Why is the Anyuak disadvantaged and marginalized in peace time?

By Lero O. Odola
January 25, 2007


Anyuak people are a breed [indigenous] mainly found in Akobo, Nasir [Nyium Omiel], Jekaw, Pochalla, and Pibor Counties in Southeastern Sudan. A large number of same folks reside in Southwestern Ethiopia [Gambella State].

Anyuak were divided by the artificial manmade border curved by Great Britain to accomplish its bare policy of divide and rule between Ethiopia and Sudan around 1902-1956. That initial unethical decision has created unconstructive collision on the Anyuak culturally and socially with highland tribes of Ethiopia. Anyuak in general have undergone massive and severe human right abuses not only behind the scene but in front the scene over time as a result of the inappropriate division. The [Anyuak] may continue to suffer if nothing is done to prevent these calculated atrocities on these blameless people on both sides of the border. That philosophy has often been used desperately by those who have vowed [anti-Anyuak and their associates] to eliminate the Anyuak and rewrite the history. Any unfit negative criticism on my assertion would not be surprising to me either. In their point of view that hallucination must be achieved by changing the authentic names of the places belonging to the Anyuak people on the maps. But will they ever succeed to change the history through this ill illusion?

Hence, the Anyuak, in my perspective, must remain vigilant on this direct aggressive notion imposed on their liberty by their terrorist neighbors. This threatened tribe is the most generous, respectful, and peaceful people in the region. The Anyuak people are categorized or fall under the Luo speaking group. The Luo speakers are originally found in Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and some part of East and West Africa. Entire Luo speaking group habitually are best known in treating their quests with respect, dignity, and hospitality. More significantly, to verify this, read “War Wounds of Sudan 1988”. It is a notable field study collection written by Sudanese and non- Sudanese journalists. Further, there are so many vital major aspects that could positively make Anyuak even more distinctive ethnic group from other tribes in the region. The patient, precautious, positive attitude and eagerness to settle sensitive matters through traditional consensus are few excellent examples one could provide. Bear in mind these unique values should not be measured as weakness to take advantage of the Anyuak.

The earlier civilization Anyuak experienced during world war I and II has helped them to evolve rapidly. However, this civilization has brought negative and positive impact on the Anyuak people. On August 18, 1955 when the first Southern Sudan conflict, occurred in Torit town. Anyuak lands were used by both Southern Sudan rebels and the refugees alike as a safe haven as the wind of that movement reached the Anyuak country. By early 60s Organized guerilla warfare was launched on Sudan government mainly and successfully from Anyuakland in case of the Upper Nile Region division led by the late Paul Nyingori. The vast majority of the new generation of southern Sudan doesn’t know who Nyingori Ojulu was. The late Paul Nyingori Ojulu was the first leader and the cofounder of Southern Sudan independent Movement Army SSIM/A that was based in Buraganya village, Northeast of Akobo district in 1963. Afterwards, the late Joseph Akwon took over from the late Paul Nyinori Ojulu. SSLM/A [famously known as Anya-nya one] was officially formed and commanded by retired General Joseph Lagu and the late Joseph O Akwon become his deputy in-chief and overall commander of the Upper Nile forces in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. The late Joseph was known as the first eye opener for the Southern Sudanese people. He [Akwon] was able to productively communicate with the international community through Ethiopia [empire]. As a result of the late Akwon’s and some of his dedicated colleagues’ effort, Southern Sudan Liberation Movement /Army [Anyanya one] gained quick military equipments and training support worldwide. Subsequent to Akobo mutiny on March 3rd 19975 those who successfully fled the Akobo incident probe attempt were well taken care of in the Anyuakland. This group founded the [Anya-nya two] and then or eventually added the strength to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army SPLM/A forces in 1983.

The author will not dwell on the details mentioned above. What I would like to emphasize or focus on here in particular, is the doctrine to assassinate the Anyuak [tribe] politically, socially, culturally, and administratively. Why is the Anyuak disadvantaged and marginalized in peace time?

This dehumanization preparation started in late 1970’s when Akwon died in mysterious circumstances. Besides, the well planned attitude to eliminate the Anyuak people physically by killing them in organized ways was created by the invaders who launched their attack policy of intentionally undermining the Anyuak role in the first movement. Further, the invaders without shame continued to make inappropriate statements here and there to weaken the Anyuak role in the second movement famously known as SPLM/A when the South North Sudan peace agreement was achieved two years ago. Although Anyuak determinedly have played tremendous task in supporting the movements physically, morally, emotionally, and with basic needs, yet, Anyuak role seems unappreciated by those who are benefiting from current government.

Nevertheless, some of our famous sincere, humble, and honored alive or deceased leaders know better the Anyuak participation in the struggle. They constantly portrayed the Anyuak as sample of the integrity of Southern Sudan struggle. The disturbing things at this moment is that, Anyuak share to govern themselves in their own County of Akobo in the aftermath of the liberations wars has been always denied by the invaders [settlers] who have pretended and manipulated to be the owner of the land. This unprecedented right to govern denial is one of a kind the oppressed Anyuak of Akobo experienced as imposed by the settlers [Lou Nuer]. On the other hand, there have been slogans unrealistically, disgracefully, and bluntly used to blindfold the vast majority of the readers in the mass media about Akobo status. Some say, “Anyuak never participated in the liberations wars and therefore they deserve to be left out or must be misrepresented”. This unjustifiable claim should not be tolerated by any members of the Anyuak people in Southern Sudan or elsewhere. Such statements are pure indications of someone who would bite or cut off the whole shoulder or finger that has fed him or her. To illustrate and elaborate most recent tribal assassination attempts it is what has happened in the light of the formation of GoNU, GoSS, Joglie State, and Akobo County. The readers need to accurately understand that the ten states now existing in Southern Sudan were created in 1994 as a decentralization policy in an attempt to trickle down the power to the people. Anyuak did not benefit during Sudan NIF regime and is not benefiting either now as others under umbrella of the GoSS and GoNU {of the New Sudan]. What a humiliation? This is a demonstrated sharp double standard policy against Anyuak of Akobo. For instance, there is no single Anyuak member in the three cabinets of the New Sudan Government known as interim period government. Contrary to that, those who have tried hardly to turn down the SPLM/A, or caused a nightmare to the freedom fighters in their territories are being compensated at the Anyuak expense.

Leave alone GoSS and GoNU and take Jonglie State as a simple example: The ministry of Finance of Jonglie State, the Legislature Chairman, commissioner for state affairs, and the Deputy of the Legislative Assembly never have been in the SPLM/A before the singing of the peace agreement in 2005. Which tickets qualified them easily to get these high seats in the State of Jonglie political arena? Hell knows. There are so many outrageous examples the author can provide to the attentive readers. Here is unimaginable horrible story. Given the matter of facts that Akobo County is undoubtedly and purely Anyuak territory, the Anyuak have been pushed down simply because some people, ironically think, the Anyuak did not fight in the war. The size of Anyuak who joined the SPLA is proportional to the size of the whole tribe. The big tribes did not fight all. Most of them even undermined the SPLA even now they are still undermining the GoSS. When they turn around they get high positions. Is that fair?

Akobo is being represented by Lou Nuer at all levels of government. This is very unfair and well calculated political and social injustice. Thus, the core question would be why is Akobo being illegally represented by Lou Nuer in Southern Sudan legislative assembly, Khartoum national assembly and administered by commissioner from Lou Nuer as if there are no Anyuak alive and present in the Sudan today? Are the Lou Nuer sub-clans unsatisfied with the two Counties they gained as result of new system? They should have been appreciative and plan to develop their area in the homeland [Waat] in this era instead of manipulating, suppressing and marginalizing the Anyuak in their house. Was there any pressure on the law and policy makers when this imbalance degree was endorsed? This burning fundamental question and many more required to be answered by the law and policy makers in south Sudan. This direct elimination plan to get rid of the Anyuak from this planet [earth] must be abandoned or immediately ceased.

It has been two years since the virgin government of Southern Sudan was born. Obviously, there has been no sign of any inclusive initiative effort made to address the Akobo Anyuak dilemma with their settlers who claim the land. Each and every tribe in Southern Sudan are preparing to go home to revive their lives and to experience the peace, tranquility, and prosperity under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement while the intellectual Anyuak of Akobo continue to be subjugated politically, socially, and administratively. The ordinary Anyuak of Akobo remains in limbo and uncertain where to go to rebuild what was destroyed by the Sudan civil war and the war imposed by the settlers [Lou Nuer and Arabs]. Further, essentially, technically, and practically this is a human right abuse from political angle no doubt about it.

The Anyuak want their county peacefully. The Anyuak do not want to follow the aggressive approach by not imitating violent examples to avoid loss of life. Being lawful does not mean fear or cowardice. It is wisdom and maturity. It is the realization and recognition of the GoSS presence and ability to make peace and stability prevail for all. Time is the test.

Lero Odola can be reached at lero.odola@co.blue-earth.mn.us

Related Articles:

Akobo History- Land and People
Is Akobo a controversial issue? Let's rewrite its history.
War Does Not Pay: It is Time for Law and Order.
The Nuer also fight for property rights.
The Nuer Monopoly against the Anuak
Presenting concerns to the President is not Tribalism.
The Current wave of Nuer migration
Anyuak Past Sufferings in the Hands of Governments and the Lou Nuer.











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