Analyses Contributor's Opinion

What makes Bona Malwal more South Sudanese than Abyei people?

By Biong Deng Biong,

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia,


December 12, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– Recently, South Sudanese have become aware of the Bona Malwal position that Abyei is not South Sudan. This is not new to Abyei people, since he made it clear to them in 2005 that Abyei will only become part of South Sudan “over his dead body”. The reason for him to take such position remains largely a mystery to the Abyei people, as well as to the South Sudanese. Despite these constant attacks and hurtful statements launched by Bona Malwal, Abyei people will not be distracted. We see no point in fighting a meaningless war of words. However, since the South Sudanese people are the judges of Malwal’s claim, I would like to look at what makes Bona Malwal more of a South Sudanese than Abyei people.

Malwal background

Bona Malwal family, Community and Tribe:


Bona hails from Twic state, specifically Kuach, which is a sub community of Twic Dinka. Kuach is located to the north of Twic state, bordering Abyei. From this locational description, Bona Malwal’s home cannot be distinguished from Abyei land due to how close the two communities have coexisted for many years. Malwal himself is believed to be a second generation Twic, following his migration from Abyei, which renders him Ngok Dinka descent. He himself acknowledges that he is from Abyei. Furthermore, Kuach people received similar forehead marks of manhood initiation to Abyei people unlike the other five chiefdoms or so of Twic people.

Following the historic ties and the location of the two communities, I do not see how Bona Malwal can distinguish himself from the God-given relationship of the two communities. Therefore, assigning Abyei to North Sudan is a self-implication for Bona Malwal.

Twic Mayerdit relationship with Abyei

As mentioned above, Bona Malwal comes from Twic Mayardit. Therefore, it would be beneficial to understand how the two communities have coexisted.
Abyei land is bordered by Dinka Malual (Aweil) to the West, Dinka Twic to the South, Dinka Ruwang to the East and Misseriya Arabs to the North. Locational, we share a lot in common with Twic people. Historically, Twic Mayardit and Abyei people have been one community. There is much inter-marriage and culture exchange between the two communities. I do not recall a situation where the two communities have experienced conflict or become physically violent with one another. In fact, the two communities fought alongside each other to protect their interests. Recent history only confirms this solid mutual relationship. For instance, sons and daughters of both communities lost their lives protecting each other’s land from mainly Misseriya Arabs and other Arab militants. Abyei’s sons, such as Bagat Anguek, fought extremely hard in Twic land to ensure Arab Militias did not freely invade the land. This costly mission took his life. Most recently, in 2008 and 2011 when the Khartoum government invaded Abyei, sons and daughters of Twic Mayardit lost their lives fighting for Abyei land, along with Abyei people and other South Sudanese. It is an insult to the fallen heroes and to this good relationship between the two communities, for Bona Malwal to state today that Abyei belongs to Sudan.

South Sudan Struggle.

Identity is tested by how much one is willing to sacrifice to protect his/her identity. Recent history dates the struggle of South Sudan to over five decades, although the struggle spans even further back than this time. During the life of Bona Malual, there have been two main struggles for South Sudan (Anyanya 1 and 2 and Sudan people Liberation Movement/Army SPLM/A). These two struggles can be used to test our current living generation of our devotion to the land of South Sudan. Reason being that, these are two struggles that were unanimously supported by the South Sudanese as being a rightful struggle for South Sudan land and freedom from various Khartoum regimes. Of both struggles, Bona Malwal participated in none, even though he was able to do more for South Sudan. Throughout both conflicts, Bona has remained more closely allied to the Khartoum Government than his South Sudanese counterparts until today. If at all, Bona has largely contributed negatively to the South Sudan struggle. The 2003 rift in SPLM, which nearly split the movement into two between Dr. Garang and President Kiir was of Bona’s doing. Due to his ego and thirst for power, he backstabbed Garang by threatening to use Bharelgazel people against him. This rift was partly resolved through Garang suspending Malwal from South Sudan and the 2004 Rumbek agreement. Having said that, one would claim that the current situation is due to the 2003 incident caused by Malwal. Although many blame Riek Machar, Machar would not have considered rebellion if he did not identify the existing rift in SPLM, primarily between Garang’s boys, Kiir Camp and the NCP intruders, which also included Malwal. It is from this 2003 incident that this rift developed, and it has continued to divide the governing party, hence the current status quo.
In a paper titled ‘Moral Case against Bona Malwal’, the author highlights that Malual has stooped as low as insulting Dr. Garang in his grave. They have also confirmed with evidence that Bona Malwal does not say the truth. There is no way we can treat his behaviour toward people of Abyei as an isolated incident. This is who he is.
Malwal currently resides in Khartoum and still have close allies with President Al Bashir, who wants to see a weak South Sudan. He has continued to use his status in Khartoum to control the state of affairs in South Sudan.
In contrast, the contributions of the Abyei people to the struggle of South Sudan is undisputable. Due to the belief that they are South Sudanese, Abyei people invested 100% effort to the struggle of South Sudan. The South Sudanese do not need to be reminded of these contributions made by the Abyei people.

Abyei is not Sudan
History is clear on the Abyei issue. Abyei was transferred to Kordofan’s administration in 1905 along with Twic, Panarou and Ruwang. This was to undertake tax collection and other administrative duties. It was also to protect the people from slavery at the time. This temporary arrangement did not involve people or land, as people of Abyei were to remain identified with their Dinka counterparts and land being of South Sudan. For more details, please read South Sudan Constitution, Abyei Protocol, Abyei Border Commission report and International Arbitration Court ruling.

Abyei people are acutely aware of the damage inflicted by Bona Malwal in their struggle for the land. Due to the significant relationship that exists between Twic and Abyei people, we will continue to handle the Malwal negative attack with respect. It is only fair that Malwal has already received condemnation from across South Sudan, including Twic. We continue to seek such condemnation from South Sudan so that individuals like Malwal do not divide our effort for personal gain.

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