AKOBO HISTORY- LAND AND PEOPLE.
Akobo:- The River, Land, Town, and County (District)
Akobo twon: Is an attractive fertile piece of land surrounded by four major Rivers and they are . 1. Agwei, 2. Dikony, 3. Dikon, and the Akobo River.
Anywaa is the original name for the Anyuak Tribe. Anywaa comes from the word “Nyuak”. This means sharing. In other words, sharing together they joy ad agony, best or worst. King Agada described Anyuak as: fought against by so many [other tribes]. Akobo is the river that runs from Tiernam due west to join Dikony at Ciro. At the confluence, Akobo post was founded by the British in 1911. This river is now running irregularly because the course changed at Oboth and joins the Agwei River. The present name of Akobo Ciro is derived from River Akobo.
Anywaa (Anyuak) Kingdom
Anywaa Tribe is divided by the then colonial rulers administratively into two, namely: Sudanese Anyuak and Ethiopian Anyuak taking Akobo River as a major cosmetic boundary line of division. Anywaa on Northern bank of River Akobo are Ethiopian Anywae. And Anywaa on Southern side of Akobo River are Sudanese Anywae.
Anyuak Kingdom Sub Tribes
Anywaa country is divided into eleven (11) sub tribes as follows:-
The British did not make Akobo a strong post for their administrative convenience only but mainly to protect the Nuer from being slaughtered by the Anyuak. It was not possible to stop the raids while the British stayed at Malakal. The Anyuak of Ciro, including the Adongo people under King Akway Wa Cham, raided the Nuer for cattle, women and children which they brought back from Padoi and the country beyond near the Zaraf River.
As the British permanently settled at Akobo, borders were demarcated between Lou and Akobo at Dwa-Achan and Wanga-Ading; and between Murle and Anyuak at Biem. These borders are known as the 1956 borders recognized by the Sudan governments after the British left. Thus the Anyuak were administered with iron fist for taxation and free labor to clear the roads and scrutiny to protect the Nuer. The Arabs adopted the same policy of hard scrutiny of the Anyuak until the CPA was signed. At this time it is the Nuer showing the iron fist.
Akobo was a place of joyful life until the early 1960s. From this time line on, the Anyuak entered a gloomy period to the present day. This time line also marks the influx of the Lou Nuer migration and accelerated aggression as described elsewhere in this exposition.
Ciro Anyuak Clans.
Historical realities of Akobo contemporary gloomy period.
How did the Anywaa chose to flee to Ethiopia for protection?
During Anyanya I civil war, most of the Anyuak villages around Akobo town were disturbed and burned down to the ground by the then Sudan Government army, which considered the whole of Ciro Anywae members as collaborating and supporting Anyanya I movement. During this period, when Anywae left their villages in mass to the Ethiopian side for protection, the rule of law or the administration of Akobo district was still in the hands of Abubakar El Wagia. Abubakar El Wagia was the last person to put the last drop of fuel to burn Arini village of Nyikwaar clan in 1964. A chief, who had fled his domain into Ethiopia, was reported to have been seen at Arini village. The chief was implicated to be a participant in the movement. This District commissioner was known for his brutality and savagery. Upon hearing the report, he ordered the army garrison commander in Akobo to go with him to the said village well armed. On arriving the village, the innocent villagers flocked out of their huts to receive their master. He ordered them together at one place. In addition, he had their hands tied behind them with cycle rope. The chief was found, clubbed and shot dead immediately. Then he ordered the army to open fire on unarmed citizens to death. The news of Arini massacre, spread all over the Ciro Anyuak villages. Out of genuine fear, the Ciro Anyuak chose to flee to Ethiopia looking for save place and protection. This was the first golden chance for some of MOR of Lou to move and built in some Ciro Anyuak villages particularly at Arini village. Anyanya I dragged on till 1972 when the premature agreement was concluded. Having not been sure of the hurried agreement, some Ciro Anyuak people chose to wait and see. But most of the Anyuak came back to their original villages and life went on normally.
Following the signing of Addis Ababa agreement the then High Executive Council of the South Sudan was created. Mainly, it was the Southern Front Party in which some prominent leaders of Lou Nuer (MOR) were strong members and leaders. They managed to convince the then government of South Sudan to change the 1956 border of Akobo and Waat from Dwa-Achan to about seven (7) miles from Waat for their own political aspiration and to squeeze and dilude Akobo Anyuak population out of proportion. Kaykwienyi and Walgak became part of Akobo. This created the population imbalance. The Lou Nuer poured into Akobo town and environs in their numbers.
From 1973-1980 Akobo district was administered by Anyuak executive officers without prejudice or segregation to non-Anyuak in respect of the law. The 1980 elections, in which late Paul Anade Othow defeated Michael Wal Dwany and John Lok Jok, provoked the feelings of most intellectuals of Lou Nuer (MOR) in Akobo. In fact, Paul Anade Othow won the election not because of Akobo Anyuak majority only but also it was a general concern of all people in Akobo including non-Nuer and non-Anyuak that the right person to lead has to be from the land. The vote was a real democratic move. But most of the Nuer did not like the Anyuak to lead Akobo in the Regional Assembly. After this, a plot was planned. First it was the change of the Commissioner designed from the top in Khartoum and Juba by the Nuer politicians. Next, the Anyuak executive officers were transferred including the Anyuak police, prison, and game warders. Some Lou Nuer (MOR) officials were brought in as replacement to carry out the plan through. Early 1981 Lou Nuer armed villagers supported by Nuer police, prison, and army (Nuer Sudan Army), and game warders attacked Anyuak villages all over Akobo land. It was a well-planned attack including other Nuer [none Lou Nuer]. But the Nuer was given an unforgettable lesson in their life in spite of their great numbers and equipment. This defeat annoyed the Nuer leaders and the option is to revenge upon innocent Anyuak in Akobo town who did not have arms as the villagers.
The War within The War
Through Arab Governments, that facilitated the Nuer encroachment on the Anyuak land over the years and with Arab guns, the Lou Nuer militia pursued the Ciro Anyuak everywhere. The continuous Lou Nuer militia attacks on Anyuak villages over the years of SPLA/M fighting with Sudan Governments pushed Ciro Anyuak out of their villages to Ethiopia. This had a far-reaching effect on the Anyuak till the present day. At present the Nuer occupy Akobo County calling it their land by force. Prominent Nuer leaders are the ones pushing this domination ahead using their positions in the GoSS and the GoNU.
Now the long civil war of Sudan is over and the South Sudan has attained the long awaited objectives and will soon decide its own destiny. The CPA grants to all nationalities of South Sudan the right to exist and to develop their own culture within its .border of 1956. The IDPS and Refugees of all South Sudan nationalities are returning to their original homeland to rebuild their lives. Anyuak of Akobo have nowhere to return. Lou Nuer occupy their homesteads. As a result of this occupation, the Anyuak voice cannot be heard at all levels of government. Look at this: Akobo commissioner is a Nuer. Akobo representatives in Bor, Juba and Khartoum are all Nuer. All these appointments happened without consultation with the Anyuak. Anyuak proposed names for appointment. All names were deleted by the Nuer. Where is the coexistence and equality that the Nuer preach all the time?
The above is the grim reality of Akobo and the Anyuak lives at this time.
Source and Contribution: Community Elders.