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Azande King invites President Kiir to attend King Gbudue Day

Azande King Wilson Peni Rikito

Azande King Wilson Peni Rikito invited president Salva Kiir Mayardit to celebrate Gbudue Day which will take place on 9 February.

 The new Azande King will be installed on Wednesday for the first time in more than 100 years after the death of King Gbudue in 1905.

the great-grandson of King Gbudue, Atoroba Peni Rikito Gbudue will be installed as the Kingdom’s hirer on Gbudue Day. February 9 [Gbudue Day] is a cultural day agreed upon to be celebrated yearly by the Azande of South Sudan, inside and in Diaspora to remember, honor and celebrate the life of King Gbudue.

In the statement to the media on Friday, Rikito urged the Azande community and people of South Sudan in general to be a part of this historical day celebrating the life of Azande king.

“Gbudue day is a day for Azande to come together to promote unity, peaceful co. Existence and social cohesion among themselves as well other neighboring communities,”

At the same time, the Minister of Presidential Affairs Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin describes King Gbudue as an outstanding leader and freedom fighter who vigorously fought colonialism and slavery.

According to the Rift Valley Institute, Gbudue was a royal Azande leader and arguably the most prominent person in the recent history of the Azande people, who are resident in the central and western parts of South Sudan’s Equatoria regions. During his rule, Gbudue faced incursions from ivory and slave traders, Egyptian Government officials, officials in the Mahdi, British and Belgium forces as well as participating in internal Zande wars.He was killed during a British patrol led by Major Boulnois in February 1905. However, there are different versions of Gbudue’s death.

The anthropologist Evans-Pritchard, an English man, put together various accounts, based on Zande oral histories collected during doctoral research between 1926 and 1930.

These suggest that Gbudue was shot in the arm when the patrol entered his homestead.

He then shot three members of the patrol and injured a donkey that had been brought to transport him to the military post at Birekiwe, the original name of the current Yambio County.

By that time, British soldiers were forced to carry Gbudue on a stretcher to a hut where he was put under guard and succumbed to his injuries. Some accounts suggest he died alone, others that one of his wives, a daughter of Tangili, was with him after his death, the Anglo-Egyptian military administration received intelligence that some of Gbudue’s sons were planning an armed revolt and in January 1914, Mange, Basongoda, Mopoi and Gangura were sent as prisoners to Wau and on to Khartoum.

With the exception of Basongodo, who died in Wau, they were eventually released and returned home.

Ever since his demise, the Azande has never had a successor for more than a century now.

The new description of him as a ‘Martyr’ at his grave ascribes him a place in the South Sudanese liberation struggle.For many Azande people, his rule represents a golden era before the disruptions of colonization and war.

To make his legacy stay, there have been calls, including from Gbudue’s great-grandson Atoroba Peni Rikito Gbudue, to revive traditional authorities and the Zande Kingdom, of which Gbudue was the last ruler.

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