By Gwado J. Ador
Sept 13, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Collo land where I grew up and had my basic education was a lovely place with past wonderful memories, it is lying a long the Nile on both sides beginning at the juncture of Sobat River; it was renown for quite a long time with its unique cultural heritage, strong ethics in administration and solid educational system and most importantly, warm reception of its native, the Collo people.
Malakal the capital city of Upper Nile; a town situated in Collo land had solid government system bequeathed from past colonial heritage; it had efficient civil servants, credible learning institutions, and rich commercial business center. The surrounding areas have been endowed with extended fertile land, huge untapped natural resources, long rainy period and suitable climate conducive for agricultural activities.
Many Collo natives have sent their children together with other officials residing in Malakal to public schools. A considerable number have excelled well in their secondary education at Malakal, Atar, Obel, Rumbek, Loka and Juba Commercial. The rest proceeded to Universities and other higher learning institutions inside and abroad to earn advanced degrees.
Among Collo politicians who had public imprint at local and National levels include, Uncle Luigi Adowk, Natal Olwak, Mathew Obur, George Kwanay, Othownh Dak Padiet, Arop Yor Ayik, Brig. Pio Yukwan, Dr. Kunijowk Gwado Ayoker, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, Dr. Peter Adowk Nyaba, Pagan Amum Okiech, Gen. Oyay Deng Ajak, Bol Chan and many others who have not been mentioned here.
Like any other metropolitan city of the British colonial administration in old Sudan, Malakal was also the cradle of excellent local administrators and schoolteachers known across South Sudan, the like of Uncle Tito Adibo, Sabino Saverio, Samuel Kwacikwan, Jude Ajobong, Gabriel Oywac, Philip Mayik, Mark Nyikango Yomon, Mathew Obur Ajak and Jeremiah Otor; A team of excellent schoolteachers was also led by Uncle, Othownh Bowgo, Michael Aban Ajang, Stephen Bucai, William Ojowk, James Ogilo Agor, Francis Bowng Wol, Adok Awejok, Christopher Chol, Stephen Kimo, Philip Ugowk, Yohannes Opuod, Acwil Lwal Jok, James Ojwok Okic and many others who served the people of upper Nile at various capacities.
Malakal however, thrived following Addis Ababa agreement and expanded to include certain areas in Collo land such as (Dengershufo} Awarjowk, Makal, Ogodo, Mohamed Ajak, Obelo and Anakdiar. Thus, it was renown for its cultural tolerance and a home to all people who chose to settle and reside in it for quite a long time. Never once had anybody from Collo land claimed or boasted about the ownership of Malakal town during all those golden years.
The Concept of ‘Kal bowyn’ refers to Malakal in Collo ideology as government’s businesses centre perhaps because; it is where cunning civil servants from Arab origin including South Sudanese and political demagogues evolve. Those who have been entrusted to take charge of government affairs in Malakal had no any basic ideas or knowledge about their role as public trustees, but instead they were busy looting public funds and cheating people with their uncouth behavior. Despite all these, the town remained intact showing steady deterioration even after the Arabs left the scene.
A new generation however, emerged with more advanced credential and ideas after the abrogation of Addis Ababa Agreement. They entered into politics of ideologies, sections, tribal and regionalism, which became the phenomena of the time. During liberation struggle, politics was in the view of late Dr. John Grana a game of numerical tribal arithmetic to weigh leadership balance in the country. Meanwhile, during Salava Kiir’s regime, politics became characterized by monolithic tribal domination, land conquest, nepotism, corruption and poor leadership perception.
Collo land suffered immensely from negligence, when contradiction and unnecessary wrangling consistently prevailed among its leaders. Unfortunately, some view themselves above sectional and regional politics leaving those who didn’t have any mercy on grounds of moral ethics or the least sense of belonging to plunder and mess up with the affairs in Collo land. Malakal became like an expanded big village, impoverished and without any local political guidance; a town lacking public amenities such as clean drinking water, electricity, public health centers, proper schools, open spaces and roads. No one was available to answer for the rampant anarchy emanated from corrupt and bad leadership in the area.
Collo land was steadily deteriorating and embracing bad and corrupt elements from different origins. A considerable segment of intruders have claimed sense of belonging or even gone further to claim ownership, as over majority settled in areas designated to them according to their tribal affiliation such as: Hay Malakia, Hay Jalaba, Hay Dinka, Hay Zande, Hay Moro, Hay ‘Maan Laach Chieng’ mostly a Nuer populated area in Bom …etc. Unlike other towns in Juba and Wau, Malakal became a home to everyone who reside and felt in love with it, especially its people and culture.
Following the 4th Anniversary of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9th Jan. 2009 and with the encouragement of president Salva Kiir, Malakal became a contested zone. Loud voices started to raise calming ownership until it became an issue of fierce debate among students and a hot topic in political circles. Unpatriotic leaders mainly from wicket Collo, including Dinka and Nuer elements competed for ascendency to win political portfolio, either as governor or minister of finance…etc, with motives to loot public funds until Malakal became thoroughly exhausted and reduced to a little more than a milking cow.
There was growing tension among the people who have been leaving side by side and in peace and harmony for all these centuries. The sound of drums for Malakal ownership became loud and louder marking the beginning for land conquest (literarily known as land grapping) in Collo land and elsewhere across South Sudan. In absence of strong Collo leadership to defend the interest of the Collo people; Malakal became an area for outright plunder, and a free zone to claim by ‘Jieng Apadang’ with consent and encouragement of Presidential Palace (J1) in Juba.
President Kiir decided to give away Collo land (Pigo and Korfulus) to Dinka Thoi and Paweng with out any shame or even resistant from Collo politicians in the contemporary South Sudan. Many petitions have been written and addressed to reverse this unfair decision remarkably by H.M. Reth Kwongo Dak Padiet who wrote a letter with that effect. James Ogilo Agor, Chief Mathew Obur and Collo Intellectuals Committee in Juba wrote also letters addressing the same grievances. But none of all these petitions came to bear on the decision passed or even attracted concern of President Kiir who was intent to press a head with the project. A situation described by observers as occupation and President kiir being viewed in Collo land as ‘a mere Dinka Chief’.
The decision taken by C-in-C and Chairman of SPLM/A-IO Dr. Riek Machar to divide South Sudan into Twenty One (21) Federal States represents a Paradigm shift which attracted overwhelming support by over majority of the people of South Sudan, many have received the plan with great joy particularly the Collo People who saw an end to this unnecessary wrangling over obvious constitutional issues. Malakal is a 100% Collo land and justice will always prevail according to Nyarumi Ogat Awin who resides as a displaced person at White Nile in Sudan. Nyarumi said; Dr. Riek Machar is the right person to lead now in South Sudan; simply because he is fair and knows facts surrounding land boundaries 1956. She blamed President Salva Kiir for destabilization and wanton destruction witnessed today in South Sudan. She said had Salva Kiir heeded to the yearning of the suffering people of South Sudan; there wouldn’t had been more hate, killings and division that engulfed the country today. She added that Federal system as suggested by Dr. Machar is the only remedy for all sickness befalling the people of one aim and past misfortune. Nyarumi concluded saying Collo should unite and rally support behind Dr. Riek Machar in his quest for peace and stability in the country.
Aban Odiang Abowl who is currently residing in Kodok area blamed the entire catastrophe in Malakal on Salva Kiir and his militiamen on the ground. He said, Collo had no feuds with Nuer to remember except, ‘Lyinj Paar’ Hippopotamus dispute in which many died on both sides during 70th. Never before had Nuer claimed or occupied Collo land, besides there was no friction between the two communities to remember, only minor issue pertaining to displacement of Lou Nuer at Awarjowk and Obel. The two tribes have been living in peace and harmony for quite a long time. He concluded saying, the current misconception that Nuer had deliberately killed Collo natives holds no water according to Odiang. However, facts surrounding the Malakal incident will still reveals in the near future. He strongly calls for unity of Collo people to rally support for federal arrangement as the only solution for peace and tranquility in South Sudan.
Indeed Collo must not lose vision on land grievances at Pigo and Korfulus for which many young men and women including Gen. Johnson Olony and Oyowk Ogat took arms to address. The Pigo was arbitrarily given away by President Kiir to resolve Jieng Klan dispute at the expense of Collo land rights in the area. There is groundswell of discontent among Collo youth sufficient enough to spark arm struggle in the area. However, chances to win back the lost land is greater under Dr. Riek’s vision for peaceful coexistence, than under President Kiir current fascist and dictatorial regime. The choice is ours and that Collo must not betray the wisdom bestowed upon us by our ancestors. We must not redo the achievements of the above-mentioned fine politicians and skilled administrators, let us leave by their examples and unite to stand firmly for Federal arrangement that will give us back our confiscated rights. Let us unite in solidarity to stop policies of backwardness, hegemony and land occupation. Victory is always on our side and God bless South Sudan.
The author, Gwado J. Ador, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org