How I Found South Sudan’s Historical House In Juba

"The 1947 Juba Conference building is an ordinary house, a stone house which looks like a class room. Around the (colonial) time of the conference it was a club for government executive officers."

By Victor Lugala

Eureka! Finally, I found it! It was by sheer chance or serendipity which is socially engineered into the DNA of journalists who dare.

As I was about to wind up my evening walk after crossing the Khor-Bou bridge at Al-Sabah Children's Hospital, and it was already dusk, I decided to get 'lost', if only to discover something new.
A wiry middle aged man with an amputated right hand was collecting trash and burning. Should I ask him? I debated for seconds as I slowed down my steps.

"Salaam," I saluted. He responded like someone ready to help.

"Do you know the building where the historic 1947 conference was held?" Quickly he pointed with his right hand southwards in the direction of the Equatoria Tower. "They say it is there, at the corner. An MP lives there," said the man whose name is John Chol.

He had worked for the Nile River Transport as a driver of one of the passenger motor boats plying the river from Juba to Kosti Port. He worked there from 1975 - 1983, when he joined the SPLA as a freedom fighter. Part of his left hand was blown by a grenade during the war. Lucky man. He has a story for another day.

He showed me his house - one of those 1920s relics - as he obliged to escort me to the edifice I have been yearning to see.

Kong. Kong. Kong. Chol knocked on the iron-gate. "This is the historic house," he said without attaching much importance to the historical aspect of it all.

A petite teenage girl appeared. Alla! I recognised her. She sells tea near the Tower.

"De yau beit takin?" I asked the girl if that was their house. She nodded in the affirmative combined with the click of the tongue, communication akin to South Sudanese.

Soon we were welcomed in and ushered to sit on light-blue plastic chairs. I apologized for the intrusion at dusk. They were happy to receive visitors. They knew Chol. There was an MP wearing a skull cap and a tallish well built elder, the occupant of the house.

The 2 gentlemen (I withhold names) who warmly welcomed me to their compound spoke like curators of the historic building which held South Sudan's first ever mini-referendum on self-determination in 1947.

When the 2 gentlemen occupied the house in 2010 they said it had no roof, so they fixed it. They say there are plans by government to reclaim the historic building and turn it into a museum. I hope so. I'll hate it if some money-minded fellows later privatise it. We shouldn't allow our history to be erased as we see.

Chol was in a hurry to leave. I told him to wait a little bit because we came together. Good man, he obliged, I didn't want his wife to start looking for him.

The 1947 Juba Conference building is an ordinary house, a stone house which looks like a class room. Around the (colonial) time of the conference it was a club for government executive officers.
The 1947 Juba Conference was dominated by illiterate tribal chiefs. Uncle Clement Mboro was the only educated person.

If, I say if, not when government turns the house into a museum, why not name it Uncle Clement Mboro Museum? Any South Sudanese musicologists out there?

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03/02/2020, 11:08 AM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
With due respect to Uncle Clement, I suggest the house should be named after the chiefs because they remained true to the cause of South Sudan, while judge Shingeti (?) managed over night to bribe or convinced the likes of Mboro that by agreeing to unity of the Sudan their salaries would be brought up to the same level of North Sudanese salaries. For that reason, I would suggest "House of Chiefs" or "House of Nationalities" than naming it after an individual.
03/02/2020, 11:08 AM
 - Posted by Douglas H. Johnson
Thank you Victor Lugala for alerting us to this historic building, which should be preserved. But please note, Uncle Clement wasn't the only educated Southerner at the conference. Others included Edward Odhok Dedigo, Buth Diu, Paulino Cier Rehan, James Tambura, Hassan Fertak, Vincint Ukuma Bazia, Siricio Iro, Kamyangi Ababa, Philemon Majok, Pastor Andrea Abaya, and Fr. Guido Akou. I am currently writing a book on the Juba Conferences of 1947 and 1954. The latter (the Buth Diu conference) was held in the Juba cinema. I would really like to have a photo of the house in which the 1947 conference was held.
03/02/2020, 11:47 AM
 - Posted by Dr. Jacob K. Lupai
I would suggest the house to be named "Conference House of 1947" or "1947 Juba Conference House". Although Clement Mboro appeared a traitor by then with modest education compared to judge Shingeti, Mboro became the mouthpiece of the then Southern Sudan liberation struggle as the Chairman of Southern Front after the fall of Aboud regime in 1964. This humble house should be renovated with monuments added to reflect the struggle of people of South Sudan for independence and freedom. This will remind people of the ultimate sacrifices made that should not go in vain.
03/02/2020, 12:02 PM
 - Posted by Joseph Chol
I agree, or, "the beginning" or"(Genesis") of South Sudan"
03/02/2020, 12:12 PM
 - Posted by Liborious Odek
I live in Juba for over 40 years and I didn't thought of this. This is a real historical building that can draw many visitors - especially those who know about the Juba round table as it was taught to us in our schools in the 1980 and 19190's
03/02/2020, 1:21 PM
 - Posted by Henry Jada
I propose: "Home of 64 tribes"
03/02/2020, 1:48 PM
 - Posted by Ring Majqk
the house should name after the chiefs names,
04/02/2020, 6:00 AM
 - Posted by Lobolo-Hitti Majileikwa
This is a commndable and congratulations! As the only woman who participated in and contributed fearlessly at the historical 1947 Juba Conference, and in an era of women empowerment, Ithe house should rather be named after Queen Ikuma Basia of Lomia in Lopit. The history of this great woman both as a queen and paramount chief at Hamuto is remarkable and is depicted in a book authored by one of her descedants. Thank you
04/02/2020, 6:11 AM
 - Posted by I suggest it should be named in the memory of Clement Mboro.
Call it Clement Mboro Museum.
06/02/2020, 7:33 AM
 - Posted by Peter Tingwa
I agree with Akol's views. Some of us had all along known the historical importance of this house. The wonder however was why all the series of governments by Southerners from the Addis Ababa Agreement to date not recognized and accorded this house the historical significance it deserve? I hope Mr Lugala's article has opened the eyes of the relevant authorities to declare this house of historical significance and make it into museum housing the pictures documents and relics of that period in the history of South Sudan
07/02/2020, 7:46 AM
 - Posted by Ngor Arol Garang
House of nationalities for it has something to do with all the nationalities of the country.
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