Historical Perspective of Nyikango Early Political Movement

The Nyikang political organization was developed from a political idea that originated from ancient Luo people of the Sudan . This happened before the massive movement of the Luo southward along the river Nile to the Great lakes region of Africa .

The Luo people who had migrated into different part of East Africa still speak much about Nyikango’s influences and his role as the founder of the Luo people and the original hero of their culture. The Chollo are a major Nilotic ethnic group of Southern Sudan, living on both banks of the River Nile in the present Upper Nile State .

Chollo is known by the name Shilluk in the Sudan , but they preferred to be called Chollo. Nyikango played a central role in the foundation of the early movement of Luo. He is considered a spiritual father and founder of Chollo identity and culture.  The Reth is the center of the whole organization and symbolizes the unity among Chollo people. The Reth is divine, and he is the supernatural leader. He carries special sacrifices for rain, for victories in war times, and for good harvests. The Chollo were known as the organized tribe among the Nilotics and their influences had tremendous impact on the history of Sudan . Today, still many Luos within and out of Sudan speak of Nyikango as their founding father who led them during the great era of their struggles.

According to Bethwell Ogot, Luo in Uganda , Kenya , and Tanzania migrated from South Sudan . This happened roughly 400 years ago from South Sudan , from 1730 to 1760 A.D. The Luo kingdom stretches from the south of Sudan to Northern Uganda, to Eastern Congo, to Western Kenya, and to the upper tip of Tanzania .  The Chollo constituted the most important section of the Lou. The Nyikang decided to settle near Malakal after defeating the “Funj”, the previous inhabitants of the region between Tonga and Muomo.  By the second half of the century what came to be known as the Shilluk “nation” emerged.  The early Lou originally occupied the area that now lies to the east of the Bahr El-Ghazal River .

It is not yet known why they dispersed from that area. This provides another challenging opportunity to young Chollo future researchers. The Luo migrated to nearly all the neighboring African countries bordering the Sudan .  This resulted in the fragmentation of this large group into smaller but separate tribal groups composed of many clans, and, in fact, the further they moved away from their next of kin, the slightly different accent they spoke and slightly different cultures and traditions they practiced.  On the other hand, Nyikango and his men moved northward along the Nile towards Kush Kingdom and Rip. Their objective was to re-conquer and settle the land their ancestors had lost to the Arabs and Europeans. In the past, the Luo had produced some of Africa’s great leaders, though no mention of it is made in the modern history of the Sudan . One of the great Lou leaders is Reth Nyikango of the Chollo people at Pachodo whose kingdom was ravaged by Turko-Egyptian expansion, the slave trade, and the Mahdist regime.

However, despite foreign interferences, the Chollo Kingdom has survived; the current Reth is Kwongo Dak Padiet.   Also, the odds could not stop Nyikango from pursuing his goal of establishing a nation for his people. Nyikango wanted to create a black nation that would maintain the African identity without aliens’ interference. The social structure of the Chollo consists of two main social groups: Kwar Reth and Chollo. The Kwar Reth is the direct descendants of Nyikango and thus, belongs to the royal family. Nyikango conferred upon the first rides certain privileges that include the right to become members of the royal clan. The first group of riders was the Ororo. They were made up of royal members, and they performed important duties for the Reth.

The second group was the Bang Reth. They were the servants of the Reth. Some of these people were slaves, others were refugees, and still some were faithful people to the throne. Their descendants formed an important community at the Reth’s capital, Pachodo.  Nyikang had also established other historical sites such as Nyilwal, Didigo, Akurwa, Wau Chollo, and Papwojo. The third group was the common Luo clans. Each clan consisted of the descendants of the founder who could trace their descent through males, and was usually named after the founder. The common Luo clans through their service to the Reth are awarded with the symbol of faithfulness and loyalty and chieftainship positions. The Chollo represents the rest of the Chollo public who are not original descendants of Nyikang. The political organization of Chollo Kingdom ‘s capital Pachodo was built by Reth Tugo in 1690.  Reth Tugo built the kingdom capital Pachodo in 1690 and ruled it up to the time of his death in 1710.

Prior to the founding of Pachodo kingdom in1690, Pachodo was not known so both Nyikango and many of his successors ruled from their own villages or residences. For example, Nyikango had chosen Nyilwal as his headquarters. According to Bethwell, Nyikango was given a title, known as “Reth” that can be translated to mean king. The kingship was then passed down through Nyikango descendants to the present day.  Nyikango and his followers disagreed in a place called Wic Pac in southern Equartoria. The beginning of separation between Nyikango and Dimo started when Nyikango threw a spear at an elephant that belonged to his brother Dimo. The wounded beast carried it away. Nyikango tried to give a substitute spear to his brother Dimo who refused to accept the substitute spear. Nyikango was force to embark on a long dangerous journey to find Dimo’s spear. Finally, Nyikango found the Dimo’s spear and since that time Nyikango carried vengeance toward Dimo. According to the Chollo’s oral history, one of Dimo’s sons swallowed the Nyikango bead. This meant they had to cut Dimo’s son stomach to extract the original bead of Nyikango.  That was the beginning of the conflict between the two brothers. When Dimo tried to substitute to Nyikango’s bead, Nyikango refused the substitute bead and demanded his original bead, so, the child’s stomach was cut open to get out Nyikango’s bead which caused the separation between Nyikango and Dimo for ever.

The Chollo led by Nyikango moved northwards from WicPac. They raided the Fung who were forced to leave the area and settle at Sennar on the Blue Nile . The Lou brothers, Nyikango (Chollo), Dimo (Jur Chol), and Gilo (Anuak), left WicPac about the same time due to family quarrels. Dimo went up Bahr El Ghazal River while Nyikango and Gilo went northwards following the White Nile . Nyikango took the western bank while Gilo took the eastern. This caused Nyikang and his entourage to go northward wandering and conquering. Nyikango and his followers started their wandering from their original home as a result of a quarrel between Nyikango and his half brother, sometime said to be his brother, Duwat. They quarreled about who should succeed their father, Okwa, as leader and king.

Since Duwat was elected, Nyikango left with his groups to the present place that is known as the Chollo kingdom.  According to Darlly Forde that, “Nyikango is thought to have entered the present Chollo kingdom in the South west near Tonga , and to have moved along the west bank of the Nile river until he managed to established the another place of his kingdom which is presently Muomo.” Nyikango then reached the present land of Chollo ; he was strong enough to establish the dynasty and the Chollo nation.

Nyikango was assisted by his son Dak. They managed to convert and assimilate into Chollo culture different tribes who were living in that land. There is a strong belief that Nyikango did not die, but simply disappeared. The disappearance of Nyikango is something of a mystery among Chollo. Nyikango is believed to have supernatural power over the land. In each Chollo king, the spirit of Nyikango is supposed to be imminent. Nyikango is the supreme judge, a political and spiritual leader of Chollo.

At the time of war, he is also the commander in chief. Chollo’s people respect and strongly believe that King (Reth) is Nyajwok, which means the child of the God. As a consequence, when they greet him they sit down on the ground with their legs folded. They open their palms faced down saying wuo wuo, which means your lordship, lordship. There are various accounts of the birth place of Nyikango. In one, he is the son of Okwa, who is the son of Omara, who came down from heaven. Chollo called non-Nilotic foreigners as Obwonyo, and the Nuba as dhongo who occupy special positions in the Nyikango political kingdom.  Nyikango himself established a relationship with the Nuba through the marriage of his daughter. The more foreigners are assimilated to Chollo tradition, the more they get involved in the leadership of Nyikango.

The order of Chollo society is best approached by a consideration of the myths of migration under Nyikango. Some of the details of these myths cannot be fully understood without a preliminary knowledge of the main natural divisions of the Chollo world.

In the course of their wandering, Nyikango and his followers came to a country occupied by Dimo, where they lived for a while, Nyikango moved to the present Chollo kingdom.

Dak quarreled with Dimo, whose people wanted to kill him. Nyikango made an effigy of Dak, which was speared in Dak’s place by the followers of Dimo. Effigies of Nyikango, Dak and another son of Nyikango called Caal were made. In one story Dak is mischievous and a quarrelsome figure, who grew to a tremendous size.  He is also very intelligent, and there are accounts of how he and Nyikango, in contest with Dimo were able to blind Dimo’s people and his cattle, thus forcing Dimo to give up the fight, which he had hidden, and to release the rain which he had stopped.

The significance of this power of Nyikango and Dak was to cause Dimo’s people to become blind. The same power struggle remained among the Chollo as a curse. This can be seen in the Chollo society today how the Chollo continue to stumble with power struggles. The Nyikango’s third son, Caal, is also represented in effigy in the ceremonies for the installation of the King. He plays a less important part than Dak or Nyikang in the ceremonies. We are told that Caal was a coward, and therefore, Nyikango thought it safe for him to remain with him and Dak, while he sent away another of his sons, Buro, because he was as headstrong as Dak. It is said that Caal succeeded his father as King, but did not reign for long and disappeared; he was to be succeeded by his brother who should understand the more abstract notion of leadership. The Nyikango was known for his control of the sun and the river which, along with the rain mentioned in the first prayer, are the features of the Chollo world upon which their prosperity ultimately depends and which may help or ruin them. The Chollo King is chosen ultimately by God, as he is accepted and possessed proximately by Nyikango. The chosen prince is then challenged to fight at night and if he acquits himself well, he is told that he is a brave man, and that God has decreed that he shall be King of the Chollo. At one point, the King-elect enters the village of Debalo on his way to the capital, Fashoda, the chief of Debalo asked him, “What do you want here? And the King-elect replied, I am the man sent by God to rule the land of the Chollo.” The order of the Chollo kingdom depends upon Nyikango and the king, and Nyikango and the King derived their position from God. The Chollo God is the final explanation both for what is good and what is evil, from  the human point of view, but he is not himself god or evil.

Nyikango is not the teacher or founder of an ethical system, and the attributes which he shares with God refer, not to judgments of ethical value, but to the nature of reality and its interpretation. The Chollo kings in their traditional reputation are not mainly founded upon whether they were just or virtuous, but upon whether the Chollo prospered under them, whether they were effective in war, whether they were brave and whether they were clever. The Bel-Collo war finished all Collo adult male princes. This led to the accession of a princess, Queen Abudhok, to the throne. The Chollo and the (Bel) Anyuaks fought ferocious wars at the present cite of Malakal Town . By then the capital of the Chollo kingdom was at Ditang, the village with dome trees opposite Malakal Airport . Odak was the Chollo king by then.

Nyikango and Dak were the most important Chollo kings and may be regarded as models of what the ideal Chollo king should be. Some accounts of their lives have already been given, but it has perhaps not been made clear that the stories recorded of them emphasized their intrigues, deceptions and intelligence which seems for the Chollo to be a sign of the particular gifts of God. The story of the attempt by Dimo to kill Dak, when Nyikango made the effigy which was speared in Dak’s stead, it is said that Dimo said Nyikango was a fool, but Dak was full of talk, which means “Dak was a man of ideas”. In their contests with Dimo, Nyikango and Dak showed themselves both more powerful and clever, and in this cleverness they were alike.

Dak who effectively succeeded his father is second in importance only to Nyikango himself. Not only is Dak the judge, but also the source of both good and evil. He can be regarded as being indifferent, friendly or hostile, depending on the judgment of the individual in any particular situation. During the contest between Dak and Dimo, Dak struck his opponents blind until they accepted Dak’s superiority, and then Dak was able to restore their sight. Nyikango and his brother, Duwat separated. Duwat asked him where he was going, and told him to look behind him. When Nyikango looked back, he saw a stick for planting sorghum, which Duwat had thrown to him.

Duwat told him that it was a thing with which to dig the ground of his village. Nyikango came to the country ofTuro, the country of his son, Dak, who used to sit on the ashes of the village and play the tom, a stringed instrument. Dak represented the way in which the Chollo knew the order of their world, as well as being themselves the examples of knowledge and intelligence. It is appropriate that the power of blind people should be attributed to them in myth”. Although Nyikango was speaking of a new, administrative situation, we may see here the idea of the King as a source of social order, which fulfilled his function merely by existing. The king’s office keeps the Chollo in palpable relation with an ideal order, which they hold to be the true order of their world. According to Chollo the oral history that is in the original migration was from their first homeland. In the land of Duwat, the Chollo were with their leaders Nyikango and with them were the Dinka led by Dengdit, the Anyuak were led by Gilo and the Luo led by Odimo. It says in Chollo oral history that there was a king, called Okwa, and that he was the father of Duwa, Nyikango and other sons.

The emerging of Nyikango was the beginning of the Chollo royal house and the Chollo nation. As the Chollo saw it, the other Nilotics were separate from them in the course of a common history. There is a Chollo proverb which says that the Chollo only believe what they see. Until today many Chollos believe that Nyikango did not die but disappeared in a whirlwind during a festival.  There will be a need to be conducted into more study about the mystery of how Nyikango disappeared. The survival of the Chollo people and the well being of Chollo will be based on their loyalty for their values, beliefs, and its history. The Chollo always will stand up against the forces who seek destruction of the Chollo kingdom that has survived for many centuries.

I personally, call a upon the young Chollo intellectuals and academics  to do more study  and conduct  in-depth research  about the history of the  founding  father, Nyikango, who leads the Luo people. Many Luos today, still speaking of Nyikango as their founder, and   father of the Luo people and the hero of their culture. I believe strongly that Chollo history means the identity of the Chollo people. The chollo people must and should preserve their history for the next generations to come. It is important for us to keep our history and know our history because if one does not have an anchor of history, then he or she is nobody.

Works cited:

 

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One comment on “Historical Perspective of Nyikango Early Political Movement

  1. Pingback: Brief Correction of the Luo family tree, lineage and Migrations | Sir David Ochieng' the Great

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