The Cattle (Livestock) Museum

Posted: February 8, 2019 by aljokd in Commentary, Economy, Junub Sudan, Malith Alier, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

Malith Alier, Perth, Australia

Cattle camp

Friday, February 8, 2019 (PW) — This is a crazy Friday talk. The idea sprang up at the moment of news time and the back of the mind validated it for an essay. Before, one goes to the keyboard, there are many ideas that come to mind as to what themes, subjects and most importantly aims for a particular piece. I have visited a number of museums on a number of occasions: motor, maritime, tractor, Immigration and so on. I therefore, thought that the world has gone around as far as making absolutely everything for everything as museums are concerned.

I thought about  cattle or livestock museum for my birth country, Sudan. However, before, I pen something about it and cattle, I first had to google something like it. The nearest museum was found in Texas, USA in form of Cattle Raisers Museum. I saw a few photos of cattle, boots, straps and saddles as well as pieces of writing to describe what used to happen in relation to the cattle and their raisers.

This did not discourage me to put forward an idea for cattle keepers or government in South Sudan. The pastoralists love their cattle to death in this part of the world. Cattle are not only for milk and meat but are also for prestige and pride. They also also for payment of bride price and fines in the event of murder.

An idea is an idea. Once upon a time, a wise man known as Akol Kuol, who also happened to be a cattle keeper called his peers along with young ones and asked the group a question that seemed rhetorical but also infinitely philosophical in nature and it went thus: “if this cow were not white, what colour would it be?” The audience answer, “it  would be black.” He continued, “what if it were not black?  “It would be grey.”  What if it was not grey?”The audience began to get tired and individuals began to leave one by one.

Those who participated in the futile meeting when asked by the ones who did not attend what Akoldit scheduled the meeting for, they were dismissive of him as  a weirdos (ran luel e lil). The audience basically had no idea to make sense of what the sage was all about. Akoldit has only made a living name for himself for generations. He’s today an immortal. He is also regarded as a philosopher. He is indeed a local philosopher to a section of Jieng of South Sudan. He is an immortal at par with characters like Chol Muong whose name you can find on Dinka culture websites today.

Further, his extraordinary story continues to find usage in the area of cattle keeping as much as that of philosophy. It’s one reason why we should have a livestock museum today to help identify variable livestock colours and document them. it’s an embarrassment if cattle keepers ask one who has not been acquainted to cattle. You’ll be like colour blind.

Livestock rearing looks a perpetual endeavour for those whose traditional economy was primarily based on cows, goats, sheep and chickens. In this class, are the Dinka, Nuer, Toposa, Mundari and other smaller communities. Enter modern society but everybody accustomed to cattle keeping seems not to be giving up yet. Hence, the observation that, “you can take the man out of cattle camp but you cannot take the cattle camp out of the man.” Wow, that is true.

People, educated or not educated have brazenly made it to towns with their cattle. the so-called towns in South Sudan today are nothing more than traditional cattle camps as could be found at the countryside. They’re towns! They’re cattle camps! And they’re villages! There is absolutely no law to separate the three in one. On the streets of Juba, Bor, Rumbek and other towns today, cattle is an eyesore. Roads are shared property for cattle and traffic.

Airstrips are fenced off to prevent cattle from colliding with aircraft. The cattle keeper families are adamant that the trend remains. They can even sue motorists in case their cattle are hit. The love of cattle and the persistence not to part with it in advance of urbanisation call for a permanent exhibition in form of a museum.

The great wrestling songs have taken everybody by storm. Wrestling which is a traditional youth sport associated with cattle keepers is a hit today in modern South Sudan. Bor, Mundari, Aliap are some of communities deeply in love with wrestling. These communities are in central South Sudan on either side of the River Nile. They hold wrestling chanpionships throughout the year. In recent years, there emerged famous wrestlers including, Majok Jokrir, Ajang Garang (Mapurdit), late Jada, Gongic Achiek, Magot khot, and the list is long. In the Cattle or Livestock Museum, a dedicated section will have these great wrestlers.

Mind you, wrestling is even exported by lost boys to the North America and Australia. The can just forget about it. It is now an international sport among the refugees and the diaspora.

The introduction of formal education is something that should forever change the way things used to be done. The time for oral tradition is long passed. Oral tradition has kept the stories of Chol Muong, Ngundeng and Akol Kuol alive for decades. But the medium of passing the old stories down orally is susceptible to manipulation and embellishments. The cattle and cattlekeepers stories of today need to be accurate and true to the coming generations. An archive of a museum can keep them cogently intact for posterity.

Some states have the symbols of cattle on their flags and on their letterheads as coat of arms. This is a display a significant role played by cattle as mentioned earlier. A cattle is a source wealth, a store of value, a source of pride and so forth.

It’s time to commercialise cattle and the cattle rearing techniques. If wrestling is sweeter than football game, then there is no reason why you can’t build wrestling stadium in Juba. It cannot look like a football one.

  1. Akol Kuol was someone hungry for knowledge
  2. Chol Muong was a giant with huge appetite
  3. Ngundeng was a prophet among the Nuer

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 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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