Monday December 11, 2017

The ‘Kambo’ and ‘Jongo’ Business in the Sudanese Relationships

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) greets his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir upon the latter's arrival in Khartoum, in 2011. Both leaders will meet again on Sunday as international pressure mounts to settle long-running bitter disputes that have brought the former civil war foes to the brink of renewed conflict.

UNT – The article which appeared on the 8th of October 2012 in the Sudan Tribune online under the title “South Sudanese labour: refill the ’Kambo’ – doesn’t only represent a historical fact as such, but it goes to prove how Khartoum is determined to undermine the independence of South Sudan.

The author is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute. He publishes regular opinion articles and analyses on his blog Still Sudan. He can be reached at , did much to explain the northern “Jallaba” mentality past, present and in the future when it comes to how the Northern Sudanese relate to their southern counterparts both politically and socio-economically.

Our friend Magdi Elgizouli was so generous in his description of what he thinks the Jallaba bourgeois class view their fellow south Sudanese who has for many years suffered under a system which only used to call upon their labour and obviously continues to do so from a position of some misconceived superiority. The author of “South Sudan Labour : Refill the Kambo”, deserves not only my personal respect, hopeful the South Sudanese readers at large and the general Sudanese community will honour his bravery and openness when he chose to shed light on this particular issue.
“Combo and Jongo” are all familiar to me given my humble and simplistic background. We did some combo work with two of my sibling brothers when I was residing in Dilling Town (a province in the Nuba Mountains).

The fact was by then that I also was the Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Dilling – Mother Bakhita Maternity Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of the now war torn state of Southern Kordofan, but my deeply rooted agricultural background took me to “a Kambo-life”, and made me experience a first hand Jongo Labour, though it was on my own field. From experiences in both the Habila Scheme Area and another area known as the Gardud- not too far from Al Samasim and Dilling Town itself, however deep into the “Gulfan Morouny Territorty, it is regrettable that the “Kambo and Jongo workers” are often exploited in every sense of the word. “Combo” is in fact a corrupted English word for camp where the seasonal agricultural manual laborers live and “Jongo” is just what they do on the agricultural fields and plantations from clearing the land to weeding and harvesting the crops.

“A Kambo settler” (often temporarily) – in other wards a squatter who then ends becoming “a Jongo laborer” is miraculously under the illusive spell that he or she or the whole family (in many cases) , are in fact making money and a living and one day things will get better. We never owned any land and so had to hire the few acres of land from the local owners who actually considered it their ancestral lands. However that was not the case with everybody else especially so with the northern Jallaba merchants and riparian pensioners from the army and civil service who are not only given vast areas of land by the state in what they call the state mechanized schemes, but are given financial capital, tractors and harvesters from the state owned agricultural bank of the Sudan. This is a privilege only confined to mostly people of Arab Islamic decent and hardly enjoyed by the vast majority of the Sudanese who hail from the so-called marginalized areas.

“The Kambo” in often run by a Jallaba petty bourgeois who provides the” Jongo lobourers” with food items ((sugar – tea- salt- sorghum flour- dried fish and oil, however at a very exuberant price – a real black marketing within a well knitted mafia type structure). Of course the Arab trader or his agent keeps the records and gets his money back by the end of the cultivation or harvest season. In other words it is directly deducted from their wages. Since the exploiter only keeps the records, you can now understand that no transparency is ever applied. “The Kambo squatters and a Jongo laborer for that matter often go home with practically nothing. The lucky ones are those you see around the neighborhood with a mini radio sets often tuned to local station, which play the routine music. Something just to beat the boredom

South Sudan decision makers should really see Magdi Eljouzoul’s article on “Kambo and Jongo” as an eye opener. South Sudan has more arable land for agriculture than its northern neuighbour. And I quite attribute the past situation and historical imbalance to the wrong policies often hatched in the riparian so-called republican Palance of Khartoum- built by the sweat of what they continue to refer as the “Blue People” and it opens to the great river of the Blue Nile, while the whole inhabitants of El Roseireis and Damazen and descendants of the Great Blue Sultanate of Sinnar are being butchered in broad day like.

Because of all the above reasons, however now one cannot see any tangible Reason as to why South Sudanese from the Greater Bahr al Ghazel or Greater Upper Nile Regions would be misled to abandon their promising virgin agricultural lands and go BACK to “Kambo and Jongo” in Rabak, Kosti, Kenana , Managil, Babanusa, Habila or Al Gadereaf.

The so-called “Four Freedoms”, signed between Omer al Bashir and Cdr. Pagan Amum Akeich and his boss and chairman, President Salva kir Mayardit will never make the life of a poor South Sudanese “Jongo-Man” any better in those far no man’s lands of Habila or Gadaref or name it as you want.
This is my point and hopefully it reaches the reader the way I intend to deliver it. Yes, for if we are to settle in temporary “Kambos” and do “Jongo Labour” – weeding of the massive agricultural schemes, why not do it in the Aweil rice scheme, or the the Melut and Mongalla sugar plantations and factories (they can’t just remain proposals forever) or they used to be well known Azande Agricultural Complex, that spreads across the entire God Blessed all year round evergreen belt of Western Equatoria State, or the Renk Mechanized Scheme or even venture and create projects for employment. Our independence is greater than all these so-call four freedoms that are designed to hold our brothers and sister under the yoke of the Arab bondage. What type of a popularly voted independence is this becoming!
We have seen the countless tractors brought in by Salva Kiir’s administration, but because of his political shortcomings, and then made worse by his deputy who beliefs that the only way to get the top office is to plan his boss’s dramatic failure , thus the well conceived policy of Green Revolution in South Sudan has now slid into abeyance.

Whatever it stands to mean, our people should think twice before they head back into slavery and servitude in the north. The 9th of July 2011 should mark the end to any northern dominance and the South Sudan have a duty to bring into office a leadership that can protect them through the right policies? Change is the word! Of course there are those still held up in the slavery mentality and are willing or otherwise to re-migrate to “Kambo and Jongo” in North Sudan, but that in itself is degrading to both the people and the good for for nothing system in Juba which has dramatically failed to uphold the values of our blood bought independence!

N.B: Combo and Kambo is just the same thing, but it is to stress a political point that is why both are used in this article.

NOTE: The Opinions expressed herein are entirely for the author of the article. The Upper Nile Times has no authority on the contents published here.

The Upper Nile Times

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba

Is a contributor for The Upper Nile Times. He is the current General Secretary for United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at : or

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