From one of the meetings I held with him [the late Dr John Garang de Mabior] he assured me that Abyei was on the top of his agendas. Abyei was one of his first priorities. While he was alive he never let down the Ngok Dinka people of Abyei or the Abyei cause. This is part of the speech he delivered in Agok the temporary capital of Abyei Area on June 16th, 2004 to explain the Abyei Protocol to the nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms of which I attended:
"You people of Abyei, I greet all of you. I greet all of you; starting with the old man Lian Yak, all the elders, that woman called Achei Ngor who delivered a speech, all the women, all children in schools, all the children all over Ngok homeland-girls and boys, I greet you all. You the leaders of the homeland, starting with the Chief Ring e Makuach who delivered a speech and all the elders and chiefs of Ngok I greet you all and extend my greetings to the rest of Ngok who didn't come here.
Add your tongue to mine and greet all the Ngok people and tell them that Garang de Mabior came here with his comrades and was very pleased. I'll start my speech with the word 'Congratulation!' it is congratulation to you; because your homeland has been liberated, it is now in your hands and it is no longer in somebody else's hands. I congratulate you for the achievement you have made; for the struggle you have made. You struggled for fifty years (50 years) and some will say for one hundred years (100 years).
Because Abyei was transferred from Bahr el Ghazal to Kordofan in 1905 and now this is 2004. So it is ninety-nine years (99 years), it is only one year that is missing to complete one hundred years (100 years) since Abyei transfer. Your struggle started in 1954, before the Torit mutiny in 1955. It is the struggle of Abyei that started first.
The children of the school went to Rij el Fulla in 1954. They took permission from the District Commissioner of that time who was British during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. By that time the country was not given independence in 1956, because it was in 1954 when these students protested so they were arrested.
They went to petition in Rij el Fulla because they saw what was coming, that their homeland was going to be occupied by strangers. Those students were arrested and that was the beginning of the struggle of the Abyei people. So from 1954 to 2004, it is exactly fifty years (50 years). You have gotten your rights after 50 years; I congratulate you.
That is my first message, I congratulate you for the struggle you have made and it is that struggle you have made that brought these rights. And if there is somebody who claims that I am the one who liberated Abyei that is not true. It is you people who were struggling who liberated Abyei. Mine was only negotiation; but there were/are people who fought for Abyei since 1954. Also, from 1965 many of your people lost their lives during the Anyanya I, and you led the forces of Anyanya One in Bahr el Ghazal and people like Akonon e Mithiang lost their lives because of your homeland.
You also led the Anyanya II, and people like Miokol Deng whom I met in Bil-Fam also lost their lives because of your homeland. So it is your struggle that liberated Abyei, you have struggled for the last fifty years. You have fought for 50 years and that your right has been given to you in the negotiation in a place called Naivasha. So the first thing is a word of congratulation to you.
The remaining war of 'referendum' is an easy war. What is needed now is your unity and that you must work collectively. Because you've won the war for Abyei and I say there is nothing that will abrogate the protocol. My second message is that, everybody must come back; people must come back to Abyei land.
The nine sections of the Ngok Dinka that are contained in the protocol must come back. Ngok Dinka must return to their home areas, wherever they are in the Diaspora. If there is accessdised development in Abyei then people will return, and it is said that Abyei is floating on oil. Let us use this oil money to develop Abyei, this is when people will return. So take this message everywhere where Abyei people are, inside the Sudan and in the Diaspora, that people must return home. This is important."
BBC World Service broadcasts to Juba in Southern Sudan and surrounding areas in Arabic on 90.0 FM and in English on 88.2 FM. In Northern Sudan: Khartoum 91.0 FM, Al Ubayyid 91.0 FM, Port Sudan 91.0 FM and Wad Madani 91.5 FM.
“Violence will bring no victory. For the sake of the Darfur civilians, all parties to the conflict have to stop resorting to violence. This is the absolute priority.” - Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, 05 June 2009
"APPREHENSION" by Rob Rooker. Painted on a wall in Maridi, Sudan. The image is of a young Nuer boy looking up among a crowd of people. Click on image for more details. Cards & prints of Rob's paintings can be purchased online at Imagekind.com