The Nuer Prophet Ngundeng Bong!
By Mayian Tot,
Jan 5,2015(Nyamilepedia) — Gift –of Deng, or Ngundeng Bong’ as he is popularly known. Was born into Bong Chan’s family of (Cie-Leak) Bul–Nuer earth-master and Nyayiel Malual of Lou-Nuer toward the closing ends of 1830s. While young, Ngundeng Bong was seized by a powerful Divine Spirit’ later praised by his [Dayoms] or disciple as Deng-Taath. And this Deng-Taath divine spirit, invoke in Ngundeng powerful prophetic powers and abilities that would remained active in him throughout his entire life.
Dengkur or Ngundeng Bong is considered to be Naath’s first Prophet of its kind –and was in fact one of the most powerful and famous prophet known to the Nuer people of South Sudan.
Nuer Oral historical accounts inform us that, Ngundeng Bong was born –KUEICHIENG. Meaning at Nuer cradle in Bentiu. With his family Bong Chan, Ngundeng’s father later crossed the Nile from Western Nuer to reside at Malou Raar among Gaatleak whom themselves where residing among Jikany or rather Gaajok section of Eastern Nuer.
Bong Chan, Ngundeng’s father become earth-master after he had received his leopard-skin from his nephew to carry out duties and responsibilities of earth master-ship such as resolving blood feuds, mediating dispute and other societal functions attached to Nuer earth-masters. But however, when Bong Chan die, Ngundeng was entrusted with the same responsibilities as earth-master.
According to the book, [THE NUER PROPHETS] –it was pointed out that, the main reasons as to why Ngundeng’s father [Bong Chan] relocated to Eastern-Nuer was to’ settled with his sister who had married into Manleak section whom had migrated to settle eastern Nuer earlier.
Dengkur or Ngundeng Bong was the only child born to Nyayiel Malual –and Oral testimony from Nuer elders maintain that Nyayiel gave birth to her only son at a very late age, and thus the son was name [Ngun-Deng] meaning the Gift –of Deng. Being name Gift –of Deng Taath, or the God creator, according Nuer historical narrative had to a large degree placed Ngundeng at the centre of spirituality and divinity especially upon several seizures by the same divine spirit of Deng.
Nuer-Oral historical accounts point out that, Ngundeng Bong had grown to the position of fames with double abilities of both curse and blessing to overcome JI-WAAL (magician) and Minor Prophets in order to resolve blood feuds, mediate societal dispute, resist colonialism, prevent cattle raids and stop the ills treatment of the poor. The oral narrative continue to maintains that Ngundeng had foretold and prophecies future events with great accuracy which many generations would later witness and reinterprets to fit within their political, social and economic challenges’ of the day. With no doubt, he was one of the most powerful prophet ever known –historically to Naath or the Nuer people of upper Nile valley and the whole Nilotic people of Southern Sudan and beyond for that matter.
Ngundeng Bong –was of (THUT) age-set. Experts had calculated counting backwards and concluded that –the THUT age-set were initiated at around 1850 WESTERN NUER. 1855 EASTERN NUER –given the fact that Naath boyhoods passage to adulthood or manhood is marked by initiation of six lines, mark or Gaar to the forehead. Suggesting that Ngundeng would have been initiated while in his mid-twenties.
Gift of Deng, Dengkur or Ngundeng Bong was a man of many great characters and qualities. He worked hard cultivating and slogging his big farm and was simultaneously ready to assist the poor, needy and all kinds of visitor’s referring to them as [JAAL KOUTH] or God’s visitors. He embraced peaceful coexistent rejects senseless wars, raids and destructions. Saying ‘’I’m not a leader of ant, I fight for the cause that is right’’
In 1906 after his death Captain H. D. E. O’Sullivan reported that, he was much beloved as well as fears by all, very just, always help poor never allowed killing.
The above report by O’Sullivan was confirmed true by oral testimony and had been added that, Prophet Ngundeng had throughout maintained a large farm feeding all kids of visitors calling them (JAAL KOUTH) God’s visitors. He also condemns and outlaws the ill treatment of lame, deaf and blind peoples calling them gaat-Deng children of God Deng.
Simultaneously, His Divine-spirit reject magician; Ngundeng had a bitter confrontation and had rejects JI- WAAL (magician) who practiced magic either for personal gains and/or to secure divine spiritual power and had warned them that one day this practices will be abandoned only to be replaced with Nyang-Geer. Nyang-geer had been concluded by many Nuer as Christianity since GEER in Nuer language mean cross. To this very day Nuer congregation in the church would simply state: Ci Jesus liw wic jieth mi geer. Meaning Jesus dies on the cross.
Ngundeng Bong had build THREE shrines or BEI, and the largest of three is located in KEIJ later renamed WEIDENG the place of Deng near WAAT Nyirol County LOU-NUER.
Prior to the building process, harvest was conducted grain collected and accommodations places where set up. Words spread out to distant lands saying that Dengkur or prophet Ngundeng is going to build his shrine within the heart centre of Lou-Nuer and at the end of the rain season. The building or construction process began in the month of November known as KUR in Nuer language and when on for [Four Rainy Seasons]. Meaning it took 4 years to complete Ngundeng’s BIE at Wei-Deng.
At first, Ngundeng locate the site for his shrine or BIE, and then a hole was dug. Black and white KER cow was placed in the hole and then was cover and buried alive with mixed earth soil and ashes right at the center of the BEI itself. Iron spears were buried there too.
Percy Coriat on his article Gwek and the Pyramid of Dengkur report it as follow:
‘’Story has it that for days the plain of KEIJ was black with people. blood feuds were forgotten at dawn Ngundeng carried the first load of earth to the site he has chosen for his Luak Kwoth (House of God) and thus was begun the building of the pyramid. From that hour until it was completed he supervised and controlled the work of thousands of Nuer’’.
The building of this mound was a gigantic tasks reports Evans-Pritchard. ‘’It was constructed of wet ashes mixed with baked and unbaked earth. The worker who built it stood one above the other in triers from the base of the pyramid and each handed up material to man above him’’.
While eyes witness had their testimony collected and so is Ngundeng’s son, Garang Ngundeng who was born in 1890s and had witnessed how his father’s shrine was built concluded that the BEI at Weidang’ took four rain seasons to complete in an interview conducted in 1976 by Douglas H Johnson.
In January 1906, Ngundeng died and was ultimately laid to rest within his byre and buried there by his two elder sons Reath and Bor. One hundred and nine years later Due to a large influence by Ngundeng words and prophecies a segment of Nuer youths and elders refers to Ngundeng as one true prophet giving to Naath by Deng Taath, and according to them Deng-Taath mean heavenly creator, therefore they still follow his words.
However this view is rejected by many Christian Nuer too, despite the facts that Ngundeng’s life and prophecies resemble that of biblical prophets to which they believed so much.
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