It is now become a daily routine exercise for the Antonov to fly from el-Obeid to South Kordofan to bomb innocent civilians. On 17 July the Antonov flew in the early morning as usual to the area and droped several bombs on the villagers who were working on a nafir (collective farming) for one of the farmers, and killed 12 innocent civilians including a newly-born baby.
The bombing was on the eve of the IGAD peace talks in Nairobi. It has in fact become a normality that whenever there are IGAD peace talks; the government bombs the area. This is to send signals to the Nuba rebels that the Nuba issue is not part of the peace talks.
The burning of villages and abduction of ordinary villagers by the Sudanese Government forces remains a normal event.
On 19 May 1999 a group of soldiers from Debbie army garrison attacked villagers at Alguz, Errie and Chirr for second time in a week. These villagers have recently moved to this area and were settling at the foot of Chawrri Mountain waiting for the rainy season. The government army burnt down all the houses and abducted civilians.
106 houses were burnt and 48 persons were abducted at the first attack. In the second attack they burnt 94 houses and abducted 70 persons. Most people abducted were women, children and elders. Nobody knows the whereabouts of these people. They were taken at a crucial time for the raining season which was just about to start.
On 24 May the government army forces from Mandi Garrison launched attacks at midnight on villagers in Tuchei and Kauda South. They looted the villager’s properties including cattle and sheep. 62 head of cattle and 10 head of sheep were looted. One of the cattle owners, Mr Bashir Tutu al-Zubair (46 years old) was shot dead.
DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES IN THE NUBA MOUNTAINS
During May and June 1999 the Nuba Mountains witnessed a number of activities in terms of agriculture and education. There have been:
- a) Food Security Workshop held between 12 -15 May 1999.
- b) Training course for agricultural extensions held between 17 May and 10 June 1999.
- c) Education workshop between 21-24 May 1999.
Food Security and Agriculture Workshops
The NRRDS agricultural sector together with other friendly organisations organised a workshop on food security and training course for extension agents in the liberated SPLA area in the Nuba Mountains.
The main objectives of these two activities were to provide extension agents and community leaders with skills to increase agricultural production and to improve farmer’s living conditions in the Nuba Mountains. There was a particular focus on improving the skills of extension agents and their knowledge in participatory methods, farming systems and skills of how to use indigenous knowledge and how to transfer technology.
The prime objectives of food security workshop were:
- To develop a shared understanding among the civil administration and NRRDS field team of the current food security situation in the Nuba Mountains, the medium and long term trends and the chief factors which are influencing such trends.
- To identify the primary components of a food security strategy for the Nuba Mountains (short, medium and long term). This point was focused on production, trade and the experience of the national economic council (NEC).
- To develop a framework for on-going strategic planning, defining the general roles and responsibilities of civil administration, NEC, NRRDS and other support agencies to define operational details for some of the proposed short-term intervention including reviving internal trading, seed/grain banks and establishing an early warning systems (EWS).
The agricultural extension training was about general agricultural practices, with special emphasis on environmental problems, food storage and nutrition. Also seeds for the 1999-2000 season were included in the training in terms of identification, economical importance and agricultural practices for each.
The number of trainees in training course was 27 (21 men and 6 women) and the food security workshop was attended by 45 representatives from seven counties of the region. The facilitators and lecturers were Nuba and international expatriates.
Now the execution of the above plans and strategies is in its early steps.
Between 22-24 May, 1999 an education workshop was held in the Nuba Mountains at Kauda School. This workshop was aimed to address the educational problems, which the Nuba Mountains area is facing, and to develop an educational action plan for a short and long strategy in the Nuba Mountains.
The workshop was opened by the Governor of South Kordofan who made strong emphases on need for education and literacy for everybody in the area. The session was attended by more than 60 participants who came from all the seven counties with the majority being teachers. In addition, Governor Yousif Kuwa, member of NRRDS staff, Board members including the Chairman of the Board and also women from Southern Sudan Organisations were present. They all took part in the discussion and contributed immensely to the debate.
This was the first educational workshop to be held in the liberated areas in the Nuba Mountains, which was organised by the Education Department headed by Ustaz Teiso, education consultant and former lecturer at Wau University. The workshop was quite a successful workshop reflecting the fact that the Nuba believe that lack of education is their second enemy after the NIF, and they need to succeed in the field of education in order to catch up with others. It is never too late. They need to fight it now rather than later if they want to make progress in the liberated areas. It is good news that some Nuba with higher educating levels are now joining NRRDS and they will be good assets for the Nuba in the liberated areas.
Since independence in 1956 all the national governments that came to power deliberately ignored and neglected education in the Nuba Mountains, and with the advent of the war in the Nuba Mountains in 1985 the entire educational infrastructure came to a halt. As the enemy destroyed virtually all schools including churches and mosques in the region. It was only in 1994 with the help of some donors that NRRDS was able to set up a few primary schools. Today there are 82 primary schools spread across among seven counties to give primary education to 21,038 pupils who are taught by 287 teachers.
At the workshop it was emphasised that education for children, youth and adults should be of a high standard, acceptable within the international agreed standards and should be relevant to and a valuable part of the Nuba culture. It was endorsed that as in any free and democratic society education in the Nuba is an investment for the future, a foundation for future strength and a way of opening new path and options for development of people.
During the three days workshop the participants discussed many topics and issues with the aim of finding solutions to the problems, which they face in education. Among the topics discussed were:
- Review of the current NRRDS (and other) education projects in the Nuba Mountains. Currently, the educational work in the Nuba Mountains is being carried out by various groups, including NRRDS, Dioceses of el-Obeid and Konomia community (Brotherhood). It is therefore important that education guideline policy should be set up to regulate these different groups to preserve Nuba culture and traditional religious tolerance known among the Nuba, and above all to have a similar curriculum for the pupils.
- Review the current curriculum development and assess its direction, suitability etc.
- Review the current level of training for teachers, and outline any needs, which were not being addressed.
- Review current school material selection, delivery, storage, distribution and detect if any improvement that can be made.
- Review the work of non-NRRDS projects in education and make recommendations.
- To look at the current networks of schools and discussed the possibility of rationalising the spread and location of the schools with a view of improving it.
- To discuss gender issues in education, religious education, the weekly holiday, the need for education offices, and facilities and education abroad for Nuba students.
At the end of the three days discussion recommendations were made and subcommittees were set up to implement these recommendations. Among the recommendations was the revival of Nuba languages which are to be taught at schools. The English and Arabic languages are to be introduced and used at primary level. English should be used as the main language for the secondary education level. Finally it is recommended that education for women should be compulsory.
In Remembrance of Simon Noah
By Ahmed al-Zubeir Rahhal
By your death, Simon
Our hearts awash with grief
Our eyes flooded with tears
But, there is no Consolation
The loss is so great!
You were a symbol for human values
A shrine for human rights
So, in Koya, the hand of evil
Stealthily sought to assassinate your soul
To extinguish a bright light
But, oh, they will never succeed
Your colleagues are determined
They will walk relentlessly for freedom
They will fight vigorously for human rights
A year has passed. . . another will come
But you are still in our memory
You will be remembered forever!
As a symbol for nobility and dedication
Your wonderful deeds will never be forgotten
They are our good omen to a bright future
Our provision in our long struggle to freedom
Then victory will be ours, no doubt.
It is now more than one year since we lost a dear friend, Simon Noah. Simon was murdered in an ambush set up in Koya by the government forces on 13 April 1998. I first came to know Simon during my visit to the Nuba Mountains few weeks before his assassination, when we worked together in a human rights programme organised, at that time, by African Rights. During my time in the Nuba Mountains I had the privilege of working closely with Simon and I was touched greatly by his liveliness, his dedication and commitment towards the programme. Simon is a great loss to the Nuba Mountains. As a character he is irreplaceable. I was deeply saddened by his death and so were all the Nuba and his colleagues in the human rights programme. So, in his remembrance, I decided, although I am not a poet to memorialise his wonderful deeds as a human rights monitor who gifted his soul cheaply to the cause of his people.