Murle Conflict

Murle Conflict

For much of my working career I have been involved with the Murle people of South Sudan. I first met the Murle when Barb and I did a linguistic survey of the South Sudan in 1975. We were intrigued by these traditional people living on the floodplains and a year later we moved to Pibor to live among them. We built a simple house overlooking the river and spent the next eight years studying the Murle language and culture. We made many good friends among the Murle, but in 1984 we had to leave the area due to the oncoming civil war. We continued the translation of the Murle New Testament in Kenya and upon its completion we distributed 4000 copies to the Murle people. Although the Murle were experiencing the stress of the civil war the number of churches continued to grow until they exceeded sixty. In May of 2011 I was able to return to Pibor for a short visit. I discovered that although the civil war was over, there were now serious tensions between the Murle and the neighboring people called the Nuer. An attack took place at a village called Lekwongole. Well-armed Nuer warriors attacked and killed 200 Murle, many of them women and children. The Murle have a reputation as ferocious fighters and they quickly organized a revenge attack on the Nuer. In turn the Nuer attacked again and these tit-for-tat fights have been taking place frequently over the past two years. Both sides are well armed with AK47s and the deaths on both sides have numbered in the hundreds. In December of 2011...
Graduations in Kenya

Graduations in Kenya

Have you ever been to a graduation ceremony in Kenya? I who claim to have done most things there are to do in Kenya had not until last week, and even then I only got as far as the main entrance to the Catholic University for Eastern Africa. Graduations from places of higher learning to those who are not directly involved are only a paragraph on the back page of the Daily Nation newspaper, describing an extra large traffic jam within a six mile radius of the place of learning in question. Last week I had reason to go to my nearest ATM, which is situated a half-mile down the worst surfaced road in the world. Fortunately, there are normally very few vehicles on this stretch of road on which it is inadvisable to travel at more than five miles per hour. There were around 2000 students graduating from the university and each of them had invited a dozen or so family and friends to attend their graduation, say at a minimum two car loads per student. This meant that on this day, traveling down this half mile of so-called road in the direction of the university there were about 4000 cars. Add to this a conglomeration of pedestrians mixed with about 3000 passengers who had abandoned their buses to join the cheerful pedestrians who for a change were overtaking cars. I was not surprised to see buses from every high school in the Nairobi area. Neither was I surprised to see giant coaches from as far distant as Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret, but I was amazed to see...