The July 1995 Nzara demonstration that altered the course of South Sudan history

Posted: July 26, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Anyanya, History, Junub Sudan, Mangar Amerdit

Today in history: The July 26, 1995 Nzara demonstration that heralded the August 18, 1955 Torit Mutiny and altered the course of South Sudan history

By Mangar Marial Amerdid, Juba, South Sudan

Nzara Demonstration

Thursday, July 26, 2018 (PW) — On July 26, 1955, a demonstration took place in the small village of Nzara in the Zande District of Equatoria Province. The demonstration would alter the course of Southern Sudan history. A month earlier, the Equatoria Projects Board managed by the Sudan government had dismissed 300 Southern Sudanese from the Zande cotton scheme and hired Northern Sudanese to replace them.

During this period, Northern Sudanese were occupying administrative positions across the Southern region that was once held by the British and other European nationalities; this certainly gave the impression to Southerners they were losing jobs to Northerners.

On the morning of July 26, sixty of the Southern workers who had not been dismissed threatened to strike if they did not receive a pay increase for their labor. A crowd of 250 people which included Southern workers who were still employed at the cotton factory and those who had been dismissed staged a demonstration.

They were joined by civilians armed with spears, bows and arrows. Within a short period of time, the crowd had increased to a thousand people. The crowd yelled at Northerner officials to “go back to their own country.” Observing the increase in number of the demonstrators and the potential for confrontation between the demonstrators, Northern administrators and workers; the Zande district administrators sought police and army reinforcements to suppress the activities of the demonstrators.

When the soldiers arrived at the Nzara market area, they found Southerners who were demonstrating and others looting Northern owned shops. The demonstrators were informed to disperse, but they refused. In command of the soldiers was an army officer named Mutassim Abdel Rahman who ordered his soldiers to open fire.

The soldiers indiscriminately opened fire on the demonstrators using rifles, a sten gun and a bren gun. In addition, two Northern merchants shot at the crowd with an elephant gun and a .22 rifle. Eight people in the crowd died and a dozen sustained injuries. Following the Zande incident, many Southerners marked it as a sign of war and lost all confidence in the Sudan government.

A few weeks later, on August 18, 1955, a full-scale rebellion occurred among the Southern Equatoria Corps. This historic rebellion came to be known as the Torit Mutiny.

The author, Hon. Mangar Marial Amerdid, is the National Coordinator of Northern Corridor Integration Projects (http://www.nciprojects.org/) for South Sudan, the Chairman of SOS Children Villages International for the Republic of South Sudan, and the Founder of the Leadership Institute of New Sudan (LIONS). He graduated with Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and a minor in Economics from University of Colorado, USA. You can reach him via his email: mangaramerdid@gmail.com

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