By Philip Thon Aleu
November 24, 2008 (BOR TOWN) — An estimated two hundred thousands (200,000) people turned up for a cultural wrestling in Bor on Saturday depicting stronghold of Dinka preserved norms in 21st century’s generations. The wrestling, which ends peacefully, is the first and most sized in forty-three (43) years.
- Bor the capital of Jonjlei state witnessed the first and most sized wrestling in forty-three (43) years. Nov 23, 2008 (Photo by Ph. Thon Aleu, ST)
Cultural entertainments were halted by Sudan’s civil war, ended by 9th January, 2005 peace deal known as the Compressive Peace Agreement. In Dinka Bor culture, wrestling is practice by male from childhood and the pyramid narrows with ages.
The weekend wrestling takes place at Wun-cuei (4 miles north of Bor Town). This is were youths were always captured by Government troops during the war and killed for reasons including being Southern Sudanese and likely future Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
Things seem to have normalized in the first three years of peace given the turn-up. The competition attracted people of all ages, varying social, economic and political status, tribes as well as non-citizens to Wun-cuei. Dinka Bor citizens traveled to State capital Bor Town from ends far as Juba, Yei, Kaya and Nimule.
Those crippled by resources attended the competition live on phones. Cars, motorcycles, bicycles and thousands of pedestrians started matching to the site as early as 2am to secure suitable positions to witness the historical event.
Two men who brought this tremendous population here are Ajang Ngong Oka, 28, (also known as Taban) from Guala and Majok Jok-riir, 30, from Angakwei, Bor County Payams of Kolnyany and Baidit respectively.
They drew after a three minutes fight thought to have been brief by spectators but too long for the active participants. However, Majok side won after this next man, Alier Majur brought down a feared rival Kur Makol.
Fourth and fifth positions were won by Taban’s team as third and sixth men draw. This is the first competition between the two sub-clans since 1965 that went in today’s winner favor. The giants then were Ayuen Awuor Chol (Baidit) and Achiek Mabil Anyang (Kolnyang).
The weekend competition attendance however, surprised many people. If all men and women understand road regulation, then traffic police intervention could have necessarily deployed three miles before the pitch. Over 300 police persons controlled the crowd which went wild at the end of every losing wrestling, though not all who reached Wun-cuei watched the wrestlers due to overcrowding and high limits.
A good number of people obtained substantial injuries from collapsing trees branches, clearing of pitch by police and numerous camera men who nearly distributed the competition. Dust covered the sky during dancing forming thin clouds.
Girls dress in traditional attires, smearing red sand (locally known as wan) on their faces and arms, and wear traditional beads around their waist. Wrestling men wear leopard skin, national flag(s).
The energetic men and women sing traditional songs of courage and superiority; jump over long distances in excitement and above all display the best colored bulls. This is where men choose beautiful girls who in turn figure out the best performing men.
The competition however, is at a confluence of modernity and pure traditions. Wrestlers, unlike in the past, have taken up other jobs in the society. Angakwei top man Majok Jok is a professional driver and Guala Ajang-Taban works as a contractor with World Food Programs. Wrestlers did not do any other jobs in the past apart from remaining in cattle camps and representing their clans in strength. Unlike today’s sports, entry to the wrestling site on the other hand is a free of charge.
Tens of cattle had died during the pre-competition days to step-up fattening in young men. More cattle were slaughtered on Sunday for celebration on both sides. At Malual-agoor-bar (7 miles south of Bor Town), celebrations started immediately after one of wrestlers’ father, Dhieu Mabiei received a phone call declaring his son, Mawut Dhieu one of the best wrestlers.
Sudan Tribune reached the village Saturday evening where celebrations went on through Sunday. Residents here celebrated the victory with cheers and tears. Cheers for the young man’s successful wrestling and tears in memory of July 2000’s killings of seven age mates by government troops controlling Bor Town then. Meanwhile, Baidit celebrated an overall champion in Bor Town and villages as far their headquarters. In those years (during the war), residents say, wrestling was unthought-of and life was too difficult for young people.