In December, the people of Pibor, a town in South Sudan, watched the national army stand by while thousands of young men from a rival ethnic group stormed in for a cattle raid. The interlopers shot and macheted hundreds of people, burned homes and stole tens of thousands of cows.
One month on, the state minister for law enforcement arrived in this part of eastern South Sudan to convince residents that the fledgling nation's new government was ready to help - and that they should give up their weapons.
Gabriel Duop, a man built like a refrigerator, sat behind a wooden desk in a dirt field, a notebook in front of him.
"We are the government," he told the crowd. "And we want peace."
But the people wanted answers. Who, they asked, would protect them when the raiders returned?
That the citizens of the world's newest nation are making such demands is both a sign of progress and an indication of how far South Sudan has to go.
Cattle raids are centuries old in the region. The expectation that a central government can and should halt them is much newer.
Image: South Sudanese men participate in the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, the nation's rickety new capita, on July 9, 2012.
Text: Alexander Dziadosz, Reuters