OpEd, Politics

SACDANU or SANU Bench Marks

By Benedict Tarifa Julius

When the northern Sudanese politicians began to flex their muscles for self-rule and independence in the early 1950s, Sudan African National Union (SANU) was one of the first or pioneer Southern Sudanese organizations that opened the eyes and ears of the general population to know and understand that there were clandestine dangerous plans by Khartoum for total control and complete ownership of the southern Sudan as soon as the colonizers could leave Sudan.

The organization began identifying itself as Sudan African Closed Districts National Union (SACDANU) until the year 1963 when it became known as Sudan African National Union (SANU), as narrated elsewhere in this article.

When the organization began sowing the seeds, some few liberal southerners heeded the calling and together they put their heads and Sacdun was expanded consequently making the presence of South Sudanese felt in Khartoum.

There are many benchmarks left by the organization as far as the struggle for the liberation of South Sudan is so for concerned which should not be easily forgotten as general observation shows now several of its prominent leaders perished because of their sincere commitment to the struggle to liberate of South Sudan, in one way or the other and find below few of the many contributions by SANU during the liberation movements from its inception in 1955.

In the parliament of 1958, for the first time, Southern Sudanese members participated; SANU demanded for a federal system of government with the Northern Sudan, but the demand turned dawn but the southern stuck to their demand which resulted in a stalemate for a long and when they saw that the southerners were serious and that there were no any signs that the southern block would back dawn, the northerners decided erroneously to end the tag of war through the third party which was the military.

The two traditional parties UMMA and DUP el Mahdi and el Mirghani families convinced and prevailed over Prime Minister Abdalla Bek Khalil who handed the government over to the army and General Ibrahim Abud jumped on the saddle, that arrangement came to be known as a coup without bloodshed.

General Abud obediently started to implement the tasks dictated to him which included in the first palace to put down the rebellion in the south, then to embark on Arabazation and spread of Islam in the whole South Sudan.

When they saw that the generals intended and diligently meant business in implementing the orders and had already started by unwanted arrests of South Sudanese leaders; they began escaping in droves into the neighboring countries where the numbers of South Sudanese were increasing on a daily basis as refugees there. SANU and others did not sit idle while in exile, they kept mobilizing and enlightening the people about what was in store for their country, consequently, most refugees returned to the country to join their compatriots already fighting the enemy.

Senior leaders of SANA converged on Kinshasa in 1963 they were William Deng, Joseph Oduho and Fr. Saturnino Ohure, where they finally changed the name SACDNU to SANU which became the mouthpiece of the Anyanya liberation fighter.

In the same year of 1963, when the Organization of African Union  (OAU) was meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, SANA delegated Fr. Saturnino Ohure to go there and present the case of Southern Sudan to the African leaders and Fr. Saturnino distressfully won the sympathy of many but since most of the African countries were fresh in their freedoms from their masters and also not yet fully free, they could not meaningfully assist the southern case openly but what they learned from Fr. Saturnino stuck well with some of them because lately, assisted the case in one way or another.

The raging war in the south intensified and in 1964, Fr. Saturnino was in Rome attending some religious functions and he got the chance to raise the case of his country to the priests. Fr. Saturnino told the gathering Christianity was under the threat of destruction. Fr. Saturnino did not shy but told the Christians in the hall or church that some Christian countries in Europe were supporting the Khartoum government by supplying military hardware, but the church could not normally stand up to assist South Sudan by supplying military hardware, but they did sympathize and through some third or fourth party some humanitarian assistances reach the fighters in the bush minus military targets. Those European countries supportive of what the Khartoum government was doing were aware of the suffering of the people of southern Sudan and the very magnitude of the atrocities, but they could not change their attitudes towards their clients and therefore for them that could be a sorrowful necessity.

In the middle of 1964, the war was progressing well in favor of Anyanya in the bushes of the south and the northern politicians blamed the army for not doing much and thus they mobilized the people against the government of the generals that provoked an uprising across the country and quickly brought down the government. Ustaz Sir El Khatim was ushered in as a caretaker while the preparations for general elections went on and in early 1965 elections were held, and Mohamed Ahmed Mahgoub became the prime minister and a hurriedly round table conference was called.

During that conference of 1965, Aggrey Jaden was delegated to represent SANU because most of its members refused to attend.  When he entered the hall and after reading through the agenda of the conference, Uncle Jaden put down the paper and left because the agenda did not include the topic of the federation.

Another contribution by SANU during the liberation struggle was a book titled, “The Southern Problem” written by its leaders; William Deng and Joseph Oduho. The book revealed all that the international community did not know before.  That book reached all corners of the globe. A friend told me some years back that he had read the book while a student in Indonesia in 1774.

When the copies of that book reached Khartoum in the late 196os, the government moved swiftly by employing hundreds of security agents specially to find out how those copies reached Khartoum and stop it spreading in the hands of people. But as humans, in a short time, the contents of the book became the main topic of conversation, especially among Southern Sudanese groups.

Also, in the beginning of 1966, SANU made arrangements with the Southern Front Party which was operating at a low profile within the towns, for sending young ones back to towns, in order to find schools for them inside Sudan or outside in neighboring countries.

Urgently, a big meeting was called, and invitations were extended to all the commanders of various groups, area chiefs and village elders.

At the meeting, a prominent statesman in the person of Honorable Ezibon Mandiri was asked to bless the gathering and he went further and told his audience that the war in which they were then would be dragging for long and as such the country required both guns and pens. He advised that all their fighters who were of school age would leave the bush and go into the government-held towards for further education.  Ezibon also revealed to them that the plans and programs for finding schools had already been concluded in advance with the element of the party in those towns and thus hundreds of young men infiltrated the towns and were absorbed into various levels of education. That humble decision should go into the history of the movement since then because when the South got its independence in 2009/11 it had already enough cadres to run the affairs of the country.  The cadres are the outgoing generation of today, the product of the decision taken in 1966.

All the scenarios mentioned in this article can speak more to show that the political party called SANU had actually contributed effectively to the war of liberation, although not much is being heard about it lately. But now that the general election is coming, we the members of the party should put down strategies and short the real task of recruiting fresh blood into its functions.

I know, SANU has a good number of followers and a little is required only to bring the party back to its former position of recognition.

To end the article, I am hereby informing my readers about two of the martyrs who perished at the beginning of the long struggle with the North.

One was Mr. William Deng, who had earlier returned to the Sudan from exile to carry on the struggle from within.  He tried very much to engage Khartoum to continue negotiation on the issue of federation, moving from town to town and village to village in the south, enlightening the masses about the overall situation in the Sudan, stressing diligently on the federal system of rule for the country. But Khartoum could not swallow that. On that particular day after concluding a big rally in Torit, William decided to proceed to Rumbek and the government was aware beforehand and so a patrol was dispatched ahead of his entourage. About 24 miles from Torit, they fell into the ambush which ended his life as a martyr.

The other prominent leader was Fr. Saturnino Lohure. He was caught near Kitgum on his way from Uganda to Sudan, unknowing to many, the government in Sudan had already agreed with Ugandan soldiers to seal the border in the face of South Sudanese who were crossing to and fro between the two countries. All the persons who were in that group of Fr. Saturnino were killed on that day as martyrs.

Both William Deng and Fr. Saturnino Lohure did not die in vain, they did their parts and left, leaving behind them an independent country full of natural resources to be developed by their survivors and we the outgoing generation should hand over to the present and coming generation, the kind of a country the ancestors died for and not less.

Thanks for reading about SANU.

The author of this article is an Agricultural engineer, former proofreader for Khartoum Monitor, contributor to Nile Carrier, Panaroma and a member of SANU. He can be reached via Tel No. 0928530635/0917274457.   

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