Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Memory of Uncle Joseph Oduho

April 07, 2008


By Bona Malwal
Khartoum, Friday 4th April 2008

If being asked to stand up to address an occasion as memorable has commemorating the death of a leader is an occasion of honour and respect for those who are asked to do so, then being asked to stand before you today, you the young and the not so young of Southern Sudan is a very special privilege and honour for me. Thank you so much my dear sons and daughters, brothers and sisters from the Latuka community of Southern Sudan, for inviting me.

For a country like Southern Sudan, where matters are not as normal as they should be, it is not only tempting to want to talk straight; it is indeed an obligation and duty to talk straight. This is exactly what I am going to do. And I ask for your individual indulgence in advance.

I stand before you with very mixed feelings on this very momentous occasion, because seeing the turn of events in our Southern Sudan Community today; it is very difficult for me to say with clear heart, that my teacher and political mentor, Joseph Oduho, has not died in vain. He spent his entire life struggling and in the end, he died in the hands of Southern Sudanese. We must believe and pray that his blessed soul is now in heaven.

After struggling for the cause of Southern Sudan for so long; escaping death in the hands of the true enemies of the cause of Southern Sudan; escaping the Kangaroo death sentence passed on him by the kangroo courts of Northern Sudan after the Torit uprising of August 1955, Ustaz Joseph Oduho was gunned down in cold blood on 28th March 1993 by the hand of his own Southern Sudanese children, using the guns Joseph Oduho himself may have helped provide to these children for the liberation of our people from the tyranny imposed on the South by Northern Sudan.

It is impossible, as I stand before you, participating in this glorious occasion, marking the death of Joseph Oduho, to escape the thought that this great hero of the cause of Southern Sudan may just have died in vain.

As we remember Joseph Oduho, we must not forget that with out freedom for all who are still alive in Southern Sudan; without total freedom from fear of any kind; especially fear from the rampant lynchmanship in Southern Sudan, in the hands of some of our own; with out pride in the way the government of Southern Sudan conducts the affairs of Southern Sudan today, it will be difficult to avoid the bitter conclusion that Joseph Oduho and all the fallen heroes of Southern Sudan have died in vain.

It would be dishonorable for those of us, who witnessed the political life of Southern Sudanese heroes like Joseph Oduho, to see so much that is going wrong in our community today; to see the squandering of the well earned political power of the people of Southern Sudan and the resources of the ever heroic people of Southern Sudan being used for causes that are not of the people of Southern Sudan and not say that things are not well in our society today.

We all need to work together, to correct those who believe that the power of Southern Sudan is their power and authority for them alone, over the people of Southern Sudan. The would be authorities of Southern Sudan today, seem to think that they have the right to use that power unjustly and unfairly against any member of the community of Southern Sudanese. All of us need to stand up straight and firm to be counted against internal hegemony, political bigotry and internal tyranny.

It is not enough any more, for us to be fed with the falsehood that it is Northern Sudan that is preventing rehabilitation and progress in Southern Sudan. It is not true that Northern Sudan is any more responsible for the mal administration of Southern Sudan since July 2005, since when the present government of Southern Sudan was formed. The current government of Southern Sudan is totally autonomous from the North, almost independent from the North, in its decisions and in its processes.

The North may not be giving the South its total fifty per cent share of the oil revenues from the oil wells of the South. I do not know about that, because if the North is not transparent with the government of Southern Sudan about the transfer of oil revenue to the South, then how transparent is the government of Southern Sudan with its people about how it spends what ever percentage of the fifty percent oil revenue it receives from the North? Are we only entitled, as Southern Sudanese, to know what Northern Sudan is not doing for us and we are not entitled to know what the government of Southern Sudan is doing with our resources for us?

I say these things on this occasion, because I know that Joseph Oduho would not have expected from me anything less. He was always an outspoken frank man. As my teacher in the formative years of my life, I hope I have learned something about frankness from Joseph Oduho. I am proud of that.

Joseph Oduho died struggling for the cause of Southern Sudan. It is ironic that he eventually died in the hands of his own community; a community he so struggled for. It is a great shame on us as Southern Sudanese, that Joseph Oduho did not die in the hands of the enemy of Southern Sudan, who wished him dead on so many occasions in his life.

Joseph Oduho was sentenced to death in absentia in 1955, following the Torit Uprising of August of that year. This is in spite of the fact that Joseph Oduho was a civilian, a teacher and was not even in Torit at the time of the uprising to have been an accomplice.

Joseph Oduho was elected to the 1957 Parliament from Torit as one of the members of Parliament from Southern Sudan. He sought from the floor of the National Parliament in Khartoum, to hold Northern Sudan accountable to the promise of federation, on the basis of which, members of parliament from Southern Sudan voted for an independent Sudan on 19 December 1955.

When Northern Sudan handed power to General Ibrahim Aboud in November 1958, to avoid answering the Southern Sudan demand for federation and in order to let the military repress the South, rather than concede Federation to the South, Joseph Oduho was one of the team of Southern Sudanese parliamentarians who joined the Anya-Nya Liberation Movement, to continue the struggle for the cause of the South. He and other Southern Sudanese did so, rather than to submit to the Northern Sudanese military machinations.

Together with other similar heroes who fell for the cause, like Reverend Father Saturino Lohore, the Anya-Nya cause delivered autonomy for Southern Sudan under the 1972 Addis Abba Agreement. Joseph Oduho took part in the political and the government leadership of the South under the Addis Ababa Agreement. In the end, the North abrogated the Addis Ababa Agreement in 1983.

It is important for many of you young Southern Sudanese here gathered today, to know that as much as Ustaz Joseph Oduho was a Southern Sudanese separatist par excellence, he was also an unswerving Southern Sudanese Unionist. During the great KOKORA debate in Equatoria, in the early1980s, Joseph Oduho led the crusade for unity of Southern Sudan amongst Equatorians. He and a small, but brave number of leaders from Equatoria, who stood so steadfastly for the unity of the people of Southern Sudan, were treated almost as traitors to Equatoria. Joseph Oduho was undounted by such classifications.

In 1984, only one year into the SPLA led war against the North, because this was only one year after KOKORA succeeded to split Southern Sudan, most Equatorians saw the SPLM/SPLA as a reaction to KOKORA and stayed away from it. In an open letter to Equatoria, Joseph Oduho implored Equatoria to join the SPLA, not because there was shortage in the personnel fighting the war, but because he saw that history was being made for Southern Sudan. He thought it was important for Equatoria to be part of that history. Equatoria heeded Joseph Oduho’s advice and joined the SPLA in droves.

The yesterday’s leaders of KOKORA are today the leaders of the SPLM/SPLA. It is ironic that the leaders of KOKORA of yesterday are not just the leaders of a united Southern Sudan today; some of them are currently the advocates of the idea of “A New Sudan”.

As a perpetual struggler for the cause of Southern Sudan, even though he was already in an advancing age, Joseph Oduho saw no choice for himself but to join the SPLM/SPLA in 1983, at its foundation, to continue the struggle. It is ironic that he remained a prisoner in the hands of his own people, until he met his death at Panyagor, in Jonglei, in 1993, in the hands of his own children. He was killed at the age of 67, while on a peace mission, trying to reconcile the warring factions of the SPLA

It is impossible to speculate how providence judges atrocities like the death of Joseph Oduho. But I am tempted by my human failing to believe that the always fair Almighty God has put the soul of Joseph Oduho into heaven.

If Joseph Oduho died a tragic death the way he did, it is almost inescapable to believe that Joseph Oduho would love the Machakos Protocol of 2o July 2002, which is the first Protocol of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which gives the people of Southern Sudan a referendum on Self-determination, in the year 2011, to be successfully carried out. Southern Sudan must not allow that noble right of Self-determination, to be subverted by those we currently see usurping the rights of the people of the Southern Sudan for their own anti- Southern Sudan causes.

As a pupil of Joseph Oduho, I am privileged and proud to stand before you here gathered today, to hold those who are responsible for the implementation of the CPA, to carry out Self-determination referendum as the final act of the CPA with out deviation.

Joseph Oduho was my teacher and protector at a very young age for me. After completing Rumbek Secondary School, Joseph Oduho became an intermediate school teacher at St Anthony’s Bussere Intermediate School in 1951. He joined and taught me in my second year intermediate school. He was a great footballer and became our sports teacher. He played in our school team, many times matching us youngsters against his old team of Rumbek Secondary School. He always protected us against older football opponents from elsewhere. He once put us into a football pitch battle in Wau town, because one of our young team mates was kicked in the stomach by an older player. He physically knocked down the offender player and kicked him in the stomach. We became engulfed in a football pitch warfare with the Wau town crowd, with Joseph Oduho as our protector.

It is a well known fact of life that in any war situation, there occurs excesses and war atrocities. Southern Sudan was no exception to this. What is important, is how a traumatized society, like the Southern Sudan society, deals with these issues at the end of the war. It is important to tell the truth about who did what against whom, during the war and to reconcile the society before it forgives the excesses of the war and then move on. South Africa and Mozambique have led us in this. Rwanda is going on with the same process at the moment in a very impressive way. With so much internal atrocity against each other during the war, Southern Sudan can not avoid telling its truth to each other and then to reconcile. It is impossible to assume that leaders like Joseph Oduho have died the way they did and that no body responsible in Southern Sudan cares to make public how they died.

It is necessary for the Government of Southern Sudan, therefore, led by the SPLM/SPLA that was largely responsible for the war atrocities within Southern Sudan, to now establish a truth and reconciliation commission, to lay to rest the ghosts of war and to enable the society to reconcile and to move on.

Southern Sudan can not afford to have lost heroes like Joseph Oduho in vain and as we falter from the paths and principles for which Joseph Oduho and others lived and died, let us remember that Southern Sudan can not afford to fail. May Almighty God rest the soul of Joseph Oduho in eternal peace?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Council of Ministers’ Timetable for 2010

On October 10th, 2009, the State Minister in the Ministry of the Council of Ministers, Kamal Abd Al-Latif Abd Al-Rahim, addressed a meeting held with journalists and editors-in-in-Chief of almost all the daily newspapers in the country. This meeting came as one amongst many meetings, which have been organized annually by the same Ministry. The main objective of this meeting was to discuss a proposal prepared by the General Administration of the Council of Ministers for the timetable of the Council of Ministers and Ministerial Sectors planned for discussion by the Council of Ministers for the year 2010.

The timetable, as per this author, tackled many important issues concerning the various projects included in the quarter century national strategic planning. This author has noted that the project for supplying many regions with fresh water from the three main rivers of the White Nile, Blue Nile, Nahar Atbara, and certainly the Nile is missing. This would be the main subject to be discussed in this article, in addition to other issues that were already discussed but with few additions to widen their scopes.

Before beginning this article, this author would like to extend his sincere congratulations to H.E. the President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omar Hasan Ahmad Al-Bashir, for lifting up the security monitoring on the press in the country. More thanks are also here extended to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, its State Minister and the Undersecretary for designing the programme in which the Council of Ministers consults with journalists and editors-in-chief of all the newspapers in the country on annual basis.

This author, however, would like to note that for future effective participation of the journalists and editors-in-chief of the newspapers; the Council of Ministers needs to send future timetables before the meeting convenes so that those participating in the meeting could contribute very positively.

This article is has been prepared and sent to H.E. the Minister of State in the Council of Ministers as part of the author’s contribution to the problems affecting the country. The reason to publish came with permission from H.E. the State Minister for Ministry of the Council of Ministers and the aim is to share it with journalists and editors-in-chief colleagues who attended the above-mentioned meeting.

Water Project in the Country

This author begs for forgiveness in case he did not see the project for fresh drinking water supply to those parts of the country that are in dire need of water. While visiting some parts of North and North-Eastern Sudan, this author realized that some of our countrymen and women living in those parts of North and North-Eastern Sudan faced serious problems of fresh drinking water shortages. This problem is also faced by our country men and women living in North-West, some parts of South-West and areas in South-East of the country.

The question that would quickly come to mind is that is there any plans at all to extend water from the various rivers in the country to the parts of the country that has no access to fresh drinking water?

Water is one of the biggest resources that accelerate development? Availability of fresh water in various parts of the country would encourage the populations in those areas to engage in small-scale agriculture and, coupled up with the strategic agricultural projects in the country, the country as well as small-scale farmers in the areas mentioned would benefit from exports of the agricultural products and safe the lives of those who would have otherwise perished from thirst and/or lack of food. Fresh drinking water stops the spread of diseases that are acquired from dirty water catchments for consumed by the people in the areas mention and thus safe generations whose services as human resources would badly be need in the future of this country by the current and future governments.

This author, however, is aware that discussing supplies of fresh water from the rivers available in this country is connected with the River Nile Basin Agreements (RNBA) signed in 1929. In these agreements, some of which were signed even before Sudan got its independence from the British, each of the countries in the RNBA is given a percentage in Cubic Metres (CMs). According to the information available for the distribution of water resources in the RNBA (Sudan and Egypt are drawn as examples), Egypt has been given 55.5 Billion CMs while the Sudan is given 18.5 Billion CMs, for more information see (

Should the failure to supply our country men and women in the areas mentioned above be based on these percentages, then the Council of Ministers needs to look at this as an important issue for discussion. In the discussion of this important issue, the Council of Ministers needs to review the RNBA with a view to requesting more CMs to be utilized by the Sudanese who are in dire need of fresh water for drinking and agriculture.

Why should the Sudanese people be subjected to an agreement that is not even strict in the use of water already allocated in CMs by the member countries? For example, “Egypt's water resources stood at 64 Billion CMs in 2006, of which the RNBA provided 55.5 Billion CMs, or 86.7 percent”, see ( Egypt has to be made to understand the review of the RNBA is important. The increase in its use of the Nile waters by 9.5 Billion CMs perhaps is necessitated by the increase in its population. The Sudan and Egypt had smaller populations at the time of signing the RNBA and thus both deserve increase in their quotas according to their populations’ need.

“Some Egyptian experts accuse the United States (US) and Israel of raising differences among Nile Basin countries to affect Egypt and Sudan, warning that Nile Basin countries may fight for water in the future”, (Zinhua, July 31st, 2009). While the Sudan as a country has its objective reasons to differ with the US and Israel, the Council of Ministers needs to know that the lives of big number of our countrymen and women who are in dire need of water are at stake. Thus, the only solution to avert war in the future is definitely a renegotiation on the redistribution of the Nile water percentages to the member countries. Renegotiation of the percentages of the River Nile should be one of the most important items to be included in the Council of Ministers’ timetable for the year 2010.

Civil Defence

The Annual crisis of unnecessary floods in Khartoum and other parts of the country should be an important item in the timetable of the Council of Ministers for the year 2010. It is shameful for the country to depend on crisis management of the floods in every rainy season. There has to be a well-studies project within the timetable of the Council of Ministers to identify areas within the national capital, Khartoum and other areas, in addition to roads in the country where channels are not just dug and left but rather scientifically constructed and properly directed to the rivers available.

The annual floods, especially those that affect the national capital, Khartoum, do affect the national treasury so dearly. With floods in the national capital every year, roads become impassable thereby affecting movements of the country’s public and private sector officials; erode roads which will need reconstruction and children are made to acquire water-borne diseases and the results are not good for the country’s national strategic planning. The national strategic planning, one would guess, takes into consideration the need to invest on younger generations that may be eroded along with the roads of the national capital. Eroded roads within the national capital would mean more spending and more spending would seriously affect the national strategic planning whose success depends on the correct use of money in the country.

National Forests – The Future Plan

Perhaps it is good to know that there is a concern to preserve national forests. However, the question that would impose itself is: are there future plans to create more forests, instead of just preserving the current? There is a need for a serious programme for forestation of the northern deserts to help increase the percentage of rainfalls in the Northern part of the country and stop deforestation. The Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern parts of the national capital need forestation to improve life within the national capital. Forests are known to be windbreakers and play greater roles in shielding off the heavy sandstorms that are faced by the national capital on annual basis and, of course, the production of rains. Thus, the Council of Ministers’ timetable needs to include a detailed and well-studied project for forestation in the country and at the same time lay down strict regulations on the unnecessary felling of trees in some parts of the country.

The Referendum in South Sudan – The On-going Arrangements

The issue of the referendum in South Sudan in 2011 as agreed upon by the negotiators in Naivasha in 2005 has appeared to have taken shape almost regarded as taboo. It is now more than four (4) years on into the interim period and the options of the referendum – unity and separation – are not discussed. There are those (mostly from Northern Sudan) who encourage discussion on the achievement of the unity during the referendum thus discouraging any discussion on separation. There are also those (mostly from South Sudan) who encourage discussion on the achievement of separation during the referendum thus discouraging any discussion on unity.

This is a very dangerous approach because the issues of unity and separation involve convictions. These convictions cannot come from nowhere but from serious national debate. The separatists should be given the opportunity to express their views on why they need separation. In the same understanding, the unionists should also have their opportunities to express their views. This could be done at the level of symposia, seminars and workshops in which scientific papers ought to be presented. It is only in this way that the Sudanese people can arrive at convictions and these convictions would help in tilting the public opinion in the North and the South on whether or not unity and/or separation are indeed in the interest of this country.

For example, and let this be taken hypothetically, by saying that unity is an important option in the referendum. What kind of unity could it be? Would the unity that has to be achieved during the referendum be based on the old unity, which was the cause for the civil war in the country?

It is true that Naivasha has addressed very many important issues in this country but there are other problems which Naivasha has also created. In the opinion of this author, segregation has increased in this country between the people of the South and those of the North. This segregation cannot be blamed on the people of the North or the South but rather on Naivasha.

Naivasha as mentioned above has created a clear-cut segregation in this country. There South Sudanese working in the North who are literally undermined. Others are belittled by some of their juniors in their work places. Some in other very specialized government institutions have not been given their rights as provided for by their institutions. There are also Northern Sudanese who in work in the South who have faced issues of undermining and segregation on various basis, be they clolour, religion or otherwise.

There are some Northern Sudanese within this country’s government institutions who literally think that the South has got more than its share from Sudan through Naivasha. They literally think that any South Sudanese living and working in the North is unfairly sharing what is supposed to be for the North. There is some rationale in this kind of thinking but it only adds to the whole complexity of the situation. Does the Sudan need all the tension created by Naivasha? The only way of coming out of this complex situation is dialogue on the very many issues that are the core to issues of unity and separation during the referendum.

The Agriculture Sector – The Jezira Scheme

How could the Sudanese be proud of saying this popular phrase: ‘We eat from what we cultivate”, when important agricultural schemes like the Al-Jezira Agricultural Scheme and Aweil Rice scheme – some of the biggest in the African continent at the time– die away? If the Sudanese have to eat from what they produce and help others eat from what they have produced, there should be a serious need for the Council of Ministers to add into its timetable the importance of assembling a team of agriculture experts, including those in the field of agricultural research to study the Jezira soil and other soils within the country with a view to creating long term planning that should take into consideration extensive agricultural production with surpluses that could be exported to other countries.

Industrial Sector

How could the Sudanese be proud of saying this other phrase: ‘We wear from what we manufacture’, when some of the heavy industries, especially in the South have no attention paid to? Mongala Sugar factory in South Sudan, Anzara textile industry in South Sudan, and Wau Beef factor have not received any attention from the government. The Council of Ministers needs to include in its discussion timetable for the year 2010 the importance of reactivating the above-mentioned industries and others that have not been mentioned in this article. The reactivation of the above-mentioned industries and other that are mentioned is important if the industrial sector has to succeed in its part of the comprehensive national strategic planning.

DDR – The Issues of Militia

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement’s Security Arrangements had clearly indicated that there should be no forces in between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA). On this basis came the decision in the Security Arrangements that both the SAF and SPLA absorb into their systems the militia within their sides. The absorption of those with the SAF was made but yet the SPLM continues – unabated – to accuse its partner, the NCP, of continuing to maintain some militia within the South.

On the issue of disarmament, there has been quite a problem with the process of disarmament in South Sudan. First, it should be recalled that there are some communities in the South that owned small arms, which they used to protect their belongings like livestock from other cattle rustlers within and without the country. This does not mean that these communities should not be disarmed. They should be disarmed but something ought to be done before they are disarmed. These communities need government security to protect them from cattle rustling incursions. Therefore, the Council of Ministers needs to include in its discussion timetable for the year 2010 the importance of providing security to the communities that suffers from cattle rustling incursion from within and without the country.

Finally: Review of Wages for Government Employees

The current government has been revisiting the wages of its employees and makes amends; only that this is done without taking into consideration the serious developments in the market. The market seems to be operating without safeguards from the government, which are aimed at benefiting the common Sudanese. For example, it is impossible to offer the government employees a 100 percent increase in wages without checking the market, which normally hikes the prices of essential commodities in the country – sometimes – by more than 50 percent. The Council of Ministers’ timetable needs to include a discussion on the need to control the market, especially when increasing its employees’ wages, to avoid a vicious cycle of wages and the purchasing power going up respectively.

The author is the editor-in-chief of the Armed Forces Newspaper. He can be reached on: