The Balanda KUTEM Sounded for Garang's 40th Day of Death

Khartoum, Sept 9, 2005

The Balanda Community in Hajj Yousif, Eastern Nile Province, celebrated on Friday September 9, 2005 at Takamul Block 2 of IDPs, a requiem prayer marking 40 days after the death of the SPLM/A Chairman and Cdr-in-Chief, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, who died in a Ugandan Presidential chopper that crashed on July 30th.

In his keynote address, Nichola UFO Kpongel, the Balanda Paramount Chief in Khartoum State, who was the Chief organizer of the celebration, stated that “the celebration was organized by the Balanda Chiefs in Khartoum to mark the end of mourning period for community members, following the tragic death of the leader of South Sudan who fought for 21 years to liberate his people from tyranny and marginalization and came to die suddenly after 21 days after he was sworn in as First Vice President of the Sudan in line with the peace agreement that ended the longest bloody civil war in Africa.

The Chief organizer said, “In my community when a big man or any dignitary dies, women would make an undertaking mourning that person for quite along time till the time they end the sorrowful moment by engaging in a joyous celebration to mark the end of mourning”! He said there were women from his community here in Khartoum and in Wau who have been undergoing a moment of asceticism right after the death of Garang, and today, they free themselves from that and garnish themselves with the joy of Garang’s legacy.

Chief Nichola said, “Today, we have to rejoice in state of mourning, because Dr. John Garang left us some thing great, ‘The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)’, which guarantees for every Southerner and all Sudanese citizens freedom, equality and justice for all towards a better New Sudan according to the vision of the fallen hero-Dr. John Garang de Mabior”.

Ufo Kpongel said, “For the Balanda Viri and the entire people of Western Bahr el Ghazal, Garang is a “Hero” and that was why during this celebration they repeated the beating of a drum called, “KUTEM” and it is beaten loud enough when a Hero or champion dies. For the Balanda, he said, a hero is a person who kills dangerous animals that threaten people’s life like lions, leopards, elephants and rhinos. He said Garang’s heroism is greater than that of those who kill lions or elephants!

On behalf of the chiefs of Western Bahr el Ghazal, Chief Kpongel thanked all those chiefs who contributed some money from their communities and all the organizers, singers, dancers and all who made the day a success.

The multitude of the praying congregation was also addressed by the SPLA Commander of Western Bahr El-Ghazal State Cdr. Andrea Dominic Safar who addressed his community members via satellite phone from Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. In his address, Cdr. Andrea Dominic thanked and congratulated the Chiefs and the community of Western Bahr el Ghazal for organizing that historic day-forty after the demise of Dr. John Garang de Mabior the leader and liberator of the marginalized people of the Sudan!

Cdr. Safar Said that the day was organized in loving memory of the good things Dr. John Garang did for the Sudan and the gathering of the Fertit community of Western Bahr el Ghazal shows that they are whole heartedly united here in Sudan and the world over and have a “unified vision”. He further said, “Garang’s vision was to bring peace to Sudan and the proof is the “CPA” signed on the 9th January 2005.

He called on the people of Western Bahr el Ghazal State and Southerners as a whole to unite under the umbrella of the CPA and to defend the CPA and work hand in hand with the SPLM that forms the Government of South Sudan (GoS) and implement the CPA, which Dr. Garang left to Southerners as a “legacy”. He said the implementation of the CPA is the responsibility of everybody, not

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