A Very Vivid Political Blunder And Historical Plunder Of South/Sudan In The Name Of Tonj
A Rebuttal For Our History Purification Of 10 Attempts On 20 Points Of Weston Wanjohi By Jon Pen de Ngong
‘Hon.’ Weston Wanjohi, a Kenyan MP-wannabe, who has christened himself ‘Friend of South Sudan’, has given us (or was it given him) a very juicy narrative of our history of Tonj District. However, being a foreigner with an overwhelming personal lust in our country, we can well enjoy this Wanjohi but with a critical eye. Critical in the facts and factors of our history as presented, the following might not be going down well with our South Sudanese literary consumers.
1- That Tonj community of the colonial era contributed greatly in logistical supplies for a British colonial war, and hence was rewarded with a primary school. Hmm, this paragraph makes Tonj folks look like they were ones of the emperial collaborators that have strewn our African colonial history annals. I mean it should have been told from a different angle or with a different tone, not like this:
“Tonj District was reported to have helped so strongly in supporting the British Empire especially in the area of food logistics . Thousands of bulls and cows in the area were collected in Tonj District to be taken to warfront to support Britain on that war.”
2- From the five official names given to this area, most of which date back to that era, the writer should have explained a bit of the background of each or some names, e.g. Jurkatac, Genggeu, etc. This could have helped readers to understand the Arab colonial side of our history, besides the British one justifiably given therein.
3- Another misrepresentation of the fact is that our legend William Deng Nhial was “killed by the Arabs in 1963”. This is not true. The Southern leading nationalist was assassinated around his home district (current Gok State) on the 5th of May in 1968, and by Southern ‘un/known gunmen’ with the possible backing of the Arab regime in Khartoum.
4- Yet another unfortunate claim in that hastily rushed in history-coated lobbyist letter to the president was the perennially wrong assertion that the late William was the leader of the Anya-nya 1 armed movement in Southern Sudan. Wrong, twice and thrice! He was a actually a freedom fighter but a political party leader of SANU (Sudan African National Union) from 1962 to 1968, the same time Joseph Lagu was leading both political and military wings of the Anya-nya, say, Southern Sudan Independence Mov/Army.
Furthermore, SANU was one of the many pan-African decolonization parties in The Sudan like KANU and ANC in the region of Azania (Kenya up to South Africa). Of course, no sane historian would deny the fact that William Deng and men and women of his time charted the the path to our present independence. But for the sake of our children and nation, we must not cheat history with such deliberate intellectual ambiguities as in the Wanjohi’s presentation.
5- However, as to how the narrative of Deng Nhial got into the Anya-nya 1’s active leadership profile is not something I can blame on Weston Wanjohi or any other ghost writers of our history slone. Being one of the junior SPLA soldiers of the liberation days, myself, we were made to believe and sing in our revolutionary hymns that William Deng Nhial was the leader of the first armed struggle (Anya-nya 1).
Methinks, this historic blunder comes from one of the Garang’s many tricks of community mobilization in the early 90s. Just as the Bor were tricked into giving up their children (to be later reffered to as Koryom or Locust) to go and acquire guns for self-protection against their local enemies, particularly the Murle child abductors and cattle rustlers, a proper propaganda that I witnessed live being championed by Uncle Cdr. Chagai Atem Biar and Uncle Kuol Ngong-kun among others in our villages, somebody must have sold to Bahr al Ghazal, Tonj to be specific, the narrative that they were being required to join in the furtherance of their father’s initiative, Deng Nhial’s, of course. And who wouldn’t accept that except those not yet annoyed with the bushfire spread of colonialism and annointed with the fiery spirit of nationalism?
This is how ‘Hon’. Wanjohi put it in the full article attached far from below this rebuttal, “The War that got initiated in the last century that has resulted into the South Sudan independence was run by an influential politician from Tonj District. Veteran William Deng Nhial who was killed in 1963 by Arabs was among the first ideological South Sudanese intellectuals to have spearheaded and struggled for the right of South Sudan freedom.”
Observation on that topic again. In the 20th century, two wars of liberation that led to the independence of South Sudan were waged. Between the one led by Joseph Lagu and his seniors (somewhat referred to as the ‘Anya-nya 1’) and the one led by Col. Dr. John Garang de Mabior, or the SPLM/SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army), which one did William Deng Nhial initiated and commanded here? Just to clear the ambiguities (history impurities) in Wanjohi’s intentional exaggeration.
6- Beside that, I am not sure whether this fact — if not another blunder — was also presented without any sinister intellectual plunder.
“Tonj has produced many leadership during the colonialism and during the independence of Sudan and South Sudan itself the like of William Deng Nhial, Dr John Garang De Mabior and Omer Hassien Bashir (sic) who have studied in some of the schools there.”
7- In another development, of course, I do agree with the fact that the customary laws promulgation of the Dinka, or ‘Ganuun Wanhalel’, was unanimous at that time, but the Jieng nation being segmentary, and not sedentary, in nature (no streamlined, unitary administration like that of kingship or supreme chieftainship), it is misleading to say the current Dinka structures are based on that law. For example, blood compensation or marriage tokens are not standardized as one may find different figures among the Dinka of Bor and the abiliang of Renk, for example.
8- Geographically, Tonj is positioned as bordering Western Equatoria, say Yambio. This needs more emphasis as it may be news to other citizens not privy to the physical map of our country.
9- It is morally wrong for some political manipulators to start the image cleansing of some communities at the expense of others as early as now. The notion that Tonj community (the political section) did not take part in the post-independence war (2013) is premature and misleading. I cannot understand why some sound South Sudanese elder or youth, I mean the invisible brain behind this Wanjohi’s intellectual thievery of our history, would like to kick that debate of which of the communities of Dinka (Bahr al Ghazal) is a saint in this mess of our nascent nation in the hand of President Kiir and other architects in the government and oppositions? Wanjohi should tread carefully. We are preaching peace, not accountability, yet. Time will come for that.
10- Towards conclusion, this writer is also cross with the wajohi and company’s activism for a foreign university to be opened by Kiir in Tonj State. Instead of William Deng Nhial, John Garang or even Salva Kiir Mayardit University, my country’s ‘new patriots’ are angling for colonial master’s university.
By the way, if we were not being recolonized through the peace agreement under some sort of a modern Sudo-Egyptian Confederacy conspiracy, like the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium; I mean the Revitalized Agreement now being singlehandedly promoted on this unprecedented presidential tour of Bahr Al Ghazal region, why would somebody with a clear sense of independence of South Sudan install a University of Alexandria in the place of the University of Tonj or so, if need be at the moment?
Dear reader, thank you, I am done. Oh, no, I am not yet done till you are done with a very sweet history of Tonj according to a Kenyan political activist, as follows.
Jon Pen de Ngong is a South Sudanese peace and rights activist, writer and political analyst (published poet and blogger).
Facts about Kalkuel/Tonj Ahead of H.E President Salva Kiir’s visit
by Hon Weston Wanjhoi
1. Had been one of the important and a strong economic strength for the British Empire in Africa. During the Second World War all the European colonies instructed their colonial areas to support them on War.
2. Tonj primary was a first colonial(the UK government) school in Southern Sudan built in 1944 and it was a gift to jur river chiefs who contributed smoked meat for ally forces during world war two in north Africa.The school was called princes school and its first headmaster was called Eric Daniel(popularly call Makerdit).The school was a gift from the British government as an appreciation to the people, so the Kalkuel bulls played a central role in fight for liberty.
3. Tonj District was reported to have helped so strongly in supporting the British Empire especially in the area of food logistics . Thousands of bulls and cows in the area were collected in Tonj District to be taken to warfront to support Britain on that war.
4. In 1912 Tonj and Gogrial were under Jur River during the colonial period of British, the capital was in Gogrial but before then Tonj weather was favourable to the human lives more than Gogrial.
5. In 1922 the capital was shifted to Kalkuel by British and its become the capital of Jur river
Tonj is one of the largest town in warrap and the oldest town in South Sudan and it’s where different tribes are found for examples Dinka, Bongo and JurChol. It’s divided into three counties Tonj North, Tonj South And Tonj East now subdivisions happened and the are again divide into counties.
6. Tonj is the town in South Sudan which have more than names five to six names which are Kalkuel, Genanyuon, Jurkatac, Madiera, BaburWasaka, Genngeu and Tonjdit itself.
It’s bordered by Lakes State (Cueibet) , Western Bahr El Ghazal (Mapel) , Western Equatoria( Yambio) and Upper Nile(Bul)
7. Tonj has produced many leadership during the colonialism and during the independence of Sudan and South Sudan itself the like of William Deng Nhial, Dr John Garang De Mabior and Omer Hassien Bashir who have studied in some of the schools there .
8. Tonj is also ranked as one of the oldest and historical cities in South Sudan with positive and rich history during the days of South Sudan war of liberation.
9. The War that got initiated in the last century that has resulted into the South Sudan independence was run by an influential politician from Tonj District. Veteran William Deng Nhial who was killed in 1963 by Arabs was among the first ideological South Sudanese intellectuals to have spearheaded and struggled for the right of South Sudan freedom.
10. In 1996 when even the Arab based Government wanted to create a state for Gogrial and Tonj Communities they chose to name it Warrap State. Warrap town is another small urban centre within Tonj Region and the capital was to be located in Warrap it was luck of history. Now that Twic and Gogrial States are newly created; they are getting their independence from Tonj Region.
11. History has it that the Tonj Region is a very big constituency out of which Gogrial got born before now. Abyei Region before 1905 was part of its administration.
12. In early and late 1990s the SPLM/A movement fighting the Khartoum regime was in Tonj Region around the areas of Thiet, Yinhkuel, Ngabagook and Mayom Abun areas. Tonj and Rumbek were used during the war to be the logistics centres in the war of fighting the Arabs.
13. Before the capture of Rumbek town and Yirol most of the military and food logistics was in Tonj region’s villages. Yinhkuel mostly was the SPLA strongest Headquarters in the war that was aimed to liberate the whole Sudan. Local communities like others in Greater Bahr el Ghazal Region collected several bulls monthly to support SPLA war of liberation endlessly.
14. The 1999 Wunlit Peace Accord was held within Tonj District. The fact is that peace agreement which was mostly initiated by New Sudan Council of Churches and other peace loving organizations paved a positive way to Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). At least that moment did not occur anywhere but in Kalkuel.
15. When peace came Tonj Region was the only place in South Sudan selected for reorganization of the SPLA soldiers at Akucchieng. All the SPLA soldiers being from Nuba, Ingassana and South Sudanese were re-organized, re-trained, re-structured and re-instructed in Akucchieng before sending them to joint integrated units (JIUs) those forces successfully monitored and supervised CPA to implementation without doubt.
16. Dinka (Muonyjang) communities across South Sudan are well-versed with Wanhalel Dinka Customary Laws (Ganuun Wanhalel);all those laws that are now used to govern Dinka Communities were first drafted and formulated in what is now Tonj/Kalkuel State.
17. Economically Kalkuel State is a very rich region. It has plenty of oil underground waiting to be exploited for the benefit of the general South Sudanese and most of the swampy areas fall within this region between them and the other two Northern and Southern Liech States. Toich areas are extending from Konggor area, Lou Ariik, Apuk Padoc, Lou Paher and Luanyjang swampy areas. They are very rich with resources and if well-used the region shall quickly get developed.
18. When war broke out in 2013 Tonj sons and daughters did not aim guns against their fellow South Sudanese and infact very strongly the people of Tonj just like most South Sudanese participated in bringing peace back to South Sudan and defended the constitution and the sovereignty.
19. Tonj has a high number of youth in pursuing higher education in Kampala, Egypt, Nairobi among other world cities and those I spoke to would like/request the constructed campus of Alexandria University in Tonj Town be opened in order to bring closer that precious higher institution to the people / communities of Tonj and South Sudan at large and most importantly;
20. The people of Tonj I have spoken to fully support the revitalized peace agreement signed by President Salva Kiir, Dr Riek Machar & other leaders.
My problem is this exaggeration and sycophantic tilting of facts.