Four Pauls of Anyanya I (Paul Ruot, Paul Adung, Paul Awel and Paul Nyingori)

Anya Anya 1 fighters post for a picture in Eastern Equatoria/photo: WikipediaAnya Anya 1 fighters post for a picture in Eastern Equatoria/photo: Wikipedia

Hon. Mangar Amerdid


ANYA-NYA MOVEMENT IN UPPER NILE – History indicates that the region of Upper Nile in South Sudan played a pivotal role during the Anya-Nya Movement. Border tribes of the Nuer and Anuak saw extensions of themselves in both Sudan and Ethiopia as their communities neighbored each other. These distinct tribes possessed weaponry which was availed to them by the British administration in order to repel raids by Ethiopians.

Along the period of 1962 and 1963, the call to Southerners to fight for the freedom of Southern Sudan by Sudan African National Union (SANU) and the formation of SANU’s plebiscite branch in Ethiopia galvanized many soldiers, policemen and prison wardens in Upper Nile to join the movement. Upon deserting their respective posts, they formed the “Southern Sudanese Land Freedom Army.”

The primary persons who initiated the recruitments of the Southerners were Paul Ruot, Paul Adung, Paul Awel and Paul Nyingori. To discuss these four men, in brief, Paul Ruot, was a Nuer from Thul region close to Waat who graduated from Juba Commercial Secondary School in 1962. He was the only secondary educated recruiter among his three peers. Ruot joined the freedom fighters after being trained as a military cadet. Paul Adung, a Shilluk and the former sergeant of the police in Kodok, organized a camp near Kodok and recruited many Shilluk men to join the freedom fighters.

Paul Awel, a Dinka and police corporal, left his station in Akobo alongside 75 other men and joined the freedom fighters in July 1963. While Paul Nyingori, an Anuak from Akobo, had completed intermediate school in 1958 and finished a course in farm management, before becoming a farmer. He left his farm in Akobo and joined the freedom fighters in 1963. In August of 1963, these four military recruiters and many others gathered at the Anya-Nya base that was seven miles from Pachalla. In August, the number of men at the base numbered 300 and by October it had increased to 700.

On the 3rd September 1963, the freedom fighters in Upper Nile had only 14 rifles in their possession which was confiscated in an earlier attack; insufficient for prolonged guerilla warfare.

It is important to note that even though Pachalla has been reported in history as the first location where the freedom fighters engaged with the Sudan army, there had been earlier ambushes by the freedom fighters to obtain weapons. One of the ambushes occurred as follows; in July 1963, a group of freedom fighters assembled at a camp close to Yom, about 40 miles northeast of Nasir.

The camp was under the command of Daniel Nyang Cuol, a Nuer from Nasir. At 2:00 a.m. during the early morning hours, 80 freedom fighters armed with 17 old rifles and 21 bullets attacked the police station at Yom. The freedom fighters sustained heavy casualty against the well-armed policemen, however, the station was overrun.

Of the 15 Southern policemen overseeing the station, 4 were killed and 6 taken as prisoners, 4 of them later joined the freedom fighters. The freedom fighters confiscated eight rifles and two bren guns one of which was damaged. Following the military engagement, the freedom fighters moved towards Pachalla.

At the time of the attack, the Sudanese army was in Jakou and could not provide assistance to the police in Yom. This is due to the heavy rains that had made the roads difficult to pass through.


ANYA-NYA MOVEMENT IN UPPER NILE – In the month of August 1963, 300 freedom fighters assembled at the Anya-Nya base near Pachalla. The base was commanded by order.

(1) Paul Ruot,

(2) Paul Nyingori, (3) Paul Adung,

(4) Paul Awel and (5) Daniel Nyang Cuol.

On 3rd September 1963, fighting began in Pachalla when the freedom fighters surrounded the area. At that time, Pachalla only had a police post with 35 policemen. The Sudan government sent 250 soldiers who were dispatched from Akobo. The number of freedom fighters also increased to about 1, 000 to 2,000 by the time the main attack took place.

During the attack, the freedom fighters only had 21 guns while the Anuak tribesmen who joined them in the fight brought with them 160 guns. For seven days, Pachalla was under siege with the freedom fighters taking hold of the water supply post. The four leaders (Ruot, Nyingori, Adung and Awel) fought in the front line alongside their most effective and experienced men; among many of the brave fighters was Peter Wal who took hold of one of the policemen’s bren gun and operated it until he was hit by a bullet and killed.

After seven days of intense fighting in Pachalla, a series of strange events occurred when an airplane used for spraying crops with insecticides dropped two bombs that did not explode. The plane was damaged by the small-arms fire and was required to land. To the disbelief of the Anuak tribesmen, an Englishman surfaced from the plane, he fired his pistol in the air and was swiftly ushered by the policemen inside the police post. Upon observing this, the Anuak tribesmen quickly left the battlefield stating that the freedom fighters had deceived them by saying they would fight the Arabs but it appeared the fighting would involve the English as well. When the Anuak tribesmen left, it crippled the siege and effectiveness of the freedom fighters over Pachalla.

As a result, the government soldiers and policemen successfully repelled the freedom fighters and secured the police post. However, the casualties they sustained were higher at it numbered 80 deaths. The figure of the fatally wounded among the freedom fighters is unavailable. Therefore, the fighting in Pachalla signaled the beginning of a long conflict in Upper Nile.

The four leaders of the freedom fighters in Upper Nile; went their separate ways briefly following the Pachalla incident. Awel and Adung traveled to a camp near Nasir where they fought with Northern soldiers who had attacked them on 27th March 1964. Awel and Adung had 800 men under their command with 221 guns on hand. A short while later, Ruot and Nyingori rejoined them. The fighting began at around 7:00 a.m. and continued until 10:00 p.m. The freedom fighters lost 49 men while 11 were wounded and it’s estimated the Northerners had 111 soldiers killed or wounded. The four leaders stayed together for one month and built the general headquarters of the Anya-Nya movement in the Upper Nile Province. This would mark the last time Ruot, Nyingori, Adung and Awel would meet and fight together.


ANYA-NYA MOVEMENT IN UPPER NILE – After the fighting in Pachalla, the four Pauls spit up; Paul Ruot, Paul Nyingori, Paul Adung and Paul Awel. It so happened that Paul Awel and Paul Adung went to a camp near Nasir, where with 800 men and 221 guns they fought against six companies of Northern Soldiers who attacked them on March 27th, 1964. Afterward, Ruot and Nyingori rejoined Awel and Adung, and the four remained together for a month and constructed the general headquarters for Upper Nile province.

This was the last meeting of the four Pauls. Paul Nyingori left in April to open a camp near Pibor, and Paul Adung left in June to begin operations in the region of Renk. Neither ever returned: Nyingori quarreled with Ruot and refused to come back, while Paul Adung was killed on his way back to the headquarters. The circumstances were these. The split between Ruot and Nyingori had led to Ruot’s resignation, but when the resignation was sent to the political wing of the movement in Ethiopia for ratification it was rejected, and Ruot was reinstated. Ruot then sent a letter to Adung that he was resuming command, and asked him to return to the headquarters.

It was on his return that he met a force of Northern soldiers at Akoko, 50 miles north of Malakal. In the engagement, 15 Anya-Nya soldiers were killed; Adung was wounded and died of tetanus.

Following Adung’s death, Paul Awel was given command of Adung’s forces as well as his own. At the time there were three battalions in the upper Nile, distributed as follows. The Northern battalion (formerly Adung’s) operated in the region of Renk and Kodok. After Adung’s death, its operational commander was Daniel Owogo.

The Western battalion (Awel’s) had as its area Malakal itself, Fangak, Bor and Bentiu districts. Second in command to Awel was Daniel Nyang Cuol. Finally, the Eastern battalion operated in Nasir and Akobo districts, under the command of Nyingori assisted by George Disol. The Pibor area was not included in the list. The reason is that at the time, the district commissioner was a Murle by the name of Hassan Nyingole, who persuaded the Murle people to be loyal to the Khartoum government and not to cooperate with the Anya-Nya soldiers.

In March 1965, the Anya-Nya soldiers suffered a severe loss with the death of Paul Ruot. He was proceeding to a meeting with Nyingori on the Ethiopian border, and on the way took some cattle from a small village between Akobo and Pibor. He then retreated, knowing that the Northern troops would follow him.

The pursuing force was, however, larger than anticipated, coming up from Pibor in Lorries along dry-season roads, and the ensuing battle was a grim one. Forty-two Anya-Nya soldiers died, some of them of thirst as the defending force was cut off from water, and the number of Northern casualties was estimated to have been 85. Ruot himself was wounded in the shoulder and the right leg, each time returning to lead his men once more before being finally hit in the head. He was buried where he fell by his men.

Following the death of Ruot; Awel and Nyingori planned to meet, but Awel who was in the region of Malakal had 30 wounded men with him and could not make the journey to Nyingori’s camp. During the whole of 1965 there was constant fighting around Malakal, and to anyone who took note of the frequent ambushes and Anya-Nya raids, it must have been a mystery where they got their ammunition. The answer is simple; they purchased it in Malakal. It seems there was an Arab dealer there who had an officer friend who took the bullets from the armory and sold them.

Suffice to say, the deaths resulting from the fighting in Upper Nile, and indeed throughout the Southern Sudan as a whole, were not confined to the Anya-Nya or Northern Sudan soldiers. The civilian population suffered a great deal. This is illustrated by the Abu Anga incident. In April 1965, the Nile steamer named Abu Anga, empty of passengers, was about to tie up to the bank at Warajwok, a few miles south of Malakal, in order to collect firewood.

The Abu Anga was ambushed by a platoon of Anya-Nya soldiers led by Daniel Owogo. As soon as the captain of the steamer saw the attack he cut the connection between the second and third class barges, and the engine and the second-class departed, leaving the third-class behind. There had been 15 army troops guarding the second-class, but none on the third, which was promptly captured and sunk by Owogo. In retaliation, the Sudan army descended on Warajwok a few days later, when Owogo had left, and killed 89 people, all males.

To be continued…

The author, Hon. Mangar Amerdid, is the National Coordinator of Northern Corridor Integration Projects ( for South Sudan, the Chairman of SOS Children Villages International for the Republic of South Sudan, and the Founder of the Leadership Institute of New Sudan (LIONS). He graduated with Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and a minor in Economics from University of Colorado, USA. You can reach him via his email:

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