Alma Ettore (File/Pachodo)

By Alma Ettore- A citizen from Tombura county (File Image/Pachodo)

Proverbs 29:19-22 “Don’t bite the hand that feed you’

I will start my article with a story from the Arabian lands. Once upon a time there was an Arab sheikh who slept soundly in his comfortable warm tent. His camel was outside the tent and the night was very cold. The camel put his head inside the opening of the tent and said 

“Master, master, my nose is very cold. Can I put my head in your tent to get some warmth?” 

The kind master said 

“Sure, you can”

An hour later the camel put his front leg and said 

“Master can I put my front leg in?”

The master said 

“Sure, you can” 

And you all know the story. Eventually the camel kicked the master out of his tent and slept in his bed!!! 

This story sounds familiar in so many places in South Sudan in this era of the SPLA/M, IG, IO, FD etc. The era of freedom. The era of truth and honesty and respect and Human Rights and dignity!!!!

Nowadays many stray camels and donkeys want to sleep in the owner’s beds. Beds, houses and lands that was inherited by others 

The letter or article or appeal was written by youths and elders of the Balanda who are saying that Tombura and nearly half of the Azande land belongs to them. Fair enough, for anyone to claim something but everything must be backed by evidence. That is concrete evidence.

 

Let me list the claims:

  1. In the letter, it is written that in 1805 AD Tambura County was called ‘Mamurunze’ interchangeably used with ‘Mamenze’.  This statement was not referenced, and I just want to let you know that I searched for the word ‘Mamurunze’ by using different search engines but could not find the word. How do you know that the so called Mamurunze was in Tombura County when there are no credible maps or books of any sort written at that time to substantiate your claim? You will have to let us know where you got that information from? What was the exact year? Where were the mighty Azande Kings?  Mamurunze is therefore an imaginary place that exists only in the Balanda minds.You brought the name ‘Mamenze ‘to confuse people because you know that Mamenze is a place in the Zande land.  Mamenze is a spring on an elevated ground in Tombura County which is well known. Mamenze is a name of that spring given by the Azande people. Stop misleading people by telling lies.

 

  1.  You mentioned the names of so called Balanda chiefs such as Vamangede (Real name Vaamangedeki and others called Undangala and Vongo? All these names are not referenced once in your letter and we do not know where you got those names from? Saying things in this vague manner does not give you any credit and signing your names on a fake document should have dire consequences if South Sudan was a country that upholds the rule of law. 

 

  1. You said that the Balanda chiefs had palaces. Where exactly were these palaces and now that I have proven that the chiefs are imaginary names that you created, it becomes like a child fantasy. It is well documented that the Balanda served the Azande Chiefs after they were captured in raids. Give us the proof of the existence of your chiefs such as tombs or graves. Up to date the graves of our ancestors such as king Gbudue is there for all to see. His descendants are living, and they have kept their names and land by their given names such as Yambio and Tombura. Where is your evidence? Show us the descendants of at least one of your so-called chiefs and I will be the first person to believe you. We all need proof not fiction. 

 

My Take: 

For your information “the history of the Azande kingdom was known only in 1868 when the explorer Schweinfurth visited the area” By E Guttmann, Sudan Notes and Records Vol. 37(1956) pp 48-55.  I will therefore contest and consider as untrue your claim that some history of facts was collected in 1805-1835. You gave us the dates but no references for verification. Without references your statement is nil and void.

I am not going to get into the details of the Azande Kingdom and the Chieftainship etc because it is in the public domain , in Google and in the libraries around the world,  in different languages but what I want to let you know is that the Balanda were defeated and captured by King Gbudwe and his sons from Bahr el Ghazal together with other tribes such as the Golo, Ndogo, Bongo etc and were assimilated into the Azande Kingdom. The Balande were given a big piece of land between Bazia and Nangiro. Nangiro is a Zande name given to a mythical figure (E Guttmann, Sudan Notes and records, Vol 37 (1956) pp 48-55. 

There is no mention of Tombura as being occupied by the Balanda  tribe in the history of South Sudan and there is no mention of any Chieftainship of the Balanda. Even in Western Bahr el Ghazal where the Balanda originate from, there is no proof that there existed any Chieftainship to their name. 

The Azande call the Balanda “Abaare” meaning “come and stay near me”. This happened when the Azande chiefs gave them land to live on near Tombura. The Balanda call themselves “Balanda” when they are with outsiders other than the Azande.  The Balanda (Abaare) are composed of 2 distinct tribes: The Amberidi and the Ambegumba. The Amberidi historically lived along the River Jur in the neighbourhood of lake Ambadi and were a section of the Jur or Shilluk (Sudan Notes and record Vol. 6, issue 2 ( 1923) pp 251-253.  

The Ambegumba lived further South in what is now called Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The advance of the Avungara forced the Ambegumba northwards and many settled among the Amberidi. Liwa (Riwa), Tombura’s father drove the Amberidi out of his territory. He referred to them as “wild men''.

The Arab slave traders under Sultan Bungurru raided the homes of the Ambegumba wanting to capture them as slaves. The Ambegumba marched westwards and settled South of Deim Zubair. After the raid the small number of Ambegumba that remained moved northwards with the Amberidi and settled south of River Bussere under the Avungara (Ruling clan of the Azande) Chief Geddi.

Similarly, some sections of the Balanda settled under the Azande rulers such as Ikpiro then Zamoi and Gubere, Zamoi’s brother. After the emancipation of the slaves and abolishment of slave trade, some Balanda fled from the Azande kingdom back to Bahr el Ghazal region to their homeland called Ndedekubva while others decided to remain behind and lived mainly along the rivers Sue and Bo on the Tombura -Wau road and some decided to live under Tombura’s rule. 

The last point I want to make is that the only book that was referred to by the Balanda elders and youths was written by a Combonian missionary called Stefano Santandrea but was not correctly referenced as there is no date.  That Combonian clergy lived in Bahr el ghazal and has never set foot in the Azande land so how did he come by what he has written if he does not know the people or the land and a Khawaja for that matter? This is not a credible source and therefore his tales will not stand a chance in any court. 

In conclusion I want to say that if the Balanda think that the Azande took their land they will have to come up with credible proofs rather than mere heresy and fabrications which do not even exist in fairy tale books. 

We the Azande do not have to prove anything to anyone because the evidence is there for everyone to see throughout our land. The onus will be up to the Balanda to disprove that the land belongs to us. 

I will recommend that the disgruntled Balanda should take their case to the International Courts of Justice and arm themselves with credible evidence to prove that Tombura is their inheritance. As simple as that. We do not need to fight. The court will settle everything.  

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