WHILE THE WORLD'S ATTENTION WAS FOCUSED ON NIGERIA AND THE CIVIL WAR WITH BREAKAWAY BIAFRA, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WERE BEING KILLED IN A SIMILAR CONFLICT BETWEEN THE SUDANESE ARMY AND REBEL GROUPS IN THE SOUTH OF THE COUNTRY.
WHILE THE WORLD'S ATTENTION WAS FOCUSED ON NIGERIA AND THE CIVIL WAR WITH BREAKAWAY BIAFRA, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WERE BEING KILLED IN A SIMILAR CONFLICT BETWEEN THE SUDANESE ARMY AND REBEL GROUPS IN THE SOUTH OF THE COUNTRY. THE BLACK AFRICANS IN SOUTHERN SUDAN ARE SEEKING INDEPENDENCE FROM THE ARAB MOSLEM GOVERNMENT IN KHARTOUM. THE RESULT HAS BEEN FOURTEEN YEARS OF BLOODY CONFLICT WHICH, ACCORDING TO MISSIONARIES WHO HAVE VISITED THE AREA, IS WORSE THAN THE DEATH AND MISERY IN BIAFRA. THE SOUTHERN SUDANESE ARE A THIN WEB OF RESISTANCE. THEY HAVE ONE COMMON IDEAL, BUT INTER-TRIBAL RIVALRY PREVENTS THEM FROM ORGANISING THEMSELVES INTO A POWERFUL FORCE. PERHAPS THE BEST ORGANISED OF THE GUERILLA GROUPS IS THE ANYANYANS....THE NAME OF A VIRULENT SNAKE VENOM.
THE ANYANYANS HAVE MORE THAN THE SUDANESE ARMY TO FIGHT. THEIR BASE IS IN BUNGU ON THE BORDER WITH CONGO KINSHASA, IN THE HEART OF SOME OF THE WORST JUNGLES IN AFRICA. BESIDES DISEASE AND CONSTANT SKIRMISHES WITH THE SUDANESE ARMY, THE REBELS ARE ALSO THREATENED BY STARVATION. THE CIVIL WAS HAS TAKEN MANY ABLE BODIES MEN AWAY FROM THE LAND TO JOIN IN THE FIGHT. CROPS GO UNCULTIVATED AND ACCORDING TO THE MISSIONARIES, MALNUTRITION IS AT A HIGH LEVEL.
WEAPONS ARE ANOTHER DRAWBACK. MANY OF THE FIVE THOUSAND ANYANYANS HAVE ONLY SPEARS AND BOWS AND ARROWS TO FIGHT WITH, BUT SOME OF THE SOLDIERS CAN BE SEEN CARRYING RIFLES MADE IN EASTERN EUROPE AND THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA. TACTICS EMPLOYED BY THE REBELS ARE STRICTLY HIT AND RUN. THEIR MILITARY LEADERS ADMIT THAT THE SUDANESE ARMY HAS FULL CONTROL OF THE FORTIFIED TOWNS AND THE ONLY WAY THEY CAN ENGAGE IN BATTLE IS BY LURING THEM INTO THE JUNGLE...AND INTO AN AMBUSH.
BECAUSE OF SUCH ODDS THE REBELS HAVE HAD ONLY LIMITED SUCCESS. THE MUCH BETTER EQUIPPED SUDANESE ARMY HOLDS THE UPPER HAND. THEIR AIRCRAFT BOMB REBEL VILLAGES AND THROUGH RADIO CONTACT...SOMETHING WEICH WHICH THE REBELS LACK...THEY CAN DIRECT OPERATIONS OVER A WIDE AREA.
BUT ONE THING THE REBELS AREN'T SHORT OF IS AN APPARENT DEDICATION TO THEIR INDEPENDENCE CAUSE. THEY TRAIN CONSTANTLY. USING BAMBOO STICKS, THEY DRILL FOR HOURS ON END AND THEN GO OUT ON MOCK PATROLS AND EXERCISED. TO THE OUTSIDE OBSERVER IT MAY SEEM A BACKYARD ARMY, BUT TO THE ANYANYANS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS ITS THE BEST SHOW OF RESISTANCE THEY CAN MUSTER IN A FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE.
SYNOPSIS: AFRICA'S LONGEST AND MOST FORGOTTEN CIVIL WAR IS BEING FOUGHT IN THE JUNGLES OF SOUTHERN SUDAN. ITS A WAR FOLLOWING A SIMILAR LINE TO THAT IN NIGERIA. LIKE THE BIAFRANS, THE BLACK AFRICANS OF SOUTHERN SUDAN ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE. THEY WANT AUTONOMY FROM THE ARAB MOSLEM GOVERNMENT IN KHARTOUM. BUT UNLIKE THE BIAFRA THE REBELS IN SUDAN ARE POORLY EQUIPPED, HAVE NO FOREIGN BACKING OR AID AND ARE SMALL IN NUMBER. BUT THEY HAVE DEDICATION. THEY TRAIN CONSTANTLY USING BAMBOO STICKS FOR GUNS. THESE MEN ARE MEMBERS OF THE ANYANYANS LIBERATION MOVEMENT... PERHAPS THE BEST ORGANISED OF THE REBEL GROUPS OPERATING IN SOUTHERN SUDAN. THERE ARE ABOUT FIVE THOUSAND MEN IN THEIR ARMY. THEY HAVE BEEN FIGHTING THE SUDANESE ARMY FOR THE LAST FOURTEEN YEARS....WITHOUT MUCH HOPE...BUT THEY HAVEN'T LOST THEIR DEDICATION.
THE SOLDIERS ARE CONSTANTLY ON EXERCISES, BUT THEIR LACK OF ARMAMENT IS OBVIOUS. BOWS AND ARROWS AND SPEARS ARE ALL THEY HAVE TO BACK UP THE FEW MODERN RIFLES POSSESSED BY THE GUERILLAS.
HORSES REPLACE TANKS AND ARMOURED VEHICLES...BUT THE REBELS ONLY HAVE FOUR AND THEY'RE KEPT MAINLY FOR CEREMONIAL OCCASIONS. SOME ARMS COME FROM ISRAEL, SOME EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES AND THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA ... BUT THE SMALL AMOUNT IS NO MATCH FOR THE WELL ARMED SUDANESE ARMY. THE REBELS HAVE SET UP THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT AND SELF PROCLAIMED STATE KNOWN AS NILE STATE. MR. WANJI IS THE MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION. HOW COULD THE FIGHTING END?
The formation of Nile state meant gone unnoticed in Khartoum. Action against the rebels has been increased. Aircraft bomb the rebel villages and through radio contact something which the Anyanyans lack. Widespread operations have been launched. Nobody's too sure how many people have died in the civil war. Some estimation go as high as three quarters of a million, and this is considered a conservative estimate in many circles.
The hospital in Bungu..capital of Nile State...is the clearing house for the rebels.. some of whom may have been wounded several miles from the town. But medical supplies are scare and found only in the hospital so the wounded can't be treated at the scene of the battle. The fighting has been bitter and in recent months casualties have increased. Colonel Abur Nhiel is in charge of the Anyanyan army.. He explains the situation.
Despite the war, the starvation which it has brought and the shocking conditions many of the people live under, there's no thought of giving up. The war has dragged on for fourteen years stripping many of the tribes of their man power. Land goes uncultivated as more and more men are called on to serve in the army. The death toll grows daily and the people know that unless they can fight on an equal footing with the Sudanese army, the war will drag on. But despite the gloomy future the people remain steadfast in their desire for independence.