Kajo Keji holds forum to end county divisions

13 Feb 2012

Kajo Keji holds forum to end county divisions

11 February 2012 – Divisions among people in Kajo Keji County, Central Equatoria State, stemmed back to misunderstandings during the 2010 election campaign, according to a three-day forum that ended today.

The event, held under the theme "Together we can do" at the Evangelistic Revival Centre of the Episcopal Church of Sudan in the commercial centre of Wudu, discussed ongoing issues and concerns in the county.

University of Juba professor Simon Monoja, who is also a resident of Kajo Keji, told the gathering that the 2010 elections had created tension by focusing on candidates' personalities, rather than their manifestos.

Barnaba Dumo, a member of the forum organizing committee, stressed that people in Kajo Keji should forget the past and start anew, despite their differences.

"Some of us might have fought physically or mentally or both during the elections," Mr. Dumo said. "This forum is to bring us together to resolve our differences. This ... division is unwelcome."

Manas Lomole, deputy governor for Central Equatoria State and the state's minister of education, said, "Do not pay back disrespect with disrespect, hatred with hatred, but with love for one another."

Other topics tackled during the forum were local currency, agriculture, early pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, animal roaming, management of Constituency Development Funds as well as County Development Funds/Grants and border conflicts.

"The strength of a country is realized in its national currency," said Spencer Kenyi, World Bank consultant on the private sector, adding that use of the Ugandan shilling in the county should cease if the Sudanese pound was to gain value.

Mr. Kenyi also emphasized that Kajo Keji people should prioritize large-scale agriculture to minimize imports and curb overdependence on their neighbors.

"We cannot just depend on our oil resources and spend more money in other countries, letting their citizens benefit because we are too lazy or too rich to work," said Mr. Kenyi. "We need to produce more and import less."

Aggrey Tisa, presidential advisor on economic affairs, encouraged farmers to grow between three and 10 acres of cassava, so that investors would take an interest in the county.

Attended by over 600 participants, the forum drew intellectuals of the Kuku community from the immediate area and the diaspora, members of parliament from national and state assemblies, local chiefs, elders, women's groups and youth from the county's five townships.

Among other resolutions, the forum decided that by-laws should be enacted and enforced to discipline keepers of livestock, whose animals roam and destroy crops; punish parents who force young children to marry for bride wealth purposes; conduct primary elections to elect suitable candidates; and allow bars to open only after 5 p.m., with alcohol barred from individuals less than 18 years of age.

County High Court President Padili Kenyi Tete expressed satisfaction with the resolutions. "I am sure this forum has changed our hearts," he said. "We can now begin a new chapter with true love and respect for one another."