End girl child marriages, pleads King Akway
By Okan Thomas Onyango
King Akway of the Anyuak Kingdom has called for an end to the culture of practicing early child marriages.
This was during the annual celebration of the “Anywaa Anywaa Cultural Day” that took place on Monday in Juba. The king came to address his people during the ceremony and they all had to be seated in respect to him, followed by typical Anyuak traditional dance (buul) as they welcomed him.
The king of the Anyuak community, His Majesty king Akway Nyigwo Akway said that more should be done to end early girl child marriages where many parents are marrying off their young daughters for dowry in order to survive.
“We need to end and prevent these early child marriages. Keep the girl child at school, let the girl be educated because when they are educated, they know more. When you educate one girl, you educate the whole family. When she gets married, she will know how to manage her house,” King Akway said.
According to the UN children’s agency, 52% of girls in South Sudan are married off before their 18th birthday.
King Akway also narrated the origin of the Anyuak kingship account saying:
“Women as they went to fetch water discovered a mysterious person with a kaak (fishing spear). The man would disappear into the river to avoid contact with the people. One day they managed to capture and bring him to the village, his name was Ocwudho. He would not talk, eat, nor drink, afraid that the strangers may die of hunger. Akango told his small daughter to look after him, so he drank, ate and developed a relationship with the girl,” Akway explained.
“It later turned out that the girl had conceived. When he discovered that the girl was pregnant, he disappeared into the river leaving beads (ocwak, nyalo, garmuto and ganga) as gifts for the father of the girl.
The girl gave birth to Gilo who is now renowned as the great grandfather of the Anywaa nation. And when the Anywaa Nyie (king) passed away, he is said to have gone back into the river like Ocwudho,” he further described.
The Anywaa are a Luo-Nilotic ethnic group which speaks dho- Anywaa, almost 100% intelligible to the dhi-pari and very close to dhok-Chollo (Shilluk language) and dho-Luo of Bahr El Ghazal.