“We, the elders and leaders of the Jiye Community on behalf of our entire populations from the three Payams of Boma, Kasengor and Lopyet are writing to express our deep concern about the allegations pronounced by some individuals from the Jiye Community and from the government of Jonglei State regarding the status of our people as to which state they belong to in the Republic of South Sudan,” reads the letter.
Members say that three administrative Payams (Boma, Kasengor and Lopyet) and all the nine chiefs of Jiye are serving under Kapoeta East County of Eastern Equatoria State administration but not Jonglei State.
Part of the letter details, “Your Excellency the President, the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 article 33 stipulates the Rights of Ethnic and Cultural Communities citing that ‘Ethnic and cultural communities shall have the right to freely enjoy and develop their particular cultures. Members of such communities shall have the right to practice their beliefs, use their languages, observe their religions and raise their children within the context of their respective cultures and customs in accordance with the Constitution and the Law.’
The Jiye are people of Ateker cluster which comprises of Karimojong, Jie, Teso and Dodoth in Uganda; Toposa, Nyangatom and Teus of South Sudan; Turkana and Teso of Kenya.
The petition argues that the Jiye People lived in Boma, Kuron, Kasengor and Lopyet areas since the 17 Century and shall continue to have the same right to do so.
During and after the British colonization, the Boma was under Equatoria Province.
Members urged the President, as the custodian of laws of South Sudan to protect their rights as a community as they do not wish to get into conflict with their neighbours as they have co-existed for more than 300 years.
The elders, leaders, women and youths strongly rejected the pronunciation made by either government officials of Jonglei State and individuals without involving the Jiye people as the land is part of Equatoria Province now known as Eastern Equatoria State.
In August, the Jiye community representatives presented their demands in a letter to Governor Louis Lobong Lojore in Torit and stressed the lack of representation in both the state and national governments.
They said that they need to be included in the decision making and policy formulation at the state level.
They also complained about lack of basic health facilities in their area and urged the state government to repair the road network and make the area accessible.
The Jiye are an agro-pastoral community and they herd in a traditional mode of cattle, sheep and goats.
They engage in subsistence cultivation of sorghum and tobacco. They also practice transhumance, in search of water and pastures for their herds.