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Abyei Boundaries Commission Report Part1 By Charles Deng

11/2/2005 1:53 pm

Abyei Boundaries Commission Report

By Charles Deng


Since the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) issued its report (The Report) on July 14, 2005, and subsequently submitted it to the Presidency in the last half of the same month, I have not come across an attempt to explain the report to the Sudanese in general, and to the people of the Ngok Dinka of Abyei and the Messeriyya Baggara in particular. As such I felt the need to make this humble attempt to explain what is in the report and the issues it attempts to resolve. I will try to be short by highlighting the salient facts and issues the said report resolved between the disputing partiesthe Ngok Dinka and Messeriya Baggara.

In this regard, I would like to warn my readers that the author of this presentation comes from Abyei. You may therefore find the presentation, lacking in neutrality especially if my reader is from the other side of the fence. However, I will try to be objective as much as I can possibly be. While explaining what is in the report, I shall try to precisely follow the methodology the ABC adopted in writing the report itself, but I shall begin with the history of the area in dispute as the ABC has so much documented since 1898-1956.

The report is divided into two parts: Part 1 comprises of preface, the list of delegates to the ABC, (i) the summary of Experts Report and decision, (ii) the preposition of the disputing partiesBaggara and Ngok Dinka, (iii) 4 maps relating to the Abyei Area Boundaries, the Wilkinson 1902 Itinerary, (iv) the Humr grazing areas observed in 1902 and 1908, and (v) Humr and Ngok Dinka grazing areas in 1933. Part 2 of the Report consists of six Appendices: Appendix 1.1 Abyei Protocol and Annex, 1.2 Terms of Reference for the ABC and 1.3 Rules of Procedure. Appendix 2: Land Rights and Land Use as Evidence (applicable Law). Appendix 3: The Government of Sudan (GOS) and The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A); Appendix 3.1 The GOS practically acting as the lawyer for the Misseriya Humr (Homr), Appendix 3.2 the SPLM/A acting as the lawyer for the Nogk Dinka (Dinka). Appendix 4: Oral Testimony: Appendix 4.1 Summary of Evidence, Appendix 4.2 Khartoum interviews, Appendix 4.3 UK Interviews; Appendix 5, Documentary Evidence; and Appendix 6 Maps Consulted.

The history of Abyei area has been an anomaly in the administrative structure of the Sudan since the Anglo-Egyptian reconquest of Sudan in 1898. Essentially, the Ngok Dinka of Abyei are culturally and linguistically part of the larger Nilotic ethnic group know as the Dinka, found in both Bahr-el-Ghazal and Upper Nile Provinces. Until today, the Dinka is the largest ethnic or tribal group in the Sudan (between 4-6 million people). In 1905, because of the menace of slave trade and the slave traders hunt for slaves, the British colonial administration decided to annex Ngok, Twic and Rueng Dinkas to Kordofan. However, later on, the other two sections, Twic and Ruweng, were returned to Bahr-el-Ghazal and Upper Nile Provinces, respectively and Ngok Dinka continued to be administered by Western Kordofan District, with headquarters at Nahud. As Reginald Davies stated in, The Camels Back: Service in the Rural Sudan: the greater part of [Dinka] belonged to Bahr-el-Ghazal Province, though by a freak of organization two sections of the tribe, Mareig [Ngok Dinka] and Ruweng, were for administrative purposes part of the Western Kordofan inspectorate.

Geography places them in the tip northern western part of Bahr-el-Ghazal at the latitude 10 35 N into Kordofan Province. According to history, the Ngok Dinka arrived to the area described above from Upper Nile in 1710, and occupied the riverine area between Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab and Ngol/Ragaba el-Zarga. Their dwellings are clusters of villages found along Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab, Nymoura/Umm Bieiro and to the north along Ngol/ Ragaba el-Zarga. In modern terms, the Ngok Dinka area could be demarcated since 1710 and during the time of the British, from the North lat. 1035 N, and from the east by Upper Nile Province at longitude 29 3215 E, and from the west by Darfur at approximately longitude 27 30 W. This territory remained the land of Dinka Ngok since 1710 and until the British colonialists withdrew from the Sudan on January 1, 1956.

A Brief Historical Background

A. Early Location of the Dinka Ngok and the Messiriya 1710-1916

As the British colonialist invaded the Sudan and defeated the Mahdi dervish at Kerari, north of Omdurman, and entered Omdurman on the morning of September 1, 1898, they were slow in establishing their authority over the rest of the Sudan.

The first time the mention of Misseriya Baggara and Ngok Dinka cohbmes up was before the Turkish rule in the book written by W.G. Browne (Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria from the Year 1792-1798, 2nd edition, London: T. Cadell & Davies, 1806). Browne described his route as starting from Khukj to the Bahr-el-ada and thence to towards the Bahr-el-Abiadfrom Khukj to Baraka, S. W. [days]. He said that independent Arabs inhabited Baraka. Browne testified in his book that the greater part of the road is deep sand, but from Baraka by Bahr-el-Ada is clay. This part of his journey, he found Arabs feeding cows and sheep; they are called the Missiri. Thereafter, Browne described his journey from Baraka to Trrt S.E. 4[days]. And from Trrt to Jungein [Jeing] S.E. 1[day]. Browne also described the people he called Jungein [Jeing] as tall and blackthe country in their neighborhood is all plain land and the soil clay (source: The Report).

According to K. D. D. Henderson, the Baggara Messiriya came to Muglad around 1110 AH (1700 AD). At that date the Shatt king Deinga lived in Muglad. Also at that time, Ngork [sic] Dinka already held the Gnol [sic] river (Regeba Zerga) up to Ugnat Abu Urf Hameidan, and Eina El-Gadim, whose help he had sought, easily defeted Deinga. Chief Deinga fled southeast to Turda, whose leading man was Deing Torjok, residing at Debbat El Mushback, near Hasoba. Moindong [Monydang], son of Kwal Dit, was Chief of Mabyor [Abyor]. In Hendersons The Migration of the Messiria into Western Kordofan, Ngok Dinka met the fleeing Shatt and drove them west. Malwal Dinka is said to have met the Shatt on the Lol River and absorbed them. The Homr and Ngok Dinka admit that the Shatt were the indigenous people of Muglad [Deinga]. Henderson therefore corrected his first date, 1700, as the date of the Messiria migration to Western Kordofan in general and Muglad in particular as between the decade of 1765-1775, and 1700.

During the Turkish rule there is no mention of both Messeriya and Ngok Dinka, except the Turks at some point in time took all the cattle of Messriya and left them destitute. This fact is confirmed by Ali Rahma in Humr History, where Ali Rahma and Abu Mstura, said that during the time of Ali Abu Grun (probably the leader of the Messaeriya) that the Turks took all the Humr cattle.

During the Mahdiya, there is ample evidence in the report that the Misseriya took refuge in the Ngok Dinka land to avoid being called for Jihad by the Mahdi and Khalifa, the latter the successor of al-Mahdi. Their paramount chief Azzoza came under the protection of Arob Biong, the leader of the Ngok Dinka during the Mahdiya. And with the Mahdi demanding all the Baggara join him in his war against the Turks, the Baggara disobeyed and Mahdi followers killed the Homr headman. As a consequence, the Humr escaped and most of them lived with El-Robe Kwal [Arob Biong], including their chief Azzoza. Azzoza was succeeded by Ali Julla. (Ian Cunnison and P. P. Howell).

The first time, the British came into contact with the area of Ngok Dinka was in 1902, four years after the defeat of the Mahdiya. Major E. B. Wilkinson undertook a journey to Dar el-Jange (Dinka) during January and February 1902 (details of Wilkinsons itinerary is provided below).

Watkiss Lloyd, the first Governor of Kordofan Province, wrote in 1907 that in their escape from al-Mahdi, the Humr followed Bahr el Humr from Dawas eastwards towards Hasoba. Because the forest was thick and the going was tough, the Mahdi dervish could not catch up with the escaping Humr. In another report by Watkiss in 1908 and in the Geographical Journal, 29/6, June 1907, said The Homr say they came from North Africa via Wadai, and have probably not occupied their present country [Muglad] for more than a hundred years. In Ian Cunnison, Baggara Arabs: Power and Lineage in Sudanese Nomadic Tribe, and Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966, For generations the belt of savanna between Lake Chad and the White Nile has been the home of the Baggara Arab tribes. History and environment together throw light on their distributionthey moved east and west along the line of sultanates, and gradually settled the strip they now occupy.

Ian Cunnison further elaborated that by moving in this directions the Baggara remained in a natural environment of the general kind. If they had moved southwards, they would have entered a land of mud and flies. That belt could support cattle and cultivation of millet. The Baggara undertook this journey of migration to avoid the demands of Sultan of Wadai. When they reached where they are now, they found two pagan tribes: the Shatt and Daju in Muglad [Deinga]. Homr therefore drove the two tribes out of the area. Shatt escaped further south where they met the Ngok Dinka and were further driven west by the Ngok Dinka in the manner referred to earlier. The Daju escaped west and settled among the Nuba.

As far as the Ngok Dinka was concerned, P. P. Howell, Notes on the Ngork [sic] of Western Kordofan, says that in Dinka and western Nuer traditional history holds that both tribes had once lived in Zeraf Island and were dislodged from the Island by the invasion of Lou Nuer (eastern Nuer) in the 19th century. However, according to Howell, there was no evidence that the Dinka were among those dislodged; perhaps, they might have migrated before that invasion. Howell, therefore, concludes that: It is clear too there were Dinka living in the present country of the Nogrk [sic] Dinka long before the Nuer invasions eastwards started.

A summary of the news contained in Bimbashi Townsends report in 1901 said that the Homr appeared to be still scattered. Their two principle districts are Muglad and Mumu, near El Eddiaya. Muglad is for Homr Agari and Keilek for Homer Feliti

In the General Description of Bahr-el-Arab and Dar El Homr [Source: Count Gleeichen, the Anglo -Egyptian Sudan, Vol. II (London; HMSO 1905], it is stated that Only in few places, Fauel, Keilek, and Kuek, do the Homr Arabs remain throughout the year, as they (Homr) say that flies and mosquitoes torment man and beasts to such an extent as to make life unbearable. Watkiss Lloyd, the Governor of Kordofan Province, Report on Kordofan Province, 1908, stated that the Homr cultivated round Muglad and Baraka, but as soon as the water dried up they migrated southwards to the Bahr El Homr. In other words, the Homr grazed every year in Dar Homr as an open grazing area. By the beginning of the rains, Agira fled from Bahr-el-Arab to around and north of Muglad due to giim and mosquitoes; Felaita from Lake Keilek to Kijeira and Zurg to north of Abu Zabad. In November the reverse occurred. According to Howell the Homr central zone is the Muglad which is the pivot on which all movements are based and provides a rallying ground for the tribe during the rainy season.[Source: P. P. Howell, Some Observations on the Baggara Messiriyyah [1948].

Ian Cunnison (an anthropologist who studied the Baggara Messeriaya) states, in The Humr and their Land that the Dar Humr is composed of four zones: in the north is Babanousa, which is the rain pasturage of the tribe; the Muglad is the cultivation area, where the cattle make a short stop on the way north-south migration; the Goz is used simply as a means of getting from one set of pastures to another; and the Bahr is the end of winter and summer grazing. The Bahr is for the Agaira, while the Felaita go to Keilek and Abyad. Both Agaira and Felaita regard the Muglad as their home. Their arrival from Bahr is the occasion for rejoicing and anticipation. However, despite the location of the western rivers by Bahr-el-Ghazal Province administrators, as early as 1906, the Kordofan Province administrators continued to confuse the Nile western tributaries.

B. The Early British Colonialist Administration: The Nile Western Tributaries River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab, Nymoura/Umm Bieiro, Ngol/Ragaba el-Zarga

In 1900, R. M. Saunders had reported on Bahr-el-Ghazal and Bahr-el-Arab rivers very differently from his counterparts in Kordofan. He traveled from the junction of Bar-el-Ghazal and Bahr-el-Jebel up Bahr-el-Ghazal and met River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab blocked by the sudd, 100 yards from its mouth and impassable. He also found that River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab came from the W.N.W. Mr. Saunders claimed that at a distance of 30 miles the Bahr-el-Homr comes in on the left, 80 yards wide, 20 feet deep, navigable for 6 miles only, direction N.N.W. Lake Abiai [Ambadi]this must be Lake Nocommences, lasts 3 miles. Bahr Jur comes in on the left at 34 miles from the mouth of Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir (Although this description has little bearing on the history of Abyei Dinka, it is very relevant in determining the location of Dinka Ngok), because of the confusion the Kordofan colonial administrator labored under, as seen hereunder.

In Townsends Report of August 1901, on Western Kordofan, it is stated that the Homr appear to be still much scattered, their two principal districts being Muglad and Mumu, near El-Oddiaya. A report by Mudir of Kordofan in 1901(November -January) on Tour of Northern and Western Kordofan said This [Muglad] is the headquarters of Homr (Agari) and they cultivate and keep herds here during the rainy season, and when the water supply gets short, go south to the Bahr-el-Arab [sic: Bahr-el-Homr/Ngol/Ragabat ez-Zargathe Homr Agari are practically separate from Homr (Felita), whose headquarters are at Keilek.

The report details this itinerary and states that Major Wilkinson reported to have met the Missiriya at Keilek. He found Keilek to be a series of tukls, and that the Misseriya Homr possessed few flocks and was depending in their livelihood on the Nubas. Major Wilkinson described his journey south of Keilek through Misseriya Homr settlement until he reached Pawel/Fauwel, where he claimed to have met a large settlement of Homr Arabs. Also Major Wilkinson met in Pawel/Fauwel the river and followed his journey alongside the river for two miles until the river takes a bend to the northeast. Major Wilkinson mistakenly thought he had reached River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab. In accordance with his mistaken belief that he had reached Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab, he crossed to the southern bank of the river, and walked 5 miles after crossing to the southwest, where he met the country of a Dinka chief called Rueng. From here the first Dinka village of Bombo was reached, and the Dinkas in this village were known as Bongoone of the nine chiefdoms of Ngok Dinka(source: The Report)

Major Wilkinson described the Dinka villages as neatly built, and the Dinka occupied their dwellings throughout the rainy season, after which they leave behind the cattle to graze for as long as there was water. After leaving the village of Bombo, he reached Etai (Athai in Dinka). In /Athai/Etai there were large settlement of friendly Dinka people. Ethai was the headquarters of a chief named Lar [Alor]. From here, according to Wilkinson, a large water course flows in from northeast and meets the Ragabet Lau/Lau, which comes from northwest, joining the large watercourse from northeast and runs into Kir [sic] or Bahr El-Jange, and runs southerly direction. According to Wilkinson, Bahr-el-Jange runs west after leaving chief Alor settlement, reaching the settlement of Sultan Rob[Arob]. The district on the northern bank is called Mareg, and on the southern bank is called Masian [Mathiang], and Sultan Arob. Much dura, according to Wilkinson, was cultivated (source: The Report). The rest of Major Wilkinsons itinerary is a description of his journey back to Fauel/Pawel.

Another piece of evidence the ABC collected is a letter from the Governor of Bahr-el-Ghazal Province, W. A. Boulnois, to Governor-General Wingate, dated December 23, 1904, reporting on Bimbashi A. Percivls expedition to the Kiir and Lol rivers [source: Wingate Papers, SAD 275/9/39-40]. Mr. Percival described his journey as having taken him to Sultan Rob [Arob] on KYR [Kiir] river, which he crossed 50 miles south of Bahr-el-Arab. He compared KYR as being 2/3 broad as the JUR at WAU and 12 or 15 feet deep where he had to cross. Marching due south, after crossing 3 small rivers which run N.E. to the KYR he reached LOL river about 50 miles S. of the KYR river in the district of the big Dinka TUSH [Twic]. He found LOL flooded at the end of Nov. 600 yds. wide 20 ft deep in channel running fast. He claimed Lol joined KYR about 75 miles N of E of his crossing, after which the natives call it the KYR [source: The Report]. This is obviously another confused colonial official, just like Major Wilkinson (we shall see where is the confusion below).

In March 1905, Bimbashi R. C. Bayldon reported on Bahr-el-Arab sudd. He claimed that after investigating the openings on to the Bahr-el-Ghazal, which might be the mouths of the Bahr-el-Arab, he found it would be impassable to get a boat through to River Kiir/ Bahr-el-Arab. Bambashi Bayldon made these conclusions:
1. That what had been mistakenly known as Bahr-el-Arab is in fact the Bahr-el-Homr [River Ngol] to which the Homr Messiriya used to come down to during the dry season (see the description of Boulnois above).
2. That the entrance from the Bahr-el-Ghazal, in lat.9 3 N. and long. 2923E. is the mouth of the River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab.
3. The river Yamoi [Nyamora or Ragabet Um Bieiro] is a branch from Kir [Kiir], which according to the Dinkas runs off from the Kir [Kiir] about two days march (Dinka) above Robs [Arobs], and which rejoins Kiir a short distance below Robs [Arobs]. Its character is that of a khor.
4. That River Kiir is the real Bahr-el-Arab, being called Kiir by the Nuer and the Dinka and El Gurf by the Rizeigat Arabs, who are close to it, on its higher reaches [to the west].
Bambashi Bayldon supported his conclusion by having traced the Ngol/Bahr-el-Homr for more than 40 miles, and found it as having a very clearly defined channel, though with little water in it. Also, the Arabs confirmed it was Ngol/Bahr-el-Homr, plus the descriptions given to him by Zubeir Pasha at Khartoum.

In 1905, there was an itinerary that confirmed the locations of Bahr-el- Homr/Ngol], Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir (source: The Report). In 1906, Huntley Walsh, reported on the Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir Reconnaissance in January. Mr. Huntley arrived at the mouth of River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab on January 6, 1906 and encountered sudd, blocking the mouth. The sudd was two miles long, after which the natives told him that the river is open up to Sultan Robs [Arobs]. Further reports by H. G. Lyons, the Director-General of the Survey Department, Egyptian Government and Watkiss Lloyd, Governor of Kordofan Province in 1908, said that River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab is sudded up for 25 miles from Mr. Huntleys location of his steamer, and the river above this is open and very deep, 100-200 yards broad, as far as Sheik Lar [Alor], but slightly sudded at Sheik Alor. The river clears at Sheik Rob [Sheik Arob]. Above Sheik Arob, the river narrows to 20-30 yards broad, high banksno sudd but large trees.

Watkiss Lloyd, Governor of Kordofan, defined Bahr-el-Homr [Ngol/Ragabat el-Zarga] as that river in the South, about 10, which rises some thirty miles across Darfur frontier and flows eastwards to Hassoba, where it turns southeast and joins Bahr-el-Ghazal. Bahr-el-Homer/Ngol is full of grass and dries up in about January each year; wells could be dug in its bed, from which the Homr water their cattle, and at the beginning of the rain in April, when the Homr migrate back to Muglad

C. The Location of the Messiriya Arabs and the Ngok Dinka

W. G. Brownes book (Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria from Year 1792-1798), mentions that he traveled through Khukj to Baraka, southeastwards to al-ada towards Bahr-el-Abiad. Between Khukj to Baraka to al-ada, the land is deep sand and the people are called Mesirie. At al-ada and thereafter the land is clay and flat; the people are called Jengeiǒn [Jeing]. In 1900, Mr. Saunders, reporting to the Governor of Bahr-el-Ghazal Province about the Nile tributaries, mentioned Dinka Ngok presence in the area north of Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab. The soil is clay and the people black. Despite his mistaken belief of having crossed Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir, Major Wilkinson in 1902 claimed of having reached Dar Jange [Jeing], south of Pawel/Fauel. Mr. Wilkinson described the Messeriya at Keilek as owning few flocks, and leaving in badly constructed tukls, while the Dinka villages were neatly built and owned a large herd of cattle. South of Pawel/Fauel, he met Bongoone of the Dinka Ngok nine chiefdoms. Major Wilkinson traveled further to Athai/Etai, the headquarters of chief Lor [Alor]. From chief Lor [Alor], Major Wilkinson traveling along what he believe to be Bahr al-Jange (Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab) westwards to Sultan Robs [Sultan Arobs] settlement. Simply stated, Mr. Wilkinson had been traveling along Ngol/Ragaba ez-Zarga, mistakenly believing it to be Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir.

In the Note on the History of Western Kordofan Baggara, January 1935, K. D. D. Henderson thinks that Baggara came to Muglad in 1110 AH (1700 AD) and dispossessed the Daju and Shatt. The Shatt were the original owners of Muglad and used to call it Deinga. At that time Ngok Dinka already held the Ngol River (Regaba ez-Zarga). The Daju and Shatt, the two ethnic group dispossessed by the Messirya Baggara, took two directions: The Daju went to the Nuba country and the Shatt took the southerly direction. The chief of Shatt Deingas escape to the south brought on his heels the pursuing Baggra into the first contact with Dinka Ngok.

However, Henderson in The Migration of the Messiria into South West Kordofan, Sudan Notes & Records 22/1, 1939, corrects the previously mentioned date (1700) as the date of migration of Baggara to South West Kordofanwe shall not be far wrong in dating the Baggara arrival in Muglad to the decade of 1765-1775. While Ngok Dinka had been sighted to be present along Ngol/Ragaba ez-Zarga since 1710, having migrated from Upper Nile [source: The Report]. The Baggara Messeriya themselves admit that they came from North Africa through the Wadai sultanate. The decade of 1765-1775 is the correct date of the sighting of the Baggra/ Messiriya in Muglad for the first time, because the Baggara migration to the Sudan, unlike other Arab migration to the Sudan, took a long route through North Africa. In fact, Watkiss Lloyd, Some Notes on Dar Homr in the Geographical Journal 29/6 1907, confirmed their migration from North Africa. Ian Cunnison, The Baggara Arabs: Power and Lineage in the Sudanese Nomadic Tribe, Oxford Clarendon Press, 1966, places the Baggara for generations in the savanna belt between Lake Chad and the White Nile. Cunnison says that history and environment together throw light on their distribution. The Homr Messirya recount that they undertook this pattern of migration to evade the demands of Sultan of Wadai. In fact, Chad has today a large population of Baggara Arabs.

On the other hand P. P. Howell, Notes on Ngork [sic] Dinka of Western Kordofan, SN&R 32/2 1951, says in the Eastern area, traditions, of both Nuer and Dinka, holds that they once occupied the northern part of Zeraf Island and were split and driven out by Lou Nuer, probably in the nineteenth century. But Howell says that Ngok Dinka does not mention this Nuer invasion of their original country and may be that they migrated earlier. Howell adds, It is clear that there were Dinka living in the present country of the Ngok long before the Nuer invasions eastward started [source: The Report].

In The General Description of Bahr El-Arab and Bahr in Count Gleichen, The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Vol II (London: HMSO 1905), it is quoted: Only in few places, Fauel, Keilek, and Kuek, do Homr Arabs remain throughout the year, as they say that the flies and mosquitoes torment man and beast to such an extent as to make it unbearable. In 1908, Watkiss Lloyd reported the same. A. C. Beaton in Western Kordofan District Information Book, 1947, quoted by P. P. Howell said for grazing purposes that by 1st of April in any year was an open grazing area. By the beginning of the rains, Agaira fled from Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir to around and north of Muglad due to giim and mosquitoes; Felaita from Lake Keilek to Kijeira and Zurug to north of Abu Zabad. According to Howell, the Homr central zone is Muglad which is the pivot on which all movements are based and provides a rallying ground for the tribe during the rainy season grazing and cultivation. Between the Messiriya Homr, each sub-section, omudia, there is a recognized rights of grazing and cultivation, the boundaries are not closely followed or defined.

Ian Cunnison makes a further definition of the Homr land in Sudan Notes & Records, The Humr and their Land, in which he states that Dar Homr is composed of four main zones. From the north, there is Babanousa, which is the rains pasturage of the tribe. The Muglad is the cultivation area, where the cattle make brief sojourns on their north-south migration. The Goz is used simply as a means of getting from one set of pasture to another. The Bahr is the later winter and summer grazing area. This is for Agaira section of the tribe. The other section, the Felaita, also uses the Babanousa and the Muglad, but their summer pasturage is eastwards to their Bahr, which consists of lakes Keilek and Abyad and one other two ragabas or wadis. The Homr regards the Mugald as their home. Their arrival from Bahr is the occasion of great rejoicing and anticipation.

Since Major Wilkinson journey in January-February 1902 to the Ngok Dinka area, there had been no known direct contact between the Ngok Dinka and the British colonialist administration of Kordofan. At that time Major Wilkinson reported when passing through the Messeriya country that Keilek is a series of tukles badly built and inhabited by Homr Arabs who possessed few flocks, a few horses, and appear to live on the Nubas In March the same year, 1902, Mr. B. Mahon, Extract from a Report by Mahon Pasha, on Country from El Obeid, via Kadugh [Kadugli] and Shibun, to Sultan Robs {Arob} Country on Bahr El-Homr/Ragabet ez-Zarga, about 2 days from Lake Ambady, reported that The people are much more prosperous than I expected, and came across no actual want. Some of them are very rich in cattle, especially the Dinkas. I saw about 12,000 cattle in one place belonging to one man (Dinka) Mahon Pasha went on reporting that he was well received by Sultan Rob [Arob] and the people were well off and owned immense heads of cattle. Mahon Pasha further reported that Robs place was a great trade centre for Bahr-el-Ghazal and lot of ivory came there.

The Finance Secretary to Civil Secretary, Government of the Sudan wrote in 1927 stated that the Homr lacked markets for their cattle, and for six months of the year they are in the wild down on the Bahr-el-Arab cut off by a waterless belt of country from Kordofan. J. W. Robertson, Handing over Notes on Western Kordofan District, 1936 Chapter IV The Homr Administration described Dar Homr as Dar, but is very waterless. I have put in proposals for increasing the water supplythe Humr are semi nomadicthey spend six months of the year on the great semicircle from Grinti [Meiram] to Keilek on the Bahr El Arab, and its system of tributary wadis (regabas)when the rains start they come north to the neighborhood of Muglad, Mumu & Keijeira. In 1948, Howell makes the same observation that the area due south of Muglad is the area which the Humr refer to as the Bahr. The name is simply taken from the main perennial river of that region, the Bahr-el-Arab, but it is used loosely to describe a vast tract of country where many variations of topography and vegetation are found.

Ian Cunnison in Baggara Arabs: Power and the Lineage in a Sudanese Nomadic Tribe says that Humr move in a regular cycle through the four distinct types of country into which Dar Humr is naturally divided: the Babanousa, the Muglad, the Goz and the Bahr. The Bahr is the name Humr give to the whole of the dry season watering country. However, within the recognized different districts: the Regaba is the northern part of the Bahr, where the Humr make their earliest dry season camps, while the Bahr is where they make their camps in the end of the dry season, mainly around the largest watercourses, the Regaba Um Bioro/Nymora and the Regaba ez-Zarga/Ngol. Cunnison admits that much of the Bahr is Dinka homeland, although during most of the dry season the Humr camp along it. The use of these watercourses by the Humr is seasonal, Cunnison also declares that the country centered on Abyei of the Ngok Dinka is a traditional permitted area of grazing for the Humr and is administratively part of Messiriya Rural Council.

According to Cunnison, the Baggara movement since the reoccupation of Sudan by the Anglo-Egyptian seems to have not changed. Before reoccupation, the Ragaba Um Bioro/Nyamora was unsuitable because of the invasion and harassment by the Rizeygat. The colonial government gave the Humr the confidence to camp in Dinka and Nuer land. Coordination between the colonial administrators made it possible for the Humr to move up and down freely. In 1923, Bimbashi Titherington from Bahr-el-Ghazal Province made a tour of the northern Bahr-el-Ghazal Dinka area [Twic] and met with the District Commissioner of Western Kordofan and matters of mutual interest were discussed and settled. The Dinkas of Bahr-el-Ghazal were still complaining of Arab incursions on their land for illegal hunting.

Also in the same period A. L. W. Miles, DC of Western Kordofan in 1931 reported the complain of the Messeriya about Malwal Dinka entering their grazing areas as far as north of Muglad. That complain by Messeriya against Malwal was joined by Dinka Ngok because Malwal Dinka was making incursions on Girinti [Meiram]. K D. D. Henderson reports that the Messeriya and Dinka Ngok wanted the Malwal to be kept within the boundaries of Bahr-el-Ghazal. J. A. Gillan made a map of grazing for Rizeigat, Homr, Ngok Dinka, and Malwal Dinka in 1933, and submitted it to Governors of Bahr-el-Ghazal, Kordofan and Darfur Provinces. The map showed the possession of cattle each tribe had: Fayirin 10,800, Matini 8, 300, Awlad Kamil 10,200 (102 and Dinka Ngok 50-60,000 (500 sq. mls.). Equally, there were disputes between Malwal Dinka and Rizeigat, but this is not relevant to the present dispute between the Messeriya and Dinka Ngok.
D. The Administrative Setup of the Messeriya Baggara and Ngok Dinka 1898-1956
As mentioned before, the decision to annex Ngok Dinka to Kordofan Province Administration in 1905 seemed not to have been immediately implemented because the Ngok Dinka remained without administration for quite sometime, except for the collection of pall tax from the Dinka. The first visit by a colonial officialB. Mahonfrom Kordofan was in 1901. B. Mahon followed his first visit with the second visit in 1902 and reported that from Fowel/Pawel he went west to Sultan Robs [Arob]. The Dinkas were pleased with his visit, saying that the Government had come because the Arabs had not raided them since his first visit a year ago. On his way to Sultan Arob, he met several herds of cattle of the Dinka grazing between Fawel/Pawel and Sultan Arobs home. The journey took place in November & December. B Mahon testifies that although Lar and Rob [Alor&Arob] and their people villages are along the Juruf (Kiir/ Bahr-el-Arab) the Dinka influence extended a considerable distance further north.

B. A. Willis, Notes on the Western Kordofan Dinkas, in 1908 reported, Practically
speaking, the Dinkas after the rains are scattered about and mixed up, in so far as their private feuds allow. It is only in the rains that they sort themselves out, and more or less combine in families. Even so, they say there is no hard-and- fast rule by which a sub-tribe always lives in the same place.

P. P. Howells Papers state that, The Ngork [sic] Dinka of Western Kordofan live along the middle reaches of Bahr-el-Arab and its tributaries (Nymora/Um Bireo, Ngol/Ragbat ez-Zarga, and Lau). They border Rueng Alor Dinka southeast and the Twij [sic] Dinka to the south, and with both these peoples have close cultural affinities. To the southwest are the Malwal Dinka. North of Ngok are the Baggara. P. P. Howell further defined the Dinka Ngok country, as the area between approximately long. 2750' and long. 29 on the Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir, extending northwards along the main watercourses of which the largest is the Ragaba Um Biero/Nymoura. Howell further adds, Permanent villages and cultivations are set along the higher ground north of Bahr el Arab/Kiir, while dry season grazing pastures are from the most part in the open grassland (toich) south of the river.

Michael (the last District Commissioner in the area) and Anne Tibbs, A Sudan Sunset, Totton: Hobbs the Printers, 1999, describes the area as follows: Goz is the largest area between muglad and the bahr (river), it is mostly consolidated sand, but with some clay, waterless, except with some pools left by the rain. Bahr (river or sea) are the pastures round the Bahr-el-Arab/Kiir and its tributaries. The move south to bahr would start in shita (December). This was into the territory of the southern Nilotic tribe, the Ngok Dinka. They number 30,000 centered on Abyie [sic], and had own Chief Deng Majok Kwal Arob. Anne and Michael Tibbs write that the migration took the Messeriyya Arabs into and through the Dinka Ngok and Nuer territory in Upper Nile Province. During this migration of the Messeriyya Arabs some of the family would stay behind to look after the gum gardens, and others to tend cultivations of millet in the Muglad, while rain cotton was beginning to be cultivated in the south of the District.

Michael Tibbs reported in 1953 that a few miles out of Abyei, he once stopped at Naam/Noong, Deng Majok favorite countryseat. Also in 1954, Mr. Tibbs made an excursion into Grinti/Meirem, further to the west on the Darfur Provinces borders. The place is a Dinka Ngok territory, but Babu used as a spring camp for himself. While the Dinka Ngok tolerated the Messeriyya grazing camps, neither the Dinka and the Messeriyya, wanted the Rezeigat of Darfur incursions

In the tour of B. Mahon in 1903, the Dinka were told that they would begin to pay some sort of taxes in the coming year, approximately 1904, the Dinkas showed readiness to pay their taxes. Nonetheless, Mahon thought it would take some months and persuasion.

In 1908, Watkiss Lloyd, Governor of Kordofan, fixed taxes for the: a) (i) Messeriyya Zurg E960 (ii) Messeriyya Homr Agaira E 500; (iii) Messeriyya Homr Falaita E 200; and Ngok Dinka E200. The Dinkas paid only pall tax and until 1945 had not risen above 150m/ms per head and produced E750 per annum. For the 1945, taxes rose for the Dinka 200m/ms per head and produced an income of E1, 000, and lapsed to E980 in 1946 and was restored in 1947 to E1, 035. The Messeriyya paid both herds and pall taxes. Although the Messeriyya were firmly under the Administration of the Western Kordofan Province, with headquarters at Nahud, since the beginning of the British colonial rule of the Sudan, the Ngok Dinka were sort of neglected. Their affairs did not come under Nahud until 1930.

In this regard, D. Newbold, Governor of Kordofan Province, wrote the Civil secretary in 1934 asking for the establishment of a court for the Ngok Dinka under section 6 of the Native Courts Ordinance 1932, under the presidency of Kwal Arob, with tribal jurisdiction and with powers of punishment up to one year imprisonment and E25 or 50 cattle. He stated that the Ngok Dinka inhabited the South West corner of Kordofan and the Court headquarters will be at Abyei on Bahr-el-Arab, one hundred miles South East of Muglad, now connected by a motor road. The Governor also reported that Kwal Arob had settle disputes among his people and had maintained friendly relations with neighboring tribes both Humr Arabs, Twij and Rueng Dinka. He supported his report by a report of Mr. Dupuis in 1922 that Kwal Arob was by far the best man for the leadership of the Ngok Dinka. He said that the majority of the cases brought before him (Dupuis), had already been seen by Kwal Arob, who left the enforcement of his decisions to him.

In 1932, Capt. Vicars-Miles and Mr. Hendersonrecommended that the informal Court by Kwal Arob be regularized. Kwal Arob sentenced offenders to fines of cattle according to native custom; he (Kwal) entered his cases in a book from 1930 onwards. Most of the cases were adjudicated under the Dinka customary law, not Sharia. Then he recommended his powers should be made similar to those under the Chiefs Courts ordinance. Mr. Gillan then Governor replied to Capt. Vicars-Miles and Mr. Henderson that I agree in principle that Kwal Arob should have a duly authorized courtI should prefer it to be under a separate Ordinance. The scope given by the Native Courts Ordinance is sufficiently wide to enable us to make suitable rules.

In fact the Chiefs Courts Ordinance 1931 was found inapplicable to Kordofan Province, but found the proposal conforming to it. Accordingly, the Acting Governor of Kordofan in 1936 wrote the Civil Secretary designating the Ngok Dinka Court as Court No. 12, separate from Humr and Zurg Messeriyya. In 1947, Henderson reported that the Hamar and Messeriyya had independent budgets, but the Ngok Dinka, Nuba and Daju still looked to the District Commissioner for ordering of their administrative, judicial and financial affairs. According to Henderson, the administration of the Dinka Ngok in 1947 rested with the District Commissioner. Their Chief (Beny), who aspired to the title of (Nazir), lived in Abyei. He administered his people by virtue of a court warrant issued under the Chiefs Courts Ordinance 1931. He had two deputies, and collected taxes through the heads of the subsections (wuts). The Wuts or subsections are nine: Abyor, Achak, Achewng. Alei, Anyil, Bongo, Diil, Manyuar, and Mareng.

In a Handing-over Notes by Mr. G. M. G. Tibbs, District Commissioner, Dar Messeriyya, in 1954, he wrote his successor you have the Dinka Court to look after it is difficult to keep a tight rein on it when you can only get there in December to April. The other courts and Court Presidents work under the direction of the Resident Magistrate in Nahud

In 1947 and at a meeting at Muglad all tribal authorities gathered. It was agreed that Dinka Ngok and Nuba confederations would eventually have to be included as administrative units of the Messeriyya Rural district Council. In a Handing-Over Notes on the Ngok Dinka, P. P. Howell in 1948 asked a question Are the Ngok Dinka to find their future linked entirely with the North and included in Dar Messeriyya District Council or are they to be amalgamated with the Twij, Rueng or other Dinka? However, Ngok Dinka preferred to remain in the North, provided there were adequate guarantees and safeguards of a measure of autonomy. Mr. Powell went on to express his fears that this raised insurmountable difficulties. He cited the refusal of the Ngok Dinkas to be represented in the Legislative Assembly by the Messeriyya. Although the slightly superior attitude of the Messeriyya Arabs in addressing the Dinkas as Our Dinka troubled him, but eventually he thought the intermingling of the Homr and the Dinka during the dry season would not cause major problems, except minor frictions that could be settled with minimum of trouble. Powell thought that Ngok Dinka provided an excellent buffer between the North and the South, and that in his view; they should remain in the North.

According to Powell, the decision to include Abyei in Messeriyya District Council was not made, and he recommended that if it had to be made, it must be made within the next one-year or two. If the decision was for Abyei to be included in the Messeriyya District Council, Abyei must be an authority or Rural Council, with autonomy over its own internal affairs. But pending this decision, Mr. Powell further recommended to his successor to complete the building of Abyei as a headquarters.

In the Kordofan Province Annual Report of 195, it was reported that, During the year (1951at Abyei) the Ngok Dinka decided to amalgamate with Messeriyya district council and not with the Dinka Goral [sic] in Bahr-el-Ghazal, when it should come into being. They have reserved the right to withdraw from the Messeriyya council after five years, if they wish. Mr. Michael Tibbs confirmed this fact when he was appointed as the Assistant District Commissioner of Messeriyya in 1952. In January 1953, an important meeting of Messeriyya District Council was organized in Lagowa and was attended for the first time by Ngok Dinka delegation led by chief Deng Majok. Until that time the decision to include Ngok Dinka in the Messeriyya District Council was not yet made and the Ngok Dinka was outside the Messeriyya Council.

During that Council meeting a heated argument went on whether to include the Ngok Dinka in the Council or not. The Messeriyya had to be persuaded to accept the Dinkas as equals. However, the Messeriyya were blunt in their rejection of a non-Arab diluting their council. One member of the Messeriyya delegation said that the Dinka should go home where they belonged. This was an absolute rejection, and that speaker meant by home the Gogrial Rural Council in Bahr-el-Ghazal Province. However, the friendship between Babu Nimir and Deng Majok prevailed and Ngok Dinka was admitted and attended their first Council at the beginning of 1953. At this meeting in Lagowa, the Ngok Dinka became participant in the Messeriyya Council; but are not members of the Messeriyya tribe, and did not come under the Nazirate Umum of Messeriyya., and had their own Court which appealed to the District Commissioner and not the Resident Magistrate.

E. Claims by Ngok Dinka and the Messeriyya Arabs

The first time the Messeriyya claimed the ownership of the present area inhabited by the Ngok Dinka was after the bloody conflict of March 1965, along Ngol/Ragaba ez-Zarga, between the Ngok Dinka and the Messeriyya Baggara (see Abdel Basit Saeed, The State and Socioeconomic Transformation: The Case of Social Conflict in Southwest Kordofan, PhD dissertation, University of Connecticut, 1982). The story is based on some concocted story, which says that the Messeriyya Humr came to the area before the Ngok Dinka. They also claimed that when Ngok arrived in the vicinity, they put up at point south of the River Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab called Abu Nafiesa/Akur. The so-called Abu Nafiesa was supposed to be a Messeriyya chief who died in that place. The Messeriyya further claimed that it was Nazir Ali Julla who permitted the Ngok Dinka to cross the River/Kiir/Bahr-el-Arab to the north in 1905, at the request of Arob Biong. The cause for Arob Biong for crossing is alleged to be successive raids by Twic Dinka on Ngok Dinka. The author states, Nazir Baboo Nimir of the Humur claimed in a Conference in March 1966 that it was his father, Nazir Nimir Ali Julla who, in the view of this attacks, permitted the Ngok in 1939 to move even further north into a place known as Regaba Zarga.

The Ngok Dinka counter argument to this Messeriyya concocted story is contained in Francis Mading Deng, War of Visions: Conflict of Identities in the Sudan, Washington, D. C., The Brooking Institution, 1995. To the Dinka that he [Babo Nimir could fabricate such a claim was the epitome of Arab unscrupulousnessBut, as Chol Adija recollected, Babo was criticized by the Conference. Among the things Moniem Mansour (Nazir of the Hamar), the chairman of the conference, is remembered to have said to Babo was, Why are you after a soil as dark as the Dinka? What do you want from the dark soil of the Dinka?You are a people who simply go after grazing areas in the three months of the dry season. How can a person of three months dispute the land with the settlers of all seasons? Babo was found to be wrong. In January 1974, Francis Deng made an interview with Omda Pagwot Deng, one of the Ngok Dinka nine omodiyya, who said that it was in Alagawa in March 1965 that Babo made this preposterous claim, and according to Pagowt, Chief Moneim Mansour was made judge by the Minister. He was the man (Moneim) put in charge of the case. Babo lost the case. It was written down on paper.

The history of the colonial era does not support the claim of Babo. According to the Kordofan Monthly Diary, March 1946, the annual Dinka meeting was always held at Lau. In A. C. Beaton, Western Kordofan District Information Book, 1947, it is stated that, The present (1947) Nasir of the Agaira is a younger brother of the Nazir Umum and alternates between Muglad in the rains and Lau, in Dinka country, in the dry weather. Ian Cunnison, Baggara Arabs: Power and Lineage in a Sudanese Nomad Tribe, wrote that, the Mezaghna. The dry-season centre of this omodiya is at Lau, twelve miles east of Abyei, among permanent settlements of Ngok Dinka.

Henderson, Note on History of Western Kordofan Baggara, 1935, the Ngok Dinka has been living along Ngol/Ragaba-ez-Zarga since 1710 before the Baggara arrived Muglad in the decade of 1765-1775. Their places on Ngol have been Langar, Pawel. Dak Jur, Toduch etc. As Henderson, Notes on the History of the Tribes Living of the Wadi El Ghalla, stated also the Ngok Dinka found Shatt on Ngol/Ragaba-ez-Zarga and drove them west and south. In Notes on the History of Western Kordofan Baggara 1935, it is stat that all the time, Ngok Dinka already held the Gnol River (Regaba Zerga) up to Ugnat Abu Urf In the General Description of BAHR EL Arab and Dar el Homr, Only in a few places., Fauel do the Homr Arabs remain throughout the year

The Dinkas were obviously shocked by the claim of Babo Nimir in 1965 that it was his father, Nimir Ali Julla, who invited the Dinka across the River Kiir. The history so far told contradicts Babo in every detail. What appeared to be like an open rebuke by Chief Moneim Mansour of Hamar, who definitely new the history of Southwestern Kordofan put Babo and the Baggara on notice that any preposterous claimnow or in the futurewould miserably fail?

F. Cultivation and Sedentarization of the Humr (Nyma and Subu)

K. D. D. Henderson in Note on the History of Western Kordofan Baggara says that the Dar Homr is large enough to support a considerable sedentary population if the area between Muglad and Kwak is systematically opened up by wells. As such in 1951, a settlement of the Baggara was being carried out in Tabeldiyya, 40 miles south of Mulad on the road to Abyei, to induce the Homr Agaira to establish permanent villages. Three wells were dug and mango/banana/citrus gardens established. In 1952, cotton cultivation was being rapidly developed and plans were being made to upon up hitherto unexploited areas for cultivation and grazing by digging of hafirs and sinking of boreholes. It was the first attempt to settle the nomadic Baggara, and the boundaries between Messeriyya Baggara were unofficially, at least, were fixed westward by Tabeldiyya and eastward by Nyama and Subu.

Ian Cunnison, The Humr and their Land, Sudan Notes and Records 35/2, 1954, specifically states that the introduction of cotton was the first piece of economic development of Dar Humr. Changes in Agaira way of life were observed even though the cultivation of cotton was only three years old. In Muglad each mans permanent place was with his own garden. Settlements in the cultivation areas were organized on khashm beyt (family) basis. The Ngok Dinka remained in the areas described by P. P. Howell in 1948 (Sudan Notes and Records, 32/2, 1951 and P. P. Howell Papers, SAD 768/2/15).
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