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South Sudan: How culture of revenge inhibits development and progress

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By Steve Paterno

Admittedly, revenge or the act of it is inherently human in nature. The human beings since biblical times could not dissuade from the proverbial practice of an ’eye for an eye.’ Even the most advanced civilisation of the day still practices the same. For example, if a Palestinian boy hit an Israeli soldier with a rock, not a rocket, you bet, tanks will roll and the entire neighbourhood will be bulldozed a ground in an act of vengeance. In the same vein, if you mess with America, cruise missiles and all sort of bombs, even the ‘mother of all bombs’ will fly your way. The Americans euphemism for revenge is rather a fancy phrase known as ‘retaliatory response.’ The Americans can beat their chests hard and then invoke the phrase, without displaying any sense of barbarism or remorse. Just ask those of Maumar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, Osama Bin-Laden, and the rest of them, for they know it too well as to what that means.

As much as humans are naturally prompt to vengeance, they are also at the same time attracted to righteousness, a genuine act of just being good for its sake. Therefore, the human being is capable of both evil and good but does not want to live either to the extreme. Hence, they tend to strike the balance. For sure, the Israelis, with their powerful weaponry can cause much more damage to the Palestinians and the Americans can also do the same to their enemies, but yet they never go all out. With the kind of the stockpiles of nuclear weapons today being possessed in the world, if put into use, it is not an exaggeration to say that humanity will be extinct in a blink of an eye. However, those with such powers are exercising them in a measured way, proportional to the perceived crimes. This is to say in other words that by nature, they exercise self-control and that is when humanity is at its best, once they exercise self-control.

Nevertheless, when it comes to South Sudan, a country full of conflicting cultures—a country trying to forge a common destiny, the act of revenge is taken totally to a tragic level. Take for example the current escalation of violence between the two communities of Bor and Murle. The conflict between these two neighbourly communities is of course time immemorable, even though presently, it increases in intensity, due to plentiful of deadly modern weaponry systems. This, however, not also to say that there have never been times of tranquillity between these communities. Theirs, just like other communities in South Sudan, is a vicious cycle of violence, which is reoccurring for generations, but made worst under the current modern system.

The cycle always starts with peace and tranquillity. In such times of peace and tranquillity, a few stubborn and spoiler youths will go on a raid to the neighbour. The neighbour of course by nature will retaliate. This will follow with counter-retaliations until the next peaceful settlement is reached, which will mark a full vicious cycle of violence and peace. The tragedy of it all, during this cycle, the damages caused can never be recovered.

This cycle is happening in a vacuum, where there is no third party and that third party under current circumstance is the government security apparatus. Unfortunately, those from the warring communities who are serving in the government and are supposed to be responsible as a third party, pitifully, abandon their public service duties and are jumping into the fray. They further exacerbate the already worsening crisis. Just imagine a scenario where both Michael Makuie and David Yau Yau are given nuclear codes, with options of wiping each community out. Then, you guess the rest.

Anyway, since this is a pattern, that keeps reoccurring, and often starts with peace and tranquillity, is it then not possible to stop this cycle within the period of peace by preventing it from further escalations into violence???

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at stevepaterno@yahoo.com



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  • 13 May 10:31, by Kuch

    Mr. Steve Paterno, you are spot on as always. But the Bor Dinka/Jieng has never ever, taken the Murles wretches seriously since time memorable as you put it. We welcomed the wretches into our country from Southern ethiopia in 1920th. The word ’Pi-bor’ is an Anyuaks word for pi (WATER) and Bor (flood)----Pi- bor means water from Bor. Mach Abol (Mac Abol) is are Bor dinka/ Jieng countries>>>

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    • 13 May 10:39, by Kuch

      and they were given to these wretches by Salva Kiir decrees. The evils have been used by our enemies since they came into our country to play game with us. The evil have been played against the SPLM/A during our genuine war of independence, by the so-called cloned arab of North Sudan. The fool called Ismael Konyi was used to toy around with our country and our people>>>

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      • 13 May 11:20, by Kuch

        during our genuine war with our so-called cloned North Sudan. They were used by the NGOs and the UNIMISS even when Kuol Manyang was a governor.

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  • 13 May 11:48, by Sunday Junup

    Kuch,
    I thought it was typing error when you commented that Pi-Bor mean water from Bor. Its only in Bor community water flow from South Sudan to Ethiopia? Second, you forget that UNMISS was established during CPAI. It was not there during North -South war as you claim. Anyway it is your custom to belief that a bull can be milk instead of Cow.

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  • 13 May 23:38, by Rocky

    The human beings since biblical times could not dissuade from the proverbial practice of an ’eye for an eye.’ Even the most advanced civilization of the day still practices the same

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  • 15 May 22:39, by Mr Point

    When will Steve Paterno stop producing these childish , ignorant articles? It is a waste of time reading this nonsense.

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  • 25 May 08:53, by Chief Odili

    Steve Peterno is a conduit of betrayal used by Fr. Friday and the white man working with them in Eastern Equatoria. The article is a plagiarism. I know him as a stooge of white colonialism.
    Revenge is not bad. Nor is retaliation. Lotuka had lynched the SPLA soldiers, red army and civilians, particularly from Bor from 1990-1992 during the movement for sake of KILLING. They exerted efforts and>

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    • 27 May 08:50, by Mr Point

      Paterno is hardly a stooge of the white man.

      Pattern writes much, mostly nonsense. A child would write with more information and better ideas.

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  • 25 May 09:00, by Chief Odili

    courage of no purpose and direction. They did it to derail the movement which they claimed was Dinka Bor fighting their beloved Jalaba. The conflict between Bor and Murle is like any other disputes between Lotuka and Buoya, Toposa, Didika and Lango caused by cattle theft. Again, during the movement, we had been in good terms with Murle. Nyancingak was an eminent SPLA commander killed in the line>

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  • 25 May 09:06, by Chief Odili

    of duty. He was from Murle and particularly from Jonglei. we had been in coexistence with Murle since Nemeiri Regime until 2011 when failed kiir Hakuma adored violence and horn locked murle and Bor. The simple agenda is to keep both communities busy with war and displaced them. Without that evil plan Murle, Bor or Upper Nile will settle, overtook greedy Bar Ghazal in Education and development.>

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  • 25 May 09:14, by Chief Odili

    Jonglei was governed by Konyi from Murle, no atrocities were there, by Gai Kok, no atrocities were witnessed, by Shiekh Pec Akur, no war was ther between Nuer, Bor, Anyuak, Murle and jie and kacifo.
    There was intertwine marriage, trade, and sport activities within the greater Jonglei and upper nile.
    With trojan horses working hard in Juba to destabilize the region, Peterno will often write A,B,C-

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  • 19 June 09:07, by yusufnurabdussalam5

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