Interview with Asha Kafi Kuwasu Kuku

By Nanne op 't Ende
Lueri, Sudan
March 30, 2006

Asha Kafi, born in 1974, in Shat Safaia, was a bodyguard for Yousif Kuwa.

Asha Kafi

In July 15, 1988, we came together, on a Friday morning, with one of our guys, called Kuwa, and another one from Fama, called Abjuju. We met secretly to talk about politics. Even our mothers didn´t know where we were. We were fourteen girls from Shat Safaia and we decided that we would join te SPLA. That morning we left to Ethiopia with Abjuju.

We just started walking. The journey took three months, we took the route through Abibor. All in all we were 500, but we were the only girls, fourteen girls from our area. On the way, crossing rivers without boats, staying without food for days, many of the boys died, but all the girls reached Ethiopia.

In Ethiopia we went to Banga, the training was very tough, again more boys died in training but we girls survived and in 1991 we came back to the Nuba Mountains. Yousif selected all the girls from my area, and said he wanted us to be part of his bodyguard. I was taken to Head Quarters and stayed there.

You know, the way the men talk: they came and said "I like you, I want to marry you"... one by one all the girls got married and left. Even I got married but I remained on duty in the Head Quarter, whenever Yousif was in the Nuba Mountains.

As a bodyguard I had to fight many times. One time Yousif sent us a message from America, that we should prepare to welcome him on his arrival in Changaru. On our way to Changaru we were ambushed and my husband Sadiq was shot. He died on the spot. We fought back but we had to retreat. I regrouped my party one by one and then we recovered his body. By the time a force came to our support, the ambush was long over.

Yousif sent me home [to mourn]. The fourtieth day came and then the one year anniversary, and Yousif called me back to Head Quarters. So I stayed with him untill he died, and after his death I was transferred here, to serve as a bodyguard to Abdelaziz el Hilu.

I am happy about the peace. There are no problems anymore and I thank God that our father [Yousif Kuwa] gave us many good advice to work with. Even if this peace had not been reached, we should still work following his ideas. It is not important that we find some good things for ourselves. Everyone has to continue working and stay on his post.

There are some changes. The war is over, people no longer get killed, we can get food and clothes again and health care and some education. I was in school also. I was learning to read and write English, I was studying mathematics. But then I was recalled to duty: they told me to join the Joint Military Force.

Really, this makes me unhappy. All the other girls live civilian lives now. I want to finish school and I don't know how long I will be with the Joint Forces. Now I have this military life; I wish my parents had thought of sending me to school when I was little - I am sure that by now nothing would have challenged me. But unfortunately...

Interviewed in Lueri on March 30, 2006

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