The Nimule border town has witnessed and experienced dramatic, traumatic and imposed changes since the peace loving native, The Ma’di people were driven from their ancestral land into refuge in the neighboring Uganda, by the JCE regime of Salva Kiir Mayerdit , to give way for the Dinka cows to graze freely turning the Madiland into cow-land.
My trip to Nimule has given me personal and intimate examinations as to how deeply this unnecessary war against civilians across South Sudan has its devastating effect particularly on the people of Madi.
As far as eyes can see, immediately after landing in what the local people called [Matara] loosely translated as airstrip located along Nimule-Mugali road which has never been developed under the leadership of Kiir, the dusty feeder road which used to be busy is now deserted except for the armed to tooth squatters with their cows using it. At this point it dawns on me even more clearly how profound effect this war of Dinka imperialism and scramble for resources and land of other people particular in Equatoria has brought on my people.
Driving from Matara to Malakia, we had to pass through several roadblocks and very surprisingly what drew my attention was most of the soldiers along the Matara-Malakia road look frail and underage, majority look malnourished and confused. Observing their faces my conclusion is they were collected from villages across Bahr el Ghazal and are primary school age kids. I couldn’t help but ask are the Dinkas running out of their material Prima of this war, Adult Dinka Militia men are no longer so they can sacrifice their futures to keep one man in power?
Nimule –Matara road used to be a very busy road as it links up the neighboring villages of Longu, and several bomas and payam of Mugali, but as we drove I noted the road was visibly empty and deserted. Most of the huts along the airstrip were empty, looted while others are re-occupied by the foot soldiers and their families.
The driver who lives in Nimule cautioned me that I should not use my phone for taking photos or for making calls. I asked him why? He told me if you are none Dinka and not known to these soldiers, phone calls in Nimule constitute an arrest warrant and if the soldiers suspect you are making a long distance call they will arrest you and accuse you of being a spy of the rebel, and end up being tortured or dead.
As we drove through Nimule to one of the restaurants which used to be busy in the earlier days of peace, it is now mostly empty without customers, for nearly two hours we were the only customers, when I asked the attendant, she told me, "nowadays business is down and even some soldiers come and eat food and walk away without pay, when you asked them to pay, they will say we are here to protect you from your rebel of Martin Kenyi. They perceived every Madi people in Nimule as a rebel" she added.
This narrative has given me a clear picture how the soldiers subject the people who remained in Nimule to constant harassment and dehumanizing treatments.
After dinner before 5pm local time, I was advised to find place to sleep and never move out to buy airtime or anything past 6pm, so I was taken by my friend to one of the lodges in Nimule, for his personal security I will withhold his name, and that of the hotel where I slept.
At around 6pm I ordered soft drinks while sitting at lodge's lobby watching English premier league. Three soldiers and two men in plain civilian clothes joined to watch the game, roughly 20 minutes later the hotel staff motioned for me to come at the counter and told me that those men in plain civilian clothes were security agents and they were part of soldiers deployed in all the hotels and lodges in Nimule. He cautioned me that it might be time for me to retire to my room, which I did.
I asked him who pays for their bills for the hotel accommodation and food, I was amazed to hear the answer, he told me they eat and sleep freely, and when asked to pay their bill they can easily accuse you as being a rebel or sympathizer of rebel, thus, they can at will whisk you away to the house of torture or simply penalize you up to an equivalent of 300U$ to buy your freedom or else they will implicate you. he concludes that this is happening because the soldiers have not received salaries for almost four months thus extortion of money from businesses has become part of their surviving means.
Demolition of houses:
The destructive ethnic war by Dinka in Madi land has its root in the plan of ethnic cleansing of the Ma'di people by displacing them into Uganda and demolishing their houses this is to deny the Madi people access from coming back to their houses. I have witnessed military vehicles as well as civilian numberless lorries carrying scrubs of iron sheets, I asked another soldier from non-Dinka tribe where are the metal scrubs coming from and what do the soldiers do with them? He told me all the concrete building starting from Loa to Moli have been demolished.
He told me a shocking story, that to avoid rebel snipers because previously when the rebels spot anybody trying to remove iron sheets their snipers will take them down without a trace, in the process a lot of soldiers got shot dead or other fell with broken legs. He said the soldiers have now become smart, they are using Ugandan contractors mainly people from Bantu origins to demolish the houses as the soldiers secure the surrounding to provide protection for the contractors, the Ugandan contractors will be use to collect the scrubs and bring them to Elegu for a lucrative market.
Security in Nimule
When security personnel do not see you for period of two weeks you are liable to be question, when you are coming to Uganda you have to get permit from army barracks. When your face is unfamiliar you are most likely to be suspect. I was told by the unnamed civil servant in the office of executive director of Pageri County that the army is planning to impose tougher restrictions, and when such restrictions are imposed on the few people who live in Nimule, they will then be subjected to face tough security measures by the security personnel, this according to him all non-Dinka residents of Nimule will be register, and anyone above the age of 14 must be subject to be register and should report to the military intelligence HQs in Nimule every day.
Market in Nimule
Vast majority of traders who are from native Ma'di have left either to Elegu or Adjumani, while others with small capitals are operating in the largest refugee camp in Pagirinya, leaving vacuums which cannot be filled by the Dinka traders who are not used to trading but being mostly consumers money changers relying on the robbed national treasury, leave alone whether they have knowledge in trading.
Nimule main market is visibly empty, there only about three traders left with no profitable market, at time the whole day only two to five customers according to one of the remaining businessmen who asked for his name to be withhold. He told me the numbers of the daily customers have dropped badly only two to five customers per day will visit his shop. Due to insecurity the foreign large-scale retailers and hawkers or vendors mainly dominated by Ethiopian and Eritreans all left Nimule.
In early days of peace Juba-Nimule highway, the busiest road in the country is nowadays the dysfunctional and most fragile risk road in the whole country. I sawed long line of trucks packed waiting for the convoy to leave for Juba, but the problem according to security officers, the soldiers have become reluctant to escort the convoy as they have pay the price highly with their lives.
Senior South Sudan army officer who got hit with bullet on his left forehead during the last ambush in August, said the rebel are well organized and determent to execute their agenda, he added he lost colleagues and braved soldiers during the ambush.
He recounted that it was around 11:20am after they have drove halfway to Moli area when the bullets began to rain like rain from sky. He added before they could reorganize to respond and have clear point to see from which direction the attackers were firing, more than 15 soldiers were dead instantly. He said the attackers who have sophisticated military methodology in their ambushes. That is why they lose a lot of colleagues within shortest time and before they could reorganize themselves the enemy forces have deserted their position after they have achieved their mission.
He narrated into details saying the level of threat they face in Equatoria has proven the rebels have achieved high level of training and discipline. " This is a group well-organized with high level of training and discipline and it indicates the level of threats our forces are facing along Juba-Nimule road and in Equatoria at large than the three-year war in Upper Nile. “It is a guerilla war we have not seen before” he concluded.
As I concluded my visit to Nimule after spending three nights of secret mission, I then realized the senseless new war of Dinka imperialism is meant to create fear and drive non-Dinka away from their ancestral land but at the same time the war of Kiir with his tribal associates has also traumatized his ethnic Dinka. As I crossed into neighboring Uganda, I have seen the anxieties on the Dinka faces. They are talking of being most hated by other tribes and even Ugandans. The few I talked to in Alere camp told me they are crippled with fear for their lives even in Uganda for they feel unwelcomed by everyone.
An elderly man who seems in his late 70s told me they, the jieng have been generalized but majority of them are victims themselves because of crimes committed by Kiir and JCE. He concluded by saying he wish Kiir will quit and save his people the Dinka from such shame and hatred. While such voices are heard here and there, the Dinka elites without the Materia prima, the Jieng young villagers, the Jieng populace provides, Kiir as a single Dinka cannot achieve the destructions of South Sudan.
Maybe the time has come for the Dinka Populaces to say enough is enough and deny Kiir the fuel on which the burning of South Sudan requires, the blood of young Dinka village boys unplug and brought to be sitting ducks in Nimule which shall surely pay even if the last of Ma'di Ajugo drops, the most secret of our weapons are the Gods of the land and many enemy soldiers can testify their terrifying, unexplained and invisible encounters however many did not live to tell their stories.
David Aju Kanyara
A voice for voiceless