Interview with Gibrail Ismael Kuwa

By Nanne op 't Ende
Frandella, Sudan
April 10, 2006

Gibrail was Mek of Burham when I went to the Nba Mountains for the first time in 1997. He remembers those days and talks about his work.

Gibrail Ismael Kuwa

My name is Gibrail Ismael Kuwa. I've been born in a place called Burham, in Dar, in 1957. I didn't have the chance to get a good education; there was too much work to be done.

When the war came I went to the South like so many others. I was trained for the army but I was put on civilian duty, as head of Burham County. I became Mek of Burham in 1990 for the first time; the SPLM appointed me and I stayed there for eight years. In 1998 I was assigned to the political administration and recently I was appointed to the Legislative Counsel of Kadugli County. I live her in Frandella

I met you before 1997 in Changaru. Yousif [Kuwa] told me to take this Gawadja [stranger] to Tabanya. I Said to Yousif that the road was difficult and dangerous and that you could get killed, but he just said I had to take you there safely.

You wanted to come and I was going up the hill. You went to take your bag and followed me.
We were together with Hamad [Brema]. We stopped for the night at a place called Tutu. You were very hungry but I thought you wouldn't eat belila [black eyed peas]. When you said you would, we shared our meal.

Underway [from Tutu to Tabanya] you became very tired but we had to continue. At a safe place I left you behind to take a rest. I went ahead to ask my wife to prepare some food. You came later and rested and ate peacefully at my place while I continued to Head Quarters to warn the commander Ezekiel Kuku.

I took you to Head Quarters and we were happy that you took those sufferings and came that long distance; we had a cause and you cared and you wanted the world to know about it. You said you hoped our situation might be better afterwards.

Our objectives as rebels in the Nuba Mountains were for our people to get their rights. Up to now, they didn't get all the rights.

The period of 1990 to 1998 was very tough. I had to control my people; I had to guide in the right direction. The thing I am most happy to have achieved was to set up schools throughout my area: in Tabanya, in Fama, in Shat Safaia and in Kululu. There were no blackboards or chalk, and no chairs or benches; the children wrote in the sand and the teachers used charcoal. But many of those children have finished school and they went on to study and they are now working for our people.

After the cease fire was agreed upon, I think the people of the JMC kept the situation well under control until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). With the peace in the Nuba Mountains, things are changing for the better. People were naked and they were constantly moving from one place to another. It was not easy. There was no transport. Now there's some improvement; the people have come down from the hills to build their houses in the plain.

In the political area, there is no cooperation between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP). The people should be working together, but the CPA stated that there are two parties: the SPLM and the NCP - as if the Government at that time didn't want integration.

Now there's a plan to integrate the administration after all and then we are going to ask our rights from the new Government. Many leaders of other countries witnessed the signing of the Agreement, so we are confident that we will get our rights eventually.

I'm a Nuba, I have my own language. At the same time I am Sudanese, and I am confident of my identity.

Interviewed in Frandella on April 10, 2006.

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