July 2, 2013 (SSNA) — As South Sudan independence’s day celebrations fast approach, it is time to reflect on people and events that had shaped history leading to freedom on 9th July 2011. In introspection, Journalism famous adage returns with a vengeance back to the news rooms. That professionally taken picture is worth a thousand words is not any different from that of Prophet Ngundeng Bong featuring here in this opinion piece.
Born of Nyayiel Malual, an octogenarian woman well fast her menopause to Bong Chan, Ngundeng was a perfect match of Biblical Isaac born of Sahara to Abraham. In any true sense of the word, Kalam later named Ngundeng was quite an extra-ordinary child according to Nuer religion duty bound to make history that didn’t only reverberate within South Sudan common borders but went well beyond international ones he couldn’t catch a glimpse of with naked eyes except through divine sight.
His divinity made him to foretell the onerous life South Sudanese would endure under a series of colonial repression, first under Turkey followed by Anglo-Egyptian condominium rule and finally the Arab half casts of north Sudan. Like Prophet Isaiah foretold the destiny of Israel and South Sudan as punished and eventually blessed as feared and prosperous peoples on planet earth, Ngundeng equally predicted the happy ending of such strings of colonial occupation in South Sudan which he imparted with that of Ethiopia to an anointed bull that came to be popularly known to Nuer historians as Tungkernyaang. In fulfillment of the oracle, Ethiopia became a sanctuary for South Sudanese fleeing dropped off bombs and overhead flying Russian made antinov war aircrafts of the Arab based successive regimes in the Sudan. While Israel provided first military support ever to be granted to South Sudanese Anyanya rebels in late 1960s to 1972, a year when Addis Ababa Peace Agreement that brought local autonomy to Southern Sudan was signed under the watch of Ethiopian head of state and government, His majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, nicknamed Jiathnyaang by Nuer.
Scramble for Africa
In scramble for Africa emanated from November 1884 – February 1885 renowned but infamous Berlin conference in Germany, Italy alike other European powers was equally determined to claim her portion from the divided Dark Continent thrown up for grabs. Ethiopia saw the only ally on her western border to help contain the Italy’s surging might. The ally on hand was none other than South Sudan where prophet Ngundeng lived with fame spreading like bush fire across the globe. Then King of Kings Menelik II, a descendant of King Solomon from relationship with queen Sheba, who ruled the autonomous tribal kingdoms of Ethiopian modern – Empire state from 1889 -1913 paid a surprise visit to Ngundeng at Wecdeng village in present day Uror County, Jonglei State; perhaps the first ever foreign leader to do so. He shared the volatility of predicament that faced him in his home country with Ngundeng. Without hesitation, Ngundeng generously offered to help by giving Menelik II a bull called Tungkernyaang. As Tungkernyaang was being led away, Ngundeng urged his court messengers to go and cut off the tail lest South Sudanese would go one day to Ethiopia and stay permanently there while forgetful of the liberation of the land they left behind. Onto Tungkernyaang Ngundeng imparted divine power of ‘’Deng’’, Nuer and Dinka refer to as heavenly spirit that would enable King Menelik II repel the Italian invading forces. In Tungkernyaang too, the destiny of both South Sudan and Ethiopia was conjoined. Through that divine spirit Tungkernyaang created a special social bond between the two peoples within the African continent through cordial relations and firm inter-marriages never to broken no matter how deep the differences that arise may be. One country can hardly make do without the other. That is in as far as when SPLM/A left Ethiopia in 1991 after the fall of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Derg regime, Liberation had to stall until the movement returned to Ethiopia in 1996 and flourished once again. The Ethiopians through Derg regime and its successor, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF didn’t only offer sanctuary and weapons but also sacrificed lives and limbs to help in the liberation of South Sudan.
Battle of Adwa
After conquering Somalia – the current main land, Italy next catch was Ethiopia. Like the highland erosion sweeping down freely over and through the plains, Italy was unstoppable to bring Ethiopia under her strangling hold. As everybody knows by then Africans were all stateless with no means of communication networks and diplomatic relations connecting them. Every group of people was isolated from the rest armed with crude weapons for self defense and Almighty God was only one for them all as they tried, in back to back fighting, to fend off European multi-prong invasions. It is in these encounters whole of Africa was over run and molded into fragmented colonies under different European powers rivaling over political influence on an international stage and unexploited mineral riches to boost respective competing economies back home.
But one country stood out like a sore thumb and went against the grain. It is feudal Ethiopia that stubbornly resisted being subdued under colonialism of any kind and by anybody. Ethiopia owed this success story of colonial resistance to South Sudan through prophet Ngundeng Bong Chan courtesy of Tungkernyaang offer in 1896. The year marked the period when Menelik II returned from consulting with prophet Ngundeng in South Sudan. Up on his return to Ethiopia with renewed courage and energy following several victories against his forces by Italy, he fought and won the last battle of Adwa on first March 1896 with profound historic proportion that until now resonates around the bewildering world. That was the historic battle of Adwa, birth place of the late and prominent Prime Minister, Ato Meles Zinawi when backward Africans crudely armed with shields and spears faced off with an organized European army well equipped with automatic rifles. At that ferocious battle, Ethiopia didn’t only defeat what was one of the then super powers in Europe and the world but also came out of the ordeal as celebrated African hero – an unbowed and never colonized country in Africa ever since and up to date.
Ethiopia not being brought under the colonial York saved her from the agony of Western cultural pollution with distinct national characteristics. Such under scored peculiarity set her apart from the rest of humankind in terms of Amharic language, calendar, dress code, cutlery system and foreign policy. The same uniqueness embodies Ethiopia as an authentic African state, making her the perfect choice for the permanent seat of an OAU/AU and not necessarily due to Emperor Haile Selassie’s, another king Solomon’s descendant, central role in the continental organization’s founding in May 1963.Which as well follows in the context of Ngundeng Bong’s prophecy in the anointed bull, Tungkernyaang that not only served as the triangle of history intertwining South Sudanese, Ethiopians and Jews through Menelik and Haile salesie as descendants of King Solomon; but also liberated Ethiopia in 1896 and South Sudan almost 99 years later which should by itself grant Ethiopia Country Diplomat, CD vehicle plate number one in the Republic of South Sudan and vice versa.
Deng Vanang: Journalist and National Executive Committee’s member of South Sudan leading opposition party, SPLM-DC. He can be reached at:[email protected]