Leaders from the greater Kapoeta and Turkana have called for cross-border cooperation and development as means to end decades of conflicts between the two communities of South Sudan and Kenya.
The Toposa and Turkana communities have engaged in years of cattle raids and revenge killings -entrenching enmity and frustrating efforts for cross-border trade and development.
Just last week, about thirty cows were stolen and two children from Toposa were allegedly abducted by suspected youths from Turkana of Kenya.
The leaders from the two communities have jointly called for an end to rampant killings, cattle raiding and abductions – especially around Nadapal, Keybase and Lokichoggio.
The Governor of Eastern Equatoria state blamed persistent conflicts for the absence of health facilities, schools and joint business ventures between the two bordering communities.
Louis Lobong called for exerted efforts to bring lasting peace along the border of South Sudan and Kenya.
“Our people depend on sharing resources; grass and water, we need your government of Turkana to look deep into needs of our people at the border,” he stated.
John Kinyonga Munyes, a prominent leader among the Turkana and former Cabinet Secretary for Petroleum and Mining in Kenya underscored the need for cross-border peace to spur investment and development.
He highlighted commonalities between the two communities in terms of language and culture. Munyes said these can be used for the good of the communities.
“The fighting at the borders is not good, we need to have peace. If you see a Toposa in Lokichogio, you need to see as your brother. Let us share resources that God has given us. You people need to share grass and water,” he appealed.
Munyes who is vying for Governorship of Turkana County in this year’s Kenyan elections urged the locals to allow the national governments from the two countries handle issues of border.
“The issue of the boundary is for the national government, but we – Ateker community need to share our available resources at the border,” he stressed.
The two leaders were speaking during ‘Our Lady of Sorrow’ church service on Sunday, June 19 in Kapoeta.
For her part, South Sudan Minister of Environment – who also attended the function – emphasized on ending unnecessary attacks and killings between the two communities.
“If a Toposa is going to Turkana and if a Turkana comes to Toposa, they must be handled as brothers or sisters. It is good for us to have peace because we share a lot of things like our culture, our language, our animals,” Josephine Napwon stated.
The Toposa in South Sudan, Turkana in Kenya and Karamoja in Uganda described themselves as the ‘Ateker’ community. This is because they share similar language and culture.
Governor Lobong announced plans for the establishment of a business center in Nadapal to promote trade between the Toposa and Turkana communities.
“People will not just need peace, they will maintain peace when they see that there is something that they are benefiting together. Things like water, businesses, health, and education. Comrade Munyes, we need to introduce a business center at Nadapal or along our borders,” Lobong stressed.