- Written by James Okuk Solomon
- Category: Pachodo.org Community News
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By James Okuk Solomon
On Saturday, 4th August 2007, at 3:30 pm, over one thousand people from different walks, tribes, ages, and etc... gathered in El Haj Yusif Shiqila in the house of late John Awow for a thanksgiving mass and farewell to the departed soul of John Awow Diing, who died of cancer on 31st July 2007 and got buried in Khartoum according to his wish.
Awow is a Collo (Shilluk) from Nyiliej in G?r, born in 1953. Present at that prayer was H.E Dr. Lam Akol, the Foreign Minister of the Sudan and H.E. Pagan Amum Okyiech, the Secretary General of SPLM. After his primary, secondary and tertiary levels studies, John graduated with a degree in agriculture in Alexandria University in Egypt. He worked with the government in Upper Nile and then shifted to work with UN-WFP for Southern Sudan, mostly in the Nuer area in Unity State until his death. He worked in harsh conflict situation of Southern Sudan and was never disappointed of helping his people, even at the times when they arrested and threatened him with death.
Andrew Garang, a renowned Catholic Church catechist in the Diocese of Khartoum, gave a very strong evangelical message to the gathering as a duty to put the nation on the right path. He brought to the current Sudanese situation the gospelic theme: Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He urged the Sudanese Christians politicians to be evangelizers in their work places and positions by leading the right way, telling the truth and living a virtuous life. He presented a special appeal to Dr. Lam and Mr. Pagan Amum to negotiate and dialogue with other top government officials in the Country so that the Cabinet meeting of the Ministers of the Government of National Unity be re-scheduled so that it does not fall on Sunday. He argued that the same way Friday is being observed for the Muslims, Sunday should also be observed for the Christians because the CPA has stipulated it that the rights of the None-Muslims should be protected in the capital. If the Muslims Ministers resist that, then they should treat them the same by demanding that Friday be also included in the work days of ministers. He urged the two leaders to rescue the criminal situation of some of the young boys of the Southern Sudan in Khartoum who call themselves ?Nigers', ?lost boys' and ?outlaws'. Instead for them to keep on fighting and killing themselves, they should be arrested and taken to Yei to be trained militarily and taken to front line to help the South deal with the Lord Resistance Army.
The catechist cautioned the exaggeration, which is getting into Southern Sudanese culture of funerals and weddings. "People have turned the places of funerals to be the places of refreshment and show off, even to the extent of evaluation them as 'good' and 'bad' funerals," he said. "In the past people use to bring food to the houses of mourning but now they come to take food from those houses and leave the deceased families with debts," he said. "For God's sake there is nothing called 'good' funeral," the catechist told the people. He told all the people who were present to take the message to the ones who did not hear it that funerals must not be exaggerated and deviated from the occasion of grief and sorrow. On the wedding or happiness side, he urged the parents not to make the bride price an expensive affair that disables the young men to get married so easily as is the case now. "Marriage should not be turned into lucrative business," he said "because the responsible family life is the real challenge and not that one day or few days occasion. People must live within the limits of their means and should learn to save for future."
After the mass, some people were given a chance to say some words of encouragement. Elder Acwil Lowal told the people not to continue mourning because the wife of the deceased is still alive. "The Wife is the backbone of the house. Even if the husband died she can still do the two roles; of the man and woman." He said that he was asked by a kid one time: "grandpa, do you have a father?" he replied "No because he died." "And do you have a mother?" "No because she died too," the old man replied gain. The kids looked at him sympathetically and said "You are really a poor man." With this wisdom story, Jaldwong Acwil Lwal told the children of late John Awow that they are not poor because they still have a strong mother who can still fill the missing gap of their father.
Jaldwong, Rev. Shawish Nyawelo took the Mike and told the people that the best thing he remembers of John Awow is that he was a man of peace and unity among the people. He defined himself as a Collo and not as somebody from ?G?r' or ?Lwaak.' He remembered the efforts exerted by a group of Young Collo intellectuals (among whom was John Awow) in 1980s when the land of Collo was invaded and burnt by Nuer and Dinka. They envisaged an initiative called "Collo Come Together." That initiative was blocked by some elders out of fear of prosecution and out of politics of cowardice. He concluded with a riddle that Collo are divided because "mεn cama wεth o wεth ki di pac cama pa w?n." That is, everybody is jumping and not listening to the other because he thinks it is his father's house and he must do whatever he likes. Then came Rev. Nyawelo Ador who said that he is unsettled because he is seeing fire burning in the midst of Collo. "People are losing best opportunities because of divisions and hatred. Young men and women are not getting jobs because they have become victims of classification as Lam's and Pagan's group," he said. He urged Collo to come up and talk about this problem openly and find ways of resolving it so that Collo people get rest of working together as one. They should not be intimidated to say the "Boss is wrong when he is not right." The former Commissioner of Rabkona in Unity state said that he is proud of Collo and regard a man like John Awow a martyr of War Situation of the Sudan. He Urged the SPLM Secretary-General not the neglect the professionally qualified Collo elders, but rather find them some work to do as long as they remain strong, especially advisory work. He affirmed that Nuer of Bentiu and particularly Bul has strong links with the Collo because Nyikango passed and lived there. Dr. Ayul, the best friend of the deceased gave a very long historical testimony about the John Awow and affirmed with tears that he is the upright man he had ever known. The prayers closed, people chewed and drank something, talked to each other in groups and then when home. May God give John Awow eternal rest, and may God be with his family to console them in the deep of their hearts when they are alone. Amen.
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