World Bulletin / News Desk
The South Sudanese presidency on Friday welcomed a statement by the family of Ngundeng, godfather of the Nuer people who is still referred to as "Prophet Ngundeng," instructing Nuer tribesmen fighting for sacked vice president Riek Machar to lay down their arms.
"President Salva Kiir and his government welcomed the position of the Ngundeng family regarding the rebellion spearheaded by Riek Machar, who calls upon all Nuer youth to fight the government claiming the 'Ngundeng prophecy,' envisioning him [Machar] as the only one with the future of the Nuer," presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told a press conference at Kiir's Juba residence.
"The government is grateful to Nundeng's family in their attempt to protect the prophet's spiritual integrity and their call to all Nuer politicians to avoid driving into a tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond the prophet's wishes for coexistence and cooperation and not to political conflicts and religious wars," Ateny read from a written statement.
A century ago, Ngundeng had prophesized that wars will be fought and a large country will be divided in two. Generations of leaders, he went on to say, would perish, while a left-handed, gap-toothed Nuer son would "raise a new flag."
The messages were passed down as songs among the Nuer and remain encapsulated in the tribe's oral tradition today.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2001.
Machar, one of the Nuer tribe's most prominent leaders, is both left-handed and gap-toothed.
His followers have recently been trying to drum up support for him among their Nuer tribe, saying he was the one the ancient prophecy referred to.
Many have joined Machar's so-called "White Army," which has been battling government troops since mid-December, based on this conviction.
In a statement, a group calling itself "The leadership of Ngundeng's family and the custodians of Prophet Ngundeng's rod and other relics" called upon Machar's army to stop fighting the government and return to their villages to attend to their cattle and farms.
"It came to the attention of Ngundeng's family that the White Army was mobilized by certain politicians to fight the democratically-elected government of South Sudan," read the statement, signed by Ngundeng's grandson, Gai L Ngundeng.
"It has been observed that certain politicians used the name of prophet Ngundeng as a means to mobilize Nuer youth to fight a political war," the statement added. "This cycle of defaming the Ngundeng prophecies must end."
"The family of Prophet Ngundeng is seriously warning politicians – who attempted to use the name of Ngundeng for selfish political ends to destabilize South Sudan – to stop blackmailing innocent Nuer youth," read the statement.
Ngundeng's family has called on members of Machar's army to return to their villages.
"Failure to heed the advice of the prophet's family will lead to serious charges and consequences," it asserted.
The Nuer and Kiir's Dinka represent South Sudan's two largest tribes. Together, they account for some 80 percent of the fledging country's total population of 11 million.
The presidential spokesman reiterated the presidency's respect for the Ngundeng prophecies.
"The government has a great honor to the Ngundeng prophecies, that advance the prosperity of the Nuer and the people of South Sudan, who shared an enduring lineage with the Nuer in blood and culture and as an institution hosted by values of peace and prosperity," Ateny said.
"For over a hundred years, the Ngundeng prophecy has stood as a beacon of Nuer learning," he added. "And in the following decades, Ngundeng has been a source of Nilotic people's advancement."
"Today," the spokesman asserted, "Ngundeng is still believed to represent the harmony between tradition and progress."
Ngundeng, meaning "The Gift of God" ("Son of God") in the Nuer Language, is thought to have been born in the late 1830s.
He was deeply influential in the Upper Nile region, where he spearheaded resistance against colonial rule in Nuer territories.
British colonial administrators at the time had to confiscate Ngundeng's wand – traditionally known as "Dang" – for fear that it was the source of his power, only to return it to his family some 80 years later in 2009.Last Mod: 15 Şubat 2014, 10:17