Press Release on The Case of Collo Land on the Eastern Bank of the White Nile in Upper Nile State

Chollo Community in Malakal PoC protesting against Kiir's 28 states during a recent visit made by JMEC chief Festus

Chollo Community in Malakal PoC protesting against Kiir’s 28 states during a recent visit made by JMEC chief Festus

March 10, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– There is a baseless claim by a group of Ngok Dinka of Upper Nile State that Malakal town and other Collo (Shilluk) areas on the eastern bank of the White Nile in Upper Nile State belong to them. In their various attempts, the Ngok Dinka could not provide evidence to support their claims. Moreover, there are no known historical documents that ever placed the border between Collo and Ngok Dinka in the middle of both the White Nile and Sobat Rivers as this group falsely claims.

The first claim by Dinka Ngok over Collo land was submitted in March 1980 in the form of a letter addressed to the then Regional Government of Southern Sudan claiming that some Collo areas in Khorfus area belong to the Dinka. In its response dated 23 September 1981, however, the Government of Southern Sudan rejected this claim citing as the basis of its decision substantial evidence obtained by its team of surveyors dispatched to the disputed areas to ascertain the facts on the ground. A true copy of that decision by the Southern Sudan’s Ministry of Administration, Police and Prisons is readily available in records.

Secondly, in 1994 a group of Ngok Dinka made a second attempt claiming Collo lands east of the White Nile.  They wrote a letter, which they sent to the Government of the Republic of Sudan in Khartoum. The Government of Sudan emphatically rejected that claim as baseless and unsubstantiated, affirming its adherence to the boundaries between districts in southern Sudan as they stood at independence of Sudan in January 1956.  The Sudan Government’s decision also clearly spelled out that Collo are the native owners of Malakal.

Thirdly, during the liberation war in South Sudan, specifically in 2004, some Ngok Dinka politicians wrote a letter to the Chairman of SPLM/SPLA, late Dr. John Garang de Mabor, falsely claiming the ownership of Malakal and all other Collo areas east of the White Nile.  Again, the SPLM/SPLA Chairman rejected that claim, warning against unfounded land claims that could potentially create unnecessary conflicts and threaten peace and stability between neighbouring communities.

It is important to provide a brief historical perspective for the benefit of those who may not be aware of the facts related to these false claims. The Collo Kingdom is the oldest human settlement in the present day Upper Nile State, and indeed the whole South Sudan. It was established by Nyikang, the son of Okwa (the first Collo King) centuries before Dinka migrations began arriving to Upper Nile area, and long before Sudan was ever created and administered as a country. All historical evidence indicates that at no time in history did the Collo displace the Ngok Dinka, or any Dinka for that matter, from anywhere in the present Upper Nile Region. Documents from the British colonial era closed districts policy clearly indicate that the Collo have been living on both the east and west banks of the river Nile for more than 500 years.

Historical documents indicate that the border between Kodok and Bailiet (formerly Abwong) districts lies 27 miles east of Malakal at Banglai, and follows a small seasonal stream (Wuol) that drains into the Sobat River northwards and passes Akoka before ending into the White Nile just opposite Kodok town. This indicates that all Dinka Ngok and Dongjol settlements lie east of Wuol and so, in fact, Malakal town has no border with the land of the Ngok Dinka. Before the independence of Sudan, Abwong district was dismantled when the Nuer sections were given their individual districts and the Ngok Dinka who could not fit anywhere remained in the cold. The Governor of Upper Nile Province appointed an Assistant District Commissioner to look after Ngok Dinka with an office in Malakal. The Dongjol Dinka who has been hitherto part of Kodok district was annexed to the Ngok Dinka to form a new Sobat Rural Council with its headquarters at Bailiet. However, Bailiet lacked physical infrastructure, and the rural council was temporarily housed in Malakal until it was moved to Bailiet in 1976.  That district was thus temporarily administered from Malakal and this perhaps is one of the reasons behind the false claim over Malakal by the Ngok Dinka. While Sobat Rural Council was temporarily housed in Malakal, the taxes and dues in Malakal were being collected and disbursed by Malakal Town Council.

At no point throughout the period of the British Colonial Administration in Sudan was Malakal town part of any district that included Bailiet and Akoka as one administrative area. The temporary arrangement did not in any way mean that Bailiet was to become part of the Kodok District that included Malakal. This is a common knowledge to anyone who ever lived in the town. At the moment as at any time before, the overwhelming majority of residents of Malakal are Collo. The Dinka of Bailiet and the Nuer of Nasir have never at any one time settled on the east bank of the Nile where the present settlements of the Collo are located.

Furthermore the recent Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) considers the ten (10) states of South Sudan as the basis for the resolution of the conflict and not Kiir’s tribally motivated 28 states that illegally annexes the lands of other South Sudanese tribes to the Dinka tribe. President Kiir’s connivance with Ngok Dinka of Upper Nile to use state authority, military and other resources to annex the lands of Collo and other tribes to his Dinka tribe is a well-coordinated conspiracy planned at the level of the so-called Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders.  This ill-advised tribal conspiracy is meant to establish Dinka dictatorship and dominion over other South Sudanese tribes.

We the Collo people caution Ngok Dinka of Upper Nile to refrain from irresponsible actions that potentially jeopardize peace in the area and thwart the hopes of our people for a peaceful coexistence with their Dinka neighbours. We express our disappointment that South Sudan, a country for whose liberation all South Sudanese ethnicities fought and paid for so dearly, is now being turned into a tribal dictatorship with unprecedented barbarism and corruption by a selfish tribal group, which happens to usurp the political power in South Sudan. The latest consequences of such illegal actions are reflected in the recent tribal clashes in UNMISS site in Malakal with the involvement of state sponsored force of arms and terror. The barbaric action that left many innocent civilians from Collo and Nuer tribes dead and wounded has been comprehensively documented widely and globally condemned and the tribal government of Kiir is held responsible for these atrocities that constitute war crimes.

In conclusion, we would like to say that the Collo are a peaceful people and we advise the Ngok Dinka intellectuals of Upper Nile State not to distort history by attempting to change tribal boundaries that have existed for centuries. The tribal President Kiir being from Dinka ethnic group does not give him the right to change tribal boundaries at will. President Salva Kiir’s Establishment Order number 36/2015 is intended to annex Collo land on the eastern bank of the White Nile to his Dinka tribe in Upper Nile. Hence, it is unacceptable to the Collo people who are duty bound to defend their ancestral land.

Signed by Concerned Collo

  1. Peter Karlo Deng
  2. John Ojur Dennis
  3. Jwothab Wanh Othow
  4. Michael Kalakon
  5. Paul Achot
  6. Francis Nyawello Chan
  7. Oyhath Aromi
  8. Mayiik
  9. Otha Akoch
  10. Jago Adongjak
  11. Achwany Okony Ajang
  12. Benjamin Bol Paul
  13. Simon Pagan

For more information you can reach concerned Collo at jwothab@yahoo.com