An orphan’s plea for peace in Jonglei
A teenage boy who lost his mother in an attack on the payam of Duk Padiet earlier this year called on all residents of Jonglei State to surrender their arms to government forces.
Agang Mathau's mother Nyandom Dau was among the 157 victims who perished in a 16 January raid by armed men believed to belong to the Murle ethnic group.
"I lost my mother during that attack and right now my three brothers, a sister and I are living with our grandmother," said the 15-year-old Mathau. "During that attack, initially we ran away from our village, but the armed men ambushed us and killed my mother in front of my eyes."
Those eyes welled up with tears as Agang spoke of his mother, who was 35 years old at the time of her death.
"My mother was a very good lady not only for us but to all people around, and she was a peace-loving woman who used to love and respect everybody," said the class five student at the payam's primary school. "I do not understand why they killed her."
But Agang insisted he bore no ill will against any ethnic group in South Sudan in spite of his loss, and he welcomed the civilian disarmament exercise that kicked off in Jonglei last week.
"We are all brothers and sisters, and I do not have any hatred towards anybody else, including those who killed my mother," he said. "I am happy that the government is taking guns from the people, and it is good for us."
Most residents of Duk Padiet belong to the Dinka ethnic group, and 38 people were wounded in the mid-January attack that ended with the theft of over 500 head of cattle.
Agang issued a plea to the inhabitants of his strife-torn state to end the violence and work for a lasting peace.
"All people of Jonglei—the Lou Nuer, the Dinka, the Murle and others—are brothers, and we should fight with one another," said the youth. "We are brothers, and we should respect each other."
He also urged other children to persuade their older relatives to hand in their weapons to government security forces as the disarmament campaign spreads across Jonglei in the coming days and weeks.
"I ask all children of Jonglei to convince their fathers and brothers to stop the violence and to give their arms to the government." Mathau said. "We want to continue our education in peace and without interruption."