What message does Ngundeng have for the Lou Nuer?
BY: Chol K. Thon,
I have been reading with keen interest prophesies of Ngundeng as interpreted by Mr. Gatkuoth Deng with the help of Nuer elders. I read parts one through three of his exposition. According to the interpretations given to his prophesies by Nuer elders (some of whom may be politicians), Ngundeng was a national and political prophet on whom the destiny of
While most of his predictions are about wars specifically those involving the North and the South, some are about leaders in the South who'd come and go. One of the leaders he seemed to be talking about volubly, perhaps so because of his being from the same tribe as the prophet, is the vice president of
, Dr. Riek Machar. According to the ‚Äúelders‚ÄĚ Machar will one day rule the South.
This was recently confirmed when the Vice President received the ‚Äúdang‚ÄĚ from the British historian who returned it from
; they said that he (Riek) was the ‚Äúone‚ÄĚ the prophet said would be the first president of the South when it gets independence. The return of the ‚ÄúDang‚ÄĚ was interpreted to mean the return of power to the people of
which would be ultimately realized at the referendum and who received this ‚Äúreturn‚ÄĚ mattered. The elders recalled that Riek was prophesied by Ngundeng and therefore, was the one to receive the ‚Äúdang.‚ÄĚ
Ngundeng is said to have predicted prosperity of the economy of the South whose ‚Äúbackbone‚ÄĚ would be agriculture. Other predictions included the emergence of ten states of
, return of the ‚Äúdang‚ÄĚ from
, victory of
over the Arabs and many more.
Endorsing Ngundeng as a true prophet is not the purpose of this article; for I don't have the courage to do that and rejecting him would be a waste of time and words. However, I entertain the assumption that Ngundeng has true messages for the people of
in order to arrive at what he really has for his clan (Lou Nuer). This is the aim of this piece of article. Let us begin by looking at Lou Nuer.
Lou Nuer is a clan of the Nuer tribe and lives in
. It is a community that prides itself on physical might and this has earned it the nickname, ‚Äúmighty Nuer.‚ÄĚ It shares borders with Dinka (Ngok and Bor), Anyuak, Murle and Jikany Nuer in
. Lou and another two sections of Nuer inhabit four and a half counties in Jonglei making it the largest community. Dinka has four counties and comes second. The other tribes in Jonglei are relatively tiny.
The relationship between the Lou and their neighbors (not to mention
) has been shaky ever since the beginning of the civil war (1983-2005). Before then there used to be minor encounters between Lou and these tribes but they were confined to cattle raiding.
The souring relationship between Lou and its good neighbors especially Dinka Bor came to a head in 1991 when the SPLM/A split into Nasir and Torit factions. The Nasir faction mobilized and armed Lou civilians and incited them against the defenseless civilians of Bor using tribal hate sentiments. A self-proclaimed prophet called Urnyang also played a role in encouraging the Nuers in general and Lou in particular to massacre their innocent and good neighbors.
He (Urnyang) falsely prophesied that those who would die in the war would resurrect in the centre of their ‚Äúluak‚ÄĚ just a month after their death. This falsehood led the Lou to blindly fight without realizing that they too were destroying themselves. They were also heard citing messages purported to be from Ngundeng as a driving motive to wage war on Bor.
As the war raged on, the very Lou Nuers who were fighting the civilians of Bor turned against their own selves and started to fight on sectional lines. It is believed that the casualties inflicted by the Lou Nuers on themselves are more than those by outsiders. It should be noted here that the Lou Nuers died and killed for no cause as was evidenced by the fact that after the war they had nothing for them to be proud of. That was 1991 and the few years after.
In the last two months Lou Nuers attacked three different payams in Twic East County of Jonglei, a county that does not even share any border with Uror from where the attackers come. About 43 people, including two attackers perished in the last Wernyol attack. In the first one seven people died. In the Baping incident six people were killed.
It is now rumored that the same people are regrouping and coming back to attack the same Twic East county or another county.
It was two or so months ago that the Murles and Lou Nuers engaged in reprisals. At least a thousand people are believed to have died in the encounters of this year between Murle and Lou Nuer. Most of the victims are children and women.
Torkech, a village which belongs to Jikany Nuer was attacked in May this year by Lou youths and children and women were mercilessly murdered.
Riek Gai, a son of Lou Nuer and a member of the National Congress Party (NCP) is alleged to be providing the Lou Nuers with weapons. The intention behind his doing this is to destabilize
As I stated earlier, the point in writing here is to try to find out if Ngundeng, a prophet from Lou Nuer community, has anything to say about issues affecting his own community; be they national or tribal and what effect it has on the way the community conducts itself. The examples I have given above could not go without being noticed by any political or religious figure.
By the words of the interpreters, Ngundeng was a peace maker as Mr. Gatkuoth Deng puts it, ‚ÄúHe was known for his peace-making. He succeeded in stopping raids or bloodshed between Nuer and their neighboring tribes such as Dinka, Murle, Shilluk, Burun and Anyuak until his peaceful death in 1906‚ÄĚ.
I believe that it was words that Ngundeng used to bring peace among the mentioned communities and these same words are contained in the cassette. Ngundeng predicted a ‚Äúunified
‚ÄĚ which I believe could not be achieved when some of our people are bent on thwarting the efforts of those who are working day and night to free us from the bondage of the enemy.
Lou Nuers cannot have it both ways; reciting Ngundeng‚Äôs messages when killing their sisters and brothers for no good cause and at the same time dreaming of achieving an independent
which the prophet seems to be yearning for.
True prophets like those in the Bible warn people of an impeding danger and if possible, give them words of hope. What words of comfort and of danger does the prophet have for Lou Nuers? Are the Lou Nuers, by their deeds, making us to believe that Ngundeng, like any other Nuer prophet, is a war monger (inciting conflict between his people and their neighbors?
The political ‚Äúelders‚ÄĚ might be having answers!