King Adongo Akway Cham's Interview
by Skye Wheeler
May 25, 2006 (JUBA) — “Traditional authority is part of the movement. This is recognized. As King of the Anyuak I have a clear role to play. For the Anyuak, as for other tribes in Southern Sudan , customary law will be incorporated into the judicial law although it is not yet clear how this will happen, how exactly this will work. But I am here to lead my people and to better their lives and right now this is welcomed by the Government of Southern Sudan. There is no pressure from them; they are cooperating with me.
“That is why I come to Juba , to lobby and advocate for the Anyuak.
“I don't know the future but now, I am responsible for most of the problems in the community. For example if there are problems between families or a murder, I am the one to deal with this; to put justice in place. And the Government consults me, with what happened in Pochalla County .
“Pochalla County was formed officially by Garang in 1996. Of course if they put soldiers in Pochalla town they do not need to consult me. This is Government territory, but if they were to station soldiers in the villages or in the rural areas they would check with me first.
“The greatest danger facing my community? I don't see any particular danger for the Anyauk. We are peaceful, like the Equatorians and we are together. I don't think there is any difference in the challenges facing the Anyauk. All Sudanese have the same situation now; all Sudanese have had the same challenges in their past. My people have not been moved from where they were staying, they have the same traditional areas. The Anyuak are divided by national borders; in Sudan and in Ethiopia .
"John Garang and Salva Kiir, these leaders were based at one time in Ethiopia , in Anyauk land. And very early on, the Anyuak were some of the first to join in the movement in 1963, and they became commanders. Historically we have provided one, and then another leader, for the Upper Nile side of the war. We lost these famous commanders in the war.
“There are between 150,000 and 200,000 Anyuak people. There are five big rivers and these demarcate five big groups and then there are several other big groups, eight or nine in total depending on how you divide.
“Returnees are coming now. The war had an impact, not only for those who suffered here, having troops in the villages and other things but also because the war split families, some people remained, some went to Ethiopia .
“Of course now there are cultural changes between those brought up in Sudan and those that grew, went to school in Ethiopia . Those who grew up in refugee camps in Ethiopia , as well as in gold mining communities sometimes, for example, are less moderate in the quantity of alcohol they take. Some of them also chew chaat, this is not a part of the Anyuak traditions.
“There are elders who stayed. They are here to instruct. We will go back to what we were before. There have been good changes: the role of women has changed, for example. They have had a share in power. In the State Assembly we have one man, one woman: people are happy about this. Many more children are now going to school: this is another change.
“We have a Primary Healthcare Centre in Pochalla, which I hope will become a hospital. We also have primary healthcare units in the villages; I hope these will develop into centres.
“Bringing schools is an important part of a good future for us. These change people's minds. I want to prevent the migration of people from villages to towns. But if there is no school in the village then families will move to the cities.
“Since the cattle raiding problem became bad the children stay at home. We don't allow young boys to look after cattle, to take them grazing away from the village. So they are definitely available for school. Cattle's raiding is a main issue for us. Stealing cattle from one tribe to another is old, but of course, since the war everyone has guns and there have been deaths.
“We have aggressive neighbours, although there is a government policy to disarm citizens, we want to see our neighbours disarmed first. But, really, we are a harmonious people. In 2003 we came to an agreement with the Murle. In the dry season they come to us. There is enough for everybody; although there are still problems, somehow there is peace. It would be useful if we could have a conference, if the two tribes could come together and discuss.
“When the Land Commission happens it will be good: the Anyuak land needs to be demarcated officially. But there will be no confusion; this is already quite clear. Things are peaceful with us; the Anyuak tribe is the only one in Sudan without a militia, either with or against the government.
“The Land Commission is only one of the elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that has been slow in being implemented. We were unlucky when Garang died, right after being sworn in, and things got stuck. We have not seen much change in our area and we have no good governance in the remote areas. But the new chairman is preparing himself and I am sure that I will be given the power to do what I have to do.”