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MP calls for an end to cattle-related killings

Author: Emmanuel J Akile | Published: Thursday, May 21, 2020

Armed youth in a cattle camp near Rumbek, the capital of Western Lakes | File photo

A member of parliament has called on pastoralist communities to desist from cattle-related violence, saying it will only add more killings in the country.

The urge to have large livestock herds has reportedly resulted in the country having more livestock than people.

A 2014 estimate puts the number of people at 13 million, with around 11.7 million cattle, 12.4 million goats, and 12.1 million sheep.

Livestock is critically important in South Sudanese society and this is reflected in the role they play in the country’s conflict, both serving as drivers of conflict and being negatively impacted by the conflict, with the two often reinforcing each other in a vicious cycle.

According to a report conducted by Applied Knowledge Services, elite accumulation of large cattle herds, namely political and military elites, have used resources gained during the war and post-independence to acquire massive herds.

In turn, the elites use the cattle to build their own status and prestige, in order to cultivate networks of supporters.

It also says cattle raiding is also fuelled by rising bridewealth rates, usually paid in cattle.

In South Sudan cattle-related violence have in the past led to killings of hundreds of people.

Paul Yoane, an MP representing Yei Area at the transitional national legislative assembly, is calling on South Sudanese to desist from such violent cultures and instead use the resources for development and co-existence.

“I think every country in the world has cattle including even the European countries and even America, but why are we not hearing cattle raiding in these countries?” Yoane wondered.

“Even our neighboring Uganda and Kenya, why are we not hearing? And we here in South Sudan. We lose today 200 lives, next tomorrow we will lose 70 lives and the other day we will lose 10, this is very sad.”

The legislature sais there is a need for a mindset change to have communities free of cattle-related violence.

“If our culture allows us to go and kill and to go and robe, we need a total change in our cultural mindset so that we live like the rest of our brothers and sisters be it in the region, be it internationally or anywhere,” Yoane added.

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