Part I of Aweil History
Historical Background of Mading Aweil:
Prior to the demise of the Mahdiyya state in 1898 and the subsequent conquest of Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces, there never existed any single geo-political area known as Aweil comprising of the five countries as it does today. The name Mading Aweil is a corrupted Dinka’s name taken from Mading Ayuel. The name Mading Aweil was derived from an event in which a bull coloured “Mading” was slaughtered as a sacrifice by somebody called Ayuel, a man from the Paliej (paan Achiec) clan, a clan that first settled in what is now known as Aweil town. (This was before they lost control of their cattle campMading-Ayuel to Pahol clan, who later claim the ownership of the land which now lies entirely in Ajuet Diing Akol area. It was referred to as Aweil Akot Aru, a then Deputy Paramount Chief of Ajuet.)
Before the total establishment of Anglo-Egyptian rule in Sudan at the end of the nineteen century, Aweil had already established a relationship with the Mahdiyya state, through some of its first influential traditional leaders such as Chak-Chak, also known as “Dengdit”, a grandfather of Sultan Albino Akot Autiak. The country of origin of Chak-Chak is not known, but it was believed that he had come from Central Africa Republic (CAR). Chak-Chak allied himself with a renown Ja’ali’s slave trader, Zubier Rh’ama Mansour (Zubier Pasha), at around 1883. This alliance with Zubier Mansour cemented Chak-Chak’s powers when he was armed by Zubier Mansour. As another slave trader, Chak-Chak managed to establish his slave compound around Nyamlell and Shelkou, the present day Aweil west. In his quest to maintain peace and harmony with the local people living in the area, Chak-Chak heeded advice from Parek clan not to enslave anyone around the area in which he resided. With exception of some periodic raids on Lou Land (JurCol), resulting in many Lou being taken into slavery, Chak Chak overall maintained a good relationship with his Dinka neighbours.
Another key player in Aweil history was Aken
Akec, from Patek clan, whose knowledge of the Arabic language enabled him to establish contact with the northerners, making him the only man in Aweil to initiate such an outside contact. He was a hunter who hunted giraffes on horseback. Aken
Akec came from Peth
Atak in North West Aweil.
(Until) the beginning of the 1900s, Ungech
Ajonga emerged in the Jur area. He was the grandfather to Commander James Ajonga
Ajonga was another man in the Patek clan from the Lou area who established a relationship with Aken
Akec. When the need arose for the establishment of the Anglo-Egyptian administrative headquarters in the Aweil area, both Ungech
Ajonga and Aken
Akec recommended that Nyamelell be the capital of the newly founded district in 1916. With consent from Dengdit (Chak-Chak), Nyamlell was officially made District Headquarters of the Aweil Area in June 1917. Before long, Aken
Akec had a quarrel with his native people of Peth
Atak. He decided to transfer the capital to an area far from Peth
Atak. With consent from Chief Ungech
Ajonga, the two chiefs decided to approach the Anglo-Egyptian Administration to move the District Headquarters to Aroyo. In 1919, the Capital was moved to Aroyo, which lies entirely in the thick forest of Aweil West, just miles away from Raja in West Bhar El Gazal. Within two years of its establishment, Anglo-Egyptian administration decided to abandon Aroyo as district capital due to strategic reasons. Aroyo is located in the thick forest and could possibly undermine the suppression of resistance to Anglo-Egyptian Rule in the area. The Anglo-Egyptian rulers decided to consult with those of Ungech
Ajonga and Aken
Akec to help in finding a new site for the District capital. Chief Ungech
Ajonga suggested Alok as a good site for the District Headquarters due to its strategic location. However, Aken
Akec suggested Mading Ayuel for the District capital. Alok and Mading AYuel were both strategically important as they both share almost equal features. From the east and west of Alok
Toj or Toc and the south and north of Alok is thick forests. That could help the Anglo-Egyptian forces to defend it from the resistance. Alok was chosen as district Capital, simply because it was seen as both a strategically and militarily wise location, situated just 63 Miles to the north of Wau which is the capital of Bhar El Gazal province. Before the Anglo-Egyptian administration came to Alok, the resistance of our people against the invaders was building up. On the 29th of April, 1921, the battle for the control of Alok, otherwise known as Waj-Atiar (which is literally translated to mean ‘battle in which the goat skins which used to be worn by men had all been soaked in the battle’) began. Due to the superior weaponry of the invaders, locals were forced to seek refuge in the water of river kueng-alok for more than a day, before they could find a chance to tactically withdraw, hence the name, “Waj-Atiar”. The tales of the Waj-atiar war are still narrated today by the Dinka people of Aweil. Among the fighters of waj-atiar war are the following heroes: Chief Wek
Ayom the father of the author, he was only19 years of age and was initiated one year before this war; Akol Tong (Akol-bok) the father of Major general Albino Akol
Akol; Deng Akot, father of a well-known politician Deng Deng
Akot, who was killed in Aweil town in 1983, by the security forces of Nemiri’s regime, few days after the formation of the SPLM/A on the 16th May 1983; Lual
Lual, known as (Lual-Maloc) a father to veteran politician, and the former SPLM Secretary of Education Mr Lawrence Lual
Akuey; Chief Kuac
Ngor of Dulueit, father of chief Pio Tem Kuac; Chief Deng Akuey
Ajou; and Chief Mawien
Akol of Ajuet
Diing who was said to have participated in the Waj-atiar war, when he was just a boy of 14 or 15 years. However, although the author had met and talked several times with Chief Mawien
Diing, he cannot confirm this.
As I mentioned above, there were many other participants of Waj-atiar war but this space does not allow us to put down every single name of the participants and heroes of the Mading Aweil land who participated in Waj-Atiar war to resist aggressors. Because the battle for the control of Alok was fiercely fought by the local people, the Anglo-Egyptians decided to move the district Headquarters to Mading-Ayuel or Aweil in July 1921. Mading Ayuel or Aweil was officially opened on the 10th of January 1922. The transfer of the District Headquarters to the Aweil area was a victory to Aken
Akec. Although the Dinka had their spiritual leaders, assisted by the Council of elders in administering people, the need to appoint executive Chiefs arose soon after the establishment of the Anglo-Egyptian rule. In an attempt to appoint Chiefs, the Anglo-Egyptian administration, decided to consult with those who spoke similar languages known as Athook to advise the authority on how to appoint executive Chiefs in the Aweil Area. Chief Ungechdit was appointed due to his merits and by virtue of his services to the Anglo-Egyptian administration, as Chief to non-Dinka speakers, notably the Lou or Jurchol, in 1922. Aken
Akec could have been the first Aweil chief, but he decided to recommend other people he knew to chieftainship positions and disregarded himself as a sign of selflessness, a virtue embraced in the entire Dinka land. Surprised by this act, the Anglo-Egyptian administrator asked Aken
Akec as to why he recommended others to the positions of chiefs and denied himself a position. Aken
Akec simply said “I would be responsible for all Chiefs”. The Anglo-Egyptian Administration was angered by his actions and decided to abandon him. Chak-Chak, who was then an old man of about 80 years old made some recommendations to some Chiefs, notably Ngor
Makuel, the grandfather of Chief Pio Tem Kuac. Ngor
Makeul was spiritual leader in Duluiet and was married to Chak-Chak’s sister-in-law, Athieng
Makuac, a half sister to Chak
Chak’s wife. Atheing
Makuac was from the Pakuein Clan. The rest of the chiefs, except that of the Paliet Area, (who were not yet part of Aweil until 1933), were also appointed or transferred, either on abdications in favour of other clans, or through recommendations. Akol Kuot Akol known as Akol-agakier from the Pakuein clan was the spiritual leader of Paliet. Although Akol-agakier was in contact with Chak-Chak and Aken
Akec, his appointment to become Chief of Paliet, notably Ajak, Kongdier and Bouncuai, was not done through recommendation to chieftainship position on the basis of Athook but was primarily by virtue of his standing as a spiritual leader. He was a spiritual leader and thus, when the need arose for the appointment of the executive chief of the south part of Aweil, (which was actually part of the Gogrial until 1933 when it finally became part of Aweil), he was appointed to become chief of the area. Malek-Alel, which later became the Capital of Paliet, lies 22 miles south of Aweil town and 47 miles away from Gograil town. It was thought that since Paliet was closer to Aweil than Gogrial town, it was worthwhile to make it a part of Aweil. That is how Paliet was moved out of Gogrial to Aweil. In 1933 Aweil was finally made to constitute four major areas, of Abiem, Malual, Paliet and Palueipiny, all of which comprised 22 Executive Chiefs. There are new SPLM/A appointed Chiefs, but they will stay outside of this writing, until there is stability in the Country.
Population and the geography of Aweil
Aweil is geographically divided into 4 major areas or administrative divisions:
Abiem is divided into 8 Chieftainships namely:
- Wun-Anei: Under Sultan Awan
Anei, father of Cdr. Paul Malong
Yel-Akier: which happens to be the biggest single chieftainship area in the whole of the south, and it is under executive chief Kuol
Malong: under Sultan Malong
- Ajuongthi: Headed by Sultan Malou Tong Tong.
Ngor: Under Sultan Pio Tem Kuac.
- Wun-Diing: Under Sultan Dut
- Akenyjok: Under Sultan Richard Rual Deng Rual (Rual-abun).
Geng: Under Sultan Geitano
It is divided into five major administrative sections. Though the demarcation between who is Malual and who is not, is almost and always as controversial and confusing as saying Jesus is a son of God and/or he is not, however, there are administratively five chieftainships and they are as follows:
Awut: also known as Korok
Acien, is the second largest single chieftainship in Aweil area second only after Apoth-Yel in terms of population, and it is headed by Chief Acien
atak: formerly under Chief Atourjong
Anyoun, the father to Cdr. Dau
Anyoun, but now, it is under Sultan Edward Arop Kuot
· Atokthou: Under Sultan Mathok
Bol Deng: originally known as “Dhor-Lieth”, established by those who escaped from War-ajak war in Dulueit
Ngor in Abiem. It is headed by Chief Bol Deng Geng, now under Kuot Deng Geng, nickname Kuot-maluth.
· Majakbaai: it was part of Akuak-ayat, before attaining its independence to become a chieftainship, under Sultan Diangbar
This area known as Paliet in the South of Aweil, now AweilSouthCounty was one single Chieftainship, prior to 1938. With an exception of Bar-mayen of Sultan Akol
Ungech, Ajak, Kongdier and Buocuai were administratively managed by one Chief Deng Welbok from Pakeuin clan and who was succeeded by Chief Akol
Ayom, who before his death in 1938, and before he was succeeded by his brother Sultan Wek
Ayom, decided to give Buoncuai freedom to be in charge of their own administration, under Ariath
Kon-jiinkier, and Congdier under his cousin Akol-dit, the father of Macuar
Akol, before he abdicated in favour of his nephew (son of his sister) Dut
Jok, the father of Sultan Louis Deng Dut
Jok, and the former NIF governor of Aweil state Mr. Kongdier
Jok. Barmayen, though it is administratively part of Paliet, is one of the oldest Chieftainships in Aweil, and it remains under Chief Ungech
Ajounga and his kin and kith, since it was founded in the early 1900s.
Paliet is divided into five major administrative divisions which include:
- Ajak-Wek: under Sultan Akol
Ateny, and it is the largest single chieftainship, in Aweil South, in terms of population.
- Buocuai-Ariath: under Sultan Geng
Kon, succeeded by his son, an SPLA officer Piol
Dut: under Sultan Louis Deng Dut
- Bar-mayen: under Sultan Akol Tong-Ungech, succeeded by his half brother Mawut
Ajonga (Mawut-jokuei) father of Cdr. James Ajounga
This area is for geographical administration, otherwise the people living in this area, are without doubt Malual-Giernyang, with exception of the area of Sultan Ayega
Ayega and Ajjingdit
Upeiu’s areas. Palueipiny, had six Chieftainships and they are as follows:
- Gumjuer: under Sultan Albino Akot
Autiak, who was succeeded by his son Autiak Albino Akot, they are descendants to an influential Aweil leader Chak-Chak (Dengdit) see above.
Kuac: under Sultan Kuac
Kuac (Kuac-mangarjok) succeeded by his son Garang Kuac
- Akuak-Ayat: under Sultan Riiny
Dau (Riiny-Magak) succeeded by Sultan Akon
Lual, who is sometimes assisted by his half-brother Riiny
- Ajuet-Diing: where the original MadingAyuel
lies, the area of Dupty Chief Akot
Arou, from Pahol clan who took over Mading Ayuel from Paliej
Aciech, before it is made the administrative capital of Aweil area in 1922. Ajuet is under Sultan Mawien
Akol, though he is alive, he is too old to perform his duties as executive chief, so his duties are performed by his son Sultan Mawien
- Aroyo: under sultan Ayega
- Arodo: under Sultan Ajiing
Upeiu. Note that, with the emergence of the new County in Aweil centre, it is said that, the area of Sultan Ungech
Ajonga, Sultan Ayega
Ayega, Sultan Ajiing
Upieu, and the promotion of the area where Kon
Dochiek was sub-chief to become full chieftainship, will bring a slide change in the geography of paluepiny.
In terms of population, Aweil is the second largest populated province in the whole of Sudan, after Umdurman. In 1983 third population Census, of which the author of this document had participated as population registrar in Aweil South, Aweil’s population was found to be more than 2,1000,590 people (two million one hundred thousands, five hundred and ninety inhabitant, after Umdurman with 2,200,877.) White Nile province (Dohie’m) was third. When, it came to the attention of Kuwaitis that, Aweil was densely populated with barely sound primary schools, and only one Intermediate school, the Kuwaitis’s government contributed some funds for the building of Kuwaiti-Sudanese friendship school in Aweil, this was the time when Mr Lawrence Lual
Akuey, was the regional Minister of Education, in the now defunct, High Executive Council of the South. Unfortunately the said school was build in Juba, the capital of the South, and it is known as the Kuwaiti-Sudanese Friendship School, it is a three-storey building and harboured more than 2000 pupils.
Aweil is devastated by the 21-year-old war, for it has been the forefront of the enemy. Its sons/daughters fought in the SPLM/A. They are believed to constitute the largest number in the SPLA army. Yet their home were left to be set-ablaze by the enemy forces, their mothers and brothers/sisters and sons/daughters were left unprotected, due to the fact that they were fighting the SPLA strategic war in Upper Nile and Equatoria.
The population in Aweil is divided into three major ethnics groups:
· Dinka 80%
· Luo or Jur 19% and
· Others 1%.
Though Dinka are majority in Aweil, it is difficult to distinguish between Dinka and Jur, for the long history of inter-marriages between the two ethnic communities; Dinka and Jur. It is believed that those who are half-Dinka and half-Jur constitute more than 60% of the total population. The people who constitute 1% live in AweilTown and they are known as “Palata” or Polani, in Nigeria where they originated from. This minority have immigrated to Aweil area from West Africa, especially from Nigeria and Cameroon and Chad. They have no any other place to live. Some of this minority helped in gathering intelligence for the enemy. Deng Deng
Akot a former politician and most respected politician amongst Aweil politicians, was killed by some of Palata’s sons who were working with the Sudanese army. Aweil is currently estimated to have more than 3 Million inhabitants. Click to proceed to Part II of Aweil History.
Ateny Wek Ateny, London England.