January 20, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s vice-president Riek Machar Teny has warned the two largest communities in the country to refrain from bullying smaller tribes, saying this can create further disunity among the people.
- South Sudan’s vice-president Riek Machar (Reuters)
Speaking at a gathering organised by the Nuer Christians Mission Network in South Sudan at the Nyekuron Culture Centre in Juba on Saturday, Machar, a Nuer, condemned the behaviour he observed from elements of the Nuer and Dinka communities, who have been engaged in bullying other smaller tribes.
Machar said the behaviour was unproductive, adding it was high time the people of South Sudan were united.
“You will not be recognised by bullying somebody. It is the friendly attitude that brings people together,” he told the gathering.
Machar spoke mostly in Nuer language while addressing thousands of Nuer Christians from different denominations, who came to celebrate peace and promote unity among Christians and the people of South Sudan at large.
The decades-long conflict and struggle to achieve independence from neighbouring Sudan had sometimes pitted communities against one another. Machar says these wounds must be healed so that peace and unity can be achieved among the diverse communities of South Sudan.
Land grabbing, particularly in Juba, has become another factor tearing communities apart, he added.
While he acknowledged that populations from other communities, including the Dinka and Nuer, have the right to move to Juba and acquire land in the national capital, he said any acquisition of land should be done legally and orderly managed by the authorities.
Central Equatoria state has been doing its best to address the issue by finding solutions to already seized land and future acquisitions, Machar said.
He also reiterated that the government’s plan to relocate the national capital to Ramciel was still in place.
Machar called on the country’s youth to desist from the violent culture that had taken root, including drunkenness, and prostitution, saying these have had a negative impact on the welfare of the nation.
REDUCE BRIDE PRICE
He also called on the Nuer not to abandon their cultural practice of fixing the dowry payment in marriage. According to tribal custom, bride price is fixed at only 25 head of cattle. However, that figure has now been randomly increased by up to 100 or more head of cattle.
He urged Nuer elders and chiefs in the three states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity to ensure the figure remains fixed, even for women marrying senior leaders.
“When our great grandfathers fixed the bride price at 25 head of cattle, this was not because they didn’t have lots of cattle. It was because they wanted our society to move forward together so that even a poor person could also afford to marry and have a family,” he said.
Machar said the trend towards highly inflated bride prices would ultimately become an obstacle to marriage and deny others the opportunity to have a family.