chapter  15
11 Pages

Eyes on Abyei: competing perspectives on rural development FRANCIS M. DENG, “AFTERWORD” TO DAVID C. COLE AND RICHARD

In a public discussion of the political problems of Abyei on the sensitive North-South border in Sudan, a Dinka elder, seeing the anomalous status of the area in the broader regional and national contexts, metaphorically compared Abyei to “the eye, so small, but sees so much.” This metaphor is of course the flip-side of the title of this Afterword: Eyes on Abyei. However, observing conditions in Abyei implicitly entails seeing what Abyei sees. This interaction between internal and external perspectives on shared experiences is bound to be cross-culturally complex and problematic. In turn, this complexity is certain to be compounded by internal diversities and differences, which multiply a dualistic division into a pluralistic configuration with crosscutting dimensions. David Cole and Richard Huntington deserve high commendations for

having described and analyzed a situation of such complexity, and having woven together a multifaceted fabric of technical, political, cultural, social, and human issues into a coherent, lucid, and indeed compelling story. Even more significantly, they have done so with remarkable sensitivity and fairness to the varied and often conflictual points of view involved. As one of the principals involved in the highly controversial project documented in this book, their inviting me to contribute this piece is a gesture of magnanimity for which I feel very honored and challenged to present my views with dispassionate objectivity. With a reflective period of fifteen years since the project was declared a “failure” and terminated, my reflections on the situation have “matured” and hopefully “aged” into some wisdom that can stand the challenge of objectivity. Reading this book has been a source of deep satisfaction to me. In many

ways, it represents at least a symbolic revival of a project that had been pronounced dead and buried. Documenting the experience means that useful lessons were learned that can provide a basis for more promising efforts in the future. Then, even if the future application were not to be in Abyei itself but elsewhere in the Sudan or the world, Abyei would still have made a worthwhile contribution. Looking back, however, I also feel a degree of sadness,

which I believe the authors share, that after a period of turbulent, often painful trials and errors, the experiment had come to a calm and relatively more confident sense of direction when it was abruptly terminated. On the other hand, subsequent developments in Sudan and in particular the resumption of the civil war in the South, with the consequential interruption of all public services and development activities, means that the termination of the Abyei project would, in any case, have been only a matter of time. This makes the value of the lessons learned the only residual asset. As challenging as the experience was, I believe three sets of lessons can be

drawn from the Abyei project. One concerns the varying perspectives that were brought to bear on the project, some of which were political, others technical, and yet others cultural. Another has to do with the lack or inadequacy of communications between or among those differing perspectives. A third had to do with the combination of levels involved in the decisionmaking process, from local, through provincial and national, to international, the representatives of which were not always cooperative or in full harmony, to understate the point. Let me begin the discussion of varying perspectives with a brief account of

the conceptual origins of the project. Since I carry the responsibility for initiating the project, I believe I owe it to the readers to provide an account of its genesis, aspects of which are unavoidably personal. For me, the project had several objectives. From a generic intellectual-cultural point of view, it was a pilot project aimed at bridging the gap between tradition and modernity, which characterized contemporary approaches to development. It was, of course, also intended to benefit the people of Abyei not only as the subject of my earlier studies of tradition and modernization, but as a community toward which I felt a special leadership responsibility. To bestow on Abyei the benefits of development in a country of competing and pressing demands, I had to provide political justification. The rationale was the national importance of Abyei as a bridge between the North and the South, a symbol of the peace and national unity that had just been achieved. On top of all that, I felt that we needed an international partner that would reinforce and give legitimacy to all the above considerations and in addition provide access to external resources, both technical and financial-hence my approach to the prestigious Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID). As someone born and raised in traditional Dinka society (which had barely

been touched by modernization), but who had gone to schools in both the South and North of the country, I became aware that the institutions of learning to which I was exposed had the effect and indeed the objective of inculcating a non-Dinka world view that would fundamentally undermine and eventually eradicate traditional cultural values and institutions. It was however at the University of Khartoum that I became conscious of the problem and tried to do something to counteract the trend. And it was the gap between the law I had seen administered at home, under the leadership of my grandfather and then of my father, and the law taught in the University of

Khartoum, which was primarily Anglo-American with significant concession for Sharia-Islamic law, that focused my attention on the problem. It was indeed the law I saw functioning at home and the role of my family

in its administration that had inspired me to make law my first choice in applying to the university. And although I did indeed enjoy the study of law, there was something disturbing about the fact that the law administered among my people was totally irrelevant in my academic studies. Far from it, customary law was actively despised by the educated northern Sudanese as both primitive and detrimental to the unity of the country, which was dominated by the Arab-Islamic cultural-religious identity. The irony of course was that, while they associated customary law only with the South, the overwhelming majority of the North was also tribal and administered by customary laws as well, which were a blend of custom and crudely interpreted principles of Islam. As a result, about 90 percent of the Sudan was governed by variations of customary laws, which the country’s institutions of legal education totally ignored. I brought my concern to the attention of my British lecturers, who imme-

diately took a keen interest in my problem and offered to guide me in conducting research into customary law among the Dinka. In due course they offered the same guidance to two other southern students, but perhaps apprehensive about the suspicions that such a research agenda might provoke among their chiefs and northern administrators in the civil war context of the South, my colleagues never took advantage of that opportunity. From my first year in the university, I spent all my vacation time doing

research. My work drew increasing attention from the faculty and, during my third year, the faculty decided to send a British lecturer and a senior student to accompany me home to verify my techniques of investigation and explore new areas of interest to them. Since law among the Dinka is a reflection of the values, institutions, and

patterns of social conduct, my research soon went beyond the technical scope of the law and became a comprehensive study of the Dinka. And the more I studied the Dinka, the more I admired the inner logic of the system, its intricacies, and its balances. I gradually found myself shifting my focus from law to legal anthropology and eventually to social anthropology. In general, my research into customary law and interest in Dinka culture

developed in tandem with my graduate studies, and continually integrated law and anthropology. My anthropological interests deepened in the United Kingdom through personal associations with the Oxford school of anthropology, especially with Professor E.E. Evans-Pritchard, whose works on the Nuer and other southern peoples were classics, Dr. Godfrey Lienhardt, who had studied the Dinka and had written a very influential book on their religion, and a host of younger students of Nilotic peoples. Dinka law for me became a point of entry into the interconnected web of Dinka social systems. With this holistic understanding and appreciation of Dinka culture, I felt

increasingly ambivalent about an approach to modernization that was based

on a fundamental disregard, indeed disrespect, for tradition as a potentially positive factor in integrated development. By the time I went to Yale Law School and embarked on my doctoral dissertation, my views on the issue had become an intellectual preoccupation. And just as I had been supported and encouraged by individual lecturers in Khartoum University, I was fortunate enough to receive the support of several faculty members at Yale, among them Harold D. Lasswell, who became the chairman of my committee. It was under his guidance that my dissertation, which became my first book, Tradition and Modernization: A Challenge for Law Among the Dinka of the Sudan, was written. Published by Yale University Press in 1971, the book was well received in the Africanist community and received the 1972 Herskovits Award, given by the African Studies Association annually to the best book on Africa published the year before. Tradition and Modernization was predicated on the fundamental assump-

tion that tradition and in-coming modernity were interactive and mutually interdependent. I took it as a truism that over a long period of time every society develops a set of values, institutions, and operational patterns that must have passed the test of time in their effectiveness. Development must build on what exists, improve upon it, and generate a self-enhancing process from within. This not only gives people due recognition and respect for their identity, which is critical to their self-esteem, but also makes use of their human and material resources as base-values for promoting a self-reliant model of development. Along these lines, the book identified overriding values of Dinka society;

the degree to which they determined the structures and processes of political, economic, social, and cultural life; their stratifying effect on the basis of descent, gender, and age; the tensions and conflicts that such stratification engendered; and the overall paradoxes, dilemmas, and discrepancies between the ideal and the real. The process of modernization and the degree to which it had penetrated Dinka society was also analyzed in terms of the competing values and institutions, the self-assertive forces of modernity, the challenges (if not threats) that they posed to the vested interests of tradition, and the debilitating effect of the conflicts between tradition and modernization. But the forces of tradition and modernization were not presented as consistently antagonistic; far from it, they were seen as ambivalently interactive and mutually interdependent. The suggested strategy of transitional integration was therefore a means of reinforcing elements of a process that was already underway and rendering it more constructive for a dynamic and harmonious process of development. The next logical question, which was indeed posed to me in a conference at

Yale, was how an idea developed in an academic institution far away from the context of the study could be brought home for application. Fortuitously, it was shortly thereafter that my concerns for the welfare of my people converged with a political appointment and professional contacts to conceive and eventually give birth to the Abyei Project. For shortly after the end of the civil

war, I accepted the offer of Ambassador to the Nordic countries. Before undertaking the post, I visited the Sudan and witnessed the ambiguous situation the Ngok Dinka were in, bitterly poised between the North and the South. The Addis Ababa Agreement, which had given the South regional autonomy, provided that the Ngok be given the right to decide by referendum whether they would remain in the North or join the southern region. Most Ngok intellectuals, many of whom had fought on the side of the South in the civil war, favored joining the South. But after extensive discussions with authorities in Khartoum and in the South, I realized that neither did the central government intend to give the people of Abyei the opportunity to exercise that right, nor did the leadership in the South intend to endanger their newly acquired autonomy by confronting the North on the thorny issue of Abyei. On the other hand, public meetings with the Abyei elite in the South revealed angry crowds that could explode and either be ruthlessly suppressed or disrupt the achieved peace in the South. Although I understood and appreciated their reasons for agitation, I felt it incumbent upon me to think of more constructive alternatives. Back in New York where I was asked to join the Sudanese delegation to

the General Assembly, my agonizing search for solutions led me to an idea that I thought could bridge the interests of the Ngok Dinka with those of Kordofan Province and the country as a whole. The idea was to turn the historical anomaly of the Ngok Dinka as southerners under northern administration into a positive role of linkage between the North and the South, and as a symbol of national unity. I reasoned that the agitation of the Ngok Dinka was not so much the reflection of a dogmatic desire to join the South as it was a protest against their marginalization and subjugation under the administration of Kordofan. Therefore, if the people of Abyei were given an autonomous right to run

their own affairs (a mini version of the right enjoyed by the South) combined with a development program that favored them as a group with a national role of bridging the North and the South, I felt confident that they would embrace their unique status on the borders. I put down these ideas in a report which I shared with the Foreign Minister,

Dr. Mansour Khalid, and the newly appointed Minister of State for Culture and Information, Bona Malwal, a southern leader from the neighboring Twich Dinka. Both men supported the idea and agreed that I present it formally to the president, with copies to Abel Alier, the southern regional president, and Dr. Gaafar Mohamed Ali Bekheit, the influential Minister of Local Government. The next question was to find international partners for the proposed

development project. On this, another fortuitous circumstance led me to HIID. I had been invited to give a talk at Dartmouth College by Nelson Kasfir, who had maintained a long-standing interest and concern in the southern Sudan. There I met Richard Hook of HIID who, in response to my quest for a development partner, recommended his institute persuasively. I

later invited Bona Malwal to join me on a visit to Harvard in an effort to persuade HIID to undertake the project, carrying with us Tradition and Modernization as the theoretical and conceptual basis for the proposed project. Negotiations with HIID were protracted. Soon after this initial meeting, I went to Scandinavia and served two years as the ambassador, came back to the United States as the ambassador to Washington, and then returned to the Sudan as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. During all this time, I maintained communications with HIID. Five years after the initial contact and shortly after my assuming the position of Minister of State, the project began. President Nimeiri, Abel Alier, and Dr. Gaafar Mohamed Ali Bekheit had

all reacted favorably to the proposed project. In a way, it let Nimeiri and Abel off the hook, and it provided Dr. Bekheit, a scholar in search of creative solutions, with an exciting experiment on an issue of vital national interest. Even while I was ambassador in Scandinavia, Dr. Bekheit and I had begun to cooperate on developments in Abyei. This cooperation had resulted in the restoration of chieftainship, after its unceremonial abolition by President Nimeiri in angry reaction to the Ngok demand for joining the South (combined with the condemnation of the son of Deng Majok, Adam Deng, who was appointed and imposed on the tribe by the security authorities, as Paramount Chief, following the assassination of his half-brother, Abdalla Deng, for which the security forces were suspected). It had also resulted in the appointment of Justin Deng as Deputy Commissioner for Abyei, and the transfer of local government administrators, policemen, and school teachers from the South to Abyei. Dr. Gaafar Bekheit went as far as constituting a ministerial committee composed of the key central ministers, with me as a member, even though I was ambassador in Scandinavia, to oversee the project of developing Abyei as “a symbol of National Unity and Integration.” This project was incorporated in the national Action Program of the Sudan Socialist Union as early as 1973. This level of cooperation contrasted sharply with the suspicious, indeed

antagonistic attitude of the authorities of Kordofan. For them, the autonomy and development of Abyei not only represented an imposition of central government authority on the province, but also a pro-Dinka bias that I had engineered at the center. They either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented the policy whose genuine objective was to win the Dinka to favor remaining in Kordofan; it therefore was essentially a compromise in favor of the province and Dinka-Arab unity. The Humr Arabs saw the project in much the same way the provincial authorities saw it, with the added bitterness of seeing the Dinka favored over them, an anomaly which they could explain only in terms of my influence on the central government. For them, the assumption of local authority by the largely southern-educated elite of Abyei was a clever ploy toward joining the South. Justin Deng was, for them, a symbol and instrument of that ploy. To many of the educated elite of Abyei, on the other hand, the policy

represented an unacceptable compromise that subverted their higher

nationalist aspiration toward the South for the material rewards of development. The traditional rivals of the ruling Pajok clan saw my efforts as a continuation of the policies that our forefathers (and in particular our father, Deng Majok) had pursued in alliance with the North, which had reinforced and perpetuated the dominance of the family for generations. Their response was to undermine the policy by sending contradictory messages to the North and the South. To the North, they said that the Deng family was playing a clever pro-South policy in disguise; and to the South, they said that I had sold out to the North. And while they asserted that I was representing the Deng family tradition, which they opposed, they also worked to divide the family into proNorth and pro-South factions. And indeed our family became sharply divided between those who criticized the policy as having compromised the principle of joining the South and those who saw its immediate value for the area. But even in this latter group, many feared the political repercussions for the issue of the South, and therefore chose to be silent or ambivalent. Few vocally supported the policy or the Abyei development project. The South

too responded ambivalently. Abel Alier and leading members of his administration welcomed the initiative as a creative way of circumventing the deadlock that had characterized the post-Addis Ababa crisis over the Abyei problem. Most southern politicians and the southern public at large, particularly the Dinka, opposed the policy as a sellout, for which they of course blamed me. What compounded these sharp differences in the political perspectives of

the various groups was that there was no open debate on the policy or the issues. Sudan was governed by a presidential system centered around the president and core ministers at the center. The policy of developing the Abyei area as a symbol of national unity and integration did not emanate from an open discussion and collective decision-making, but rather through quiet persuasion of key individuals around the president and ultimately the president himself. Nor was it possible for me to expose the strategic considerations behind my thinking without undermining the entire policy. Behind my proposal was a pragmatic realization that Abyei had fallen into the cracks of the NorthSouth cleavage, which had now been bridged by the Addis Ababa Agreement. The people of Abyei had virtually been abandoned and urgently needed to be rescued. What the proposed policy sought was to give them the initiative over their destiny. The policy stressed that historically the Ngok Dinka had been the bridge builders between the North and South, and that if the country had achieved peace and unity, they, more than anyone else, symbolized that positive achievement. The people of Abyei could still be a constructive force for national consolidation, if their problems were effectively addressed to empower them. Explaining to the Dinka that this was the best option under the circumstances, since their preferred option of joining the South was not realizable, was something I could only do privately. Thus the degree of its influence on the public was inherently limited. I am quite confident that in an open democratic society, I could have made

a strong case for this proposal, which then would have had a good chance of

winning popular support. Yet although I was persuasive in the intimate discussions I had with southern and Ngok Dinka leaders, students, and other concerned individuals, my message was not in the public domain and therefore did not constitute an effective political tool against self-serving populists, who saw political advantage in opposing me. To make things worse, when I initially made the proposal, I was informed

by the Foreign Minister that I would accompany the president on his visit to Abyei where he was to announce the policy. While I was establishing the new embassy in Scandinavia, I learned that the president had visited Abyei, had declared the policy to an audience that had not been prepared, had been confronted with angry reactions, and had in turn reacted angrily. The president not only declared the abolition of Ngok chieftainship, which shocked the Dinka, but also decided to withhold the benefits he had intended for the area. It would take me a considerable period of time to undo the damage caused by that visit, to persuade the government to restore the chieftainship of the tribe to the family of Deng Majok (in response to persistent pressures from the Ngok people), and to revive the policy of developing Abyei as an autonomous area within Kordofan. Even then, the hostile encounter between the president and the people of Abyei had set a negative tone that the authorities of Kordofan would continue to exploit for many years. Worse still, Nimeiri himself was never again as enthusiastic as he had initially been about the new policy. As ministerial portfolios shifted, the only thing that continued was my

persistent efforts at lobbying the central government and the regional authorities of Kordofan to continue support for the policy. This sometimes entailed pragmatic shifts of the institutional base of support. When Dr. Gaafar Mohamed Ali Bekheit left the Ministry of Local Government, I found an ally in Professor Abdalla Mohamed Abdalla, the Minister of Agriculture, and his state ministers, who also supported the project. While I strove to establish and cultivate an institutional base of support, the project remained a stepchild of all central government institutions and an illegitimate offspring of the province. The authorities of Kordofan at best tolerated the project grudgingly, and at worst sought to undermine it in a variety of ways, some subtle, and others quite blatant. The other major problem that would continue to bedevil the project was

the difference between our perceptions and those of HIID. Moreover, even the Sudanese perspective was not unified, since my own conceptual approach clearly differed from that of the Ministry of Agriculture. I had wanted a development strategy that was culturally sensitive to the Ngok Dinka context, while the Ministry of Agriculture was interested in a more conventional technical concept of integrated rural development. Harvard’s perspective, like that of the Ministry of Agriculture, also turned out to be technological. HIID did not come to Abyei with the spirit of Tradition and Modernization in mind, as I had hoped and indeed expected. On the contrary, the HIID professionals came with a wealth of knowledge about the technical aspects of

development, including what had been tried where, what had succeeded and what had failed, and what ideas still needed empirical experimentation. They had ideas about how the Abyei project might be a timely opportunity for a combined research and action approach to the development challenge. Harvard’s omission of Tradition and Modernization as a reference work in

the project was more accidental than planned. Although I had taken a copy of the book to Harvard on my first visit in 1972, by the time the project activities began in earnest, several years had passed and personalities had changed. On my part, I felt too inhibited both by my respect for scholarly independence and by my status as the host to draw attention to that omission. Much later in the process I felt the stakes were too high for me to maintain silence, and so I began to voice my objections to the HIID leadership, especially with respect to some of the cultural insensitivities. One of the most divisive cultural issues between HIID and the people of

Abyei, which occurred at the start of the project, was Harvard’s proposed use of oxen for animal traction. Although some educated Dinkas, especially those involved in the project, became more tolerant of the experiment over time, most Dinka opposed the use of oxen for that purpose. On the other hand, the HIID expert on animal traction was so committed to this idea that he was totally oblivious to Dinka concerns. He was reported to have threatened that the project would be terminated if the Dinka did not accept animal traction. Many Dinka then let me know in no uncertain terms that, if the price was to be acceptance of animal traction, it would be better to have the Americans go home. The book says that the Director of USAID in Khartoum “turned the ultimatum on Francis Deng, saying that if he wanted the project to continue at all, it must include the ox plow program.” I do not recall any such ultimatum, and certainly not in that tone. However, given the circumstances, I could not have bowed to the ultimatum in any case. What I do recall is that I was caught in the middle of the controversy-on the one hand, explaining the cultural sensitivities of the Dinka to HIID and, on the other, attempting to persuade the Dinka of the technological advantages of animal traction. As the book reports, we were able to win the support, albeit ambivalent, of the Ngok workers on the project. More importantly, the position of the American expert on animal traction, as I recall it, soon moderated, and the experiment eventually terminated for a variety of reasons, not least among them the adverse reaction of the people. By then, the project had begun to involve anthropologists who were far

more sensitive to the culture of the people than the initial field team had been. They also reflected familiarity with the anthropological literature in general, including Tradition and Modernization. Although the degree to which they applied the approach recommended by that book remained marginal, the explanation could no longer be lack of familiarity with the ideas contained in it. In fairness to the Harvard team, even if they had all read the book at the outset, they would have been correct to see it as primarily a work of legal anthropology that did not adequately address the issues of science

and technology that were at the core of the development theory and practice they were helping to develop and apply. Of course, appropriate technology was sensitive to the local conditions, both physical and cultural, but emphasis was initially on what could work at minimum cost to sustain a self-reliant process of development. With experience, debate, adjustment, and compromises, this approach became increasingly sensitive to the cultural values of the Dinka and the need for mutual reinforcement between tradition and the aspirations for development. By the second year, the combined American and Sudanese field team had earned significant support for the project in Abyei. My position comes across in the book as one of wanting “big” develop-

ment activity within the shortest possible period of time. This is essentially correct. The authors argue, “If, for political reasons, the government, Francis Deng, or USAID needed to show that the Ngok were not forgotten in the post-civil-war rush of foreign capital and projects into Sudan, then a less experimental, physical input type of program could have been implemented.” Although I never used those words or in the dimensions implied, that was more or less what I had hoped for, and I can say with some confidence that it was also what the government had intended. And yet, I wanted us to build on what existed in tradition and to make the development of the area a selfreliant process from within, which implied a moderate dependence on outside resources and a maximum use of the people’s own resources, capacity, creativity, and resourcefulness. A major flaw and significant cause for the eventual failure of the Abyei

project was the negative, often conflictual, hierarchy of national decision-making. Although Sudan under Nimeiri advocated decentralization, it was in fact a highly centralized authoritarian system. Personal influence in decision-making was pivotal. This meant that decisions could be made on the basis of effective communication with the minister concerned or the president, but they could also be negated by a subsequent communication with the pivotal authority. Nothing was decisively resolved; everything was contextual and precariously tentative. What was perhaps even more precarious and damaging to the system was the divisive penetration of the state. Even communities that had long coexisted in relative cooperation and harmony, such as the Ngok Dinka and the Humr Arabs, were torn apart by the divisive alignment of the government, central or provincial, with one faction thereby upsetting the balance of power that had provided the incentive for cooperation. The fact that the central government supported the Abyei project while the regional government stood with the Humr Arabs against it did not really represent a parity of central versus regional alliance. Both the central and the regional governments favored the Arabs to varying degrees and whatever appearance of support the Ngok enjoyed at the center had only a slight moderating effect that required enormous and sustained efforts on the part of the very few who cared. With the benefit of hindsight I must concede that the objectives I had in

mind for the project were perhaps unrealistic. Given all the circumstances, the project was probably overloaded with technical, political, cultural, and other

highly controversial issues. It is only in that sense that I reluctantly agree with the authors that in retrospect, “it is clear that Abyei was not the right location to attempt an innovative and experimental, overly ambitious, and tenuously funded rural development project. It was the wrong project in the wrong place at the wrong time.” And yet, I disagree. If we had all understood one another well from the start, I believe it could have been done. This book, however, symbolizes a coming together. Indeed, what makes the

story of the Abyei project so remarkable is that this very remote area of Africa could have won the attention of so many layers of influence that involved the local, the provincial, the national, and the international, both governmental and nongovernmental. This is one of the reasons why I see this book as a significant record for the Ngok Dinka, not only because it documents their experience to a global audience that could benefit from it in some way, but also because it spotlights their plight in a way that might move someone, some institution, or some government some day to take off from where the project stopped, to benefit from its negative and positive lessons, and to forge a new experiment that can only promise more than the Ngok Dinka got from the first experiment. Despite profound differences in the interactive perspectives on the postulated development of Abyei, David Cole and Rick Huntington, and indeed most, if not all, their colleagues on the Harvard team always enjoyed the profound respect and affection of the Ngok Dinka, in large measure a reflection of the personal values they radiated. On an even more personal note, I came to cherish and enjoy my friendship with them above our differences. Interestingly and surprisingly, despite the seeming divergence of perspectives between us, I sincerely believe that their book reflects the spirit of Tradition and Modernization and the strategy of transitional integration, a term which Harold Lasswell so wisely applied to my efforts at bridging tradition and modernity. I am sure some people will see the powerful message of their book as wisdom in hindsight. And to a degree that is true. But even that is, for me, a mark of its genius. It has built on what many will label an experience of failure to construct a model that not only makes sense in hindsight, but promises better results in the future. I am delighted that David Cole and Richard Huntington have overcome the negative syndrome of the alleged failure of the Abyei Project, have pulled themselves together to make an affirmative statement, and have thereby challenged all parties, foremost the Dinka and their outside partners, to entertain the idea of a development strategy that builds on the dignity, the experience, and the aspirations of the Dinka. For that, I am profoundly grateful. The people of Abyei, too, should be equally grateful.