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Monday, 16 May 2011

Joseph Oduho (assassinated in March 1993 by Garang’s troops)

Excerpts from Prof. K. Prah's Writings that mention Oduho

The need for the dominant groups in Sudanese society to define themselves as differently as possible from African is in some instances reduced to absurdity. For example, as the late African nationalist leader Joseph Oduho (assassinated in March 1993 by Garang’s troops) explains:

In every passport given to any Sudanese, whether he be brown, semi-white, pitch-black, it is always said "brown" is the colour. And on my passport it is written that I am brown, and probably if I went one day to Nigeria, they will say, brown? this man! It is one of those things ... that you cannot know until you have lived here a long time to know the real difference between the South and the North......
The inability of post-independence Sudan to meet this history squarely, frankly, dispassionately; treat it objectively and openly on all fora of social activity has tended to exacerbate the Sudanese national cleavage. Oduho is caustic in his remarks.

Well, people usually are not very happy particularly people from the Northern Sudan, of the mention of the slave trade. And one really cannot understand why this should be so .... All the years I was a school teacher, history was out of the curriculum of the Southern Sudan. It was not allowed to learn history ....... When I left the country in l960,history was not taught. From l950 to l960. That entire decade, history was never taught. The history of the Sudan has never been taught in the Southern Sudan. Just to avoid the idea of slavery .... Now they are teaching it, but they skip over Prof. Kwesi Prah

In the mid-eighties, in a conversation with the late Sudanese African nationalist Joseph Oduho, he informed me that as both a student and later teacher, during his lifetime in the Sudan, the history of slavery was left out of the curriculum. There was total silence about this in the educational system. Obviously the policy of the regime in Khartoum was that the story of slavery should not be told. Thus the truth is rather that, generally, while a great deal of attention has been paid to Western-led slavery, i.e., the Atlantic slave trade, there is extraordinary silence about Arab-led Prof. Kwesi Prah

The conflict as we know it today started on the 17th August 1955 with the Torit Mutiny. At the closing stages of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, in the arrangement to hand over state power to the new rulers of the country, the Southern Sudanese garrison in Torit became suspicious of the intentions of the Northern Sudanese Arab officer corps which commanded the garrison. The immediate point of conflict was the fear by the Southerners that they were going to be transferred and disarmed in order for the new elite to gain control over them and the national interests they represented as African soldiers in the south of the country. The troops broke ranks when they were ordered to disarm and shooting started with fire directed against the Arab officer corps. The Mutiny was brought under control but the rebellion, which had started spread to different parts of the south on both the east bank and the west bank of the Nile. The principal original leaders of the rebellion that followed were Latada in the Latuka/ Acholi border area on the east bank and on the west bank under the leadership of
Ali Gbatala in the areas of the south just north of the Congo border. This insurgency continued through the first years of independence until the emergence in 1963 of the Anya Anya Movement under the political leadership of the Sudan African National Union (SANU). The main figures who had worked towards the emergence of the Anya Anya Movement were Joseph Oduho, William Deng and Father Saturnino Prof. Kwesi Prah

It is important to note that this was not an isolated incident. The mind and thinking behind such cruel and barbaric acts are telling. Years ago, Joseph Oduho, one of the founders of the Sudan African National Union in the south, drew my attention to the fact that the military principle of 'ibid yektul abid' ('killing a slave with a slave'), has a history in the Sudan and was frequently heard during the First Civil War, 1956– Prof. Kwesi Prah

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