Ruweng demonstration banner
Ruweng demonstration banner at the welcoming of president Salva Kiir on 12th Feb. 2020

Dear Ruweng people, whether you like it or not, the controversy over 32 states is about Dinka versus the 63 tribes and I understand Ruweng is one of the major reasons why the Kiir administration is too adamant to let go of the 32 states. However, Dinka extremists and politicians are using it for their own selfish interests, not for you.

It’s all about oil beneath your land. And it’s not about you as Dinka people (Abiem-nhom and Pan e Riang) that the “Dinka government” of Kiir Mayardit would want to maintain your state for. No, brothers and sisters. It’s about what you have, the oil, that makes it look like the “Dinka government” cares about you – that it holds you dear to its heart as a people. Nope.

Major oil wells – including Panthou (Heglig), Toma South, and Tor – which make up about 80 percent of the total monthly oil production – are in the Ruweng State, according to unconfirmed reports.

The same “Dinka government” has been drilling oil there for years, but no one but few state sons and daughters have benefited from the oil proceeds, while the ordinary people there suffer oil pollution.

Both local and international media and environmental campaign groups have been highlighting on the adverse effects of irresponsible oil production there.

The residents have been witnessing birth defects – with some babies born without eyes, others without limps. Women are unable to conceive and some of those who manage to get pregnant miscarry. And adults and livestock are dying of strange diseases. You can’t farm no more since your soil has been polluted.

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Having your own state wouldn’t automatically reverse the situation you are in, for the insatiable Juba-based men and women will continue to build their economic empires at your expense.

If it’s about pride, ask residents of states that are nearly or 100% Dinka. Nothing changed, my brothers. There’s nothing special about having your own state. Tonj people are still slaughtering themselves and so are those in Gogrial. Gok and Western Lakes too. Jonglei still loses lives, children, and livestock to criminals.

In my opinion, you should renounce your state for the sake of the greater good of the country. In the name of peace for all, please have Kiir, Makuei and Elia revoke the 32 states.

Anyway, you are a sacrificial lamb either way. You either offer your neck to Kiir and his boys in order to win the political chess championship against Dr. Riek Machar or you choose 10 states + AAA, be part of Unity State again. You have been living among the Nuer for time immemorial, anyway.

By giving up your state, you defuse the tension or prevent a potential return to civil war. By doing so, you allow the peace parties to establish the coalition government. Peace then returns and everyone enjoys it. A Madi farmer returns to his field. The economy stabilizes. And the country prospers.

But more importantly, I’d strongly encourage your lawyers, leaders, members of parliament and Ruweng activists like Santino Ayuel Longar plus the Nuer community counterparts there to use the Petroleum Act 2012 to hold the government and the oil companies to account. With monthly 2% oil share, you could erect twin cities within a very short period of time.

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Talk of Juba’s editorial stance.

Tearz © 2020

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