Opinion: Response to false claims on Ruweng border with Unity State Part I

By Eng. Williang Gatjang Gieng

Photo: Former Rubkona County Commissioner Eng. William Gatjang Ging

March 22, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – On 24th February 2020, somebody by name Dr. Santino Ayual Luangar wrote an article, claiming that Ruweng had a clear administrative border with Unity State since 1905. However, when I went through his document, it appeared that the man was claiming almost the whole part of Nuer territory northern of Ghazel River which had never been for Ruweng people at all. Furthermore, Ayual accused Nuer of Unity State of marginalizing Ruweng Dinka and excluding them from getting their constitutional rights as citizens of the State. It is true that some people in this world promote their histories by distorting the true histories of others and create fake ones to fit their interest for what they want to be in order to cheat others.

Ayual was reacting to the statements stated by Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol as their parties decisions in regarded to the creation of three administrative areas of Abyei, Ruweng and Pibor after when President Salva Kiir decreed the dissolution of the controversial 32 States and returned the Country back to its Constitutional ten states as the Revitalized Peace agreement of 2018 requires.

In his reaction, Ayual was so proud that he is a PHD holder like those two gentlemen and that gave him the courage to respond on behalf of Ruweng people with all that he could. In his critics, he appeared to be among those who hate the two prominent leaders most on account of Nasir Declaration in 1991 which was a called for all South Sudanese people to fight for self-determination instead of New Sudan which was the main slogan since inception of the Movement in 1983 till 2005. Moreover, he also proved himself to be one of those masterminding the land grabbing and Dinka domination policy which has been shown by his false claims in his document where he shamelessly renamed all the oil fields located in Nuer territory in Unity State with with Dinka names including the famous Unity Oil field in Chotjiok (Leek village), Manga Oil field at Kuer Bona (Jikany land) and  those of Har and Keirat fields of Dor Barkor(Leek areas), those of Dor Payangai and Rotriaah (Leek reas) and many more just to mention a few.

As to respond correctly to his baseless claims and wild allegations, may force me touching some facts from the past events having direct influence on the later actions, such explanation may disturb feelings of others who do not want the truth to be made known to the public, but I have to as the situation requires. We should not keep silent while facts are being turned opposite at our watch against us and our God given land. The Author (Ayual) of the allegations and his readers as well must expect some hot responses from the Nuer people of Unity State with the buried truth to be made known to the public so that everybody judges what is correct.

In this cases, I want to remind my readers in advance that I am not preaching a hate speech here but disputing (1) the false claims about Ruweng border with Unity State and (2) the negative allegation of political Marginalization and Exclusion of the said Dinka groups from the Nuer of Unity State as claimed by brother Ayual Luongar. The message may be long in detailing facts and truth proving that Ayual is a liar both in his border claims and reasons designed to justify the Ruweng exit from Unity State, but please bear with me to get my point.

Although Ayual seemed to have jumped some facts in the administrative transfer of Ruweng People from Province to Province, however, he has mentioned some good points that will help readers of his text understand the problem of Ruweng both in the past and at the moment in a different angle rather than the way he sees it.  Brother Ayual, in your false claim for boundaries between Ruweng Area and Unity State, you appeared clearly that you know nothing about that issue between Ruweng and Western Nuer areas, but pretending to have known it while not. You were fed wrongly by somebody who pretended also to have known the borders well between Ruweng and Nuer while he was not too. You had just accepted that because of greedy of oil in that fertile areas of Nuer land which you shamelessly have renamed with Dinka names to fit your claims. However, I will prove you wrong and as somebody who wants to disturb the peaceful co-existence of Ruweng with Nuer people in Unity State.

Administrative Transfers of Ruweng People

Brother Ayual stated a very important point that ‘’at the beginning of Condominium Rule, the British Colonial Administration after having explored the northern areas of Ghazel River to transfer from Bahr El Ghazel Province, annexed the areas of Ngok Dinka to Northern Province of Nuba Mountain in 1905.’’ According to this narrative, the British Colonial Administration was looking for empty space (land) where he could settle these people (Ruweng). In that Ayual article, it is shown that Ruweng people had been transferred from Province to province of the then Sudan five (5) times during the colonial period since 1905 to 1941.

In 1905, Jok (Ngok of Abyei), Ruweng and Twic Dinka were transferred from Southern province of Bahr El Ghazel to Northern province of Nuba Maintains. In 1913, they all were re-transferred to Kordufan Province after the dissolution of Nuba Mts Province. In 1927, both Ruweng and Twic were re-transferred back to Bahr El Ghazel Province, district of Tonj leaving their cousins Ngok of Abyei up in the northern province of Kordufan. In 1929, Ruweng were finally re-transferred to Upper Nile Province where they became part of Bentiu sub-district under Fangak district and was transferred again to Bentiu District established in 1941. Now, one can ask the following questions:

1) Why had these people been subjected to several administrative transfers from province to province from time to time? 2) What triggered their transfer from their cousins in Bahr El Ghazel Province (first transfer from the Dinka Dominated Province) in the South and prefer to be annexed to Jur of Nuba Mountains and Kordufan provinces? 3) What was the reason for their re-transfer (2nd transfer from Bahr El Ghazel Province) to Upper Nile Province where they were placed under the administration of Fangak district purely dominated by Nuer in those days? 4) What made it difficult and impossible for the British Colonial Administration to establish Ruweng and Ngok district apart from Tonj district in the same Bahr El Ghazel province?  5) Why Ruweng did not claim during the successive Governments of then Sudan if they have some areas taken by Nuer in Bentiu District/Unity State those days? Or why they did not claim to be given their own administration apart from Western Upper Nile/Unity State if at all their false claims of today of being marginalized had been true? 6) Could the population of Ruweng in those days (1905-1941) allow them to extend their settlement from Panaru north and westward up to present location of Alor West of Mayom?  7) If a Dinka minority in Western Upper Nile could extend from East to West in that vast land of the northern part of said District/State, what would the extension of the Nuer tribe who were the majority in Western region be up to across the 4 geographical locations of the same District in those days?

As from the Ayual explanation quoted above, it is clear that some of the transfers were not the ideas from the British Administration but claims from those Dinka being transferred from place to place due to reasons beyond tolerant in those provinces. I guess some of those problems might have been their own makings (generated by them) and some were external threats from other groups.

A live example was that the first transfer of Twic, Ruweng and Jok from Bahr El Ghazel to Nuba Mts Province in 1905 and again to Kordufan province in 1913. Ayual proved it that ‘’while in Kordufan by the late 1920, the four chiefs of these Dinka groups came to their ‘’senses and made a wise conclusion that the true destiny of their people belonged to Southern Sudanese.’’ This meant, they were the ones mobilizing themselves during the first transferred to Nuba Mts Province for whatever reason they felt not comfortable with in Bhar El Ghazel Province, that claim convinced the Colonial Administrator at that time and accepted their transfer from Southern Province  to Northern Province. Another clear evident showing that the initial move to Northern Province was their own initiative is that when the three chiefs of the above Dinka groups decided later to come back home to their former Bhar El Ghazel Province in South after spending 15 years in the North, their cousins Jaang jiok/Jok (Ngok of Abyei) refused to buy their ideas and preferred to remain in the north till now. Somewhere in  his text, Ayual was trying to justify that the re-transfer of Twic and Ruweng back to Bahr El Ghazel was because ‘’British Colonial Administrators thought that it was unfeasible for these Dinka groups to be administrated from the Headquarters of Arab Province nor in Upper Nile due to their ethnic identity and because the British colonial administrations at that time were chiefly organized on tribal lines, thus that prompted the transferred of the two Dinka sub tribes back to Bahr El Ghazel province in 1927.’’

Now, if that was the reason for rejoining their fellow Dinka at home, why again had they been  re-transferred to Upper Nile Province after  three(3) years in that province? Again Ayual said the issue was due to transportation difficulties and other administrative issues which I strongly dispute not true. The British Colonial Administration could have known those conditions before and could not issue an administrative order to re-transfer these people back to Bahr El Ghazel Province in 1927 and three years later, re-transferred them again to Upper Nile Province. There is something being hided here in the history, and this makes the statements of brother Ayual unconformity and cannot convince any reader of article, unless somebody having the same mentality and intention.

I think Ayual and his likeminded cousins are trying to distort the true histories of Ruweng transfer from place to place by creating fake histories to fit their false claims.  In another way around, they are trying the art of turning the impossible into possible through lies as a definition of politic from some experts. As from the above mentioned transfers of these people from Province to Province, one can understand that the verbal history which was the main reason for to and fro movements of these Dinka groups have now been confirmed though Ayual was trying to conceal it.

The true history was that long ago, the three groups of Ruweng (Alor, Awet and Kuil) migrated from Areas of Baliet and Atar in Upper Nile, crossed the River overthere to Chollo land while leaving behind at Korfuls some of their family members who were tired in that long journey and were renamed as Powany even nowadays. Those who had courage and strengths to go, headed their way northwest after crossing River then passing through Chollo land until they camped at Biw area where they day break at dawn and they named the ‘’Panaru’ in Dinka language’, and later on they moved to Riangnom (Present Pariang) and other areas around Lake Jaw northeast of Western Nuer region where Awet fought with Alor and the later was ousted from the area southwards crossing Nuer fields and grazing land westward till they camped temporary at a place called Biem Kat an area of Twic Dinka located west of Abiemnhiom County where they were forced again to cross the River back to Nuer land by owners (twic Dinka). The vulnerable Alor Ruweng had no other choice rather than negotiating settlement with Bul Nuer traditional leaders who allowed them to stay where they are at the moment and they called themselves (Alor) Nyang Chol Kuod associating with Nyang subsection of Kuach Section of Bul Nuer.

If the narrative of Ayual were true, definitely the reason of the first transfer from Bahr El Ghazel to Nuba Mountains could be due to a fatal intersectional clashes that might have been erupted in 1900s between Twic, Ruweng and Jok with other group of Dinka at home. It could be the reason why Jaang jiok/Jok (Ngok of Abei) refused to come back to Bahr El Ghazel when the other three decided to come back in 1927. The same could be true with the transfer of Ruweng after three years in Bahr El Ghazel Province in which case another round of fresh deadly clash had erupted between Ruweng with Twic Dinka in the area of Tonj district and that forced their transfer to Upper Nile Province in 1941 where they became part of Bentiu sub-district of Fangak District of Western Nuer by then.

At the beginning of this text, you have read that the British had explored the northern Areas of Ghazel River, meaning, looking for empty places where to settle these victimized groups of Ruweng Dinka and the possible areas to accommodate them were those grazing fields of Nuer cattle; thus the British colonial administration had to press hard on Nuer, pushing them back to some distant in order to allow the settlement of Ruweng Dinka in that land. This was what might have created some frictions between Nuer and Dinka groups in the Western Upper Nile in those days, especially in the grazing fields but was overcome after some times. It was due to this reason and the other facts explained above which made it impossible for both the British Administrations and the then successive Governments of Sudan to create separate Ruweng Administration in thier new settlement areas in Western Nuer district/Unity State. If Ruweng are not comfortable with this fact and reality in this century, that is a different issue. Instead of labeling baseless allegation of being marginalized and excluded in Unity State by Nuer, they should thanks and appreciate Nuer for staying together with them in the area for 59 good years since 1941 compare to their unrest situations in Bahr El Ghazel, Nuba Mts and Kordufan Provinces in those periods. Many successive Governments of the then Sudan came and gone and nobody came up with an issue of neither land dispute nor being marginalized in the Area. Why had they been re-transferred after 3 years from Bahr El Ghazel Province which was a pure Dinka dominated province to a Nuer dominated district of Western Upper Nile? This clearly indicates that those Ruweng members and the cousins who are advising them wrongly are not sincere even to themselves and are not telling the truth. This improves that they have different agenda they want to pursue at the shadow of this Dinka led government.

If Nuer were not good people with to them at all, a small section of Alor Ruweng whom were dislodged mercilessly by their cousins of Awet in Panaru and again rejected forcefully by Twic Dinka at Biem Kat area at the same time could not exist in our midst. Bul Nuer colud have utilized the chance properly, confiscated their cattle and properties, eliminated their men and took their children and mothers as vulnerable captives to Nuer land where they could be assimilated easily and no more Alor Dinka could be seen in Abiem nhiom at the moment.

As for God fear and humanity feeling, Bul Nuer did not act that way; instead, they saved narrowly the lives of those vulnerable Ruweng from merciless jaws of the giant ancient Dinasours and welcome them as brothers and sisters in Nuer land. This is the reason why Alor have strong ties with Bul Nuer in Unity State. I wish people like Hon. Patariya Monyroor and the likes should know this instead of making noises in Juba for nonsense claims.

If such kind of human hospitality of Nuer in Unity State cannot be appreciated by Ruweng people, then they (Ruweng) can’t say thanks even to God who is giving them the simple air life (oxygen) they are inhaling and exhaling at the moment. How come that you were not stable in your tribe dominated land in the past and you were transferred to Nuer dominated region through difficulties in the past and you spent almost 60 years with Nuer in their dominated land, yet you are claiming that you have been mistreated and marginalized by Nuer? Does that have any logic at all?

Administrative Boundaries between Ruweng and Western Nuer Areas in Unity State

Ayual jumped to issue with negative information proudly, showing himself that he is a PHD holder and somebody with legal background of education who can easily coin out something to deceive the world through media outlets with fake histories, illegal maps with fake imaginary lines which he and his likeminded brothers did to propagate with it loudly as an attempt to prove the creation of Ruweng Administrative Area.

I do agree of course that there are borders between Ruweng of Panaru (Parieng County) with neighboring Leek and Jikany Nuer of Greater Rubkotna Counties (i.e Guit and Rubkotna Counties) in the East and Northeast of the State while Abiemnhiom and Mayom Counties in the West do have another different border. But, there is any NO Common Border point connecting Abiemnhiom with Pariang Counties at all (see the attached maps).

The ‘’blue tooth connection’’ being claimed between the two Counties by Santino Ayual Luangar and the likes is a wild lies and a fabricated political project of Jieng Council of Elders whose secrete behind is to grab the oil rich fields in the territories of the three counties bordering Pariang and Abiemnhiom Counties such that the claim may enable Ruweng to link up with their Cousins Jok in Abyei and again with Warrap so that they can altogether form later another separate Ngok State bordering Sudanese States of Kordufan. This is a long term strategic planning that they had been working on it secretly since 1990s while other South Sudanese people were busy fighting the common enemies, the successive regimes of Khartoum in the first Sudan civil war. All the maps and other justifications he put there are nonsense and rubbishes.

The Correct Borders between Ruweng and Nuer in Unity

Creating a tribal map for peaceful co-existence between ethnic communities is not just a matter of one sitting at the side of a table with his/her computer on top, modifying the previous maps by drawing the lines, filling the names of areas on the map in the ways he/she wants or dictating those features to the experts to put them the ways the claimer wants to achieve his/her goals. No, it is not that way at all brother Ayual. It is a fact and truth finding presentation with mutual agreement and acceptance on both sides so that communities stay peacefully in their God given lands as good neighbors. You and your group should also know that claiming of land ownership dating back to decays of the ‘’ancient human waves for settlements’’ in this world is long gone; otherwise, it is like scratching old wounds whose new pains would be more serious than the previous ones, fact must be told.

You should also know very well that when the British Colonial Administration was about to quit away from Sudan, it had properly marked the tribal lands all over the Country including the Southern Sudanese tribal lands and the areas we are talking about in Western Upper Nile.  Locations of those tribal land marks and boundaries are still clear and known to everybody within those neighboring communities and those who used to participate physically in the seasonally paved roads repair and clearance in those areas during those days are still alive and know their border points very well.

Ayual and his group are disputing the map of 79 Counties of South Sudan which clearly states the correct boundaries between Ruweng and Nuer in that Western Upper Nile district (Unity State) which was drawn when all Sudanese States were subdivided into 133 districts by the time Riek Machar was still a Rebel Commander in the bush of Southern Sudan fighting the then successive regimes of Khartoum. It was not Riek Machar made map as Ayual is claiming. It was a map of all 133 districts of the then when Unity State was subdivided into four districts (Pariang for Kuil and Awet, Mayom for Bul & Alor, Rubkotna for Leek & Jikany and Leer for Jagei, Dok, Haak & Nyuon). It was endorsed by all Sudanese people working in that Government by then in which members of Ruweng Dinka like Makuach Deng Makuach, late Joch Kiir and the rest were present and it became a lawful document (see fig: 1 the attached Map  below).

Ayual was claiming that the map was not recognized by all South Sudanese and the government of South Sudan, then, who recognized that land grabbing map of JCE? It was created with the aim to pursuing the agenda of 32 States (recently abolished) while the country was at war and it is favoring only the tribal interest of Jieng and was not approved by all stake holders. It was illegally done to claim ownership of land of other tribes in the Country and this is the reason why the 32 villages have just been thrown into dustbin recently. It is very shameful for a PHD holder to encourage tribal disputes by propagating falsely and deceiving the whole world with fake maps by cheating on what is not necessary true. Brother Ayual, you should know that the peaceful co-existence of both Dinka and Nuer tribes in Unity State matter a lot like that of other tribes sharing other States in the Country, and the presence of our different ethnic diversity in anya given State in South Sudan is our pride and that gives the true beautiful color of our Country. They should not be disturbed with nonsense claims based on tribal political agenda and personal greedy for wealth.

File-1: Unity state map

a) Border between Bul and Alor (Mayom and Abiem nhiom Counties)

Both counties lise west of the State with the Abiem nhiom further west of Mayom County where it (Abiemnhiom County) borders the areas of Warrap west and Abyei northwest.There is no common border points between Rubkotna and Abiem nhiom Counties leave alone the border between Paraiang and Abiem nhiom Counties which brother Ayual was trying to connect through what I called a Blue tooth connection. It is Mayom County which border Rubkotna County east and both which have common border points in some areas with Missaria in the northen directions. Example of some areas of Mayom County bodering Missiraia nomads in the northern direction are Panyileng, Kotngong Nyang, Kai Kang and many others at Pan Maloah just to mentioned a few.

b) Borders between Ruweng and Jikany (Pariang and Guit Counties)

Pariang County of Ruweng Dinka of Panaru lies Northeast to Eastern direction of Guit County of Western Jikany Nuer in Unity State. The villages/areas of Jikany located at the extreme land endpoints bordering Ruweng villages are Let (Jikany village) located about 20 km north of Kuer Bona (Manga oil fields FPF), Jikany Garak of Tut Both (Southern Garak) bordering Ruweng Garak (Northern), Rungun, Buolyar, Biem Chol and Geat bordering Biw village (Ruweng village) in the east and Lel Guan Yay located southeast of Biw village. This Lel Guan Yay village is an island at the triple meeting point of Ghazel, Jabel and White Nile Rivers forming Lake No locally known in Nuer as Pul Karatuom. This Island was settled first in the late 1890s by a man from W. Jikany called Yay Jany during period when the series of floods covered most parts of the region between 1880s-1890s (see fig 2. Western Nuer map of 1954 below).

File-2: Map of Western Nuer Territory, Source: JIT 1954

 

c) Borders between Ruweng Dinka and Leek Nuer

The correct border between Ruweng (Paraing County) and Leek Nuer (Rubkotna County) lies between the following villages whose civil population was displaced many times mainly by seasonal floods, insecurity and the oil operation activities in which some of those areas have been renamed as oil wells, oil fields, CFPs or FPFs etc.

Ayual said in his claim that during those days of British colonial administration,‘’ Ngeer, Bugo and Miorcigiu  communities  of Ruweng were responsible for seasonal road repairs  from Pariang Town to Kubur Nyabol near Yoanyang village of Rubkotna County.’’This is totally nonsense and not true. It is unfounded claim which is a clear indication of land grabbing purpose. Let me correctly inform brother Ayual who was totally misinformed wrongly by his wrong advisors that the midpoint between those Ruweng and Leek Communities during the seasonal road repair long ago and until 1982 before SPLM/A took armed the following year was Nokpuot River not Kubur Nyabol as he was deceiving the world.

Nyabola is a mispronouunced named for Nyaboola village of the Padaang Nuer section located northwest of Rubkotna town bordering Pariak area which is now part of Yoanyang Buma of Chior subsection of Chieng Gany Nuer. Kubur Nyabol is located less than 4km from the current UNMISS Camp north of Rubkotna Airport. The name Kubur Nyabol refers to a small bridge connecting the said village with Rubkotna town at Pariak village and that name was introduced by Northerners during the construction of the Heglig-Rubkotna paved road by American Based Chevron Oil Company in late 1975. The name Nyabol was meant for Nyaboola village like the way they were saying Rubkona while the correct name from the owner is Rubkotna.

How come that Ruweng members  of Panaru were participating in the seasonal road repair up to that point? To show that Ayual was totally wrong in his claim, this road was a company road which had never been repaired by civilians like the government roads.

Ayual claim for this area is a serious a misleading and a clear intention for land grabbing policy designed by Ruweng elites to achieve the said agenda, but I believe even some members from Ruweng will disagree with Ayual’s unfounded claim because this piece of inform is telling the readers that the man (Ayual) is propagating for what is not true and most of the explanations he gave about the boundaries between Ruweng Area and Unity State were 90% lies, nonsense and rubbishes and disqualifies the whole claim. The Heglig-Rubkotna road was for Chevron oil Company and had never been repaired by civilians.

Rubkotna County has common border with Baggara/Missaria nomads of Western Kordufan at the northern areas of Yaak(Heglig), Gethloai(Kersana), Dor Barkor, Parow, Barbar(Missaria called it Baweer after Bawar Tut Ruei who settled there in 1920s), Thanyier, Wangbieth and Pachol just to mention a few.

Nokpuot River

The two Counties (Rubkotna and Pariang) have common border point at Nokpuot River located West of Muot and Darbim villages (Leek areas) which is West of Nyil and Panakuel villages (Ruweng Dinka areas) and it is approximately 25 km northeast of Unity Oil Field located at Chotjiok village of Leek. It is this Nokpuot River where Padaang section of Leek Nuer used to meet with Ruweng sections during the time of dry season road repairs in those colonial periods till 1982 when SPLM/A took arms to wage war against then Sudan Government of President Jafer Nimeri the following year, 1983. The famous border meeting point between Ruweng Dinka and Leek Nuer well known to everybody in the State.

In 2009, administrative disputes occurred between the administrations of Rubkotna and Pariang Counties by the time Gen. Ruai Kuol Jal was the Commissioner of Rubkotna County and Mabek Lang De Bilkuei was the Commissioner of Pariang County when Gen. Taban Deng Gai, the incumbent Vice President of RTGoNU was the Governor of Unity State by then. The dispute was caused by control of areas where oil production was commencing and taxation fees taken from goods coming from Western Kordufan State through Heglig-Unity road north of the State.

As to solve those administrative disputes, A State ministerial committee was formed the same year to go and see the claiming border points between the two counties and that committee was chaired by Hon. Franco Duoth Diew who was the State Minister of Local Government and Law enforcement by then. Hon. Franco Duoth led the Committee to that border points in Nokpuot with each County Commissioner attending the visit to that border location point along with some members from his County administration. It was found that the meeting point was the middle of a small bridge crossing the Nokpuot River from West to East. The River divides the land east and west, meandering northwards to join the streams coming down from Nuba Mts and Southwards direction to meet Ghazel River. The road repair commenced at midway on this bridge Eastwards for those of Ruweng toward Pariang town and westwards for Leek Nuer(Padaang section)  until they meet Chier section at Kuor River about 7 km from Chotjiok village (the present Unity Oil Field). The claims of Ruweng People for those areas were disqualifies as baseless in both cases.

The only government’s road that used to be repaired by civilians was Bentiu-Kai luoy road that started immediately at the northen Bank of Ghazel River westward to Boaw village where it crossed Ngol River to Dhorboor and then turned northward to Wunbut village and  Kai Luoy Town (known also as Kal Thay-nyaang) and from there it turn eastward to Dul, Kuor, north of Chotjiok village (where the present Unity CPF is located, South of Chotjiok village) passed through several villages until it reached Nokpuot River far east Leek territory and from there crossed the River eastward passing through villages of Ruweng toward Pariang town from there to Kadugli in the Nuba Mountains in the northn. The nearest Ruweng villages from the eastern side of Nokpuot River in those days were Nyil and Panakuel where Dinka men who used to participate in the yearly dry season road repairs took rest after the tiresome jobs of road repairs.

ii) Payangay Area

Another border point of potential dispute between the two counties is the Payangay area (Nuer Name) which the Dinka called Panakuai. The area is entrance point of goods from Heglig to South Sudan territory. As it is the only border gateway, the administrations of the two counties have beena disputing over it for its potential business activities and its financial incomes (taxation). Long ago, when the series floodings were disturbing the Nuer settlement in Western Nuer land between 1880s-1890s, the area of Payangay was inhabited by two Gawar Sections namely Chier and Padaang whose villages were located at Kuer Payangay (high ground covered with forest of Balanita aegypttiaanca  trees (laalob trees) mixed with red acacia trees at the western side of Unity-Heglig road). The surrounding areas West, North towards Yaak village (Heglig), Northeast as well as Southern territory toward Rotriaak village were the grazing fields for their cattle which used to be Camped at those points. These two Gawar sections (Chier and Padaang) settled first in Rotriah (Lalob Vllage) in the South and Yaak Area in the north (present Heglig Hospital). That very area was a home land of Padaang section of Leek Nuer subtribe whose prominent family leader was Panyang Geng whose sons Bany and Kor remained in the areas for years until late 1900s.

They used to grazing their cattle in Payangay and areas located east of Yaak village where they  met with some clan men of Awet Dinka during the dry season cattle camps at some points East of Heglig current Bioremediation Project(where the waste water from the CPF is treated). When the rainy seasons commences mostly in May, the two communities departed peacefully, Nuer returned back to their home areas of Yaak and Payangay and Ruweng Dinka returned back to Panyang village and other others. The situation was so normal and people were living peacefully as friends and in laws. In addition to the above two sections of Leek Nuer ( Padaang and Chier) was Chieng Chuol section. The three sections had been resisting several invasions and raids from Arab Nomads/Baggara (Missaria, Awedleet Omraan, Palata) in the said areas for so many years.

They had lost many lives and a lot of properties were looted in Yaak and Payangay Villages.  One of the victims of that time was Kor Panyang whom was caught while grazing his cattle in the field between the two villages by Arab Nomads, he was brutally tortured to the extent that he was castrated, left half dead and bleeding and all his cows were taken. His brother Bany Panyang discovered him late in the evening and took him home. Bany Panyang was the father of Thay (nicked name as Thay jokuei) who was the Father of Turoal Thay who settled in Yaak for some years before he was pushed out of the area by the same Arab nomads in the late 1900s in which case he moved westward and settled at Thanyier and Paraw in Barkor area near Buon-Juul, Genechirchir and Wangbieth villages west and southwest of Yaak (Heglig Field).

All those areas long both upper and lower banks of Ngol River (now known as El Har and Karat Oil Fields) were the settlement areas of Leek Nuer known as Dor-Barkor where Turoal and his in laws Thep Ret Chiee, Mayual Kuay, Bawar Tut Ruei and many others from Chieng Chuol section of Leek Nuer were bordering at Barbar, Buonjuol, Pachol and many others villages (just to mentioned a few) were settling. All were raided also several times in those areas by the same Missaria backing by the then Sudanese government until 1984 when all Leek sections were swiped out of the northern Bank of Ghazel River and were forcefully pushed to the Southern by the time Baggara who were using modern automatic weapons against the spearmen (Leek  Nuer) who had no rifles to response the terrifying sounds of the morden automatic weapons like Jim 3 rifles and others machine guns used by Baggara nomads.

The government interests for carrying this project was mainly for dual reasons, (1) To enable the Baggara/Missaria nomads occupied the whole lands, secure green pasture and water sources for their animals. (2) To enable the government to explore oil in that land as much as it wanted without paying compensations for the damages of properties to the owners (see the attached Map of Nuer territory of 1954)

File-3: The Map of Nuer Territory taken in 1954, section 1:3,000,000

The author is a former Rubkona County Commissioner. He can be reached via: giengkoy@yahoo.com


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