“We have agreed together to hold anyone that will cause conflict between us accountable, like thieves of goats and cattle,” said Oburak Alex, landlord of Bur who oversees all traditional rituals and land ownership disputes in the area.
The Bur community in Eastern Equatoria has frequently voiced concerns over aggressive behaviours displayed by pastoralists from Torit East. Incidents of rape, elopement, adultery and destroying crops by letting cattle graze on farmlands, are among the transgressions that have upset the people of Bur.
With indications that violence may have been about to escalate, the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations in South Sudan decided to support an inter-communal forum aimed at resolving conflicts and strengthen traditional mechanisms to address disputes.
At the end of the two-day get-together, the feuding communities resolved to share pastures and water points and buried their differences, but with a few caveats.
“We are ready to receive them again and give them land to graze for their cattle to graze, but they have to come with their wives,” said John Okori Obi, one of the youth representatives in Bur, stressing the importance of immediately implementing the resolution agreed on to put an end to adulterous behaviour.
It was also decided that ambulating pastoralists will communicate their intended movements and appoint someone to speak on their behalf should crimes be committed.
“What you have done is commendable, so we encourage you to implement the resolutions,” said Leah Chan, a representative of the UNMISS civil affairs division in Torit.