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Abim’s golden solution to poverty conflict between Jie and Labwor

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Peter C Okello

Abim, a land long shackled by poverty and insecurity, now teeters on the brink of a monumental makeover. Historically tormented by cattle rustling—a perennial thorn in the sides of the Jie and Labwor tribes—this Luo land has been ensnared in a vicious cycle of violence and destitution. The locals’ fervent cries for intervention against the relentless scourge of rustling have frequently fallen on deaf ears.

But lo and behold! The discovery of substantial gold deposits in Abim has suddenly lit a fire under the government’s backside. Swift eviction of the community from the gold mines and abrupt military deployment to safeguard the mining site makes one wonder if the government has mistaken gold for the philosopher’s stone!

Yet, beneath the surface glint of gold lies a glimmer of hope for the Labwor people. The endemic violence and poverty, fuelled by cattle rustling, pose a monumental challenge, especially for the region’s youthful denizens. But fear not, for gold mining could be the panacea for which we have been searching! With the newspaper headline, ‘Striking Gold: Abim’s Sparkling Remedy for Jie-Labwor Tiffs and Penniless Pockets,’ gold mining could be the reason the youth from Jie will abandon their guns and run for real wealth.

By nudging the ambitious youth away from rustling and towards the glittering promise of gold, we not only offer them safer prospects but also pave the way for broader economic stability and growth. This shift could be the cornerstone of lasting peace and prosperity.

 Ah, but as a teacher, I do not want us to forget the transformative power of education! With newfound wealth, families can finally break free from the shackles of poverty and illiteracy. Education, that mighty beacon of progress, has the power to enlighten minds and soothe troubled souls, paving the way for a brighter tomorrow.

But hold your horses! Before we go swimming in pools of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, we must ensure that the benefits of this newfound wealth flow back into the community’s coffers. Prioritising security, upholding the law, and ensuring fair access to mining sites are vital steps to keep those annoying external investors at bay.

A robust legal framework is essential to protect local interests and prevent the emergence of new conflicts born from wealth disparities. Fair labour practices, environmental protections, and revenue-sharing mechanisms must be woven into the fabric of governance, ensuring that everyone gets their fair share of the pie.

But let us not forget the stars of the show: the local community, especially the Jie and Labwor tribes. They must rise from the sidelines and take centre stage, embracing their newfound roles as stewards of their natural resources. Only then can we truly harness the potential of this excellent opportunity otherwise any attempt to let greed take charge of the gold mine will only escalate the already existing conflict.

But beware! The path to prosperity is littered with pitfalls, and old grievances die hard. Addressing historical tensions and fostering inclusive decision-making processes are crucial steps on this journey towards lasting peace.

By and large, the discovery of gold in Abim offers a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape. But this transformational journey requires the deft touch of an expert craftsman. Through a delicate dance of community engagement, governmental oversight, and responsible investment, Abim can shed its mantle of conflict and poverty and emerge as a shining example of progress and prosperity.

Mr Peter Cromwell Okello is a Rotary Peace Fellow and an Ambassador for the Institute for Economics and Peace.

X: @cromwellokello