Captain John Garang’s January 1972 Letter to Gen. Joseph Lagu of Anyanya One

Posted: October 9, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in History, Letters, Speeches

Khartoum – Anyanya
Negotiation: Guidelines.

The General Headquarters
Anyanya National Armed Forces
South Sudan
January 24, 1972

The Commander in chief
Anyanya National Armed Forces
Leader of the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement
Members of the Anyanya SSLM Negotiation Committee

Dear compatriots:

That we are strong, growing in force and power to be reckoned with in Sudanese politics. Status and future is evidenced by the fact that the Khartoum administration is now interested in negotiating a peace settlement directly with the Anyanya.

We must take a firm stand all the way in the coming talks. The Numeiry regime is a sick administration ripe to collapse any time. We must not be tricked into committing suicide to lay down our instruments of liberation, arms, by a withering and dying regime just for the purpose of lengthening its own days of breath or just that some opportunistic Southerners find a means of employment in the blood of our people.

We are already at war and we are growing stronger everyday while sooner or later the Numeiry regime will go, but nothing will ever defeat us if we persist in the war. Let no one among you or among the enemy have the mistaken and opportunist’s view that these talks are the last chance of peace for Southern Sudanese people. Let no one have incorrect view that if these talks collapse and fail war will break out. We are already at war for the last nine to seventeen years. The Anyanya and Southern Sudanese people are capable and ready to fight on for another nine years or more if no correct and acceptable solution is found.

Any solution within the context of a New United Sudan must first and foremost recognize the Anyanya as the legitimate army of the Southern Sudanese people. The implementation of whatever degree of merging agreed by the negotiating armies and administrations to the United New Sudan must take not less then ten years ; during this time the two armies and administrations must maintain separate identities while conditions for their gradual merging into United New Sudan are being created by both sides. This is the only procedure that guarantees the future and interests of the Southern Sudanese people in a United New Sudan and the objective indication that both sides are sincere in seeking the cessation of belligerency, peaceful settlement and life in a United Sudan.

Following is a more comprehensive presentation of guidelines to the spirit, objectives and strategy which should be adopted at the talks and which, if followed, could possibly lead to a solution acceptable to the rank-and-file of the Anyanya and the Southern Sudanese People.


  1. The Central Problem in the Sudanese war is the dominance of Arab Nationalism. It is historically a universal law that in whatever multi-nationality country where one of the nationalities is economically and politically (and therefore socially and culturally) dominant over other nationalities, that country is pregnant with instability, discontent and crisis eventually erupting in warfare. Such has been the case in the Sudan.
  1. The Southern Sudanese people, in conformity with historical necessity, took up arms against the glaring oppression and neglect meted on them by the forces of Arab Nationalism, an oppression and neglect which were as glaring as they were cruel, rackless and raking as they were arrogant. It was only after the virtual exhaustion of all peaceful constitutional possibilities of multi-national coexistence with a United Progressive Sudan that the disaffection and indignation of the Southern Sudanese People reached their human boundaries and war broke out, war had to break out.
  1. Constitutional guarantees against exactions and barbarities of Arab Nationalism, accommodations and adjustments to the mal-practices of Arab Chauvinism have all failed the past to be respected and to meet the aspirations of the Southern Sudanese People. This is why war had to break out in the first place.
  1. There is no reason, absolutely no objective reason for clearheaded Southerners and Northerners alike to believe after eight years and more of continuous warfare and the repeated failures of some forms of constitutional guarantees that paper constitutional guarantees are now going to solve the war in the Sudan. Any Southerner who holds the mistaken view that Arab Nationalism now sincere, now means good business, now gives the South local autonomy in good faith and that this autonomy will be guaranteed by a few phrases scribbled on some sheets of paper stapled and bound together and christened “ The Constitution”, that Southerner either suffers from acute historical myopia or else advocates the treasonable stand of opportunism, national subjugation and continued Arab Chauvinism and domination; in short, such Southerner calls for surrender in a camouflaged form.
  1. It is historically evident that unless a correct consistent Social Democratic solution is found to the Central Question, i.e., to the problem of economic and political domination of Arab Nationalism over other nationalities, then, any attempts at solving the war in Sudan, no matter how refined and logical on paper, will always end in certain failure.
  1. There is no objective indication that the Khartoum-based Arab nationalist administration are capable of concluding a consistent social democratic solution to the National Question in the Sudan. Arab Nationalism in the Sudan, consistent with its predatory nature, proposes and declares solutions such as “local autonomy” within the context of a United Arab Sudan. Such muddle-headedness returns us back to 1963 and 1955 and is an objective indication that the necessary mutation which would enable ruling Northerners to face up to the objective realities of the Sudan has not yet taken root.
  1. There are only two possible ways for resolving the Sudanese crises: The birth of two nation-states out of the present (geographical) Sudan or political autonomy for both the South and the North (and/or any other part that so demands) in a federated United New Sudan. Political Autonomy in this usage means that the autonomous regions have adequate political power, in terms of armed forces, to protect the region against the encroachment by the federation or by one of the regions in the federation, and, furthermore, that a region retains the right to secede from the federation if its interests are not adequately served by the federation.(It must be clear to Southerners that the retention of the right to secede from such a federation must be guaranteed by the federal constitution and by the existence of a physical Southern Armed Forces.)
  1. We can not dwell on the status of matters regarding the super-structure such as judicial system, fundamental rights and freedoms, personal liberty, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of minority to use their language and develop their culture, education, tele-communications, census , etc, etc.(all contained in Mading de Garang’s proposed constitution for the democratic republic of Sudan). The status of these and others will ultimately depend on either the solution is two nation-states or political autonomy (as defined above) for the two regions (or more) in a federated (NEW) Sudan. These peripheral issues must not be allowed to detract the deliberations of the talks, nota bene para VII above.


It is imperative that the basis and necessary conditions be created and for these basis and conditions to be developed and mature so as to objectively arrive at a United (NEW) and lasting peace. This approach is to start from the objective realities of the Sudan. It is chauvinistic and naive to start with assumption of a United (ARAB) Sudan and then turn around and try to force the contradictory objective realities to conform to the subjective naïve assumption and wishes of a United Arab Sudan. Hence it follows from the objective facts in section (A) that for a United New Sudan the following conditions must be met:

  1. Arab Nationalism in the Sudan must be categorically renounced. This concretely means that Arab Nationalism must no longer be neither an internal (therefore) nor an external policy and practice in the United New Sudan.
  1. There at present two armies, the Anyanya and the army of the Khartoum administration; these armies are now at war in the Sudan. This point we hope is recognized by all as an objective existence for that is precisely why there are negotiations. Well, if the Sudan is to be a one United Country, if this is the interests of both Northerners and Southerners, then, which of these two warring armies will be the army of the New Sudan the Anyanya, the army of the Khartoum administration or both and how and/or why?
  1. The Anyanya thus must firstly be accepted by the Khartoum administration as the arm of the South Sudan. Failure to recognize the Anyanya the legitimate army of the South would amount to denial or refusal to admit a physical existence, and the result of such naïveté would be the inevitable collapse of the negotiations and the continuation of the war whether anybody likes it or not.
  1. The solution to the war and for the United NEW Sudan must be viewed as a synthesis of two armies (the Anyanya and the army of the Khartoum rulers) and the formation of a new type of army consistent with the particularity of the NEW Sudan. The solution must not be looked at or hoped to be (as is always the case) the ABSORPTION of one army the Anyanya into other (the army of the Khartoum Arab Administration), but rather as we said as a SYNTHESIS of two warring armies. Whether such synthesis is possible depends on whether the necessary mutation within the forces of the Arab Nationalism and within the Anyanya exists. I am not aware that there has been such an objective necessary mutation, but I am only assuming its implied existence for otherwise there would be no objective grounds for the negotiations! And the originators of these negotiations could legitimately be charged with treasonable political scheming and racketeering against the beloved people.
  1. A minimum period of five years must initially be allowed for the creation and maturation of necessary conditions and mutations required by the merging of the two belligerent armies and administrations into the New Sudan divorced of belligerency and of the basic cause of belligerence, Arab Nationalism. The armies and administrations of the Anyanya and of the Khartoum dictatorship must maintain separate identities during these five years of groundwork of conditions for Unity.
  1. After the first initial five years of groundwork another minimum period of five years must be allowed for the actualization of the agreed degree of merging by the two armies and administrations. Merging and the actual objective formation of the NEW Sudan will be rapid in the second five years period, since the necessary conditions and mutations for a United NEW Sudan will have been created in the first five years of groundwork.
  1. We have made the above recommendations (guidelines) after a brief presentation of the objective political realities of the Sudan, not a bene Section (A) above. We have made these recommendations without fear of intimidation and with sincerity, objectivity and to the best interests of the Peoples of South Sudan, Africa and the world. We strongly believe that a United NEW Sudan and lasting peace and progress can be arrived at only through ACTION and not through PAPER declarations, resolutions and mechanical scheming. If the solution is sought within the spirit and logic of the above facts and recommendations, then, peace, progress and a United (NEW) Sudan are possible objectives to realize. But if, on the contrary hand, a solution is sought within the spirit of Arab Nationalism and the context of a United Arab Sudan, then, gentlemen of the negotiations, instability, crisis and continued warfare are the only invited options and the Anyanya consistent with its historical and historic task of African liberation will take these options so mercilessly and mercifully placed upon its shoulders by blood thirsty Arab Chauvinism.

    Captain John Garang de Mabior

    The General Headquarters
    Anyanya National Armed Forces
    South Sudan
    January 24, 1972

  1. […] here enclosed a copy of a letter I wrote to General Lagu and the negotiations committee (See Captain John Garang’s 1972 Letter to General Joseph Lagu of Anyanya One, January 24, 1972). I have handwritten it (it is 2:00 a.m) since I have packed my typewriter for tomorrow’s long […]


  2. […] In his 1972 letter to General Joseph Lagu, the 27-year-old Captain Garang had argued that any agreement between the North and South must, if it were to be viable, include a standing army for the South to guarantee the agreement. The CPA, which strikingly mirror Garang’s 1972 letter, just did that. With a fully armed and well-funded SPLA by his side, President Kiir was therefore able to stare Khartoum in the face and trumpeted: “give me independence or give me war; which one are you ready for?” History has recorded it that Khartoum was tired of war and was ready for South Sudan’s secession. Consequently, President Kiir was able to triumphantly oversee a historic, free and fair CPA-mandated Southern referendum and to usher in an independent state on 9 July 2011. With a new country to look forward to and the unpredictable North keeping them on their toes, the SPLM’s leadership closed their ranks and they became as united as never before. In those heydays—that sound today like a myth—it was common to hear President Kiir and Dr. Riek eagerly greeting each other in public gatherings as “my brother this” and “my brother that”. The comradeship was taken to a notch higher when, on the eve of South Sudan’s independence, President Kiir was whispered to have confided in the SPLM’s leadership that he would resign to his home village as soon as independence was declared. […]


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