Opinion: “Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, A Controversial Character,” Jieng Elders

Reference to his article titled: INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATIVE AREAS: A LEAF FROM COLONIAL LEGACY OF “DIVIDE TO RULE”

Opinion | By Joshua Dau Diu

August 1, 2020 (Thessherald)–One year past, I had advised in a written note, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba that he and I are close acquaintances and have shared some common interplays along the way of our social interaction.

Thus, we agreed to avoid irresponsible utterances against one another, and not to engage in confrontational arguments, particularly on matters related to public domain. We also agreed not to use literature in social media against each other. Now, here we are exhibited before the public display stage at the cross road exposing each other’s imprudence and ills. It rhymes with the same conclusion, by other people, that Dr. Peter Adwok neither safeguards the sanctity of human relations nor maintains personal commitment.

This odd and quire character of Dr. Peter Adwok being a controversial character that respects no bounds in friendship or relationships might have emanated from mixed upbringing background. He hails from Chollo (Shilluk) autocratic society of native kingship. He would have wished to be a king, unfortunately due to such repulsive behaviours, his family lineage could not be permitted to kingship hereditary. However, his ambition propelled him to imitate the excessive manner by which kings wield power and extravagant way of life he observes from the present king whom he claims to be his maternal uncle.

In order to fulfil his missed ambitious opportunity, Dr. Peter Adwok went to Catholic Church school where Catholicism, in outlook, presents cloudy similarities of feudalism. Moreover, even that did not satisfy his urge for power through the catholic hierarchical doctrine. So while in his prime age in the University of Khartoum , he immersed himself into communism together with those of late Joseph Ukel Garang, Tarcisio Ahmed, Gabriel Acuoth Deng, among others. Later on after the demise and the decline of communism during the cold war era, he became an ardent member of the socialist party which is an offshoot of communist dialectical materialism.

In his “Letting the Cat Out: Jieng (Dinka) Attempt to Impose Hegemony and Domination on South Sudan” Dr. Peter Adwok wrote, “It’s not possible that people who have common enemy for nearly six decades could turn in the end against themselves as if nothing strategic bound them together”.

This is an extraordinary striking statement that should have come from an aggrieved, repentant and contrite soul and mind. But unfortunately enough, this is not the case. It is, however, immensely contradicted in the subsequent story of condemnation and judgement which he mischievously levelled on the person of Gen. Daniel Awet Akot together with the Jieng community.

This man, Dr. Peter Adwok and Gen. Daniel Awet were comrades in Arms during the SPLA 21 year war of liberation of South Sudan. In the same war that killed thousands and millions of their fellow comrades, Dr. Peter Adwok lost one of his limbs but he survived. Both men have enjoyed the fruits of their hard and distinguished struggle as they equally shared and participated in the government of SPLA/M as dignitaries and ministers at different times and different stages.
Yet Dr. Peter Adwok mercilessly turned to write using vile language against his fellow comrade, Gen. Daniel Awet.Akot. “Simple minds discuss personalities while great minds discuss issues” goes an English idiom.

In his article: Independent Administrative Areas and States. Dr. Peter Adwok wrote: “Viewed literally, the IAA as well as Rev. Joshua memo to President Kiir, appear like an expression of vain glory or something devoid of implications. However, given the present context of socioeconomic and political development of South Sudan, and the manner the parasitic capitalist is deeply involved in the speculation over land as a potential for mechanized commercial agriculture and livestock ranching. Joshua’s design to dispossess the Chollo of their ancestral land on the eastern bank of the Nile comes not in context of population explosion of the Padang Dinka but in the context of clearing this land and adjacent Dinka lands for some Arab and Middle Eastern investors in commercial agricultural production.”

“The establishment of independent administrative areas, whatever that means is a leaf borrowed from colonial policy of ‘divide to rule’, capture and control their natural resources particularly land – the most important means of production. The primary objective of the scheme is to sustain the regime in power as its elements engage in the extraction and plunder of the natural resources, while the people have the illusion of exercising power”.

It is indeed mind boggling and absolutely absurd to find highly educated South Sudanese utterly opposed to and rejecting establishment of administrative system after military and political hard- won liberation and independence of their country – South Sudan. Establishment of institutions as organs of functional state machinery is part of transformation of both colonial biases for which the people fought against as well as being creative tools for reform of socio-economic, political and security development and/or stability of any country like South Sudan that has just emerged out of a long liberation war and just within a short period of less than 2 years from independence was plunged into civil tribal war by senseless power-hungry elites.

“The creation of independent administrative areas is dangerous scheme” wrote Dr. Peter Adwok, page 5. The British colonial powers in South Sudan created 23 districts under 3 provinces. These are acceptable to our elites in the opposition parties although they were created based on tribal settlement. The Arabs who took over the wheel of power from British colonialists in Sudan created 10 states and 3 regions yet they are also acceptable to these elites. But when an independent South Sudan Government led by South Sudanese who themselves fought for this country, created more states following similarly the same pattern of both the British and the Arabs colonial powers, the elites in opposition parties (SPLM/A-IO and FDS) of which Dr. Peter Adwok was a member, vehemently objecting to the most popularly applied ethnically based federal system.

What is surprisingly shocking, is that it was the same Dr. Peter Adwok who, under the influence of Switzerland ambassador to Kenya in 1990s, Amb. Joseph Bucher convincingly advocated for the institution of federal system based on ethnicities in South Sudan; similar to that of Switzerland. Now, he is objecting to a modified model and arrangement suitable and appropriate to our situation and circumstances, especially in the case of Chollo tribe in the kingdom, to be honoured with an independent Administrative area or state through which they can preserve their peculiar lyrics and submissive traits, and traditions. What a paradox!! The same system South Sudan is adapting and introducing is practised in Germany, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Kenya as well as in most parts of Europe and many other countries in the world. The system conforms to the former colonial boundaries or borders and only modifies and adjusts to suit new realities according to the new circumstances.

Perhaps Dr. Peter Adwok and his colleagues in opposition are jealous and prejudiced against what is being done without them. They would rather like to do it themselves and not others. It was acceptable to them when SPLM/A-IO created 21 states on more or less the same premises of old colonial districts. But when the incumbent government of Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit added 11 states (with some minor adjustments) to make 32 states, an uproar came up in the opposition circles, compelling the Government to reverse the Presidential Order 36/2015 which established the 32 states. At the same time the 21 states created by SPLM/A-IO are functioning with their governors till this time of discussion.

Justification for the Creation of New States in the Republic of South Sudan

The purpose of decentralization policy and the creation of ethnic or community based states is in order to take services nearer to the people. The second objective is to put into action the concept of developmental self-reliance through local resources by the people themselves. Thus, the creation of states to be administered by the indigenous citizens themselves is a tremendous innovation for hard work, control and responsibility for the resources which the people very much value as means of their livelihood and the product of their initiative and creativity.

To empower the people to administer themselves is a source of pride for realization of their own achievements and raises morale and zeal to accomplish more productive services as well as infrastructure. The spirit of competition is cultivated and instilled in them through empowerment to achieve more and to be responsible over their affairs.

Hence, fairness is required by granting every community a state or an administrative area for which they take charge over their affairs and therefore the government avoids any blame or complaint for not being fair, Let all succeed or fail without feeling of injustice being inflicted on them by their own Government.

Therefore, immediately after the issuance of the Presidential Order No.36/2015 for the creation of 28 States, other communities felt aggrieved and submitted complaints through their respective state governors to the President of the Republic of South Sudan and relevant institutions such as the Council of States for establishment of their states. The governors of those communities together with their representatives in the legislative assemblies follow up these submissions on behalf of their constituencies.

The principle of self- governance has always been a long held popular demand of our people. At the founding of the SPLM, this demand was recognized in form of taking “towns to the people” so that the people could stay in the villages where their social fabrics could be strengthened and sustained. That the SPLM has finally resolved to put this vision into practice is not surprising. Denying our people the right to govern themselves within their distinctive cultural domains runs counter to the principle of liberal democracy around which the world is currently structured.

South Sudan comprises many nationalities. Some of these nationalities are small compared to others. This establishment order gives those small nationalities a chance to determine their political future without being smothered or swallowed up or dominated by the larger ones. The SPLM sought to fight marginalization anywhere and anytime in South Sudan. Therefore, with the same zeal, the SPLM will not allow any small nationality to be marginalized.
Malakal and East River Nile Land Dispute “The creation of independent administrative areas is a dangerous scheme. It is the work or JCE, co-chaired by Hon. Rev. Joshua Dau Diu, agents of parasitic capitalist penetration of South Sudan. Its negativity lies in the manner it differentiates instead of integrating; divides instead of uniting our people and consolidating our fraternal relation in the context of nation building. The scheme conflicts our people in order to cause displacement and immense suffering while leaving land to prospective investors. It is anti-people and should be rejected in its entirety”. Wrote Dr. Peter Adwok.

Page 5.
I do neither intend to personalize nor get entangled in bogus argument about why Padaang communities are claiming all the lands east of River Nile. This matter has been long time ago resolved by colonial boundaries and borders of 1956. Historical records and documents are in plenty which even convinced African Union (AU), IGAD and Technical Boundary Committee (TBC) and Independent Boundary Commission (IBC) 2019-2020 Report in favour of Padaang’s ownership of lands on the Eastern bank of the River Nile.
However, Dr. Peter Adwok with his Chollo community have not presented strong persuasive reasons of why only the land presently occupied by the Chollo immigrants east of the Nile is the best for economic exploitation for which “some Arabs and Middle Eastern Investors shall be invited to engage in commercial agricultural production”. There are no proofs that Padaang are grabbing Chollo’s ancestral lands which are not belonging to Padaang. In any case, it is clearly stated that Padaang are not against Chollo immigrants or any other South Sudan nationals that have migrated and settled peacefully with Padaang east of the Nile or elsewhere and are amicably cohabiting with the land owners whether in the towns or in the rural areas.
They are accorded the same rights, privileges, treatment and granted land title deeds as are enjoyed by Padaang people.

Jieng Council of Elders (JCE)
Functional Concept

In its semantic context, the term Kochdit is specifically used by Jieng for those elderly people who are distinguished reference personalities, known to have special acumen and sobriety. Kochdit are old persons known to be custodians of accumulated wisdom and experience and are those rich of acquired historical information, tradition, customs, functionary concepts, ethical values, virtues and norms which are cherished by Jieng Society. Because of their age and experience, Kochdit are known to be the most tolerant, the most patient people who always impart wisdom. Kochdit picked all these qualities from the old men and women who handed them those historical and cultural values from the glorious deeds of the ancient past.

For their objectivity, impartiality, good track record, logic oriented and well known moral excellence, Kochdit maintain or control the society’s moral order and are the connecting link between the society and their past. As reference personalities, they are always the source of inspiration, role models and identification for the members of the younger generations. Kochdit are not necessarily leaders of their respective communities but mostly play an advisory role as senior members of the society.

In the past, as it is still the case today, Kochdit form an Advisory Body or a Council which at times, in all Jieng communities, form a Jury of Kochdit to decide and approve serious community matters. Nowadays, some young people are born out of wedlock and adopted or grow up in streets or in slums. They have no opportunities to sit on the laps of their fathers, uncles or elder relatives. Such persons, even if they are educated, cannot appreciate ethical community’s moral values.

The Intervention of Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) in the current conflict 2013-2019

This is, however, an additional information to many illuminating documents JCE had put out on different occasions since its inception in 2013. Social stratification is an obvious God’s order of life which, without it, obligations and responsibilities, cannot be adequately discharged and accomplished in the human realm. JCE felt morally obliged to inform, furthermore, those many people out there, who of late through social media often but obnoxiously exhibit their complete ignorance about who an “elder” is and what he/she does in the Jieng community. At the same time, it is a universal order in both human and animal world that those who are born first or created before others assume indisputable functions which others that follow after take for granted, or at best to a great extend adhere to, till some improvements are made, much later in the course of life. The elders rightly assume the role of the first born in our Jieng society and we think it is the same in other communities. However, the role of elders and senior citizens might be denied, opposed or resisted by some people who would wish to be without the privilege of the past: values, responsibilities, heritage and accountabilities.

Again, those who allege not to know that elders are morally duty bound to settle scores of conflicts in societies are evasive of responsibility. Issues abound to be enumerated but just to mention a few like marriage settlements, grazing land and water points disputes (which in most cases result into disagreements) might end up in fights and perhaps loss of lives. In accordance with the hereditary traditions and norms, the Community Council of Elders, from the disputing sides intervenes to resolve the matter.

Hence, when conflicts erupted in the ranks of SPLM leadership in Juba over power struggle and eventually degenerated into killing of civilians of Jieng and Nuer, JCE which was founded earlier that year felt confronted and challenged by a situation that required timely decisions and actions.

JCE approached Nuer council of Elders and the two met in Juba and Nairobi in which they reached consensus on causes of that conflict as being wholly a political power struggle within the ruling party (SPLM).

Similarly, JCE met with Equatoria Elders as well as with particular communities’ councils like Mundari; Jubek state community council of elders; Western Bahr El Ghazal state Elders of Fertit, Jieng and Luo over their disputes. JCE and all other communities’ council of elders are out to mediate and to resolve feuds of social, economic or political nature among the communities. JCE strongly propagated against retaliatory vengeance on the civilian population.
Jieng communities all over the country have not responded to the provocation and killing of their members in Equatoria roads by Equatorian unknown gunmen; in Upper Nile by Nuer rebels and in Bahr El Ghazal by Fertit militia.

This tolerance on the part of Jieng resulted in Twic state accommodating Bul Nuer IDPs from Bentiu; Rumbek, Yirol people received Nuer in the midst of Jieng communities; similarly Duk communities hosted Lou Nuer IDPs by offering shelter amongst Jieng of Jonglei. These endeavors have maintained usual social cohesion, hospitality and peaceful co-existence among respective communities. And because of the spontaneous and responsible role that JCE has carried out in contacting other concerned elders of other communities, there is now relative calm in the country. Therefore, life and communication are gradually returning to normal and social fabric is building up throughout the entire nation. This is due to effective intervention of the Elders (JCE).


As stated earlier, JCE is well informed and conscious of its national obligations. Therefore, it does not wait to be told by anybody or government to act. It is a policy to totally reject regime change by other means apart from the constitutional process of democratic elections which is fair, credible and just, leading to peaceful transfer of power according to the will of the people.

Hence, it was the people of South Sudan that fought hard to secure the liberation of their land. Therefore, it is not easy to allow whosoever hell bent to destroy this legacy. JCE is and will always be against “all enemies”, local or foreign. They are all deadly enemies that must be confronted by all South Sudanese with necessary means. For this reason JCE with all other communities’ councils stand together to defend and preserve the hard won Peoples’ liberation benefits, namely: political liberty, cultural and linguistic assimilation, economic deprivation and social assimilation. These and other fruits of sovereignty must be jealously guarded against the aspirants of the material resources by hawkish local political elites with their foreign neo-colonialists ambitions to squander and to deprive the populace of their rightfully earned independence.

This article is authorized by the Jieng Council of Elders, an informal group of elders who are advisor to the South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardit. They are reachable through email at jiengcouncilofelders.ss@gmail.com


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