Western Bahr el Ghazal
According to a Wikipedia article, Dar Fertit originally referred to the lowlands south of Darfur containing tributaries of the White Nile in what is now southwestern Sudan and northwestern South Sudan. The article emphatically states that there are no Fertit people, but I say a people shall be known by whatever name they wish to call themselves, and when they unite in an organized manner, they become a polity. Fertit/Faratit is the chosen label of many South Sudanese in diaspora, including the community I met on my recent visit to Cairo.
The Fertit are peace-loving farmers from some 24 small tribes who support themselves through agriculture and production of goods rather than depending upon large herds of cattle for sustenance. Many still live in the region described above, Western Bahr el Ghazal, but others are scattered across the diaspora or living as displaced people within South Sudan. Some Fertit say their name came from the British colonials who referred to all non-pastoralists as “the fruit people”, hence Fertit /Faratit in local dialect, but whatever the source of their collective title, they are united in their belief that they can bring peace and prosperity to their homeland of South Sudan. And I believe in them!
I am a Fertit from the village of Bazia in Western Bahr el Ghazal. As a member of one of the Balanda tribes and the son of the tribal chief, Henry Bazia, I learned that it was my mission in life to serve my people by encouraging them to work hard for educational and economic success. I know these people: they are from my tribe or neighboring tribes. I know they are intelligent, creative, and dedicated to building a democratic nation for all South Sudanese, so in December, 2016, I traveled to Cairo and stayed there for three weeks, talking to large groups of students, male and female, as well as to individuals. I urged them all to achieve English fluency. I emphasized that they should be competent in math and technology. I told them that our new nation needs many diverse skills. Yes, we need doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but we also need businessmen, accountants, journalists, photographers, nurses, social workers, medical technicians, and agricultural experts. We need the open minds of the Fertit to create products for the global market and build a modern infrastructure in South Sudan.
A united, educated Fertit must become the outstanding citizens of South Sudan’s middle class that brings stability to our emerging nation.
on their endeavors in Dallas, Texas from December 30th to January 2nd, 2017. Our time together as people from a traditional region in our homeland was serious work,but there was still plenty of time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We elected a community chairman, Rabeh Dmibiti, to serve the community for the next four years. Then we worked on the WBeG USA by-laws which will make incorporation possible and allow us to apply for 501-3c status. We plan on opening our office this year! And after we worked, we danced!
We urge all South Sudanese from Western Bahr region living in USA Diaspora to contact Bazia, bazia@projectbazia, and register as members!
The children dramatize their love of South Sudan.
Rabeh Dmibiti, Chairman
Working on the by-laws
Hearing what the President has said about Dr. Machar, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. President believes that the first vice-president, Dr. Machar, lacks what it takes to lead South Sudan. Viewing the ongoing situation of violence in South Sudan over the last three years makes it very clear that Mr. President suffers from the same lack! They both lack the leadership needed to achieve the most vital goals, hopes and aspirations of South Sudanese. They must leave the leadership of the government of national unity to others who will be able to treat what is a national matter at that level and not bring the country down to the low level of tribalism.
In March of 2015, a group of academicians (this writer being one) in the United States, communicated with IGAD regarding a better way to bring about a lasting peace to South Sudan. They said exactly what the President said, only with more reality. The idea was well thought out by the group, based on previous behaviors of both parties and past experience with their leading the country. The academicians said the transitional government should not include both Kiir and Machar because neither of the two leaders is willing to accept defeat and let the other feel victorious; both men are so busy criticizing each other that they have forgotten the country they are supposed to lead and defend. Humility is not part of their characteristics. There is no way peace and stability can be accomplished under such circumstances, and with those people involved at the top leadership of the transitional government, no matter how many times IGAD tries.
The President himself has brought a brilliant idea to our attention by pointing an accusing finger at Dr. Machar as being a bottleneck in the peace implementation. However, Mr. President, you are only half right. Dr. Machar is holding the process back by not being in Juba; however, it is not only his mistake. He runs for his life, which assassins tried to take away from him. Even you would have done the same thing if you were in his shoes, Mr. President; let us be frank. But that is only half of the problem, sir. The other half of the problem is you, Mr. President! Your leadership created an atmosphere that is not healthy to operate in, by anyone’s standards. Let us face it, Mr. President, all this violence happened on your watch and, as such, you must be held accountable. So, you, too must step aside. Both of you must stay clear and allow South Sudanese technocrats, with no political ambitions, to lead the government during the transitional period, if truly your reason for preventing Dr. Machar from being part of the government is to accelerate the impartial and permanent peace implementation process. As such, this yardstick you used to determine Dr. Machar’s faults applies to you too. A personal vendetta has no place in the government of a nation.
Preparing level fields for all contestants in the next elections cannot happen unless the president departs and allows a new team to take the leadership of South Sudan during the transitional period. Then South Sudan will no longer allow our people to further suffer needlessly as a result of an individual’s elusive witch-hunt.
Please, IGAD, hear this for the second time and take a closer look! This must not be nourished as part of an IGAD rubber stamp any longer. The President has spoken; both of these adversarial leaders must make room at the top for technocrats of South Sudan. There are many more South Sudanese politicians, technocrats, even statesmen who are more competent and can shoulder national responsibilities better than what is going on now, at the high cost of human lives. South Sudan needs a clean slate and a level field for those who will run for democratic elections as soon as a stable government has been established for at least a year. An immediate election in an unstable situation would skew results in favor of either candidate for president or any other elected office bearer.
It does not take much to find out the causes of this personal conflict. However, until that is done, while Salva Kiir and Riek Machar hate each other so much that they are willing to decimate the South Sudanese population, lasting solutions to the conflict will remain elusive, no matter what IGAD does and how long it takes.
A leader must have a clear vision for his/her country, realistic and achievable goals to pursue, genuine love and a deep sense of dignity, compassion and protection for all the people, even the old autocratic leadership. A leader who sends his/her people into harm’s way, must also ensure that the best protection is provided for those who lay down their lives for national honor and patriotism. A leader who holds grudges over past occurrences, and even against groups of his/her own people so vehemently that he is willing to hurt innocent beings is no leader. True leaders are always forward-looking; not backward-looking!
Having said that, it is fair to say that we are witnessing an issue of more than grudges which goes back years and years, the first in the 1990s when there was a sharp division among the leaders of SPLA/M during the war against Khartoum, costing innocent lives on both sides (mainly Dinka and Nuer). Thanks to Our Martyr, Dr. Garang, who held true to good leadership principles, the issue was able to be resolved during that time. After the December 2013 riot, rumor has it that our President made a statement, saying, “I will not allow what happened in 1990s to happen again.” Brilliant idea, but does it have to cost the lives of all South Sudanese in order to prevent what happened in the past from happening again? For a true, compassionate and a concerned leader, I think not. There has to be a time when a leader says enough is enough of killing, destruction of human lives, and properties. What happened in the past happened and there is nothing that can reverse it.
This is the reason why neither of the two present leaders deserve to be in the government during the transitional period. If IGAD is seeking a lasting peace for South Sudan, preparing a neighbor with whom other countries can live side-by-side in the East African Community to guarantee peace and stability for their entire region, children or fellow citizens for eternity, we have to do better than we have so far. So, IGAD must consider regional peace and stability down the road. Our children are already crossing the borders with higher and higher frequencies. So, how do we say, with certainty, that what happens in South Sudan today, Ethiopia, Kenya, or any other member country of the regional community remains in the country initially affected? One would have thought that IGAD should have treated the South Sudanese conflict as one of its own and one which would eventually affect all of the region, if not properly addressed.
So, let us take the advice of President Salva Kiir to heart, and go a little further with it. Let Mr. President also not be part of the transitional government. Let the technocrats of South Sudan fix the malice that has plagued the country since the day of its independence. Tribalism must be on top of the list of problems to be tackled immediately. Both Mr. Kiir and Dr. Machar are free to contest for the presidency during the elections, but at that time, with a stable and impartial government in place, a level field would have been prepared by the technocrats who have no political ambitions.
The writer of this article is a South Sudanese and can be reached at email@example.com. God bless South Sudan and its suffering citizens.
In our previous post about recent events in South Sudan, we asked who the leaders are of this reoccurring civil conflict which is ripping the new nation of South Sudan apart. We will speak first of the leader from the Nuer tribe, a former general in the SPLA, a former member of the political party called the SPLA, and now a member of the SPLA-in opposition. He is pictured here in 2013 when he began his peaceful political campaign to become the next president of the South Sudan during the elections (according to the temporary Constitution) planned for 2015. His speeches at that time would have been totally appropriate in any democratic nation (which South Sudan professes to be) but were interpreted by the other leader, Salva Kiir, the President who was in office at that time, as an attempt to overthrow him in a coup. Shortly afterwards, Kiir sacked his entire cabinet along with the Vice President (Machar), and the secretary-general (Pagan Amum).
For the next three years, the divided army of South Sudan rallied under each of the two leaders, Machar and Kiir, turning many portions of the new nation into killing fields in areas where neither Dinka nor Nuer lived in great numbers. The state of Western Bahr el Ghazal, in particular, was greatly damaged by the fighting between government soldiers deployed there (SPLA) and forces of the SPLA-io. Despite a negotiated peace agreement signed in front of the African Union and the UN in Addis-Ababa by both Kiir and Machar (JMEC), when Machar returned to Juba to take up his official duties as a returning Vice-president, he was treated as if he was staging another coup and the capital became a battleground. Once again Machar was removed from office, replaced by a man who was once a member of Machar’s party, (Taban Deng Gai), and hunted down like a criminal by his political opponent’s army. The new vice-president in residence (Taban) has advised Salva Kiir that he does not have to honor the JMEC agreement any more. This declaration of independence from previous promises is not echoed by Machar who continues to support the terms of the JMEC agreement.
The present government of South Sudan, composed of President Salva Kir, his political cronies, and his advisors appears to have no concept at all of how a civilized government operates. First, they interpret all criticism or opposing opinions as aggressive acts to which they must react with physical force. If you speak your mind, whether you are a journalist, a civilian, or another leader, you are incarcerated or attacked. Second, they give lip-service to a constitution which they do not follow. Third, they are willing to swear to an agreement to peaceful negotiations but at the first opportunity, they throw that agreement away.
I am a member of the Balanda tribe. In the village of Bazia where I grew up, about fifty miles south of Wau, a story is told about repeated attempts by Dinka tribespeople to sell fish to our people in the market place. Now we Fertit who live in this area like fish as much as anyone else and would have been happy to purchase these very fresh fish which had just been caught in a local river, but we had a small problem. You see, the river from which the fish were taken was a river next to Bazia where many different tribes, collectively called Fertit, lived. This was OUR RIVER. This was NOT Dinka territory. In essence, the Dinka were trying to sell us OUR OWN FISH!
African Tiger Fish
And we objected.
I tell this story because it illustrates for me the underlying problem of our new Republic: most of the leadership is in the hands of the largest ethnic group (or tribe) which comprises about 40% of the present population. These are the Dinka. That means that the remaining 63 tribes comprise 60% of the population, a group that is not yet united, but who still comprise the majority of the people. Yet recent headlines (links listed below) make it very clear that on a good day for the Fertit, their rights are ignored; on a bad day, their men are killed, their women raped, and their property destroyed.
Who are these leaders in Juba who are running roughshod over the majority of the citizens they are supposed to serve? Why do they believe they have a right to do this? What can the citizens of South Sudan do to stop this? Who will protect us from annihilation? As a nation, South Sudan has been on a human rights watch for some time; what good is that doing us?
I am not living in my homeland presently but I belong to many South Sudanese diaspora community organizations, including Western Bahr el Ghazal and the Balanda Community USA, In these groups, in the social media, and in letters to my state Senators and Representatives, I raise my voice to JMEC, IGAD, UNMISS, and God. Please help us before we are annihilated.
First Tale: February 27th, 2016: Salva Kiir says he is ashamed to be a Dinka after his aides stole $22 million dollars from his private bank. He regrets hiring only Dinka in his office. To read more of this story, go to the following link:
Breaking News: Salva Kirr says he is ashamed to be a Dinka after his aids stolen $22 millions dollars in his Home Private Bank and regrets to hired only Dinka in his office
Second Tale: A common expression in English refers to “a crocodile’s tears”. This expression began when someone observed that a crocodile’s eyes watered when he was devouring his prey. The expression now refers to any person’s passionate expression of remorse over the wicked behavior of others, especially behavior of which the person himself may have been guilty. It is, in short, used to point out hypocrisy. In reality, the crocodile weeps not because he is eating, but because his eyes are drying out as he consumes his dinner on the riverbank.
Third Tale: The first President of the United States of America, George Washington, was attacked by the press throughout his term in office. For example, he was frequently accused of making partisan decisions in the distribution of lands to those who supported him politically rather than the lands being given to the “disbanded soldiers” who had fought under him during the American Revolution. The press and public opinion raged that he was bringing back the monarchy that they had fought so hard to overthrow by creating a new elite class of “glittering coronets and crowns”.
The leader of any society must have the skin of a crocodile! He will always be the object of criticism, fair, unfair, accurate, or inaccurate. It is the price one pays for the honor of leading one’s nation and people to a better life. If you were to research any American President, British Prime Minister or monarch, pharoah, premier, shah, tsar, you name it, there will have been attacks on his motivation, his policies, and his(or her) actions. The best defense is to be as thorough, open, and honest as one can in his duties and responsibilities and to keep a sharp eye on those under him. Washington, too, was criticized for being influenced by the decisions of his cabinet, but when the accusations fly, it does no good to create a defense that basically says, “I didn’t know they (my cabinet and officials) were doing this.” Knowing what is going on is the first job of a leader. The following link is only one of many which you can read that reveals the ongoing financial corruption among the elite members of the South Sudanese government. You can decide who is at fault!
“For me, tears alone don’t work: I have to throw a tantrum as well to get some attention…”
Ambassador Bazia Antoni
I am deeply honored to have been chosen as the global ambassador for the WBGC-USA. I was born in Western-Bahr El-Ghazal so of all the places in our new nation, I feel most attached to this location. I share a line from my favorite singer, Bob Marley, because I loved his message of love and unity when I was a boy, and I still believe it contains the answer to the end of the strife which dominates so much of South Sudan. Thank you to my friends in Phoenix. I know we can work together to build better lives for all of us here in diaspora and in our homeland.
Creation of 28 States a Blessing to Dinka of Marial Baai in Western Bahr el Ghazal state