This week has been an exciting one in Narus. A peace summit was held in our compound at which there were more than 100 delegates from Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan. the attendees included representatives from the Didinga, Dinka, Toposa, Turkana and Karamajong tribes as well as delegates from the relevant NGOs.
Security was high in the compound and in Narus generally, there were policemen armed with AK-47s guarding our compound all week.
My Standard 8 girls have mocks exams this coming week but I was able to move some classes around to allow me to attend for the closing of the summit. Many topics were discussed such as the poaching of animals in the National Park on the Ugandan side of the border, the import of illegal alcohol from Uganda, border disputes between the Didinga and Toposa tribes, cattle raiding between the tribes and violence in the Didinga hills.
It seemed that the Toposa got the blame for quite a portion of the regions problems. They graze their animals without permission on the Didinga side of the border when the rains come there and then claim that they are unaware of the border. Lives are lost daily in disputes between the Didinga and Toposa tribes about grazing and cattle raiding. The dispute between the Didinga and Toposa is bitter and runs very deep indeed.
A dialogue between the tribes was suggested but it seemed to take an eternity to agree on a location. Eventually, mutual ground was found and we moved on to finding a date for the meeting. Then all hell broke loose. The chief of the Toposa stood up and insulted the elders of the Didinga. When calm had finally been restored it was agreed that a small group would go outside and decide when the meeting should be.
So the small group went outside…and so did everyone else. Fr. Tim with his infinite patience and enviable command of both Juba Arabic and Toposa dialects helped to mediate. It turned into what I thought was a good and proper screaming match but later Tim told me that that is just how the Toposa speak. What is for absolutely sure is that there is no love lost between the tribes. Behind me, while the mediation went ahead, a young man confronted one of the Toposa elders and accused him of the deaths of a group of Didinga cattle herders. There was so much happening at once it seemed almost impossible to pay full attention to any of it!