Obituary: Joseph Oduho

Joseph Haworu Oduho, activist and politician: born Lobira, Southern Sudan 15 December 1929; founding member and first president, Sudan African National Union 1962-64; President, Azania Liberation Front 1965-67; Minister of Housing, Southern Regional Government, Juba 1972-75; Minister of Public Service and Manpower, Southern Regional Government, Juba 1979-81; founding member Sudan People's Liberation Movement 1983; died Kongor 27 March 1993.

THE DEATH of Joseph Oduho last week, a victim of the latest fratricidal fighting within the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), has shocked Southern Sudanese throughout the world. He was one of the few survivors of the Southern Sudan's first post-independence generation of radical politicians, and his death has not only cut a link with that early period of the Sudan's political development, it has nearly ended any hope of reuniting the factions who have been disputing for power within the Southern Sudan since the fragmentation of the SPLA in 1991.

Born of the Latuka people in Torit District, Equatoria Province, Joseph Oduho was educated in Catholic mission schools and became a teacher in the years immediately leading to the Sudan's independence from Britain and Egypt in 1945. His first political demonstration in 1953 protested against the exclusion of the Sudan's Southern and African leaders from political negotiations between the Northern (Arab) parties and the Egyptian government.

He was elected to the Sudan's first post-independence parliament in 1957, an advocate of political federalism for the Sudan's underdeveloped regions, until the army took power in 1958. He was one of the first politicians to flee into exile in 1960, combining with other exiles, the late William Deng among them, to form the first exile movement, later known as the Sudan African National Union, in 1962. Together he and Deng published the first statement of Southern Sudanese political objectives, The Problem of the Southern Sudan (1962), in which they argued for the self- determination and independence of the non-Muslim South from the rest of the Sudan.

Oduho spent the next 10 years in exile or in the bush as a leading figure in a succession of Southern Sudanese exile-guerrilla independence movements. He was involved in a number of internal quarrels, and he finally broke with the movement in 1971 when the commander of the 'Anya- nya' guerrilla army, Joseph Lagu, subordinated the political wing to his military organisation. Oduho was sceptical of the qualified autonomy which the Khartoum government of General Nimeiri offered the South at Addis Ababa in 1972, but despite his doubts he accepted the opportunity of peace and joined the transitional regional government in Juba and served as a minister in several successive regional governments.

Oduho's combative personality never left him, and he frequently quarrelled with his colleagues over what he, and many others, saw as Khartoum's failure fully to implement the 1972 agreement. He was firmly committed to the unity of the Southern Sudan and opposed the former guerrilla leader Joseph Lagu, when he proposed the dismemberment of the South and a retreat into a separate 'Equatoria Region'. Shortly after Nimeiri unconstitutionally dissolved the Southern Region in 1983 Oduho once again went into exile and helped to found the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the political wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, under the command of John Garang.

Once again Oduho eventually found himself at odds with the military, objecting to Garang's subordination of the political wing to the military command and spending several years in detention in various SPLA bases. He was released during inter- factional fighting among the SPLA in September 1992 and went to East Africa, where he was in contact with other anti-Garang leaders in the movement he helped to found.

Last week he flew to Kongor inside the Southern Sudan to meet with dissident military leaders to discuss ways of developing a broad-based leadership. Many Southern Sudanese hoped that, his quarrelsome past history notwithstanding, his position as respected elder statesman would overcome the increasingly vicious animosities which continue to rend the movement. Shortly after his arrival fighting broke out once again between the factions, and Oduho was killed. It is possible that he was the main target of the attack. Pugnacious to the end, he was a man of great humour, courage and political integrity.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee