We, the Padang Community Representatives comprising Community Leaders, members of Council of States, members of National and State Legislative Assemblies, Youth and Women Associations, met today 19th January 2016 under the auspices of Padang Community Union (PCU), to respond to Taban Deng Ga i on his reckless remarks on media and Collo Community for claim of our land.
Padang Community would like to inform the public that Taban Deng Gai’s statements on the media are irresponsible instigations and a public call for inter-ethnic war to further conflict between Padang, Nuer and Collo Communities and that Collo’s claim of land grabbing by Padang Community is a baseless fabrication formulated by few individual Collo politicians.
First of all, Padang Community resents Taban Deng Gai’s thoughtless statements on Stance Newspaper and South Sudan TV in which he erroneously attributed Collo claim of Padang land in Malakal and Nuer claim of land in Ruweeng as resulting from Establishment Order Number 36/2015 for Creation of 28 States. He went ahead to claim that Padang in Eastern Nile and Rwueng States are rejoicing over Collo and Nuer land and this conflict will last for a long time.
These are unfortunate instigations to have come from Taban himself in such a time while leading IO team for peace implementation. Instead of advocating for peaceful solution to conflict, he incites communities to further conflict. Padang has not taken anybody’s land and will not allow anybody to take its land. Any community that feel has claim of should seek legal injunctions not violence.
Second, facts must be clearly stated that Padang Community is one of the most peaceful and peace loving Communities of South Sudan. This is evidence in the fact that huge numbers of members from different communities of South Sudan have since immigrated and settled among the Padang People in villages and towns. This God’s given humility and harmless nature of Padang people is currently being confused with cowardice by some opportunistic Collo politicians who have no regard for sanctity of human life.
It is also a fact that Padang and Collo communities have since enjoyed cordial and lasting social relationship that is crowned by numerous intermarriages. As a result of the intermarriages, Padang and Collo Communities are socially bound to the extent of leaving no room for violence and enmity that is being advocated by few individual Collo politicians. For there may be very few families, if any at all, in Padang and Collo that have no blood relations across the two Communities. Otherwise, most of them share blood relations within the two Communities.
It is also true that there has never been land dispute between Padang and Collo Communities in history. The issue of land that Collo politicians are inciting youth to violence is a recent political formulation by the few individual Collo politicians who seek political fame. The lasting peace that the two Communities have enjoyed over centuries was due to the fact that selfless values were shared and territorial boundaries between the two Communities were respected.
The public and the International Community must know the fact that the borders between Padang and Collo Communities have always been the depth of the White Nile with Collo Kingdom on the Western Bank, which is commonly referred to as “Lok Collo” literally meaning “the side of Collo” and Padang on the Eastern Bank that is commonly called “Lok Jang,” the “side of Jieng.” These borders were ceremonially marked by the ancestors.
It is also true that members of Collo Community have always crossed borders from Western Bank to live with their relatives, the Padang people on the Eastern Bank without hindrance. In addition to the comfort they find among their relatives—the Padang people, the below four main factors led members of Collo Community to cross over and settle in Padang land on the Eastern Bank. These factors are all known to us to be the following:
Due to cultural variations, Padang people used to shy away from domestic and institutional service opposite to Collo people. It follows, therefore, that when British Administration established government institutions and started development on the Eastern Bank, need arose for manpower to serve both domestic and public institutions including offices, hospitals, schools, churches, homes, etc. It happened that this need for manpower was mostly met by members from Collo Community. This led to mass relocation of members of Collo Community from Western Bank to serve and settle in Padang towns and villages in Eastern Bank as required by the jobs.
Moreover, British Administration also sourced manpower from Collo Community to serve in agricultural schemes in Eastern Bank most especially in the cotton and sugar cane plantation in Geiger, Renk and Meluth. This situation continued unchanged when Sudan government introduced mechanized agricultural schemes in Renk.
It is a common knowledge that Padang and Collo Communities have since engaged in massive intermarriages that bound the two Communities together. Based on relations resulting from intermarriages, families from Collo Community joined their siblings in Eastern Bank to live with Padang.
We all know that Reth (Collo Kings) had enjoyed full powers and control during the early stages of the Kingdom. These included judicial powers to execute offenders and law-breakers from Collo Community. Severity of Reth’s punishment led some offenders to escape the Kingdom by seeking refuge in Padang land. In respect of territorial integrity, any offender who managed to cross the Nile out of Collo Kingdom was spared and could not be pursued beyond the borders. Though such people were not allowed back to Kingdom throughout lifespan of the particular Reth, they could not be arrested in foreign territory. Some of these were eventually followed by their dependents and relatives who also settled and became residents of Padang land.
It is well known that Collo Community takes fishing as a major source of livelihood. Since Padang people do not practice much fishing, they became consumers of fish brought across the Nile by Collo fishermen. Some of these fishermen settled for business on the Eastern Bank and eventually became resident as they continued supplying fish for consumption.
Based on these main facts and for the love of peace and peaceful co-existence, Padang people have been hosting people from different communities in Sudan and South Sudan including members of Collo Community for centuries without any major conflict. As South Sudanese, members of Collo Community are free to live in any part of Padang land.
However, Padang Community utterly rejects any claim or plan by Collo Community to annex any piece of its land to Collo Kingdom. Padang Community would like to inform the public and the International Community that Collo Community claim of Padang land is baseless and it needs to be discouraged:
The borders between Collo and Padang have always been and will still remain the depth of the White Nile. Collo Community has never had land or a claim of land on Eastern Bank of the Nile in history. Living in someone’s land long enough does not license one to annex it; and violence will not achieve the intended land acquisition;
Members from Collo Community who have since lived in Padang land are still allowed to live on as any South Sudanese without any claim of annexing any part of Padang land to Collo Kingdom in Western Nile State.
Malakal is solely a Padang’s city that is situated on the Eastern Bank. Administratively it used to be the Headquarters of Sobat Rural District until 1970s when Sobat Rural District Head Quarters was tactically relocated to Baliet town;
Padang Community is for peace and peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue. We call upon Collo Community leaders to refrain from instigating unnecessary violence in order not to deepen the conflict. Should need, we advise Collo Community to seek legal solutions;
In conclusion, Padang Community is for peace and peaceful resolution of conflict. We call on Collo Community leaders to refrain from violence and seek dialogue to resolve any perceived dispute. We caution leaders such as Taban not to be part of problem rather than being part of solution of national issues.
Dr. Ramadan Chan Liol Molana Monywach Tiop Ajak
Chairperson General Secretary
Padang Community Union Padang Community Union
Juba, South Sudan Juba, South Sudan
Dr. Joseph Nyok Abiel Hon. Mary Ayen Mijok
Padang Community Elders’ Representative Representative, Council of States-
Juba, South Sudan Padang Members
Hon. Akot Dau Nyok Hon. William Chol Awanlith
Representative, National Legislative Assembly Representative,
Juba, South Sudan State Legislative Assemblies
Molana Thon Deng Ayong Hon. Hellen Andrew Wieu
Padang Youth Representative Padang Women Representative
Juba, South Sudan Juba, South Sudan