Early this morning I woke up and on my way to work I switched on to the most popular radio show in town, and as it turns out the discussion today was with an official from the ministry of animal resources and fisheries, what caught my ear during the discussion is when someone called in and suggested that the government should devise a plan and give number plates to cows such that if any of the cattle is raided then people are able to distinguish whether it is from Eastern Equatoria or Jonglei.in other words Tag the cows.the presenter was laughing and i couldn’t help but join him. But it got me thinking, with about 12 million herds of cattle all over this nation. The caller did have a point and somehow I find his logic interesting.
Cattle raiding in this country is not a new phenomenon and for several years now communities have been slaughtering themselves over these animals. not only are they precious and valuable but they contribute to our way of life.
To understand the value of a cow in South Sudan, you have to switch your mindset and think in monetary terms. So imagine you have about 100,000 cows, each is equivalent to about 1000 dollars.so take 100,000 multiply that by 1000.how much is that? Well you have you answer there! cows are money!the more cows you have,the wealthier you are.and just like todays modern world people would do anything for money,which leads one to think, how many people kill for money?
How many times have criminals robbed banks?well in South Sudan,some raid for cattle.sometimes they justify these crimes as cultural initiations.let me explain further,Cows are part and parcel of the social fabric, you need cows to marry, the married women produce children, if the child is a boy,he grows up to be young man who in turn needs dowry to marry, if it is a girl then she blossoms into a young woman and someone will pay dowry for her and the cycle is repeats itself over and over again.
I was recently chatting with a friend who has decided to start a cattle bank! Yes a Bank, I bet you’re wondering how would it work? Well I asked myself the same and as it turns out his plan is actually visible with a certain amount of investment capital, South Sudanese can deposit their cattle in bank and given a security number and whenever they need some. They can withdraw any amount they desire. That way we avoid the risks of raids, violence and unwarranted loss of lives. But most importantly the cows will be given
special tags and guarded in a maximum security ranch.
Not a bad plan no?This takes me back to the number plates the caller suggested which might saves lives,not so cost effective but definitely a crazy but creative conflict resolution we have there!