Interview with Tunan Isa Teleb and Yuwil Manur Kafi

by Nanne op 't Ende
March 21, 2006

Tunan and Yuwil both remembered me from previous journeys. They were neighbors once, in their home village Dar, and now they are both stationed with the Joined Military Units. We sat together and I just put on the recorder.

Tunan (top) and Yuwil.

T. My name is Tunan Isa Teleb, I am 27 years old. When we met in Changaro in 1998, I had just followed a special course to become a radio operator. After graduation I worked as the radio operator in Changaro, for commander Yousif Kuwa.

Y. And my name is Yuwil Manur Kafi. I am from Dar; Tunan and I were neighbors. Dar was taken in 1994, when Brham, Angola and Torogi were taken.

In 1997 I saw you in Tabanya. Do you remember the black mullah? (A black sauce made of roasted sorghum; I ate it and said I would like to bath in it to become as black as the Nuba, NotE) When we saw a gawadja (stranger), we thought you had some special work there. I remember you would move for four hours and then you couldn't go on.

During the war I was transferred to Kenya. I worked with the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO) for seven years, as a logistics officer.

Tunan, what happened to you after 1998?

T. Commander Yousif came to the Nuba Mountains for the last time in November. Then he went to England, where he passed away. They took me to another station, in Korongo. In that time, the Government army came and attacked us. They managed to take the place, and we withdrew to Jageba. From there I came to Kadoro.

In 2001 the Government attacked Kadoro also; they came from four directions. Our forces were very few, but there were very tough soldiers from Tabanya, and we managed to repulse them.

I was in Kadoro in June 2000; there were many refugees, and the people were really frustrated.

Y. I remember the time when you came back from Kadoro. We discussed the situation in the Nuba Mountains and you talked about the news from the war.

Tabanya had also been taken, and many people had stayed behind, because they were tired of fighting. But most people there were Christians… what happened to them?

Y. The Government tried to convert them to Islam; they gave them money and dresses, but the people refused. Some, who had stayed in town, now have become Muslims. But those who were living in Tabanya all their lives have remained Christians.

T. They always say they are fighting for religion, but we as SPLA are not fighting because of the religion; we are fighting to have our rights. They deceive people like this; they will give you things, a car even. But there is not even a mosque in Tabanya.

I often go to Tabanya to visit; we stayed with many people there, and there are even places behind Tabanya, where you didn't go: Torogi, Angola, Dar. We all are the same tribe called Angola.

Y. In 2005, on July 20, we had a conference for the Angola tribes. We made many conferences to unite the people and to encourage SPLM tobring development.

Don't you think that these tribal conferences will create new divisions among the Nuba?

T. The Nuba are united as one, and nothing can divide us, not even the Government.

What happened after the cease fire?

T. I worked for the Joint Military Commission for seven months, until my unit needed me again, but this time in Kauda. Then I was transferred to the Joint Integrated Forces. So now I am here in Kadugli. In 1999 I married a girl from Tabanya. My wife is still there in Frandella, with our children. we have two girls and a boy.

Y. I stayed in Nairobi until 2005; last April I came here to work with the Joined Integrated Unit as a platoon commander.

How do you feel about the peace?

Y. It's okay; it brings many things like development and the people can take a rest from the running up and down. And also we visit the places that nobody could enter during the war. It's just that we don't know if peace will actually take place or if something else will happen. From our side, we say that peace is okay, and we respect the agreement…

T. The biggest difference between the time of war and the time of peace is peace itself, even if we are not sure whether it will be a definite peace or not. We are here in Kadugli, we share these places with the Government; that was impossible before. I haven't worked together with people of the Government army; the forces will be integrated one day, but it hasn't happened yet.

I won't mind working together with them: I am happy with the peace. It brings development, and the suffering people can take a rest. Now we just want development to be brought, and we want the old people to rest. We want water taken to those who don't have water, and food to those who don't have food. We see that it is better than during the time of war.

What are your plans for the future?

T. My plans for the future? We still have three years before the popular consultation. After that I want to finish my education. what comes next - I will see. Education is the main thing: when there is education, everything will be good.

Y. When I was in Kenya, I went to school, but I didn't have the chance to finish it. When we have settled here, I will go back to school. Now the Governor doesn't give me a chance, but I know the way to escape…

You look worried Yuwil; is it about the situation in the Nuba Mountains?

Y. No, it's my children. They are in school in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, and they are always calling me for money and other things to support them.

How many children do you have in Kakuma?

Y. Seven children, but they are not all mine: most belong to my brothers, but I'm the one to take care of them. When I was in Lokichoggio (in the North of Kenya, NotE), they sent their children to me. The refugee camp is still there, and the people are not yet returning home. We don't know when they will go back. Maybe after six years, when the South has had the referendum.

You know something? Just yesterday I was talking to somebody about how we had a stranger with us in 1997, who ate just anything…


Interviewed in Kadugli on March 21, 2006



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