment, the practice of having local chiefs and criminals fully in charge of what to give and what not has virtually handicapped GoSS on its developmental activities.   At the beginning, Bari people started well, they facilitated many to return to their original plots they left during the war. But along the way, cupidity upstaged everything and now we are seeing non Bari being made to live like aliens in their own country. This must stop.   The national government (GOSS) and investors have to work. There is nothing like ‘host government’! It has made Bari ‘mudalaiin’.

Truly, no Southerner should be discriminated anywhere in the South. Aweil, Wau, Malakal and Bentiu are ahead of many places in the South when it comes to ‘feeling at home’. You are at homes in those places. Thanks Malwal Giernyang, Jur, Chollo and Bull Nuer. The worst places (state capitals) to live where Kokoro is much a policy are Rumbek, Yambio, Bor and now Juba town. That attitude of ‘our land’ should change. I was brought up in this city (poor Gabaat), went to school here up to my secondary level, playing at our then famous ground ‘Kup Wa Arja’ now Sahara Hotel, the habits of Bari has changed. They were nice to everyone, though am still seeing same grousers I first met forty three years ago. Unless the government sits down and put enough pressure on Bari, they will always be cocky ready to be themselves and them alone. The leaf of pressure should also go to the above other Southern dangerous spots (cities of Rumbek & Bor).

The embarrassment Bari people have caused The Vice President of our Government two and half years ago on Kondokoro Island should have been enough a lesson. The current arrangement of allowing Bari to decide land allocation unilaterally is abused by scrupulous officers within Bari community, just to emphasize. There is no point sending the Government of Southern Sudan to the outskirts of the city, leaving Bari Government to control every single plot and building in the city center. The Government of Central Equatoria State is by law a subset of the Government of Southern Sudan; the mother/father government should not be subjected to restriction by its internal organ (I have said this above). May be our leaders at GoSS should unite and put this matter to rest. The government of the people of Southern Sudan should not let others down. The time to address this matter before we get our independence next year is here. Choosing another spot as capital, neutral should is by no means a remote possibility/option.

But I strongly believed that Southerners aren’t ready to take that dredge of the 80s with their heads low. Even if there were real issues that had justified Kokora, our people were naïve and this should have been a time to heal that wound not to scratch it. I don’t think other Southerners will troop out of Juba the same way it had happened in the 1983. They are here to stay and some sort of concrete accommodation ought to come out from the Government (GoSS) on the same. No single tribe therefore should be left to cause troubles to 28 others; Southern Sudan has enough land and resources for everyone. I believe Garang and his group meant well when they said ‘land belongs to the people’. This statement should not be exploited to deny others rights to stay in the place design for everybody. The supreme government ought to flex its muzzles against individuals within Bari community; Bari have tied the hands of the GOSS for no reason at all.

Khartoum for example, where two governments live side by side, each government knows and respects the role of the other, and able to live in no competition; unfortunately that is not the case here in Juba. No single tribe that claim ownership of the capital and routinely want others to bow before it on land.

The State Authority doesn’t dictate where a national government building should be built. And by the way, why is Bari not appreciating the presence of the Government of Southern Sudan in this city, even the huge face lift and benefits people around have gained through it? Some locals are billionaires over night, possibly due to land sale, why are these people still blackmailing the system that have lift them off poverty ground. Who else have assets and drives different cars every year in this city, isn’t that not Bari?

Frankly speaking, why do you have to bully your own brothers as if they are foreigners in their own land, the very land most you left to Arabs at the hour of its liberation?

Weren’t these you (Bari Elders) who persuaded Garang about Juba being the capital for all, when he had an eye on Ramciel? Why did you change so quickly after he’s gone? Please treat other Southerners like citizens of Southern Sudan. Give the government of the people of Southern Sudan space.

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