The inspirational legacy of South Sudanese veteran politician, Uncle Clement Mboro

Posted: August 10, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Anyanya, History, Junub Sudan, Mangar Amerdit, People

By Mangar Marial Amerdid, Juba, South Sudan

South Sudanese veteran politician, Uncle Clement Mboro

Friday, August 10, 2018 (PW) — The veteran politician Clement Mboro, fondly referred to as “Uncle Clement” inspired many Southern Sudanese during the many years of armed struggle from the 1940s till his passing. Uncle Clement was born on January 3rd 1920 in a small village twenty miles west of Wau to Chief Mboro Bekobo of the N’dogo. He completed his early years of education at Bussure and received a diploma in public administration from Gordon Memorial College in Khartoum, Sudan.

For a number of years, Uncle Clement worked in public service before becoming a political activist. During the Juba Conference of 1947, Uncle Clement gained prominence for being among the only three educated Southerners to participate in the conference. However, he was blamed with other Southern leaders who participated in the conference for not articulating separation of the South from North Sudan. It is important to note that prior to the Juba Conference of 1947, the British had already decided to keep the South united with North Sudan regardless of the call for separation by Southern Sudanese.

Following the Torit Mutiny in 1955, when Southerners soldiers refused to be transported to North Sudan and revolted against their Northern commanding officers which then led to large scale conflict and saw many Southern civilians, soldiers and politicians face persecution and even death. Among those detained and tortured was Uncle Clement who was then the Assistant District Commissioner in Yirol.

He was tried in the court on fabricated changes and sentenced to eighteen (18) months imprisonment. Uncle Clement’s time in prison was then extended to ten (10) years and he was flown to Kober Prison in North Sudan. After serving two years, he was release. This would mark a series of many imprisonments and torture he would face under the leadership of the Sudan government. Upon his released from prison, he regained employment and became the District Commissioner of Juba in 1957. Three years later in 1960, he was imprisoned in Juba for two years and released in 1962.

In the years that followed, Uncle Clement retained positions of prominence as a Southern Sudanese at a time when many Southerners were denied employment and given low-skilled jobs. Some of the positions Uncle Clement held were secretary of the Darfur Province, Deputy Commissioner of Port Sudan and deputy governor of Darfur in 1964. By this time, the Anya-Nya guerilla fighters were wagging a vigorous war against the Sudan government which was under the leadership of Ibrahim Abboud.

When the Abboud regime fell in October 1964, many Southerner looked to Uncle Clement for guidance. As a politician and an activist who advocated for the interest of his people, Uncle Clement and other Southerners formed a political movement known as the Southern Front. When the caretaker government of Sirr El Khatim Al Khalifa came to power, the prisons and torture camps that were filled with Southerners were opened which led to the release of many civilians and political prisoners.

Uncle Clement was then appointed in the new government as the Minister of the Interior, the highest political profile at the time for a Southern Sudanese. On November 10, 1964, the government called for a cease-fire with the Anya-Nya soldiers. Uncle Clement persuaded the Anya-Nya to accept the cease-fire. Unfortunately, the truce between the Anya-Nya and the government did not last following a series of attacks on villages by government troops.

When Uncle Clement became President of the Southern Front, he provided facilities and financial assistance to the party and ensured the opinions of Southerners where heard. As his popularity rose among various tribes in Southern Sudan, his visit to Southern Sudan in 1964 saw people traveling from various regions of the South to hear his message. On December 6, 1964, the day Uncle Clement was scheduled to return to Khartoum after the end of his tour in the South, gathered at the airport awaiting his arrival was a large crowd of Southerners.

The plane carrying Uncle Clement did not arrive on time, as a result, rumor began to spread that Uncle Clement had been assassinated by the Sudan government. The crowd of Southerners began demonstrating as they walked from the airport and entered the city. They began overturning cars and breaking windows. Once inside downtown Khartoum, the crowd of Southerners encountered an even larger crowd of Northerners who were coming out of the football stadium. Fearing the potential of serious altercation with the Northerners, a group of Southerners immediately sought refuge in the Christian Literature Center that was close to the stadium.

What transpired then was a tragedy. The crown of Northerners set fire to the center while Southerners were inside and for over 4 hours they prevented the fire brigade from extinguishing it. The number of Southerners who died that day will never be known, however, the government reported that 44 Southerners died, which also included 8 Northerners and 1 Greek. Other reports contradict the government’s account of the number of casualties, eye-witness estimate between 300 to over 1,000 Southerners died that day.

This incident was among the pivotal points that marked the political tension and mistrust between Southern and Northern Sudanese. When the crowd of Southerners had gathered at the airport waiting to greet Uncle Clement, they carried signs that read “South must determine her own future” and “Down with the merchants’ imperialism in the South.” Following the incident, the Southern politician Luigi Adwok told journalists that “there is a racial hatred here, and any other explanation would be a lie.”

Uncle Clement safely arrived in Khartoum and upon his arrival; he instituted a policy of Southernization that would grant civil service in Southern Sudan which would overturn the Sudan government’s strategy of killing the people of the South. When Queen Elizabeth of England and her husband Prince Philip came to Khartoum in 1964, Uncle Clement was in charge of their visit. For his service to the government, Queen Elizabeth decorated him with an honorary Knight Commander Order.

With the constant turn of political events and following the military coup in Sudan in 1969, General Gafaar Nimeiri came to power. Nimeiri’s government sentenced Uncle Clement to life imprisonment and he was sent once again to Kober Prison in May 1969. He was then released in 1972 and regained his position as a leading voice among Southern politicians. During the Kokora period in the 1980s, Uncle Clement advocated for unity among Southerners while some Southern leaders were advocating tribal politics.

After the repeal of the Addis Ababa Agreement by President Nemeiri, Uncle Clement went into exile in Kenya. He established a close friendship with President Daniel Arap Moi and called on the Sudan government to stop the killing of Southern Sudanese. On July 7th, 2006, Uncle Clement passed away in Nairobi, Kenya. His body was flown to Southern Sudan where he received a state funeral which honored his many years of sacrifice and struggle for Southern Sudanese. Uncle Clement is laid to rest at the Freedom Square in Wau, Bhar al-Ghazal.

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

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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