Saturday, July 8, 2006

It is very evident that this is a society recoveri...

It is very evident that this is a society recovering from conflict. The signs are everywhere, notably random people walking around with guns. To see this you only need to take a drive around Rumbek. There are people, most of whom are civilian, walking around in tattered clothing with a rifle swinging from an arm. I’ve been told that people don’t feel safe without them. It is a very normal thing and does not raise an eyebrow –except to someone like me. But then again “normal” is something that varies from context to context. An interesting note to that is that people in the remote areas believe that the war is still going on. I think maybe it would be a polite and worthwhile thing to inform them that the war is over. In addition to this; disputes are often settled with violence; meaning people get shot. That’s the way it has been done for the past 21 years, it was effective so it is still done. There is an aggressive, confrontational mentality of people –especially those who stayed inside the Sudan during wartime. Just the other day a man came storming into the administrative office demanding his pay check. He was completely belligerent and even pushed the administrator (a Kenyan). From what I gather, it seems that there was some kind of clerical error so he didn’t get paid when he was supposed to, and most people in the professional world know that sometimes these things happen, but this man had it in his mind that he was being cheated, so he resorted to cave man behaviour thinking it would be sure to get him his money. Now, in the states this man would have been fired, and he would have been defending himself in court for assault. I am not sure how he was dealt with but somehow I don’t think he was fired. People are most familiar with this aggressive lifestyle so they have yet to release it. Arbitration, which is actually a traditional part of at least Dinka culture, has not been fully reinstated. Despite all this I feel and am very safe okay!!!!!!!!!!!
The SPLM and the SPLA (Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army) are the political and military forces that fought against the north Sudanese government forces. Of course at the center of the SPLM was charismatic leader, John Garang., who lead rebel forces for more than 21 years. He was instrumental in working for southern Sudanese liberation and negotiating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005. Garang also died in 2005 in a helicopter crash. People around here believe he was murdered. Personally, I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but people in the south they are intensely suspicious of the northern government and think them capable of anything; including murdering someone and making it look like an accident. People in the south adore Garang and he is a legendary character already firmly placed in their history.
For a long time to live in south Sudan meant to be involved in the liberation movement. The military is very highly regarded. Even now with a peace agreement firmly in place, people are still enlisting in large numbers in the SPLA. I see military training groups scattered about Rumbek marching and exercising. I wonder is this normal peace time activity or are they preparing for something to come. I know one thing; I won’t be around when the time for the referendum comes (I think 2011) it will be a defining moment for the whole of the country. Besides, if war breaks out my mother would kill me for getting killed in the Sudan!!

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