Licence to kill for 25 dollars

  • Cheap guns and expensive cows: an explosive combination in South Sudan.
  • A young cattle keeper holds a machine-gun at his camp in Rumbek, South Sudan. © Albert González Farran.

    In South Sudan’s cattle camps, there are two very important possessions: the first one are, obviously, the cows, which are very appreciated because they enhance social prestige, and because are being used as currency of commercial transactions and marriage arrangements; the second one are the weapons, “indispensable” tools to defend against those who want to steal the cattle.
    South Sudan is one of the countries in Africa with more arms. A very high rate of civilians has a rifle at home, either for cultural reasons or for safety. A Russian-made machine-gun, an AK-47, “only” costs $25 in the black market. It’s a “fair” price to defend the ownership of the cows, which can cost 10 times more.
    After years of war, the arms culture is so ingrained in the country that cattle keepers, especially the youth, realize that apart from protecting their cows, with a machine-gun on their hands they can easily steal, rape, loot or kill. And this is already happening…

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